Human beings are not mere animals, but beings made in God’s image — the “Imago Dei.” Yahweh, the God of the Bible, created us with certain characteristics which reflect some of His own. This comes with certain consequences — chiefly, a sacred obligation to preserve innocent human life, and a grave forbiddance to take it, lest our own be forfeited. This is among the most fundamental beliefs of Christianity and by extension for the abolition and the pro-life movements.
And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
Genesis 1:27 LSB
This truth is the bedrock of the abortion abolition movement: Life is sacred because we are created in God’s likeness. Taking a human life, especially an innocent one, outside of narrowly defined circumstances is a capital offense according to God’s standard of justice. Abortion, as the destruction of a bearer of God’s image, is murder and has historically been opposed by Christianity.
Despite the clarity of God’s word and the historical stance of the Church, some still argue the Bible is silent on or even supportive of abortion. We, as theonomists—believing in the enduring validity of God’s moral law—know a robust biblical defense is essential. This first part aims to assert the Bible’s unequivocal anti-abortion stance. The second part, to come in the following weeks, will pick up where this article leaves off, and emphasize the relevance of God’s law as today’s standard for justice.
Sin by Any Other Name
The Bible may not explicitly mention abortion — intentionally and prematurely ending a pregnancy — but it doesn’t need to. God’s command is clear: “Do not murder.” Specific forms of this crime need not be enumerated; whether it’s vehicular homicide in Connecticut or killing a baby by removing it from the womb, the principle stands.
This tendency to manipulate language, as seen from the Garden of Eden (”Hath God Said?”), is also apparent in atrocities like the Transatlantic Slave Trade. By dehumanizing slaves as “property” — removing the image from the image-bearers — the killing of a slave could be called a “private affair.” Because of course, one does not interfere if a neighbor destroys his own property. It’s personal and private — sound familiar?
Similar dehumanization is observed in various genocides throughout history. Dr. Gregory H. Stanton even listed dehumanization as one of the “Ten Stages of Genocide,” a list used globally to assess potential genocides. Whether it’s biting the Forbidden Fruit or slaughtering fellow image bearers of God, our penchant for word games is central. Instead of listing every variation, God provides principles and caselaw to judge actions.
Redefining sin doesn’t change its nature or deceive God (He still knew where to find Adam and Eve, and what they had done.) Notably, calling an image bearer of God a clump of cells does not disinherit that which is inherent to all human beings. The core message remains: No wordplay can alter the fundamental sin of murder, and the will of man (or woman) cannot make unsacred the sanctity of life.
Exodus 21:22-25: Biblical Justice for the Preborn
History of malignment
History reveals numerous instances of Christianity being manipulated for the purposes of genocide and injustices; Examples include the Nazis and the “German Deutsche Christen,” the Dutch Reformed Church and its propping up of Apartheid, and Margret Sanger use Black ministers to distract from her racist population control agenda. Therefore, it should come as no surprise, today’s perpetrators of preborn genocide seek to do the same, twisting the Bible to justify what the Bible soundly condemns.
While we could write a whole article on the topic of refuting attempts to twist the Bible in favor of abortion, we’re going to focus the remainder of this article on a few key passages intimately tied to the concept of the Imago Dei—being made in God’s image—starting with Exodus 21:22-25.
Exodus 21:22-25: God’s Caselaw for Preborn Human Rights
Exodus 21:22-25 is an Old Testament law protecting preborn rights and an essential caselaw in understanding the attitude of God’s law towards our preborn neighbors. Caselaw is, in short, a specific example of law which can then be applied broadly to other cases. Let’s breakdown Exodus 21:22-25 (LSB) as an example
22 “And if men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she gives birth prematurely, yet there is no injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman’s husband will set for him, and he shall pay as the judges decide. 23 But if there is any further injury, then you shall pay life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, bruise for bruise, wound for wound.
The specific example is men “struggling” with each other, hitting a pregnant woman, and her miscarrying. According to the letter of the law there are certain requirements expected:
- If there is no injury, the man (who injured the woman) will be fined — some biblical commenters explain this is due to the potential long-term injuries the baby might face or other hardships unforeseen down the road as a result of the miscarriage
- Note, the husband makes the demand, but a judge has to approve it — a check to make sure a demand is just and not too punitive, and, maybe, the judge may also be able to determine if there was more harm done than an unlearned man may realize, and demand more money for the man and his family
- If there is any further injury, the “the law of retribution” comes into affect. — In short, this is the penalty to be carried out against any person who harms or kills another Image Bearer of God.
- “The Law of Retribution” is the same law which is repeated in the Noahic covenant (Genesis 9:6) in other parts of the Law (Leviticus 24:17-20, Deuteronomy 19:21,) and reaffirmed as a just punishment by Paul in Romans 13:4.
