In this two-part series, pastors Derek and Cliff discuss the recent Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade and other issues related to the sanctity of life.
Derek: Welcome to With All Wisdom, where we are applying biblical truth to everyday life. My name is Derek Brown, and I’m here today with Cliff McManis. We are both pastors at Creekside Bible Church in Cupertino, California and professors at the Cornerstone Bible College and Seminary in Vallejo, California. And today we want to talk about the sanctity of life. But before we get to our topic, I want to point you towards WithAllWisdom.org, where you’ll find a large and growing collection of articles and audio resources like this podcast that are all designed to help you grow in your relationship with the Lord Jesus—everything rooted in God’s Word. And we seek to provide you with resources that will help you make genuine progress in your relationship with the Lord. Well, today we want to talk about the sanctity of life in response to the recent Supreme Court ruling that occurred last week [the time this episode was recorded].
And that ruling basically said that it is not a person’s constitutional right to have an abortion. And so what that did was, it sent the decision for those things back to the states, removing it from the federal jurisdiction, and now sending it back to the states to decide on how they will rule with regard to allowing or banning abortions. And so we want to talk about the whole topic of being pro-life. We want to talk about how Christians should respond to this. We want to talk about the state of our country and the way people are thinking about this on the whole. And so I’m going to turn it over to you, Cliff, if you could just take it away with your first item on your agenda.
Cliff: Yeah. I thought it’d be good to talk about the sanctity of life in general—that’s kind of our umbrella concept—and what the Bible has to say about the sanctity of life. The sanctity of life means that God is the giver of life, the protector of life, the one who blesses life, and sustains life. And that includes more than just the abortion issue. It’s related to every age—how we think of the elderly and those kinds of things as well. Their life is precious, too. Or those who [have] Down syndrome—people [who] God has made in His image. But we will focus on a sanctity of life relative to abortion today, in light of the decision that was made about Roe v. Wade last week. So here it is. It’s June of 2022.
So, it is a historic decision that was made by the Supreme Court of the United States last week. The headline said, “Supreme Court Overrules Roe v. Wade after 50 Years,” which is an accurate headline. But what that really means—there’s been a lot of confusion and misunderstanding. You just gave the proper one-sentence summary of what that judgment actually rendered. But before we talk about practical implications—how that affects the states in America, and also our state here in California on a practical and personal level—I thought we could just lay out what the Bible says about the sanctity of life and abortion and life and the womb.
Derek: Well, I certainly appreciate that approach. I think that’s the right methodology.
Cliff: Yeah. As we lay down the foundation, because this is (abortion and pro-life versus pro-choice) a contentious topic here in America—politically and socially and culturally. But what the Bible says about life in the womb isn’t controversial. It’s clear, right? It is black and white, right? So that’s what Pastor Derek and I want to do here: just [give] real, basic, biblical principles of establishing that God is the Giver of life in the womb—when it starts, how it’s precious, and it is sacred. And I thought we could just look to some key biblical principles there. So how about if we start off with Genesis chapter one? And my first point is that the first chapter of the Bible is pro-life—Genesis chapter one. And I want to just read one verse in the first chapter. One thing, Derek, that you and I were disappointed about was, you know, the ruling comes out that Roe v. Wade is overturned, and pro-life [people are] celebrating. And then all these so-called famous Christians that we know come out and condemn the ruling, to our great disappointment.
Cliff: Because we thought, “Well, wait a minute. I thought they were Christians? And shouldn’t Christians be celebrating life?” Can you be a Christian and celebrate abortion? Certainly not.
Derek: Yeah. I don’t think so either.
Cliff: So that was revealing. So we would just want to make it clear that if you’re a Christian and you’re listening, there’s only one view you should have, and that’s God’s view about life. So we would just want to give you some key Bible verses here, laying down some basic principles. But [laughs], actually, Genesis chapter one—the first chapter in the Bible—is actually pro-life, so that should be your position as a Christian. That’s encouraging.
And so on day six, God created the first two human beings. They were real human beings. Adam was a real person. This is not metaphorical or allegorical or poetry. God made two people, Adam and Eve, and that’s where we all came from, literally. And the first command that God gave Adam and Eve was a pro-life command. So, the first chapter in the Bible is pro-life. The first command given to humanity regarding their existence and purpose on earth is pro-life. Here’s what it says. Genesis 1:27: “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” And then in verse 28, after He creates them, He blesses them. “God said to them—and this is a command—’be fruitful and multiply.’” That means have children.
Derek: Have babies, and lots of them.
Cliff: And that is a theme all throughout the Bible. That command by God has never been rescinded. As a matter of fact, God always blesses procreation in a marriage relationship, and that’s His desire. So this is basic to humanity. God is pro-life. The Bible is pro-life. This is at the most rudimentary, basic level of what it means to be a human—to be involved in procreation. And every time we bring a human being into this world, it’s another image-bearer. It is someone who bears the very image of God.
Derek: And for that reason, [that image-bearer] is precious. Yeah. That’s the basis for the dignity of the human person. That’s a lot of the language that’s used. How do we root the dignity of the human person? Well, you root it in the image of God. Like you said, it’s pretty amazing, if you just stand back and think about it. Every child that comes into the world is an image-bearer—a person made in the very image of God—which gives them great worth and value. They’re precious, and we should view them all as such.
Cliff: Amen. So the first chapter—the first command for humans—is pro-life. Another principle is that life begins at conception, and we can give a lot of verses for this. But I think the most specific one is Psalm 51, verse five. It’s a prayer of David. It’s even more specific. If you look at the Hebrew text, as David was moved along by the Holy Spirit when he said this prayer and then wrote it down, it’s inspired Scripture. It’s the very Word of God. In Psalm 51, verse five, as he is moved by the Spirit of God, [he is] basically saying that at conception, he was a human being. In the womb. So Psalm 51:5 clearly teaches that life for human beings begins at conception.
Cliff: And it is to be protected as such. The next principle in the Bible—number three—is that the baby in the womb is a person because life begins at conception and because every human being is made in God’s image. Every baby in the womb is a person. Before I read this, can I quote one of our former senators, Barbara Boxer?
Derek: If you would like, yes.
Cliff: She was on the Senate floor—that means publicly, on our tax dollars—a couple of decades ago. I think it was in the nineties, because I remember that I was alive at the time. Barbara Boxer, Senator of California, pro-abortion to an extreme. And they were arguing and debating about abortion in the Senate. And she said that “the fetus is not a person until the mother takes it home from the hospital.” That’s wrong on multiple levels. Contrary to what the Bible says, which is that the baby is in the womb as a person. Not a lot of people refer to this passage because they forget about it, but I just wanted to read it because it’s clear. It’s a narrative in Genesis 25. It’s when Isaac gets married to Rebecca, God blesses them, and then when he is forty years old, God opens up the womb of his wife.
Verse 21: “Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was unable to have children; and the Lord [m]answered him, and his wife Rebekah conceived.” So that’s the biblical position. God is the giver of life. He opens the womb; He closes the womb. God is in charge.
And then in verse twenty-two, she actually became pregnant with twins in her womb. It says, “But the children struggled together within her…” So the Bible refers to the two twins in the womb as children already. It’s beautiful. So they’re already called children while in the womb. “And she said, ‘If it is so, why am I in this condition?’ So she went to inquire of the Lord. And the Lord said to her, ‘Two nations are in your womb; And two peoples will be separated from your body…’” I mean, the terminology there—they’re called “children,” right? They’re already considered nations. “And one people will be stronger than the other; And the older will serve the younger. When her days leading to the delivery were at an end, behold, there were twins in her womb. Now the first came out red, all over like a hairy garment; and they named him Esau. Afterward his brother came out with his hand holding on to Esau’s heel, so he was named Jacob.”
So the terminology used by the Bible there is that the baby inside the womb was a person.
[Now look at] Jeremiah 1:5. Jeremiah was living around the time of the Babylonian captivity and was a prophet of God. And God reminds him and tells him how he was called to the prophetic ministry. And here’s what God said to Jeremiah: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
Derek: So God has this personal relationship with this image-bearer in the womb.
Derek: Before he’s born.
Cliff: Before he is even born. Yeah. That’s God’s point of view.
Derek: Yeah. You have to [wonder], as Barbara Boxer—did you have to make that argument that it’s not a person because if it is a person, then you are murdering? So you have to hold to that argument and you have to say that it’s not a person, obviously contrary to reality and contrary to the Word of God. But you have to say that in order to get past this whole messy thing of what you’re actually doing is taking a person’s life in the womb.
Cliff: You have to, [in order] to be consistent. That’s why these people—usually Democrats—who hold this extreme view of abortion, to be consistent, they have to go to that direction. That it’s not a baby at all for the entire nine months in the womb. It’s not until they’re born that they’re actually a person. Actually, Chuck Schumer of New York just recently was putting forth legislation to that end, as was Nancy Pelosi, which is the extreme. Abortion up to the moment of birth.
Derek: Yeah. Which doesn’t make any logical sense, either.
Cliff: Okay. So the baby in the womb is a person. Then the Bible also says that every soul is God’s and belongs to Him. [We are] His property. In Ezekiel 18:4, God says, “Every soul is mine.” Everyone. They belong to me. They’re His property. He’s the Creator. You hear all this terminology of these pro-abortion people talking about rights, and that they’re outraged because this Roe v. Wade decision takes away the fundamental rights of women and fundamental reproductive rights. Really, what they’re saying is their right to murder their baby.
Derek: That’s right.
Cliff: That’s if you want to get past the rhetoric. And we have to get past the rhetoric. They want rights to murder their baby. And God says clearly in His Word, no, you don’t have any rights. No, God owns every person. He owns every soul. He is the Creator. He is the Judge.
So the next point I wanted to bring up—and you’ve already alluded to it, in light of these clear biblical principles that God is pro-life—is that He’s the Creator of life. Life begins at conception in the womb. The baby in the womb is a person. Every soul belongs to God. If you snuff out that life and take that life, you’re guilty of murder. So that was my next point—that abortion is murder. And there would be some Christians today that [would say] we shouldn’t be talking that way.
Derek: Right. That it’s abrasive. It’s unkind.
Cliff: It’s extreme.
Derek: Yeah. Sounds extreme.
Cliff: We need to tone it down.
Derek: And that’s precisely what the other side would like us to do, is to tone it down. Because that actually highlights the actual moral situation. What is the status of that person—that being—in the womb? Is it a person or not? And when we are using words like “murder,” we’re highlighting the reality that, in fact, they are a person in the womb. And that is what abortion is doing: it’s taking that life unlawfully.
Cliff: Yep. Which leads me to my next point from God’s point of view. So all murder is wrong from God’s point of view. And that’s one of the Ten Commandments. Not all killing is wrong. But all murder is wrong. That’s unjustified killing, from God’s point of view. And even though all murder is sin and wrong and God hates it, there are actually special categories that God makes—distinctions of things that He hates even more than other things, comparatively speaking. And the innocent God puts in a special category—the vulnerable, the innocent, the dependent. We see that in a lot of ways in the Bible, like when widows are put into a specific category of needing special attention, as well as orphans. Those who are weak, where we have to give extra special care to the vulnerable—those kinds of people. And the innocent are in that category, from a biblical point of view, that God puts out even extra safeguards to protect. One verse (there are a lot) is Proverbs 6:16-17, which talks about that. And here’s a summary of what it says.
It says that God or the Lord hates—and that’s the word used—those who shed innocent blood. It is an abomination. Those are the two words: God hates it; it’s an abomination. Who are the innocent? Well, it’s talking about innocent human beings, and it’s not talking about from the spiritual point of view—that they’re sinless. But on a practical, human level, babies are the most innocent humans. Babies or infants. That’s why Jesus in the gospels gave special attention and care to young children, using them as His visual aid to say that if you want to enter the Kingdom of God, you need to humble yourself and become like a child. Then He went on to say, “Woe is the one who causes these little ones to stumble; it would be better that they not been born or that a millstone hung around their necks and they were thrown to the bottom of the sea.” So God has a tenacious heart of protection for the most innocent—that would be children, and even the most vulnerable of innocent children are babies in the womb.
Derek: I don’t know how you could get any more vulnerable than a child in the womb. You can’t.
Cliff: Nope. So of all categories of people that this verse applies to, it would be babies in the womb. The most innocent of all. And the idea of taking a life—of murdering an innocent baby in the womb—God hates that, just for us to be clear. And it is an abomination.
Derek: And it does no one any good to say it any less straightforwardly than that. It doesn’t help anybody. Because then you’re confusing categories. You’re lessening the seriousness of this situation. And so to say it this way is biblical and it’s necessary and ultimately going to be helpful. It is not something that we should tone down. Now, we’re not yelling and screaming and getting angry and these kinds of things. However, the words that we use are extremely important. And in this case, we need to say what Scripture says, and we need to draw out the implications and use the words that are necessary.
