Abortion-relevant References from Scripture

The Nature of the Unborn

"The babies [Jacob and Esau] jostled each other within her [Rebekah]." (Genesis 25:22)

"In the womb he [Jacob] grasped his brother's heel; as a man he struggled with God." (Hosea 12:3)

"Your hands shaped me and made me. Will you now turn and destroy me? Remember that you molded me like clay. Will you now turn me to dust again? Did you not pour me out like milk and curdle me like cheese, clothe me with skin and flesh and knit me together with bones and sinews? You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your providence watched over my spirit." (Job 10:8-12)

"Did not he who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same one form us both within our mothers?" (Job 31:15)

"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 . . . My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." (Psalm 139:13-16)

"Surely I was sinful at birth; sinful from the time my mother conceived me." (Psalm 51:5)

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." (Jeremiah 1:5)

"His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit . . . an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit." (Matthew 1:18-20)

"But the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. . . . The angel answered, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.'" (Luke 1:30-31, 35)

Note: Later in this passage, in Luke 1:39-44, the preborn John the Baptist (in his sixth month after conception) responded to the presence of the preborn Jesus in his mother Mary. Judging by the time it would take Mary to get to Elizabeth-she left "immediately" after the angel appeared to her-Jesus was probably no more than ten days beyond his conception. Since implantation doesn't begin until six days after conception and is not completed until twelve days, it is likely Jesus was not even fully implanted in his mother's womb when the preborn John responded to his presence.

The Early Church on Abortion

"You shall love your neighbor more than your own life. You shall not slay a child by abortion. You shall not kill that which has already been generated." (Epistle of Barnabas 19.5; second century)

"Do not murder a child by abortion or kill a new-born infant." (The Didache 2.2; second century catechism for young Christian converts)

"The fetus in the womb is a living being and therefore the object of God's care" (Athenagoras, A Plea for the Christians, 35.6; 177 A.D.)

"It does not matter whether you take away a life that is born, or destroy one that is coming to the birth. In both instances, the destruction is murder." (Tertullian, Apology, 9.4; second century)

"Those who give abortifacients for the destruction of a child conceived in the womb are murderers themselves, along with those receiving the poisons." (Basil the Great, Canons, 188.2; fourth century)

Jerome called abortion "the murder of an unborn child" (Letter to Eustochium, 22.13; fourth century). Augustine used the same phrase, warning against the terrible crime of "the murder of an unborn child" (On Marriage, 1.17.15; fourth century).

The early church fathers Origen, Cyprian and Chrysostom likewise condemned abortion as the killing of a child.

"The fetus, though enclosed in the womb of its mother, is already a human being and it is a most 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 (sixteenth century reformer)

God is Creator and Owner of all people (and therefore has sole rights over all)

"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." (Genesis 1:27)

"Know that the Lord Himself is God: it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture." (Psalm 100:3, NASV)

"For every living soul belongs to me, the father as well as the son." (Ezekiel 18:4)

"Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand." (Isaiah 64:8)

"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

God has exclusive prerogatives over human life and death

"See now that I myself am He! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand." (Deuteronomy 32:39)

"The LORD brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and raises up." (1 Samuel 2:6)

"You shall not commit murder." (Exodus 20:13)

Note: Except when he specifically delegates that right to men (e.g. capital punishment, self defense, or just war), God alone has the right to take a human life.

"And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man."(Genesis 9:5)

"If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman's husband demands and the court allows. But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise." (Exodus 21:22-25)

"Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account." (Hebrews 4:13)

God's view of Children who are handicapped or conceived by rape

"The LORD said to him, 'Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD?'" (Exodus 4:11)

"Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker, to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, 'What are you making?' Does your work say, 'He has no hands'? Woe to him who says to his father, 'What have you begotten?' or to his mother, 'What have you brought to birth?' "This is what the LORD says, the Holy One of Israel, and its Maker: . . . do you question me about my children, or give me orders about the work of my hands?" (Isaiah 45:9-11)

"Neither this man [who was born blind] nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life." (John 9:3)

Jesus said, 'When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous." (Luke 14:12-14)

"Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their fathers; each is to die for his own sin." (Deuteronomy 24:16)

How God Sees Children

"See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven." (Matthew 18:10)

"But Jesus called the children to him and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these." (Luke 18:16)

"Your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost." (Matthew 18:14)

"Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him." (Psalms 127:3-4)

The Shedding of Innocent Blood

"Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molech, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the LORD." (Leviticus 18:21)

"The LORD said . . . 'Any Israelite or any alien living in Israel who gives any of his children to Molech must be put to death. The people of the community are to stone him. . . . by giving his children to Molech, he has defiled my sanctuary and profaned my holy name. . . . If the people of the community close their eyes when that man gives one of his children to Molech . . . I will set my face against that man and his family and will cut off from their people both him and all who follow him . . ." (Leviticus 20:1-5)

"Do this so that innocent blood will not be shed in your land, which the LORD your God is giving you as your inheritance, and so that you will not be guilty of bloodshed." (Deuteronomy 19:10)

"The LORD sent Babylonian, Aramean, Moabite and Ammonite raiders against him. He sent them to destroy Judah, in accordance with the word of the LORD proclaimed by his servants the prophets. Surely these things happened to Judah according to the Lord's command, in order to remove them from his presence because of the sins of Manasseh and all he had done, including the shedding of innocent blood. For he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the LORD was not willing to forgive." (2 Kings 24:2-4)

"The LORD said, 'What have you done? Listen! Your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground.'" (Genesis 4:10)

"For God will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death. He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight." (Psalm 72:12-14)

"There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers." (Proverbs 6:16-19)

"Therefore as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I will give you over to bloodshed and it will pursue you. Since you did not hate bloodshed, bloodshed will pursue you." (Ezekiel 35:6)

God's Offer of Forgiveness

"God does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust." (Psalm 103:10-14)

"Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea." (Micah 7:18-19)

"He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy." (Proverbs 28:13)

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9)

"God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:21)

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Romans 8:1)

"When I kept silent [about my sin], my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. . . . Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the LORD'óand you forgave the guilt of my sin." (Psalm 32:3-5)

"If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:14)

The Impact of Unconfessed Sin

"Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart." (Psalm 24:3-4)

"If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened." (Psalm 66:18)

"If anyone turns a deaf ear to the law, even his prayers are detestable." (Proverbs 28:9)

"'When I called, they did not listen; so when they called, I would not listen,' says the LORD Almighty. (Zechariah 7:13)

"Don't you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast--as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed." (1 Corinthians 5:6-7)

"For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?" (1 Peter 4:17)

Bear Each Other's Burdens

"Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed." (James 5:16)

"Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2).

"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins" (1 Peter 4:8).

"Be merciful , just as your Father is merciful. (James 2:13)

"Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy." (Matthew 5:7)

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God." (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

Defend the Weak and Helpless

"He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing" (Deuteronomy 10:18).

"Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked." (Psalm 82:3-4)

"Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, 'But we knew nothing about this,' does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?" (Proverbs 24:11-12)

"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy." (Proverbs 31:8-9)

"Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins." (James 4:17)

"House of David, this is what the LORD says: 'Administer justice every morning; rescue from the hand of his oppressor the one who has been robbed, or my wrath will break out and burn like fire because of the evil you have done-burn with no one to quench it.'" (Jeremiah 21:12)

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come . . . take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. . . . I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me . . . . For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me. . . . 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'" (Matthew 25:31-46)

Choose Life

"This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live." (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Randy Alcorn, founder of EPM

Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over fifty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries