|Position Statement on Abortion|
Christians rely on God's revealed Word, the Bible, for determining truth, and we look to it as our only infallible guide for faith and action. It is our authority for understanding the distinction between good and evil and for determining what is moral and immoral.
The biblical case for the protection of unborn human life from the moment of fertilization
The position on abortion of Presbyterians Pro-Life is built on Scriptural truths:
1. God places higher value on human beings than on the rest of his creation. Human beings are made uniquely, in the image of God (1), and are not only distinct from the rest of creation (2), but also are rulers and stewards of everything else created by God (3). Fertilization and the resulting birth of a baby are not simply acts which continue the human race. Rather, fertilization is a blessing of God (4). This fruit of the love between a husband and wife is one evidence of God's love and sovereignty (5). The birth of a baby is a reward; a gift or heritage from God (6).
2. The meaning and purpose God has for each human life begins before birth. Scripture commonly refers to fertilization, rather than birth, as the moment of our beginning (7). God speaks of us as known, cared for, protected, and loved by Him before birth (8). He often announces His specific purpose for individuals while they are yet unborn (9). The Hebrew word yeled and the Greek word brephos, used to refer to newborns and youth, are used in Scripture to refer to the unborn. This teaches us the continuity of existence before and after birth (10).
The teaching of medical science regarding the unborn is consistent with Scripture (11). Scripture and science both provide us with a clear demarcation for the beginning of human life: the moment of fertilization.
3. God forbids us to kill innocent human life(12). Scripture makes no distinction regarding our humanness, born and unborn. Therefore, it forbids the destruction of innocent human life including unborn babies. Our Book of Confessions includes in the sins forbidden by the sixth commandment "...neglecting or withdrawing the lawful or necessary means of preservation of life" (13).
4. God requires us to protect and care for the needy and helpless(14). The duty to "bear one another's burdens" applies to pregnancy exactly as to every other aspect of human need. It is our task as Christian disciples and servants, even in the most desperate of circumstances, to use the resources God has provided to find solutions to problem pregnancies that allow both mother and baby to live and prosper.
5. God freely offers forgiveness and restoration to the repentant (15). God is rich in mercy and slow to anger. He offers forgiveness, healing, and new life through Christ. We, the Church, are God's agents of reconciliation in the world, and it is our calling to extend the compassion, understanding, and grace of God both to those involved in sex outside of marriage and to those who have had abortions. We are to make the forgiveness, healing, and restoration available in Christ known to women and men who find themselves in these difficult circumstances, and to lead them gently toward repentance and faith in Christ (16).
6. Scriptural teaching regarding the value of human life and our responsibility to protect and care for innocent life applies in every case (17). Just as those of us already born who were conceived in incest or rape, or who are handicapped, or who live in dire situations of need are protected from being killed by the injunctions of Scripture, so those yet unborn who are conceived in the same circumstances are protected.
In circumstances where physical complications of pregnancy develop, every attempt should be made to preserve the lives of both mother and child.
The biblical case for decision-making prior to fertilization
Responsible decision-making regarding pregnancies arises from the biblical teaching concerning life and sexuality
A decision to enter into a sexual relationship should be in keeping with the Scriptural teaching regarding chastity outside marriage and fidelity within marriage (18), and it should acknowledge God's full intent for such marriage, including pregnancy and the forming of a family (19).
Because fertilization is the point at which a human life is formed, contraception should act only to prevent fertilization. Contraception that acts to destroy the newly formed life is, in fact, a form of abortion.
Why the current position of the Presbyterian Church (USA) on abortion (20) is untenable for Christians
The PC(USA) policy document adopted by the General Assembly in 1992 says that
Problem pregnancies are the result of, and influenced by, so many complicated and insolvable circumstances that we have neither the wisdom nor the authority to address or decide each situation.
It considers moral judgments to be a matter of each woman's individual interpretation of what is right or wrong in her particular crisis situation, and
...acknowledges circumstances in a sinful world that may make abortion the least objectionable of difficult options.
Further, the current policy states flatly that
...no law or administrative decision should limit access to abortion; limit information and counseling concerning abortions; or limit or prohibit public funding for necessary abortions for the socially and economically disadvantaged.
