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Starting Points

by | May 27

Professor
April 27, 20–
Starting Points
When it comes to the hot topic of contraception, I believe the sanctity of human life must be the foundation of all conversation. We live in a time in which contraception is viewed as one of the greatest inventions in the history of mankind. It has been a huge advancement for both modern medicine and modern times. The widespread use of contraception has launched people into a lifestyle of sex outside of marriage and many unwanted or “accidental” pregnancies. In short, by holding to this we are treating the natural and beautiful gift of life and fertility as though they are burdens and defects. We are stripping God of the power and ability to create human life in the arena He chooses to.
Now, when we go to look at Scripture we find that there is little explicit testimony in the Bible regarding this topic. This shouldn’t be surprising as birth control was not around in the days of Jesus. However, we find that Scripture teaches us just the opposite of what is widely accepted today. Scripture teaches us that the ability to create new life is a blessing. Children are to be viewed as a gift from our gracious God. It is what we have been called to do when God commanded us to “Be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28). However, there are also limits to that command. We are not called to have as many children as possible. Rather, we are called to have the amount of children that we can handle while nurturing them and responding to Jesus’ callings for our life. Therefore, Christians much like myself, tend to believe that if a person’s pursuit of birth control is motivated by greed or lust for convenience, then use of contraception is unbiblical.
There are, however, what I believe to be potentially acceptable reasons for pursuing contraception. These personal opinions stem from actively pursuing a healthcare profession where I’ve been exposed to the various indications for contraception. I believe that if they do not terminate or potentially terminate life, they are acceptable to use. Some examples include treating acne, decreasing the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease, ovarian and uterine cancers, and many other gynecologic conditions such as endometriosis and heavy menstrual bleeding some of which can be fatal for a woman.
On the other hand, there are certain forms of contraception that are solely abortive such as the Plan B pill. This would be considered an unbiblical use of contraception as it places power in the hands of the human, rather than God, and terminates the creation of new life. The Bible makes it clear that human life begins at conception. So to terminate human life after conception is to devalue human life; it is to go against God’s teachings; it is to murder.
In the end, Christian couples must ensure that methods chosen are really contraceptive and not an abortifacient. While some methods prevent the sperm from fertilizing the egg, others prevent the egg from successfully implanting itself in the lining of the womb. We must be careful not to perceive children as problems that we can avoid, but rather as gifts that are to be received from God.
This causes me to conclude by saying that Christians should continue to uphold the idea that contraception is not perfectly moral. Pre-fertilization methods of contraception are, however, as they do not go against Jesus’ teachings regarding the sanctity of human life.
Annotated Bibliographies
Theological Sources
Dudley, J. (2014) How Evangelicals Decided that Life Begins at Conception. The Huffington
Post. Retrieved on November 29, 2017, from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/article-
evangelical-theological-viewon-contraception
Dudley’s article was composed of a compilation of historical research that assessed the Evangelical stance on contraception use. Perhaps the summary statement could best be found in evangelical leader Jay Barnes statement, “I believe that contraception is acceptable for Christians to use under the following conditions: The method prevents fertilization rather than implantation; the reason for use is good stewardship of resources, relationships and ministry rather than selfishness and increased standard of living; it is mutually and prayerfully chosen by husband and wife”. As we see, Evangelicals believe that life begins at conception. Therefore, the most prevalent opinion recorded in this article is that contraception is acceptable so long as it does not abort the already fertilized egg. It is only acceptable to use if it stops the egg from being fertilized from the very beginning. There is also mention of contraception being acceptable in non-pregnancy related uses such as acne and menstruation regulation. As for post-fertilization and abortive contraceptives, this is seen as theologically unethical.
I found that this article contributes to the thesis by highlighting the overall evangelical belief that life begins at conception. Using birth control pre-fertilization and in non-pregnancy related situations is supported whereas birth control used in post-fertilization and abortive situations is not. This article also briefly touched on the idea that frequent use of contraception has significantly changed our practice and principles regarding sexual intimacy. What once was designed to bring a married couple together into a one-flesh relationship to create new human life has now disconnected the two purposes of sexuality because of the all-too-common use of contraceptives.