Making Exodus 21 support abortion
Some claim the “further injury” penalty only applies to the woman, not the child. Yet, context disallows this interpretation. Prior to our passage, in verses 12-14, accidental harm is already addressed. Furthermore, Deuteronomy 19:4-7 adds to how manslaughter is to be judged. The author of Exodus 21:22-25 takes special care to mention
- a pregnant woman
- the consequences of a preborn child
The only way the text can be read to exclude the child is with outside information. While these maligners of the text are rife with extrabiblical eisegesis (i.e., deriving meaning from somewhere other than the text,) they fall short on any evidence from the text which supports the specific claim “further injury” is not to be applied universally to both the woman and the child.
When this point is made to them, they quickly run to other passages in Hosea and in Deuteronomy and attempt to make a larger argument that the biblical authors did not value women or preborn children. That’s the meme. That’s the talking point. Yet, you’ll notice, “not valuing children” by citing redemption fees or the laments of prophets doesn’t in add any limitation to “if there is any further injury.” But let’s look at some biblical commenters and see what they had to say about whether the biblical authors “didn’t care” about women or preborn children.
Exodus 21:22-25: Bible Commentary
In his commentary on Exodus 21, Reformer and theologian, John Calvin remarked:
The foetus, though enclosed in the womb of its mother, is already a human being (homo), and it is almost a monstrous crime to rob it of the life which it has not yet begun to enjoy…it ought surely to be deemed more atrocious to destroy a foetus in the womb before it has come to light.
Similarly, Matthew Henry writes in his commentary of this passage:
The particular care which the law took of women with child, that no hurt should be done them which might occasion their mis-carrying. The law of nature obliges us to be very tender in that case, lest the tree and fruit be destroyed together, v. 22, 23. Women with child, who are thus taken under the special protection of the law of God…
The sentiment of these theologians is distant from the idea that historic Christianity saw the preborn child and pregnant mother with cold indifference. How could they? “In the beginning, male and female, He created them.” Made in the image of God. There is no such thing as a “lesser” image of God.
The historic example of the Christian church is overwhelmingly opposed to abortion and recognizes the preborn child as a human person, rooted in Scripture. This is central to core Christian doctrines.
In conclusion, the Bible’s stance on the preborn is clear and has always been a part of Christian understanding. This text is a testament not just to a legal mandate but to the compassionate care and recognition of human life from its earliest stages — and it’s denial would have grave consequences.
Incarnation Affirms Preborn Humanity
To deny the humanity of preborn children is to overlook foundational Christian doctrine, not just the Image Dei, but also the hypostatic union. The hypostatic union is a fundamental Christian doctrine which describes Christ as both fully God and fully human from conception. This recognition of humanity at conception is central to understanding the incarnation of Christ, its implications for mankind, and the nature of the incarnation.
The doctrine of the hypostatic union was settled by the early church at the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451, this belief was encapsulated in the Chalcedonian Creed—a creed still held by orthodox Christianity (Protestants, Roman Catholics, and Eastern Orthodox.) It confirms Christ’s dual nature as both fully divine (Philippians 2:5-8) and fully human (John 1:14) from the moment of conception, indivisibly unified.
It is hard to explain in a few simple paragraphs how important the hypostatic union is to Christian doctrine. If we’re not human persons at conception, than Jesus Christ was, for a time, fully God, but only partially human. This is heresy. The Son, the second person of the Trinity, is co-eternal with the Father, and has existed eternally (John 1:1-5.) Yet, the humanity of Christ was created in time. The Son was not always human, that humanity had a definite beginning, and according to Scripture, it’s the miraculous moment of His conception by the Holy Spirit’s overshadowing of the Virgin Mary (Luke 1:35.) His two natures, though distinct, were inseparable and complete (Colossians 2:19.)
The historic Christian faith unequivocally declares that abortion is murder; preborn children are humans made in the Imago Dei, and God commands us to seek justice for them (Isaiah 1:17.)
Abortion is a rebellion against God’s sovereign act of creation, His law, and deliberately desecrates the body of an image-bearer of God. The killing of preborn babies is rarely a matter of ignorance or necessity, and even less so a case where there was truly “no other choice.” More often, abortion is a willful act of murder—an intentional extermination of an image-bearer of God. As Romans 3 warns, “There is none righteous, not even one. There is none who seeks for God. Their feet are swift to shed blood. Destruction and misery are in their paths.”
Yet, God’s law remains unchanging, and those who defy it will face repercussions, whether through just earthly laws (Romans 13:1-6) or at the judgment seat of God. The reign of Christ is unassailable, and His justice is unwavering.
For those who feel the heavy burden of God’s impending wrath and judgment, there is hope and healing available if only you seek His face, repent, and believe (Romans 1:19, Romans 8:1-9). This is the Good News, for every person, even the woman who has murdered her babies; Jesus can forgive and make whole — washing away all your sins (1 John 1:7-9).
According to the Bible, salvation can be found only in the name of Jesus Christ, the God of the Bible (Acts 4:10-12 LSB). Therefore, the ultimate solution to the issue of abortion lies in the gospel.
Coming Soon ™
Stay tuned for part two next week, as we delve into the implications of God’s law on the abortion abolition movement, the current reign of Christ, and the crucial importance of being made in God’s image for both of these points.