This policy document of the PC(USA) fails to establish a biblical defense for killing innocent unborn human beings, and departs dramatically from the Church's historical teaching on abortion (21). It is based on a situational, quality-of-life ethic which is in direct contradiction to the Judeo-Christian tradition. The Presbyterian Church (USA) is in serious moral error in its teaching on abortion.
The goal of Presbyterians Pro-Life with respect to abortion
Presbyterians Pro-Life takes a prophetic and pastoral stance within the Church. We call the PC(USA) to repent of its current position on abortion. We call for a change of heart and a change of policy. We plead for our denomination to begin to promote the protection of unborn life and to counsel for solutions to problem pregnancies which allow both mother and baby to live and receive the blessing of God.
Our prophetic voice is expressed through the process of appeal provided for by Presbyterian government and by any other means not forbidden by Scripture, our church Constitution, or the laws of the land.
We trust that through the mercy and grace of God a change in the position of our denomination will effect change in the whole society.
1.Genesis 1:27; Job 10:8-12; Ephesians 4:24.
2. Genesis 1:26; Genesis 2:20; Psalm 8:5.
3. Genesis 1:26-30, 2:19-20; Psalm 8:6-8; Book of Confessions, 3.02; 4.006; 6.023; 7.010.
4. I Samuel 1:1-20
5. Genesis 4:1; 29:30-33.
6. Psalm 127:3-5.
7. Genesis 4:1; Genesis 21:2; Genesis 29:33,34,35; 30:7; I Samuel 1:20; Matthew 1:20,21.
8. Psalm 139:13-16; Jeremiah 1:4,5; Ecclesiastes 11:5; Job 31:15.
9. Genesis 16:11,12; Genesis 25:23; Isaiah 49:1; Jeremiah 1:4,5; Galatians 1:15,16; Matthew 1:18-25.
10. Genesis 25:22;I Peter 2:2; Luke 2:12; Acts 7:19; Il Timothy 3:15; Luke 1:41,44; Luke 18:15
11. Human sperm and eggs both have 23 chromosomes. At fertilization, when sperm and egg are united, a single cell of 46 chromosomes is formed. From that point on, all that's added is time and nourishment.
12. Genesis 9:5,6; Exodus 20:13; Ezekiel 20:31; Amos 1:13; Leviticus 18:21; Jeremiah 32:35; Book of Confessions, 7.246.
13. Book of Confessions, 7.246.
14. Proverbs 24:11,12; Psalm 10:17,18; Psalm 41:1; Matthew 18:10; Book of Confessions, 4.111; 5.114.
15. Isaiah 55:7;1 John 1:9; Book of Confessions, 2.3; 6.064; 6.068; 6.083; 7.033; 7.180.
16. Book of Confessions, 5.098; 9.32-33; 11 Corinthians 5:18.
17. Book of Confessions, 7.245, 7.246.
18. Book of Confessions, 4:108-109, 7.248-9, I Thessalonians 4:3-4; Proverbs 6:25-29, 7:25-27; Exodus 20:14.
19. Malachi 2:15; Genesis 1:27,28.
20. Report of the Special Committee on Problem Pregnancies and Abortion, "Do Justice, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly (Micah 6:8)," adopted by the 1992 General Assembly, Presbyterian Church (USA).
21. "...for the fetus, though enclosed in the womb of its mother, is already a human being, and it is almost a monstrous crime to rob it of the life which it has not yet begun to enjoy. If it seems more horrible to kill a man in his own house than in a field, because a man's house is his place of most secure refuge, it ought surely to be deemed more atrocious to destroy a fetus in the womb before it has come to light."
- John Calvin, Commentaries on the Four Last Books of Moses, (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1950), 3:41,42.
"This Assembly regards the destruction by parents of their own offspring, before birth, with abhorrence, as a crime against God and against nature."
- General Assembly, 1869
"The fetus is a human life to be protected by the criminal law from the moment when the ovum if fertilized....As Christians, we believe that this should not be an individual decision on the part of the physician and couple. Their decision should be limited and restrained by the larger society."
- General Assembly, 1962
(Adopted June 1988, revised September 1993)