Anderson, L. (2010). Evangelical Leaders Stance on Contraception. National Association of
Evangelicals. Retrieved on November 26, 2017, from https://www.nae.net/evangelical-
leaders-are-ok-with-contraception/
Anderson’s article compares the views many evangelical leaders have regarding methods of contraception. What Anderson found was that the majority agreed that the use of birth control was acceptable. They emphasized that Scripture does not prohibit contraceptive use pre-fertilization or in non-pregnancy related situations. Anderson summarizes his research study by saying, “Our leaders indicate that contraception can be utilized if all biblical purposes of sex are upheld and that it may actually aid in keeping the balance”. That is to say that Christians can still honor the sanctity of life while using contraceptives. However, using contraceptives for post-fertilization and abortive situations was not acceptable as they strictly affirm that life begins at conception.
I think this article contributes to the thesis by emphasizing the belief that life begins at conception. Therefore, it is prohibited to use contraception in post-fertilization situations. It is nonetheless acceptable to use contraception during pre-fertilization and non-pregnancy related situations. The most important point mentioned in this article is the lack of Scriptural evidence for those who reject contraceptive use all across the boards. There are very much legitimate and illegitimate reasons to use birth control and I think this article emphasized the need to reorient ourselves and our thoughts in accordance with what the Bible says. It is about forming our thoughts using Scripture alone rather than failing to interpret correctly or even over-interpreting.
Obeleniene, B., Narbekovas, A. (2016). Ethics of Natural Family Planning (NFP) vs Ethics of
Contraception. New Trends and Issues Proceedings on Humanities and Social Sciences,
2(3), 21-26. https://doi.org/10.18844/gjhss.v2i3.1053
This article analyzes the moral difference between what is referred to as “natural family planning” and contraception. This study seemed to point out that there seems to be a very small and sometimes unidentifiable difference between the two. That is because the end goal is the same for both. However, researches dug deeper into understanding the distinction and through their studies have found that there is in fact an ethical difference that exists between the two. While natural family planning includes contraceptives that prevent pregnancy by preventing fertilization, other contraceptives result in the killing of the fertilized egg. This article concludes that contraceptives like this do not support the aspect of human dignity and are therefore unethical in the Christian church.
I found that this article contributes to the thesis by emphasizing many of the same views mentioned in the articles above. It leans more towards natural family planning being the means of controlling your family size rather than abortifacients. What sets this article apart from the rest is its inclusion of the idea of human dignity. It makes you consider the gift of human life and when life begins and ends. It makes you think about how God has called us to treat one another as we are all beloved children of God. It emphasizes that life begins at conception and abortifacients are unethical.
Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. (2017). Religious Support for Family Planning. Retrieved November 26, 2017, from http://rcrc.org/
This article highlighted the stance that while each individual within the Christian faith may hold their own opinions on this matter, the majority of leaders and participants affirm that contraceptive services are a part of basic healthcare. The participants surveyed in this article do not believe contraceptives should be demonized. They recognize contraception’s role in treating non-pregnancy related issues such as acne and menstruation regulation. However, statistics gathered in this study showed divided belief among participants regarding the Plan B pill as well as on the topic of abortion. The study concluded with leaders claiming that they cannot offer guidance on topics of abortion and post-fertilization contraceptives. They believe that the decision lies in the hand of the individual woman.
I believe this article contributes to the thesis by demonstrating how there are often mixed feelings on this topic. People tend to form their own unique stances on this matter from life experiences and tend to stray from Biblical teachings. It highlights the differing view on when life begins, whether that is at conception or birth. In highlighting these differences, it demonstrates that Biblical teachings on this matter are not clear cut. Therefore, you must turn to teachings regarding marriage, marital love, and human dignity to get answers regarding this topic. Additionally, this article further adds to the idea that contraception is beneficial in non-pregnancy related purposes, and when used in this way it is thought to be theologically ethical. There are very much legitimate reasons to use contraception and this article reinforces the need to weigh the reasons, its benefits and costs to determine whether it is appropriate.
Walden, James. “Religions – Christianity: Contraception.” BBC, 3 Mar. 2018, www.bbc.co.uk/
religion/religions/christianity/christianethics/contraception_1.shtml.
