Stop Invoking God’s Will in the Abortion Debate

To be clear, I am a Christian and God does influence my understanding of right and wrong. However, I don’t believe it is generally necessary to invoke the Will of God in the abortion discussion. In fact, I think doing so may be harmful to the argument for a few reasons: 1) Governmental questions are not evangelistic conversations, per se. 2) You don’t need to invoke God’s Will to address abortion legislation. 3) By invoking God’s name, you a) give people a reason to automatically reject your argument (you can’t simply invoke God’s will in a non-theocratic government) and b) you make evangelism more difficult, because the unrepentant simply view you as forcing arbitrary religious rules on them. In other words, it puts the cart before the horse – sanctification ahead of justification.

So, how do we address abortion without invoking God’s Will? It’s actually quite simple. To make this as easy as possible, let’s consider the basic question: “Should abortion be prohibited?” To answer this question we have to ask two other questions:

  1. Do we have a responsibility to protect innocent (legislatively not theologically) human life?
  2. At what point does the being produced in the womb become a genetically unique human life?

* If the answer to question 1 is yes, then at whatever point a unique human life is created, we have a responsibility to protect it. Pretty simple.

The first question is technically one of ethics and requires a presuppositional foundation about right and wrong. Most people, however, be they secular, Christian, or otherwise, tend to agree that we have a responsibility to protect human lives (especially those who have not committed a crime). As such, we generally don’t need to argue this point. If people disagree they are unethical and frankly evil and most reasonable people won’t disagree. 

The question that is most often debated is the latter of the two. For some reason Christians tend to invoke God in this debate. This becomes problematic when dealing with a non-theocratic government. In such governance, we must be able to communicate truth to those who do not share our religious foundations. By invoking God as the reason for our conclusion, we give people an “easy out.” They simply disregard it as a religious argument and tell you that you cannot impose your religious views on them.

Conveniently for the pro-life crowd, the second question can be easily answered using science and a little logic. We now have the technology to understand the development of life. Science shows us quite clearly that a distinct genetic human life is created at the moment of fertilization. Therefore, if someone agrees with the first premise that “we have a responsibility to protect human life,” then science takes us the rest of the way. A new human life begins at fertilization. End of story – no need to invoke God. No need to make this a religious argument.

With that said, being aware of this problem, pro-choice/ pro-abortion advocates have tried to draw artificial distinctions between a life and a person or various other arguments that fall to basic intellectual scrutiny. I address just about every argument that I have heard in the short book: Abandoning Abortion: My Journey From Pro-Choice To Pro-Life And Why You Should Make The SwitchFor now, take some time to learn the basics and consider using science and logic instead of God to help change the minds of those who say they value science and logic instead of God. In doing so, you will be more effective in helping people learn why abortion needs to be legislated from the moment of fertilization, you will avoid them simply disregarding you as an archaic oppressive religious person, and you will protect the Gospel from being misinterpreted as an arbitrary tool for legal mandates.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? What other philosophies have twisted God’s truth? Leave a comment below and share to get your friends in on the conversation… We will pick a handful of your  recommendations to cover in later issues of The Daily Rebuke!

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For more like this, check out: WHAT I WANT YOU TO KNOW ABOUT ABORTION

10 Comments
  • johnajardine
    Posted at 13:44h, 08 October Reply

    You’ve entered an ethical (and theological) rabbit hole here. At the core of your argument is the concept of “innocent” human life and the secular and Christian responsibility to protect it. Governments make the decision about who is to live and die all the time. I’m not just talking about third world dictatorships but about all governments. The decision and prosecution of a “just” war guarantees that some innocent humans will die. Secular and religious authorities exempt soldiers from responsibility to protect innocent life in this case where the acts were collateral or honest mistakes. The death penalty is another example. The legislative decision to execute persons convicted of a crime guarantees that some innocent persons will be executed. Again we exempt the actors from responsibility if the mistake was honest. So can say that legal abortions are wrong on the basic of the responsibility to protect innocent life? I don’t believe so. Our approach to singling out legal abortion must be based on what we think the Creator believes. Now the Bible is not that clear on this and science will not help but only confuse. So at the end we are left with the question “At what point do fertilized embryos become human life subject to the responsibility to protect?” and the answer is “We don’t know and we can’t know.” As a Christian I oppose abortion because we don’t know.

