Introduction: What if the unborn are people?
For many years people have criticized evangelicals for being too narrowly pro-life. The quip has been that we care about babies from conception until birth. In the last few week we have seen that being pro-life involves loving and caring about people in many ways. It involves loving the poor, loving across racial boundaries, supporting adoption and adoptive parents and seeing the disabled as unique manifestations of the image of God. All this is involved in being pro-life. I think we can admit that in each one of these areas we have felt guilt. Juan Galloway told us about having reciprocal relationship with poor people. Many of us are greedy, materialistic people but we learned something about God’s heart for the poor. In the same way last we when we looked at racism, we started with the premise that we are more racist then we admit.
So too today, we need to finish up our series with the topic that got snowed out back in January. We must talk about the unborn. How are we to view the unborn if we are pro-love and pro-life? It is important to remember that just as we saw our short coming in past sermons, so too when we will feel then when we talk about abortion. It is difficult for some of us. Perhaps you have paid for an abortion, or counseled abortion, or had an abortion. In a gathering this size, in a country where abortion has been legal for a generation, I have to assume that some have experienced abortion this way.
This sermon is not to judge you; we are all being challenged to be consistently pro-life. I have never been part of an abortion, but that is because I never had to face an unplanned pregnancy. What would I have done? I cannot say for sure. Today, as we talk about the unborn you need to know that this is a safe place and I am not here pour guilt on you like salt on a wound because the question is not “what would I have done,” or “what did you do?” The question is this: “what if the unborn are people?”
I have been reading Shelby Foote’s massive three volume history of the American Civil War and it is an inspiring in many ways. I can listen to the conviction of the confederate leaders, about how they were fighting to protect their liberties, their families and their land. They were willing to sacrifice and they fought with great valor. But of course the whole thing only works if you are ignoring the liberty, families and rights of the African slaves. As long as you leave their liberty out you can talk about popular sovereignty, states rights, or northern aggression. But once you accept that they are people, everything changes.
So what of the unborn? We will consider this by looking at scripture, society and science.
Beyond Proof texting, scripture points directly and indirectly to the personhood of the unborn.
There are Bible verses that would speak quite directly to the unborn as person, and we will get to them. But beyond that, the whole tenor of scripture is that God knows us before we are born and sees us as eternal persons. In Genesis 1 we see God making humanity in his image and after the fall he is already alluding to the one who would bruise the enemy.
In Genesis 25 Rachel is pregnant with twins and the babies are jostling in her womb – she ask about them and is told that there are two nations in her womb. Each child is different and each child has a destiny.
21 Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. 22 The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, “Why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the Lord.
23 The Lord said to her,
“Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples from within you will be separated;
one people will be stronger than the other,
and the older will serve the younger.”
In Jeremiah 1 God appears to Jeremiah to tell him that he must go to the nations with a message from God. His rationale is this – before I formed you in the womb I knew you.
4 The word of the Lord came to me, saying,
5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew[a] you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
In the words of Psalm 139, which we quote each time we do a baby dedication, the writer declares that he was known by God before he was born. Just looking at the words in these verses are enough to make this clear for the believer.
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 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.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.
Just one more
When Mary the mother of Jesus finds out God’s plan for her she goes to visit her cousin Martha who was pregnant with John the Baptist. In an amazing moment the scriptures describe how Mary enters the house and the baby in Martha’s womb leaps for joy. Think of that: not only does she declare that Mary is already a mother, but her baby is already responding to the Messiah.
41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”
The whole tenor of scripture points to the unique identity, humanity and destiny of each unborn child. What is doubly notable about these example is that the writer is not trying to prove anything about the life of the unborn. This is just how people saw life.
The stories of our culture point more and more to the realization of the humanity of the unborn
In many of the stories of our culture, particularly movies, people show that they view an unborn baby as a person. There is a scene that shows this in the Emilio Estevez’ movie “The Way” staring his father Martin Sheen. It is part of the plot of “Juno” where the baby in an unplanned pregnancy is cherished and protected in the womb. The same can be said in “Knocked Up” the Judd Apatow movie.
Apatow is not only a writer, producer and director but he is the center of a whole group of actors who have made many funny, irreverent movies. It seems to me that Apatow and his friends use crude humor to cover up deeper feelings. All along the way Apatow has made movies that reflect the phase of life he is in from Freeks and Geeks to Pineapple Express to “This is 40.”
Obviously “Knocked Up” is about an unplanned pregnancy that is shared by two people who would not normally be together. When the main characters find out about the pregnancy there are two scene first where the woman tells her mom about the pregnancy and then the man tells his father. In the first scene the mother is clearly not supportive and she tells her daughter to “take care of it” so that some day she can have “a real baby.” When the woman asks her mother to be supportive she says simply “I cannot .”
In the next scene where the guy tells his father the news — Seth Grogan tells Harold Ramis (one of the Ghost Busters for those of you old enough to remember) –his first reaction is “I am going to be a grandfather.
Knocked Up – Judd Apatow
Katherine Hiegel — Alison
INT. RESTAURANT – DAY
Alison and her mother, BETTY, sit over lunch.
Alison, just take care of it. Take
care of it. Move on. What’s gonna happen with your career? Or how, how are you gonna tell them?
Well, I’m not gonna tell them for a
while. I have a while before I have to say anything.
How could you not tell them?
Well, they’re not gonna know. I mean,
I’m only gonna start to show when I’m like, I don’t know, six months or something. Seven months.
Three months. Fat in the face, jowls,
Debbie didn’t get fat.
Debbie is a freak of nature.
Mom, you know, it’s important to me
that you be supportive.
I cannot be supportive of this. This
is a mistake. This is a big, big mistake. Now think about your stepsister. Now, you remember what happened with her? She had the same situation as you and she had it taken care of. And you know what? Now she has a real baby. Honey, this is not the time.
Seth Rogan – Ben
Harold Ramis, Harris, his father
INT. DINER – DAY
Ben and his father, HARRIS, sit at a table over lunch.
I’m gonna be a grandfather.
You happy about that?
This is a disaster.
No, this is not a disaster.
It is, you know?
An earthquake is a disaster. Your
grandmother having Alzheimer’s so bad she doesn’t even know who the I am, that’s a disaster. This is a good thing. This is a blessing.
I had a vision for how my life would
go and this definitely is not it.
Wait. Are you living your vision right
I am kinda living my vision, yeah.
Well, that is sad, I’m telling you.
Life doesn’t care about your vision. Okay?
Stuff happens. You just got to deal
with it. Roll with it. That’s the beauty of it all.
In another amazing testimony we hear the pain of a woman who had an abortion and now feels the disappointment and hurt. She talks of “believing the nonsense” of those who said she is not ready. This is Nicki Minaj in her song “autobiography.”
Nicki Minaj — Autobiography
Please baby forgive me,
mommy was young,
mommy was too busy tryna have fun
and now I don’t pat myself on the back for sending you back
’cause god knows I was better than that
then leave you
the concept alone seems evil
I’m trapped in my conscience
I adhere to the nonsense
listened to people who told me I wasn’t ready for you
But how would they know what I was ready to do
And of course it wasn’t your fault
…when I’m sleeping I see you in my dreams with me
wish I could touch your little face
or just hold your little hand
if it’s part of gods plan,
maybe we can meet again
Two other examples;
When Kate Middleton is pregnant no one says she has a fetus. They say she is bearing the heir to the throne of England.
Second we saw the dust up over the Doritos commercial that aired during the Super Bowl.
NARAL, the abortion rights league said that the commercial dangerously humanized the fetus. What were they going to say? The commercial revealed what everyone knows: that an unborn baby is a person that responds to stimuli, that moves and sleeps. But if NARAL concedes this they are admitting that the unborn baby is a person and they don’t want to do that.
What this commercial shows among other things is that science can now help us see in the womb. Looking into the womb takes away any sense that this is just a blob of tissue. Anyone who has seen an ultrasound knows that the fetus is a living person
The ability to see inside the womb and understand genetics reveal the unique humanity of the unborn person.
Leonard Pitts Jr., who won a Pulitzer Prize for commentary, recently wrote a column where he admitted that though he is politically liberal and “pro-choice” he is “anti-abortion.”
Pitts is worried about the consequences of making abortion illegal, but he admits to being anti-abortion and reveals what everyone knows in their hearts. The fetus is a person.
Science has progressed to the point where they can help a premature baby survive outside the womb. A baby that could legally be aborted in many states could also live outside the womb if delivered. How are we to view this? Doctors can even operate on a baby in the womb and when they do they give the baby anesthesia. They do that because the fetus feels pain. The fetus feels pain because it is a person
The starting point for us is the personhood of the fetus. Scripture affirms the personhood of the fetus but so do most people in our culture when they respond honestly to a pregnancy. They celebrate pregnancy because most of us have seen inside the womb. Science confirms what we believe from scripture: the life inside the womb is sacred because it carries a person made in the image of God.