|What Would Jesus Say About Abortion?|
What would Jesus say about abortion? Christians on both sides of the abortion debate would say that Jesus was on their side. How would they know? Did Jesus ever actually speak to the topic? Certainly not directly. Abortion wasn't a common practice in first century Palestine, and there were no clinics available to women to abort their babies, so the subject didn't come up.
As a woman who is old enough to remember when abortion was still illegal, I remember pondering the question, "What would Jesus say about it?" way back in the beginning stages of the sexual revolution of the 1960's. Several of my girlfriends were getting abortions, as they discovered that they were pregnant. Most of us back then were ambivalent in our opinion on the matter. I think that intuitively, we felt it was morally wrong, but on the other hand, we weren't sure. After all, if the embryo isn't really a person yet, what difference does it make? And faced with the choice of simply removing the unwanted embryo with a simple surgical procedure, or going through with the pregnancy and the shame and embarrassment that came with it, not to mention the inconvenience of it, hey…let's opt for simplicity!
But there's still that niggling question, what would Jesus say about it? I suspect his answer would be along the same lines as his answer when asked about divorce.
Some Pharisees approached Jesus to test him (never a smart idea). Matthew recounts this incident in Matthew 19:1-9: Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?"
"Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."
"Why then," they asked, "did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?"
Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery."
The Pharisees wanted to know which school of thought Jesus sided with in the debate about the interpretation of Moses' law which permitted divorce, from Deuteronomy 24:1-4. According to one interpretation, a husband was allowed to divorce his wife if she was unfaithful to him. Clearly, Jesus sided with this side of the debate, but the more important point is that Jesus superseded Moses' command by reinstating God's original intention in marriage: that "the two shall become one flesh. They are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate."
Yikes! Jesus never casually sanctions sin, as in "Oh, in your case, go ahead!" Instead, he names it for what it is: "Your hearts were hard." That's why Moses permitted divorce. But it is certainly NOT what God wants in a marriage relationship. You should never ask Jesus a sticky question unless you're prepared for an answer that will pierce your heart.
So if I were to ask Jesus, "What do you think about abortion?" I imagine it would be similar to his response about divorce. It would sound something like this:
Haven't you read that in the beginning, "God said, 'Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.' So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, 'Be fruitful and increase in number.' God saw all that he had made, and it was very good." (Genesis 1:26, 27, 31) Therefore, what God has created as good, let not any man destroy.
Besides, if you would practice what I teach about sexual morality, specifically that sexual intimacy is to be expressed only between a husband and a wife, then the question of abortion would be a moot point. You wouldn't need to be asking me about it because God intended from the beginning that children be conceived in marriage and raised by both a father and a mother.
We may offer up all kinds of exceptions, the way the people did regarding divorce. But Jesus said that even in the case of infidelity, divorce is still not God's design for us, even if he permits it in extreme cases. In the same way, we may offer up our own personal stories, asking to be excused from the norm God has set in place for us. But terminating the life of an unborn child, except to save the life of the mother, is simply the result of hard hearts. No matter which way I look at it, I cannot visualize Jesus telling a woman to go ahead and get an abortion.
I can, however, very clearly see Jesus offering a woman who has had an abortion acceptance, love, forgiveness, and hope for a new future. Just as he said to the woman caught in adultery, "That's okay honey, you just go on ahead and just don't get caught next time." Actually what he said is, "Neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin." (John 8:11).
Never ask Jesus a question about morality unless you are prepared for him to raise the bar. Remember when Peter asked if he was required to forgive another up to seven times? Seemed downright generous to Peter. But Jesus said, "Nope. Seventy times seven!" In other words, we have to keep on forgiving people; we're never done. The same principle holds true regarding any moral question. Jesus always raises the bar, never lowers it. This is especially true when it comes to human life. We may not look like much, but to God, each one of us is a masterpiece, and destroying God's handiwork is a very poor choice.
Anyway, that's what I think Jesus would say.
What do you think he would say?
Published in Presbyterians Pro-Life Monthly, December 2009 by permission from Life Link, Summer 2009, published by Heartland Presbyterians Pro- Life, P.O. Box 46777, Kansas City, MO 64188-6777.