This article summarized the history of Christian acceptance of contraception acceptance. It emphasized the different views that Christian churches tend to have on this issue. For almost 2,000 years birth control was highly condemned. However, Protestant attitudes began to change in the 19th century as sex was no longer considered dangerous, rather it was a gift from God. Thus, the Anglicans became the first church to come forward and speak their new views on birth control and encourage acceptance. Not long after, other church denominations began to permit the use of contraception in certain instances.
This article contributes to my thesis by showing the history of attitudes and the changes that have occurred in initial attitudes. What once was forbidden altogether, is now being widely accepted but sometimes to an extent. This also contributed to my thesis by showing that times are changing and there are constantly new inventions. Today, there exists many more forms of contraception than there were originally. There are pre-fertilization and post-fertilization methods and each way acts in the body in different ways. Thus, we must consider which methods still abide by Jesus’ teachings and which ones go against.
Secular Sources
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2017). National Institutes of Health. Retrieved
on November 27, 2017, from https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/contraception/
conditioninfo/Pages/types.aspx
This article describes the pharmacokinetics of the different contraception methods. It divides contraception into two major categories. The first is pre-fertilization contraception which prevents the sperm from fertilizing the woman’s egg. The second is post-fertilization contraception which work to prevent the egg which has already been fertilized from attaching to the womb. Abortion is part of this category as it uses methods to block the hormones necessary for maintaining a pregnancy or even physical extraction of the embryo that has already started growing in the womb.
I found that this article contributes to the thesis by showing the actual mechanism of action for the different contraception methods. It allows you to understand why some methods are often looked down upon as failing to respect the dignity of life. It also makes you think twice about saying no to contraception as some of these mechanisms of action do not kill off the zygote, they prevent it from being able to form from the beginning. It provides great scientific research that supports my belief that pre-fertilization purposes are ethical.
Eckman, Jim. “Teens and Birth Control – Issues In Perspective.” Issues In Perspective Teens and
Birth Control, 12 Jan. 2018, https://www.graceuniversity.edu/iip/2018/01/teens-andbirth-
control/.
This article highlighted the alarming rates of teen pregnancy and the fact that many pregnancies happen accidentally and are unwanted. The author is arguing for contraception use as sexual activity has now been separated from procreation. The author argues that is better to use barrier methods to prevent fertilization than to have a child and not care for him/her properly. Many teens are having children before graduating high school and getting a job. They are forced to drop out of school to try to raise a child when they are children themselves, the author argues. They then fall into a hole as without finishing school they cannot get jobs that sufficiently support the costs of a child. This causes many problems for the economy as well as for the child who may have to grow up without a lot of things.
This was the first article I came across that prompted me to write this paper. While the author does speak the truth about a lot of things and while I understand the concern of a child potentially raising another child, I do believe that the problem lies in separating sex from marriage in the first place. Therefore, this article contributes to my thesis by emphasizing the need to turn to Scripture to understand the nature and reality of the purpose God intended for sex.
Irving, Dianne N. “When Do Human Beings Begin?” Princeton University, The Trustees of
Princeton University, 18 Nov. 2014, www.princeton.edu/~prolife/articles/wdhbb.html.
In this article, Irving explained in detail the science behind conception to identify when life begins. What prompted this article was the current discussion on abortion and embryo experimentation. The author then uses science to rule out scientific myths and focus on the facts. The author says that a mature sperm and a mature human oocyte, or woman’s egg, only have 23 chromosomes. They do possess human life because they are part of a living human being, but they are not technically a whole living human being themselves because 46 chromosomes are necessary for an individual member of the human species. Alone, a sperm can only produce sperm proteins and an oocyte can only produce oocyte proteins and enzymes. It is when sperm fuses with the oocyte that results in a fully human being with 46 chromosomes and is not just a bunch of cells. It immediately produces its own human proteins and enzymes and directs their own growth and development.
This article contributes to my thesis by showing the science behind conception that aid in my argument against many opposing thoughts and views. Many people believe that immediately after fertilization, there is only a ball of cells that exist. Therefore, they believe it is acceptable to use abortifacients such as the Plan B pill. However, this article proves that once fertilization occurs the zygote is fully human with 46 chromosomes, a characteristic of a human. Therefore, this emphasizes that post-fertilization methods are defying God’s Law.
“Family Planning/Contraception.” World Health Organization, 7 Feb. 2018, www.who.int/
mediacentre/factsheets/fs351/en/
In this article, statistics were provided that demonstrated the prevalence of contraceptive use. In fact, it states that over half of the world’s population uses some form of contraceptive. It emphasizes the potential benefits of contraception such as allowing people to attain their desired number of children. It emphasizes the woman’s right to choose as it impacts their health and well-being. It listed preventing unintended pregnancies as a benefit as well as reducing the need for abortion. This article also provides information regarding the availability and ways to access contraceptives which is through clinics. It also described the modern methods of contraceptives, how it works, the effectiveness, and other potential risk factors they impose.
This article contributes to my thesis by demonstrating just how common and widespread the use of contraceptives are. By describing the different methods and ways in which they work, it helps one understand whether it is a pre-fertilization or post-fertilization methods. It helps bring to light the methods that do not defy the sanctity of human life. It also identifies common arguments that people may have for the use of contraceptives and their reasoning which helps me to understand their position.
Johnson, Sarah. “Current Methods and Attitudes of Women towards Contraception in
Europe and America.” Reproductive Health, BioMed Central, 5 Feb. 2013, reproductive-
health-journal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1742-4755-10-7.
This article emphasized the increase in contraceptive methods available on the market today. In this study, women aged 25-44 were surveyed throughout the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, and Spain. What the results showed was that there was generally a good awareness regarding most forms of contraception. They knew the ways in which it worked in the body and the potential risks they may have. The greatest influence on their levels of awareness seems to come from doctors who suggested contraceptives.
This article contributes to my thesis by proving that people are very much aware of the effects contraceptives have on the body. They are aware of methods that work to prevent pregnancy and those that harm the embryo. Thus, they intentionally use contraception knowing it can potentially terminate a human life. This emphasizes the responsibility individuals possess as they choose to use contraceptives.
Use of Contraception
Professor Anizor
BBST 465 Jesus Lord of All
20 April 2018
In the news article written by Nicholas Kristof, statistics were provided that highlighted the prevalence of teen pregnancy. The author stated that “American teenagers become pregnant at a rate of about one a minute”. And adding on to that, research has found that “Roughly 82% of births in the United States are unplanned” (Eckman, 2018). Kristof then makes a compelling case for the necessity of contraceptives. He advocates for the reopening of women’s health clinics, though they have been struggling to stay open due to the conflicting ideas concerning abortion.
For decades Americans have been told that contraceptives are the safest and effective way to prevent unplanned pregnancy. Contraception is thought of to ensure a woman’s freedom from pregnancy so that she can pursue her own goals in life. Since the introduction of the birth control pill in the 1950’s, it has gained financial and legal support from the federal government which has contributed to contraceptives becoming the norm. In turn, this contraceptive revolution has contributed to a major moral decline for much of western civilization (Eckman, 2018).
As we consider the ethics of the many different contraceptive methods, it is important to consider the mechanism of action of each. Contraceptives can be divided into two major categories. The first is pre-fertilization contraceptives which are all designed to keep the sperm from being able to fertilize the egg. Examples of this type include condoms and other blockade devices. Pre-fertilization contraceptives also include methods that work to prevent ovulation such as the birth control pill and patch. The second category is post-fertilization contraceptives. Examples of this type include emergency contraceptive pills such as Plan B. They are abortifacients, which can work in a few different ways—either by preventing the egg which has already been fertilized from attaching to the womb, by blocking the hormones necessary for maintaining pregnancy, or by physical extraction of the embryo that has already starting growing (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2017).
According to the World Health Organization, over half of the world’s population uses some form of contraceptive as of 2015 (“Family Planning/Contraception, 2018). With so many contraceptive products on the market and so many people across the world using them, it is often difficult to speak on whether use is ethically appropriate. So, what are we supposed to do as Christians? Are there acceptable contraceptive methods and reasons or are there not?
Before we dive into the ethical issue regarding contraception, we must first understand the biblical teachings concerning marriage. In the creation account of Genesis, we find that “God made man in His image; in the divine image He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27). It is in this verse that we are able to find an intrinsic goodness to each human being. Our human sexualities as male and female are both made in God’s image and likeness, and both masculinity and femininity are seen as equally good. Though differences between the male and female exist anatomically and physiologically, they remain complementary.