    • admin
      Posted at 14:20h, 08 October Reply

      That’s why the article clarified that this is in reference to “legislative” not “theological.”

    • Bob Seidensticker
      Posted at 20:29h, 10 October Reply

      John: You said, “the Bible is not that clear on this.” I think it is. Numbers 5 has the “test of bitter waters” where a woman suspected of adultery is giving a poison that magically acts as an abortifacient only if the child is from another man.

      I don’t see a lot of concern about abortion in the Bible. Here, a man’s property rights take precedence over the life of a fetus. And, of course, you have the genocide of the Canaanites and the Flood, where lots of children, babies, and fetuses were killed. You can even consider the fact that half of pregnancies naturally end in abortion (many of these without the woman’s knowledge). This anxiety about fetuses is manufactured. God doesn’t share it.

  • Julie
    Posted at 10:47h, 09 October Reply

    You’re taking God out of the equation?? So now you’re being soft and politically correct to save Gods face? I’m confused. Jesus NEVER left God out of the equation which is why He was and is so controversial. Think about what your saying????

    • admin
      Posted at 13:18h, 09 October Reply

      It’s not politically correct. It is about communicating effectively. Feel free to disagree, but I would recommend considering the validity of this different approach.

  • Bob Seidensticker
    Posted at 20:34h, 10 October Reply

    Chris: What is “human life”? If it’s what we see around us every day–babies, kids, teens, adults–then it obviously has great inherent value. But if you want to extend that to microscopic embryos, then (1) that’s an odd extension of our usual idea of “human life” and (2) some of that is not inherently valuable.

    Your 2 points are designed to get you to your predetermined conclusion. You need to grapple with the fact that a single undifferentiated cell that you need a microscope to see is not a baby, a human, or a person as those terms are used in common parlance. If you want to extend the definitions of those words to encompass the single cell, do so explicitly and with justification rather than just assuming it.

    • admin
      Posted at 14:24h, 11 October Reply

      Scientifically it is a genetically distinct human life from the point of fertilization. The question of value is a separate issue (and one that I don’t address here). A firm answer about value requires certain ethical presuppositions (utilitarian value, etc.) I think this is what pro-abortion positions must logically move to (as the idea that it’s not life until it’s sentient, viable, etc. is clearly inaccurate from a scientific perspective). The value topic is much more complex. I address that in the book through the question of “personhood.”

  • nancyehead
    Posted at 10:29h, 22 October Reply

    It’s the testimony of Bernard Nathanson. He was an abortionist. Part of the effort to legalize abortion. An atheist. Then came sonogram technology. He saw into the womb. He became pro-life. Then he could see his own sin. Then he came to Christ. He became pro-life via science. He came to Christ by watching Christians be true to Christ.

  • Bob Seidensticker
    Posted at 20:12h, 23 October Reply

    “Scientifically it is a genetically distinct human life from the point of fertilization.” Agreed, but that doesn’t get us anywhere. I say that there’s an enormous difference in the inherent worth of a person (you, me, babies, etc.) and a single, microscopic cell. If you disagree, you need to make the case.

    “The question of value is a separate issue (and one that I don’t address here).” I understand that there are limitations, and you must abbreviate. But if you demand that abortion be prohibited all the way back to day 1, you need to make the case.

    “the idea that it’s not life until it’s sentient, viable, etc. is clearly inaccurate from a scientific perspective.” Agreed. We’re not talking about this.

    “pro-abortion positions.” You can use that term (and I don’t actually have much of a problem with it), though expect your position to be called “anti-choice” in response.

    • admin
      Posted at 10:00h, 25 October Reply

      Agreed. So, for worth/value, who has the power to make that call and on what basis is it made?

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