Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 23 Number 11 November 2021
Page 2

Editorial

When Does Life Begin?

Introduction

Louis RushmoreLegally in the USA since the Roe v. Wade ruling by the US Supreme Court in 1973, human life does not begin and is not lawfully protected until the time of a live birth. Abortions of unborn babies were legalized in the United States. Contrariwise, “under state law [Florida], destroying a sea turtle nest or eggs is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to a $5,000 fine and/or five years in prison” (“Stiff Penalty”). “What is the penalty for destroying an eagle egg? Penalties include a maximum of five years and $250,000 fine for felony convictions and a maximum $10,000 fine for civil violations and $250 for marking violations. Fines double for organizations. Rewards are provided for information leading to arrest and conviction” (Ford). How odd it is that turtles and eagles are actually turtles and eagles and aggressively protected by law before they’re hatched (comparable to a live birth), but unborn babies are neither recognized as humans nor protected by law before they are born! What could be more ludicrous and inequitable than that? Hardly any other conduct than aborting unborn babies more clearly demonstrates what the apostle Paul called “without natural affection” (Romans 1:31; 2 Timothy 3:3 KJV); the single Greek word rendered “without natural affection” “means hard-hearted towards kindred” (Biblesoft’s).

September 1, 2021, the State of Texas banned abortions in its jurisdiction whenever a fetal heartbeat can be detected – generally at six weeks. This relates to the question, “When does life begin?” For Texas, until some judge or court overrules that state’s law, life legally begins when an unborn baby’s heart begins to beat.

Since Roe v. Wade in 1973 legalized abortions in the United States through 2018, there were an estimated 62,502,904 legal abortions in the USA (Abortion Statistics). “California, Maryland, and New Hampshire have never provided data to this reporting process [to the CDC]… meaning that the real total of abortions is likely higher. Other states have also periodically chosen not to submit reports…” (“Reported Abortions”). Worldwide, January 1 through October 29, 2021, there have been an estimated 35,177,176 abortions (“Abortions Worldwide This Year”).

Actually, neither the US Supreme Court nor the State of Texas determines when life begins. Instead, Almighty God, through the Bible, already determined when life begins, and He is not subject to censure by judges, courts or laws in the USA or elsewhere in the world. (Nevertheless, we commend Texans for defending unborn babies to the extent they can in a perverse political and social climate.)

When Is a Baby a Baby?

For centuries, the expression “you are with child” (Genesis 16:11 KJV, ASV, NKJV, NIV, NASB, AMP, BBE, Darby, Douay-Rheims, RSV) has meant “you are pregnant” (ESV, ERV, TLB). No one ever suspected that an expectant mother was carrying within her a donkey, some other animal, a vegetable, a rock or merely some parasitic tissue. Historically, people were sufficiently informed and honest enough to admit that pregnancy involves a mother and her unborn baby. Permitted to continue to full term, pregnancy always results in the birth (live or not) of a baby human being. “…The only difference in a babe in the womb and one born is the way he eats and breathes…” (Waddey, “Abortion” 4). “The difference between the unborn and the newly born is simply a matter of age and environment, not of essence” (Dockery, The Juggernaut 5).

Babies grow, whether in the womb or after birth. In fact, all of life from conception until one breathes his last is an ongoing life. Ecclesiastes 11:5 illustrates this with a reference to growth in the womb. “As you do not know what is the way of the wind, Or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child, So you do not know the works of God who makes everything” (NKJV).

The fact that God called for the death penalty for the death of an unborn child shows that He makes no distinction between the unborn or the newborn baby.

If men fight, and hurt a woman with child, so that she gives birth prematurely, yet no harm follows, he shall surely be punished accordingly as the woman’s husband imposes on him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. (Exodus 21:22-25)

Isaiah 49:1 and verse 5 prophetically picture the Messiah named and being called to His duties by God “from the womb.” Likewise, in Jeremiah 1:5, God said, “…Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” By inspiration, David wrote of his existence while growing in his mother’s womb, as well as God’s acknowledgement by writing about it in His book of the living (Psalm 139:13-16). Job 3:16 describes unborn babies as “infants,” a word meaning “suckling,” hence, making no distinction between babies before and after they are born. Job, in 10:18, wished that he had never been born – longing to have died in the womb. “Why did you bring me out from the womb? Would that I had died before any eye had seen me” (ESV). Obviously, then, life begins in the womb – before birth. The unborn baby is alive as much as the newborn baby is alive, too; they’re both baby humans.

Samson was declared to be a Nazarite from before his birth while he was in his mother’s womb (Judges 13:5, 7). Similarly, John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit “from his mother’s womb” (Luke 1:15 NKJV), and he was referred to as a “babe” – meaning, “infant” (Biblesoft’s) – before he was born (Luke 1:41).

