The Unborn – A Biblical Primer

With Roe vs Wade back in the news, here is a list of biblical passages that Christians should consider as they think about the unborn.

Part 1 – The Value of the Life of the Unborn

The fundamental value of all human life (as opposed to the life of a cow or a caterpillar) lies in the biblical revelation that mankind (male and female) are made in the image of God.

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 

Genesis 1:26-27

The circumstantial differences between people, such as their position within the social hierarchy, are not pertinent to value since both are made in the image of God.

Did not he that made me in the womb make him? and did not one fashion us in the womb? 

Job 31:15

The stages of development in the womb are part of the work of God in fashioning humanity. It is impossible to make distinctions on the value of the unborn based on their development as the entire process is orchestrated by God.

For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

Psalm 136:13-16

The unborn already have God given purposes for their life.

Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. 

Jeremiah 1:5

But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.

Luke 1:13-15

Part 2 – The Calling to Motherhood

Fruitfulness in progeny is a purpose and blessing from God.

And God blessed them (Adam and Eve), saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. 

Genesis 1:22

And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. 

Genesis 9:1

And I will make thee (Israel) exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.

Genesis 17:6

Motherhood is the normative calling for women.

And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living. 

Genesis 3:20

Thou shalt be blessed above all people: there shall not be male or female barren among you, or among your cattle. 

Deuteronomy 7:14

Her children arise up, and call her blessed

Proverbs 31:28

Part 3 – Response to the Social Injustice of Abortion

The midwives in Egypt refused to commit infanticide.

But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive.

Exodus 1:17

The Israelites were forbidden from offering their children to Molech

And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD. 

Leviticus 18:21

Old Testament Jews and New Testament Christians are to seek the good of the most vulnerable

Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. 

Isaiah 1:17

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. 

James 1:27

Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 

Matthew 25:45


The Biblical teaching on the value of the unborn is clear, as is the responsibility to the most vulnerable in society. These vulnerable ones include the unborn as well as mothers in distress. Just as Christians cared for exposed babies in the Roman Empire by establishing orphanages, homeless children in Europe by establishing Sunday Schools, slaves in the Western world by promoting abolition, so we find Christians in the 21st century funding and supporting pregnancy care centers, adopting, fostering, and caring for babies.

Justice Defined

This is the first blog entry in a series on justice.

Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches. But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment (mishpat), and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD. 

God. Jeremiah 9:23-24

What does it mean to live in a just society? The ancient world knew little of justice in the sense that we think of justice. Justice was whatever the ruler, king, or local bully made of it. There was no legal recourse to correcting an “injustice” because there was no such thing as an injustice, intrinsic human rights, and such things that we take for granted.

When God redeemed Israel from slavery in Egypt, His purpose was to create an entire civilization that exhibited justice. They were to be the light to the nations and show the true way of God. Even a cursory reading of the Pentateuch would demonstrate this in the commands to care for the poor, to not oppress the foreigner, and to provide for orphans and widows. Centuries later, when God is expressing his grief and anger over Israel’s failure to live up to their calling, He sends prophets to condemn their failure to exhibit His justice. So how exactly do we define justice?

There are a couple of Hebrew words that are used throughout the Old Testament to describe justice, but even in the English we get a sense of what justice really is. To be “just” is to be “right”, or “righteous”. Justice is righteous behavior. It is impossible to think about justice without thinking about words such as virtue, sin, wickedness, mercy, and such. This is because justice is as much a personal attribute as it is a list of rules. Because God is fully righteous, He makes fully righteous laws. A morally virtuous people will enshrine their virtues into law while a wicked people will enshrine their greed, envy, and malice into law. The law simply reflects the heart of the law-giver.

All of this may seem somewhat nebulous and undefined, but that is chiefly because the concept is so large. We can bring the point home a little more clearly with a specific example from the Pentateuch: the law about loans and pledges. As in our day, oftentimes a lender would demand some sort of pledge to ensure that the loan was repaid. In ancient Israel that pledge might be something as simple as a man’s outer garment. In Deuteronomy 24:13, the lender is prohibited from keeping the outer garment overnight – even if it is the collateral – because that is what the man needs to stay warm at night. When a lender returns the pledge before nightfall, even if the loan has not been repaid, God counts that as righteousness (the same Hebrew word used for justice) . The legal terms of the loan are less important than the treatment of the actual person.

So in God’s eyes, justice is something like “treating others in a way that is consistent with the way God made the world.” In the case of the cloak, it would be wrong to allow another human being to sleep out in the cold without protection from the elements. Allowing him his cloak back is a superior form of justice over keeping the legal terms of a loan. Ultimately, the treatment of human beings in a “just” way comes down to the reality that man is made in the image of God. Outside of this there is little theological, philosophical, or sentimental rationale to treat others in a just way. When the Christ came, he championed this same rule of justice and His Church followed in His footsteps, infecting Western civilization with these previously foreign concepts. Thus, the Western world is founded on Judeo-Christian values.

Of course, the Church has not always succeeded (or succeeded immediately) in carrying out these forms of justice. One reason for this is that it has been difficult historically to always distinguish those who are the recipients of “the righteousness that comes by faith” from the recipients of a cultural tradition to which they only pay lip service. In other words, true believers are often hard to distinguish from those who only pay lip service as a cultural tradition. But as a whole, the marks of the Judeo-Christian tradition of justice have yielded the most humane, civilized, and just society known to mankind. For that we ought not make any apology. We should simply contrast it with those who rejected this tradition in order to form their own “just societies”, and the 20th century abounded with them. Standing out above all others would have to be the USSR and China, both of which thought some sort of functional society could be founded apart from individual righteousness, and both of which resulted in abominations.

This standard of justice also means that we must treat others as responsible moral agents, since they are the image of God. There is no injustice in refusing to feed a lazy man who refuses to work, or in holding a drunk driver responsible for causing an accident. True justice is more complicated than simply giving people what they want because what people want is often contrary to the intent for which they were created. If we are to treat people as the image of God, we must acknowledge that there is a transcendent truth governing the reality of man’s existence. Outside of that ideal there is no moral travesty that mankind will not perpetrate on each other, as evidenced by the secular societies of the 20th century.