In the very next verse, Genesis 1:28, we find a God-designed institution between male and female. In this sacred union, man and woman come together as one. Marriage is a beautiful God-given partnership of life and love. It involves a mutual giving of two persons, which entails loyalty and even permanence. Therefore, we are to speak of marriage as a covenant. The love of husband and wife binds them together and allows them to participate in the creation of new life. Marriage is the foundation of the family and of the whole human race.
Now, taking into consideration the meaning of marriage and marital love, we are able to understand the expression of that love physically. This physical expression of love is symbolic of the covenant of marriage, of the covenant shared between the two who have become flesh. Throughout Scripture, we find that fruitfulness and fertility were sacred gifts appointed to those who have become a new creation by becoming husband and wife. Thus, marriage possesses a unitive dimension of marital love as well as a procreative dimension.
Today, the modern world is completely at odds with the church in their views of sexual relations. We live in a time where contraception is thought of as one of the greatest inventions as we get to receive endless pleasure while neglecting God’s purpose for the physical act. Some might argue that sex is clearly for pleasure, but they have missed the point. Pleasure is attached to a lot of things. Pleasure is more of a motive than it is a purpose. In fact, if we think about it we see that God has attached pleasure to things that He wants us to do, things that are necessary for our survival and happiness. For example, it is pleasurable to eat and drink and sleep but that is not the purpose of any of these acts. They are restorative and necessary for survival, yet there are limits. The same goes for sexual relations—though pleasure is attached, we must seek pleasure in accord with the nature and reality of what we are dealing with.
Thus, the widespread use and availability of contraceptives have encouraged a lifestyle that makes for sex outside of marriage and lots of “accidental” pregnancies. Children are thought of as huge inconveniences. This idea has contributed greatly to the invention of birth control and other contraceptives. It has also contributed to the reduction of worth and value placed on human life. As Christians we see every human life as a new soul that God has brought into this world for a reason. When man and woman participate in a physical act of love, they have opened up an arena in which God has designed for bringing forth new life. Having sex and having babies is not intended to be an accident, it is meant to be an act for husband and wife to participate in. God wants committed individuals who love unconditionally to parent and love these children in the same ways. That’s what our society fails to see as they view babies as options, burdens, and things that can be terminated at an abortion clinic.
I believe the proper way for the church to respond to the issue surrounding contraception is to first agree on the biblical standpoint regarding the use of contraception both inside and outside of marriage. After using Scripture to shape our beliefs, I believe the church must uphold the idea that pre-fertilization methods of contraception are theologically moral as they do not go against Jesus’ teachings regarding the sanctity of human life.
First, Christians appear to hold vastly ranging views on the use of contraceptives. Different denominations of Christianity are commonly found interpreting the same Biblical passages to support their opposing claims. Based on the research articles I found, I was surprised to see the lack of congruency between what each denomination stated as biblically true. In fact, some studies showed members within the same church forming opinions on the different methods of contraception without understanding how it really works in the body. Essentially, the research highlighted uninformed understandings of contraception methodologies across the board (“Religious Support for Family Planning”, 2018).
Let’s take a look at the history of Christian attitudes regarding contraception. For almost 2,000 years all Christian churches have been against the use of contraception. All methods were regarded as wrong because, in the first centuries of Christianity, they were associated with paganism or heretics like the Gnostics, Manichees, and later the Cathars. However, we see Protestant attitudes beginning to change in the early 19th century as theologians started to believe that morality comes from the conscience of each individual. It was also during this time that sex started to become something seen as God’s gift rather than something dangerous. This caused Protestant churches to conclude that contraception actually resulted in stronger families and even better marriages as sex was now thought of as an act that works to preserve the institution of marriage (Walden, 2018).
As for the Anglican Communion, including the Church of England, we find that they openly condemned contraception as demonstrated by their statement in 1908 at the Lambeth Conference which said:
The Conference records with alarm the growing practice of the artificial restriction of the family and earnestly calls upon all Christian people to discountenance the use of all artificial means of restriction as demoralizing to character and hostile to national welfare. (Walden, 2018)
However, by the 1930 Lambeth Conference they seemed to change their mind and declared that there are permissible methods of contraception that can be used while still obeying Christian principles.
With the continued advancement in technologies, evangelicals have been rethinking their initial position on contraception. While some still reject contraception altogether, others are starting to open up and critically consider what methods still abide by Jesus’ teachings. By helping to make comprehensive evidence available regarding this awareness, I believe the church could greatly assist fellow believers in forming and holding to an educated perspective on the morality of contraception.
Second, the church must agree that pre-fertilization methods are not immoral as they still abide by Jesus’ teachings regarding the sanctity of human life. The first thing we must clear up is when exactly human life begins. I’m going to argue that life begins at conception and the reason I argue that is because of the facts found in the Bible surrounding the birth of Jesus Christ Himself. Let’s look at a passage from John 1:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-4)
Furthermore, we see in John 1:14 that, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us”. Based on these passages, and further brought to light in other passages throughout the Bible, we learn that Jesus was fully God and fully man. He was fully divine and fully human and because of this, He was able to pay the price for our sins on the cross. As a deity, we learn that God has always existed and will continue to exist until the ends of the Earth because He is God. However, what is highlighted in John 1:14 is the idea that the Word became flesh when Jesus was conceived in Mary’s womb.
So, Christians who aren’t sure about when life begins or who have other beliefs are failing to accept Christianity in itself because the Bible states Christ was fully human. In order for Christ to be fully human, He had to have a fully human experience in the womb from the time of conception. Since pre-fertilization methods prevent the sperm from fertilizing the egg, there is no conception and therefore human life has not begun yet. Therefore, pre-fertilization methods of contraceptives remain theologically ethical insofar as preventing conception all together whereas abortive methods extract the embryo after conception.
Some might question whether contraception is consistent with the truth that children are a gift from the Lord. They might argue that since children are gifts, then it is wrong to put restrictions on the timing and number of children that an individual can potentially have. And to that I say, Scripture reminds us of a lot of gifts given to us by the Lord. Take for example Proverbs 18:22 which describes wives as a gift. However, that doesn’t mean it is wrong to be single. I think it is far more harmful to have the mentality that since something is good, as it is a gift from the Lord, then we must pursue as much of it as possible. We were not intended to do everything to the fullest extent, that is not the world that God has created or the way He has created us to live.
Wayne Grudem emphasizes this idea well when he says, “It is okay to place less emphasis on some good activities in order to focus on other good activities” (Walden, 2018). That is to say that for kingdom purposes it may not be wise to get married or it may be wise to regulate the size of your family. When God commanded His people to “Be fruitful and multiply” in Genesis 1:28, He did not command us to have as many children as possible. Rather, I believe a married couple should only have as many children as they believe they can handle. This does not mean they value the gift of children any less. Rather, they seek the number of children they feel they can nurture while also responding to other callings for their life. Wayne Grudem also said, “We aren’t required to maximize the amount of children we have any more than we are required to subdue the earth all the time—plant, grow, harvest, etc.” (Walden, 2018).
Adding on to that is the common argument that we should let God determine the size of our family. Some people argue that trusting God includes refraining from birth control to let things happen “naturally”. When you do this, they claim that God is more at work in your life. However, I believe that God is in control of your life regardless of your choice to use contraception. God can bring a child into someone’s life on His own time, whether they use contraception or not. We are reminded of this in Acts 1:7 when God expressed to the disciples that some things were to be left unknown. Jesus has the ultimate authority and trusting in that allows us to come to a much greater faith in Him.
Once God has allowed a woman’s egg to become fertilized, the embryo is considered a human being and should be treated just like you and I. As we see in Exodus 21:22-25, God spoke to the people of Israel claiming that a child in the womb is granted the same protection of the Law. Now, this includes the fifth commandment which states “Thou shall not murder”. Some might argue this claiming that at the point of conception, the zygote, which is the result of the sperm fertilizing the woman’s egg, is just a ball of cells. However, according to Dr. Irving:
This new single-cell human being immediately produces specifically human proteins and enzymes, and genetically directs his/her own growth and development. This new human being, the single-cell human zygote, is biologically an individual, a living organism. (Irving, 2014)
This single-cell embryonic zygote is an organism made up of 46 chromosomes just like any other fully grown adult. It is a whole human being, not just a bunch of cells. Most importantly, it is a human made in God’s image and likeness as we discussed earlier.