The Greek brephos is translated as “babe” twice in Luke 1:41 and 44 where it refers to an unborn child (in this place, John the Baptist). Elsewhere, brephos again is translated as “babe” where it refers to a newborn child (in this place, Jesus Christ) (Luke 2:12, 16). In Acts 7:19, brephos is translated as “babies.” The same Greek word appears as “infants” in Luke 18:15 and as “childhood” in 2 Timothy 3:15. Brephos refers alike to unborn babies, newborns or young children, making no distinction between them. The definition of brephos bears this out. “Brephos… an unborn child, embryo, fetus: Luke 1:41,44… b. a new-born child, an infant, a babe… Luke 2:12,16; 18:15; Acts 7:19; 1 Peter 2:2… from infancy, 2 Tim 3:15” (Thayer’s). Babies are babies whether unborn or newborn; brephos applies to both.

The Magnitude of Abortion

“…There are far more lives taken in one year by abortion than lives lost in all of America’s wars” (Robinson 2). Abortions continue to outpace every other cause of death in the USA. In 2011, there were 1,058,000 recorded abortions in America, whereas in 2017 there were 862,000 recorded instances of abortion (Nash). The number one killer is neither war nor heart disease (659,041), cancer (599,601) or accidents (173,040), but abortions lead every other cause of death (“Leading Causes of Death”).

Not to diminish at all the atrocity of the millions of Jews, Poles and others who were murdered by Nazi Germany in WWII, an astronomically greater number of babies are murdered annually around the world. Neither downplaying the murder of infants around Bethlehem ordered by King Herod 2,000 years ago (Matthew 2:16), the number of babies murdered in the first dozen years after Roe v. Wade exceeded the population of New York City; would anyone have noticed or objected had the entire population of New York City been killed over a 12-year period?

“According to the June 5, 1978 issue of Newsweek, 106,000 abortions are performed in America every month. More lives are ended in seven months in this fashion than in the 200 years history of wars in America, which has claimed 667,286 lives” (Ruiz 1). “Each day in America [1977] 3,500 human lives are put to death” (Waddey, “Abortion Is Shedding” 2) through abortions. “…Every day in our own nation in 1978, 3,500 human lives are taken in our own ‘Holocaust’… 24,500 a week, 98,000 a month, 1,176,000 a year” (Hutchinson 1, 3).

The #1 killer is not war. The #1 killer is abortion! In the nine wars and 198 years since 1775, there have been 667,286 American battle deaths. In 1972 alone, 600,000 American babies were killed by abortion. More than a murder-a-minute for each of the 525,600 minutes in the year. In 1972 alone, more babies were killed by “legal” abortion in California than were American servicemen killed in the Vietnam, Korean, Spanish, Mexican, 1812 and Revolutionary wars put together. In war, the medical corps save lives. In abortion, the medical profession kills lives. (Durand 1)

The Overreach of Abortion

Typically, parental permission must be obtained for minor children to have their ears pierced. However, a minor daughter can obtain an abortion not only without parental consent but even without parental knowledge. On July 1, 1976, the United States Supreme Court ruled that minor daughters may obtain abortions without their parents’ consent and that married women may obtain abortions without the consent of the unborn child’s father (Abboud). Consider the following plausible interchange between a judge and a young girl.

Girl: “Can I smoke?”

Judge: “No!”

Girl: “Can I drink?”

Judge: “No!”

Girl: “Can I drive?”

Judge: “No!”

Girl: “Can I vote?”

Judge: “No!”

Girl: “Can I have an abortion?”

Judge: “Yes!”

The following interchange could occur at your daughter’s school.

Nurse: “You want a what?”

Girl: “An abortion.”

Nurse: “Oh, thank goodness! For a minute I thought you said you wanted an aspirin. I would have to get your parents’ consent for that.”

Not only have judges and courts, in addition to legislation, permitted abortion on demand throughout the United States of America, but they can order abortions to take place. In 1999, “a judge has ordered state child welfare officials to take a 14-year-old girl who is 23 weeks pregnant out of the state for an abortion banned in Arizona” (“Abortion Ordered” 3). Let all of this sink in for a moment and visualize to what extent lawmakers and judiciaries could interfere with your family.

The Impact of Abortion

“The present abortion controversy represents the collision of two opposing world views – one essentially pagan and the other Christian” (Dockery, The Juggernaut 3). Abortion on demand corresponds to a godless society nourished for over a century on evolutionary theory, which dethrones God and devalues His Holy Word. Hence, gone is divinely defined morality, and in its place every sort of evil and crime has arisen – including abortions to address the fruits of immoralities. The minds and the hearts of the masses have been wrested from the tender and loving hand of God and freely gifted to Satan.

The following hypothetical conversation also illustrates a material consequence of abortion.

Man: “God! Why haven’t you sent us people with cures for Aids, cancer, world hunger, and all our social problems?”