Cliff: And we’re just quoting the Bible. The word “hate”—I’m not using that word. That’s what God said. [He said that He] hates the act of those who shed innocent blood. It is an abomination. My last point here—and then we could talk about some practical implications of this—is that God will punish the wicked. God will punish those who have shed innocent blood. The Bible says your sin will find you out. You can’t get away with it. This is about the most heinous human crime, I think, imaginable. Slaughtering innocent babies through abortion. And the Bible’s clear that God will punish the wicked. Those who have taken the life of innocent babies in the womb are going to have to give an account, unless, of course, they can always repent of their sin and ask God’s forgiveness and they can be forgiven.
Derek: Which is wonderful.
Cliff: That’s the gospel. That’s the good news. But in the event that they don’t, and that doesn’t happen, and they actually harden their heart and scream at the top of their lungs wanting to defend their right to continue to kill babies—[God will punish the wicked]. It’s like what we’re seeing in the headlines.
Derek: Which is still astonishing to me. I don’t get numb to that. It’s always astonishing to me to see the response of those who want to protect that right of abortion. They get so angry that I must at all costs be able to abort my child.
Cliff: Angry, angry, angry. You just basically quoted to me—that’s almost a quote from one of the senators of California who was angry because we can’t kill babies anymore. Whereas God is angry because they’re killing babies.
Derek: They’re killing babies. Exactly.
Cliff: But God will punish the wicked. It was Genesis 4:10 where Cain murdered Abel. He thought he could get away with it. And the Scriptures say that Abel was innocent and his blood was crying out from the ground to God for vengeance. That phrase is actually used throughout the Bible. When somebody would commit some murder and there’s bloodshed, that blood pollutes the ground. And God sees it. He hears it. And He will act with vengeance. There will be consequences, either in this life or in the next life. And Jesus said that that those who harm young ones—children, babies—woe unto them. That’s the most serious warning and rebuke you could get in the Bible from God. And they will wish that they had never been born.
So this is how we need to talk. I want to take this to a pastoral level, Derek, because, say you and I were teaching on abortion, whether it’s in a Sunday school class or a Bible study or preaching from the pulpit. We know that in our mixed congregation, we probably have some ladies in our church, or maybe even members of our church who have had an abortion. And yet, we’re going through the points of theology. Abortion is murder. God hates those who shed blood. What should we be thinking as pastors and shepherds of our sheep out there?
Derek: Yeah. So that’s an excellent question, because just given our day and age, it is likely that you’ll have a few ladies in your congregation who either have had an abortion or maybe know someone who has. But just assuming that it was them who had an abortion, and you want to be clear that this is what Scripture says in terms of the heinousness of that particular act, it doesn’t stop there. And as we’ve already noted, the beauty of Christ and of the gospel is that because of Christ’s death on the cross and because of His perfect righteousness, all of us—regardless of what we have done, even if it is abortion or any other kind of heinous crime or activity—can be forgiven of all of that sin, including that particularly heinous sin. [We can be] completely forgiven.
God remembers your sin no more. He wipes it away. You no longer stand before Him condemned. That sin is completely forgiven. And you now have a fresh, new relationship with the Lord God and the Lord Jesus, because of Christ’s work on the cross. So we would want to be clear that, of course, what we’ve said is true. Scripture is true. And it says that this is a human life in the womb, and that taking that life is evil. And if you’ve participated in that, then that is sin, but you can be forgiven 100% by the blood of Jesus.
Cliff: Amen. And Romans tells us where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more. God’s grace in Christ. Grace is greater than any of our sin.
Derek: And there are lots of wonderful stories of women who said they had an abortion and they came to Christ and were forgiven of their sins and the experience of the forgiveness that they had was wonderful. It was overwhelming and abundant, like you just said.
Cliff: Yeah. And so we need to give them the full biblical portrait, right?
Cliff: Abortion is wrong because the baby is a precious life. Killing that baby is murder that warrants the wrath of God. And yet the gospel is available to anyone who wants to repent of their sin and be forgiven. And that just like Moses, who committed murder and was forgiven by God, and David who committed murder and was forgiven by God. Paul (as Saul) probably killed some Christians, and was forgiven. And that’s the glory of the gospel.
Derek: Amen. Well, we want to come back and talk a little bit more about this topic. It’s an important topic and we hope that this has been helpful to you as we talk about the sanctity of life. And we would also like to point your attention to WithAllWisdom.org, where you’ll find lots of articles and audio resources, even some on this very topic of the sanctity of life and being pro-life. And until next time, keep seeking the Lord in His Word.