Some might argue that immediately after fertilization, there exists only a possible opportunity for the zygote to become a human being. But, adding on to what I said above, scientifically the human zygote is fully human once the sperm fertilizes the egg. It is an actual being with potential to continue to grow and develop. There is also a popular opinion that up to 14 days after fertilization, the embryo is a “pre-embryo” and can be used for experimental research or even aborted. Again, immediately after fertilization we have the development of a real, human embryo with 46 chromosomes which marks the beginning of the embryonic period. It is genetically a male or female that is developing into a full-grown child whether it has implanted into the womb of the mother yet or not (Irving, 2014). So, to treat an embryo as anything less than human is to defy Jesus’ teachings regarding the sanctity of human life. It is to commit a moral wrong by playing God rather than following Him, with the end result being the death of a child of God. That is what is happening when individuals use post-fertilization methods of contraception or abortifacients.
Today, individuals feel obligated to establish their own standards of right and wrong. They seek pleasure for themselves without regarding others. This is problematic as we grant ourselves power and authority and in a sense, we become our own god. Constantly placing ourselves at the center of our own world has contributed to the widespread acceptance of abortion. When we consider the fear and selfish attitudes that motivate our decision to abort new life growing inside of the womb, we are able to see abortion as the murder of an innocent child. We are able to see the death of an innocent child for the convenience of someone else.
When it comes to the most common arguments for abortion, we hear many phrases such as “a woman has a right to their body” and even “no unwanted children”. What these individuals are actually saying is that it is more convenient to murder than to deal with what could be considered some minor inconveniences experienced during pregnancy. It is more convenient to murder than to give time, effort, and money to love and raise a child of God.
Again, the passage mentioned above, from Exodus 21, speaks of men being responsible for killing children before they are born. The child in the womb is referred to as just that—a child. God does not refer to the unborn child as having “potential life”, because it is already an infant when in the womb. At conception, an unborn child is fully human and not just an insignificant blob of cells. What this passage showed the people of Israel was that the unborn child deserved to be treated just like every other human being under God’s Law. And the true believer has no other choice but to recognize that the baby in the womb is protected by God’s Law.
As Psalm 139:13-14 reminds us, God is the Creator of who we are. And with all of His Creation God has a plan and purpose. The passage reads, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful; I know that full well.” It is a crime to take the life of an unborn child who God has made in His image with unique plans and purposes. Ultimately, whatever those plans are or could have been were meant to bring Him glory.
What happens when we fail to see an embryo as a wonderful creation of God is we separate sex from being a procreative act and we make it about ourselves saying our pleasure is more important. We learn from King Solomon, who lived for his own pleasure, that a worthwhile life is one spent honoring and obeying God (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). Life is not about maximizing personal pleasure but finding pleasure in glorifying God. We don’t gain anything eternal in seeking pleasure, it is momentary but not sustaining.
As Christians, it is our responsibility to make known the Word of God. We have a duty to warn those who go against the Word just as we are reminded in passages like Ezekiel 3:16-21. We have a responsibility to protect the unborn children and advocate for their rights on their behalf. Once a woman’s egg is fertilized we must protect and nurture that child for the kingdom of God. God made each one of us intentionally and values us. Yet, in light of all of this, people still believe that human beings are disposable. The Bible says that all people possess part of the image of God and that is why murder and abortion are wrong. Just as Shelton Smith said, “Just because Congress passes a law and says it is all right to do a certain thing does not mean that it’s all right to do it” (Walden, 2018).
References
Eckman, Jim. “Teens and Birth Control – Issues In Perspective.” Issues In Perspective Teens and
Birth Control, 12 Jan. 2018, https://www.graceuniversity.edu/iip/2018/01/teens-andbirth-
control/.
“Family Planning/Contraception.” World Health Organization, 7 Feb. 2018, https://www.who.int
/mediacentre/factsheets/fs351/en
Irving, Dianne N. “When Do Human Beings Begin?” Princeton University, The Trustees of
Princeton University, 18 Nov. 2014, www.princeton.edu/~prolife/articles/wdhbb.html.
“Religious Support for Family Planning”. Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, 26 Jan.,
2018, http://rcrc.org/Religious-Support-for-Family-Planning
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Contraception and Birth Control”. National
Institute of Health, 27 Dec. 2017, https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/contraception/
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Walden, James. “Religions – Christianity: Contraception.” BBC, 3 Mar. 2018, www.bbc.co.uk/
religion/religions/christianity/christianethics/contraception_1.shtml
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