God: “I did.”

Man: “But, where are they?”

God: “You aborted them!”

Made in the Image of God

God made you and me, beginning with our earliest moments in the respective wombs of our mothers. “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?” (Job 10:10-11).

Humans are made in the (spiritual) image of God (Genesis 1:26-27; 9:6), and therefore, God forbids murder (Exodus 20:13; Romans 13:9; Revelation 21:8). God finds abominable anyone who sheds “innocent blood” (Proverbs 6:17), and for sure, all those involved in abortions – medical professionals, women and family members, and religious people who are supportive of killing innocent unborn children – will encounter an angry God once this life is over. “Every human life is innately sacred…” (Cates 1).

When Does Life Begin?

In 1966, Herbert Ratner, M.D. wrote, “It is now of unquestionable certainty that a human being comes into existence precisely at the moment when the sperm combines with the egg. How do we know this? From everything we know about genetics” (Ratner 352).

This review of the current medical status of the unborn serves us several purposes. Firstly, it shows conclusively the humanity of the fetus by showing that human life is a continuum which commences in the womb. There is no magic in birth. The child is as much a child in those several days before birth as he is those several days after birth. The maturation process, commenced in the womb, continues through the post-natal period, infancy, adolescence, maturity and old age. (“Brief for Appellee”)

“…Life begins at conception…spiritually, biologically, genetically, and physiologically” (Hutchinson 2). “When does life actually begin? The answer, quite simply, is that it begins at conception. When the male and female gametes join to form the zygote that eventually will grow into the fetus, it is at that very moment that the formation of a new body begins” (Harrub 4).

1. The baby’s heart starts beating 18-25 days after conception.

2. By the age of two months, the heart beats so strongly that a doctor actually can listen to it with a Doppler stethoscope.

3. At about this same time, brain activity can be recorded by use of an electroencephalogram. Brain waves are readily apparent.

4. By the age of two months, everything is “in place” – feet, hands, head, organs, etc. Upon close examination, fingerprints are evident. Although less than an inch long, the embryo has a head with eyes and ears, a simple digestive system, kidneys, liver, a heart that beats, a bloodstream of its own, and the beginning of a brain.

5. The unborn child hiccups, sucks his or her thumb, wakes, and sleeps.

6. The unborn child responds to touch, pain, cold, sound, and light. (Harrub 5)

Conclusion

Abortion may be legally right, but it most certainly is morally wrong – sinful! Though the word “abortion” doesn’t appear in the Bible, the child of God is not without divine direction in this matter. “The Bible is clear: Recognizable human life begins in the womb!” (Dockery, Biblical Perspectives 6). Human life commences at the point of conception. No one – even so-called pro-choice advocates – can escape the reality that abortion involves the taking of an innocent human life. To claim otherwise in this advanced age of medical science pretends ignorance and evidences dishonesty. Practicing Christians will do the right thing. Advocate for justice for the unborn with educational information (especially in our families and in church families) and through our right to vote for pro-life candidates.

Works Cited

Abboud, Carolina J. “Planned Parenthood v. Danforth (1976).” The Embryo Project Encyclopedia. 15 Nov 2017. 10 Oct 2021. <https://embryo.asu.edu/pages/planned-parenthood-v-danforth-1976>.

“Abortion Ordered by Court.” The Intelligencer. Wheeling, WV. 26 Aug 1999, 3.

Abortion Statistics. Washington, DC: National Right to Life Educational Foundation, 2019.

“Abortions Worldwide This Year.” Worldometer. 29 Oct 2021. <https://www.worldometers.info/abortions/>.

Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek Dictionary. Electronic Database. Seattle: Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, 2010.

Cates, Curtis A. “Abortion – America Killing Her Own Offspring.” The Knight Arnold News. 22 Sep 1992, 1.

Dockery, Robert G. Biblical Perspectives on Abortion. Gospel Tracts International.

---. The Juggernaut: A Look at Abortion in America. Gospel Tracts International.

Durand, Gilbert. “The Facts of Death.” Mini-Message #1. Glendale, CA: Committee of Ten Million, 1973.

Ford, Joe. “What Is the Penalty for Destroying an Eagle Egg?” AnswersToAll. 27 Apr 2021. 29 Oct 2021. < https://answerstoall.com/users-questions/what-is-the-penalty-for-destroying-an-eagle-egg/>.

Harrub, Brad and Bert Thompson. Stem-Cell Research – Science’s “Slippery Slope.” Montgomery: Apologetics P., 2002.

Hutchinson, Ronnie. “Our Own Holocaust.” The Sure Word. 30 Apr 1978, 1-3.

“Leading Causes of Death.” Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 29 Oct 2021. <https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/leading-causes-of-death.htm>.

Martin, Crawford and others. “Brief for Appellee.” Law Library: American Law and Legal Information. 30 Oct 2021. <https://law.jrank.org/pages/11643/Brief-Appellee-ARGUMENT.html>.

Nash, Elizabeth and Joerg Dreweke. “U.S. Abortion Rate Continues to Drop.” Guttmacher Institute. 18 Sep 2019. 10 Oct 2021. <https://www.guttmacher.org/gpr/2019/09/us-abortion-rate-continues-drop-once-again-state-abortion-restrictions-are-not-main>.

Ratner, Herbert. “The Question of Abortion.” Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Children and Youth of the Committee of Labor and Public Welfare, United States Senate, Ninety-Second Congress. First Session on White House Conference on Youth – Examination of Recommendations. 2 Aug 1972.

“Reported Abortions.” USA Facts. 29 Oct 2021. <https://usafacts.org/data/topics/people-society/health/maternal-early-childhood-health/reported-abortions/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=ND-Healthcare&gclid=Cj0KCQjwlOmLBhCHARIsAGiJg7kst1Z8rvjPbvkIsMlI2A2OE2fPyGtdjO94wW8XKUWeM5yd0XYvcdEaAg2kEALw_wcB>.

Robinson, Garland M. “Abortion Is…” Light for Living Corinth, Mississippi: East Corinth Church of Christ. 19 May 1985, 2-4.

Ruiz, Joseph A. “American Morals V.S. Chinese Morals on Abortion.” The Taiwan/China Messenger May 1980, 1-3.

“Stiff Penalty for Disturbing Sea Turtle Nests.” News 13 Florida. 14 Jul 2015. 29 Oct. 2021. <https://www.baynews9.com/fl/tampa/news/2015/7/14/stiff_penalty_for_di>.

Thayer’s Greek Lexicon. Electronic Database. Seattle: Biblesoft, 2006.

Waddey, John. “Abortion.” The Christian Courier. Jun 1976, 4.

---. Abortion Is Shedding Innocent Blood. Knoxville: John Waddey, 1977.


Editorial

First Things First!

Rodney Nulph, Associate Editor

Rodney NulphOne day, an expert was speaking to a group of business students. “Okay, time for a quiz,” he told them, pulling out a one-gallon, wide-mouthed mason jar, setting it on a table in front of him. Then, he produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar. When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, “Is this jar full?” Everyone in the class said, “Yes.” Then he said, “Really?” He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks.

Then, he smiled and asked the group once more, “Is the jar full?” By this time, the class was onto him. “Probably not,” one of them answered. “Good!” he replied. He reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in, and it went into all the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, “Is this jar full?” “No!” the class shouted. Once again, he said, “Good!” Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked up at the class and asked, “What is the point of this illustration?”

One eager boy raised his hand and said, “The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit some more things into it!” “No,” the speaker replied, “that’s not the point. The truth this illustration teaches us is that if you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.”

Isn’t that just how life can be sometimes? We get all filled up with little things that really do not matter and never have time or room for the big things that matter most. Just think about all the “little” things in life that fill up our jars: worry, fear, discouragement, arguing, bickering, etc. When these and more fill our lives, we have no room for the big and beautiful things like joy, peace, tranquility, harmony and calm assurance that God is on His throne and ruling. Consider some of what the Bible says about “first things first.”

Firstly, fill your life with the right passion. In contrast to being passionate for the earthly, Jesus reminded, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6 NKJV). Paul admonished Timothy, “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22 ESV). When we fill our jar with the earthly, it is impossible to fit in the spiritual! There is little wonder why Jesus demanded, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness…” (Matthew 6:33 NKJV). Your real passion shows!

Secondly, fill your life with the right prayers. Sometimes we talk to everyone about everything but have no time for communication with the One Who really matters – God! A man who filled his jar with prayer, penned, “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Notice, “First of all…”! “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6 ESV). We often want to see change – change in the world, in our careers and in our congregations. Do you really want things to change for the better? God reminded His people of old, “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3 NKJV). “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 I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14). We long for just the right governor, president or political staff to change the world, filling our jars with little pebbles. Yet, the answer to real change is in the “Rock of Ages”! Your prayers matter!

Thirdly, fill your life with the right perspective. How many of our jars are filled with negativity, doom, destruction and frustration today? We live with constant agitation! Why? Because our jars are filled with pebbles of perspective that do not really matter in the big scheme of life. Children of the King are commanded, “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2). What we think, yes, our perspective really makes us who we are (Proverbs 23:7). Paul reminded his friends in Philippi to keep the right perspective. “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8).

We all have loads of things to fit into our jars each day. To live the abundant life that God wants us to live, we must put in the rocks that matter most. If you and I put in the right passion, the right prayers and the right perspective first, the other things will fill in where needed. God said it for our benefit, so let’s remember – first things first!


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