Biblical Launching Points for Pro-life Preaching

The sacredness of human life is a theme that permeates Scripture. The Bible clearly teaches that abortion is wrong. This teaching comes across in many ways and for many reasons. Some people point out that the word "abortion" is not in the Bible, and that is true. Nevertheless, the teaching about abortion is there. This is the case with many teachings. The word "Trinity" is not in the Bible, but the teaching about the Trinity is there. In any case, a person who wants to deny the teaching about abortion would deny it even if the word were there.

Preaching on abortion from Scripture does not simply mean finding those passages which speak about the unborn child; rather, it means showing how all the principle themes of the Bible reflect the relationship between God and human life, and the duty we have to respond to the lives of others with care and love. Some of those key themes and the way they illumine our pro-life stance are as follows:

1. The Bible teaches that human life is different from other types of life, because human beings are made in the very image of God.

The accounts of the creation of man and woman in Genesis (Gn 1:26-31; 2:4-25) tell us this: "God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them" (Gn 1:27).

The word "create" is used three times here, emphasizing a special crowning moment in the whole process of God's making the world and everything in it. The man and woman are given "dominion" over everything else in the visible world.

 Not even the original sin takes away the image of God in human beings. St. James refers to this image and says that because of it we should not even speak ill of one another. "With [the tongue] we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings who are made in the image of God…. This ought not be so, brothers" (Jas 3:9-10).

The image of God! This is what it means to be human! We are not just a bunch of cells randomly thrown together by some impersonal forces. Rather, we really reflect an eternal God Who knew us from before we were made, and purposely called us into being.

At the heart of the abortion tragedy is the question raised in the Psalms: "Lord, what is man that You care for him, mortal man that You keep him in mind?…With glory and honor You crowned him, giving him power over the works of Your hands" (Ps 8:5-7).

There is the key. Not only did God make us, but He values us. The Bible tells us of a God Who is madly in love with us, so much so that He became one of us and even died for us while we were still offending Him (see Rom 5:6-8). Those who believe in the Bible have to believe that human life is sacred, more sacred than we have ever imagined!

2. The Bible teaches that children are a blessing.

God commanded our first parents to "Be fertile and multiply" (Gn 1:28). Why? God Himself is fertile. Love always overflows into life. When the first mother brought forth the first child, she exclaimed, "I have brought forth a man with the help of the Lord" (Gn 4:1). The help of the Lord is essential, for He has dominion over human life and is its origin. Parents cooperate with God in bringing forth life. Because this whole process is under God's dominion, it is sinful to interrupt it. The prophet Amos condemns the Ammonites "because they ripped open expectant mothers in Gilead" (Am 1:13).

"Truly children are a gift from the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward" (Ps 127:3).

3. The Bible teaches that the child in the womb is truly a human child, who even has a relationship with the Lord.

The phrase "conceived and bore" is used repeatedly (see Gn 4:1,17) and the individual has the same identity before as after birth. "In sin my mother conceived me," the repentant psalmist says in Psalm 51:7. The same word is used for the child before and after birth (Brephos, that is, "infant," is used in Luke 1:41 and Luke 18:15.) God knows the preborn child. "You knit me in my mother's womb…nor was my frame unknown to you when I was made in secret" (Ps 139:13, 15). God also helps and calls the preborn child. "You have been my guide since I was first formed…from my mother's womb you are my God" (Ps 22:10-11). "God…from my mother's womb had set me apart and called me through his grace" (St. Paul to the Galatians 1:15).

4. Scripture repeatedly condemns the killing of the innocent.

This flows from everything that has been seen so far. God's own finger writes in stone the commandment "Thou shalt not kill" (Ex 20:13, Dt 5:17) and Christ reaffirms it (Mt 19:18 — notice that He mentions this commandment first). The Book of Revelation affirms that (unrepentant) murderers cannot enter the kingdom of heaven (Rv 22:15).

The killing of children is especially condemned by God through the prophets. In the land God gave his people to occupy, foreign nations had the custom of sacrificing some of their children in fire. God told His people that they were not to share in this sin. They did, however, as Psalm 106 relates: "They mingled with the nations and learned their works…. They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to demons, and they shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and their daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, desecrating the land with bloodshed" (Ps 106:35, 37-38).

This sin of child-sacrifice, in fact, is mentioned as one of the major reasons that the Kingdom of Israel was destroyed by the Assyrians and the people taken into exile. "They mutilated their sons and daughters by fire…till the Lord, in His great anger against Israel, put them away out of His sight" (2 Kgs 17:17-18).

Notice that this practice was a religious ritual. Not even for "religious freedom" can the killing of children be tolerated.

Fr. Frank Pavone

By

Father Frank A. Pavone is an American Roman Catholic priest and pro-life activist. He is the National Director of Priests for Life and serves as the Chairman and Pastoral Director of Rachel's Vineyard.

Subscribe to CE
(It's free)

Go to Catholic Exchange homepage

MENU