Abortion: Fleshly and Spiritual

By P. J. Casebolt

In recent years, abortion has become the center of much controversy, both religiously and politically. The very fact that the extent of this controversy is of recent origin should indicate that some are being influenced by popular custom rather than by moral principles.

Much of the abortion dispute centers around the time when abortion is performed and when life really begins from a medical or a spiritual standpoint. Personally, I believe that we can arrive at morally defensible positions on this important subject without turning the pulpit into a demonstration that would be more appropriate in a medical college laboratory, and without allowing the advocates of abortion to draw the battle lines from a purely scientific standpoint.

When we believe that God is the giver of life, and that man has a God-given spirit which activates the “also flesh” part of man (Gen. 6:3), then we need to let our Creator define the principles upon which we decide our earthly and eternal destinies. Maybe it will help us to look at the subject of abortion from both a fleshly and a spiritual standpoint. And I believe that man is in no position to separate the fleshly from the spiritual. Further, some common-sense questions and answers may help to clear the atmosphere around this subject which has been clouded by demonstrations centering around abortion clinics.

Even the sensitive matter of deciding between the life of the mother vs. the life of the child constitutes a very small percentage of the questions which arise from the abortion debate. But similar decisions must be made every day. In emergency care manuals, there is a chapter on “Triage,” which simply means a sorting out priorities which must be set in any life-threatening situation. In both the time of birth and the time of death, decisions must be made by families and by the medical profession, and it is difficult to make such decisions.

Rachel died in childbirth (Gen. 35:16-20), as did the wife of Phinehas (1 Sam. 4:19-22). Maybe with modern medical facilities, both the mothers and children could have been saved. I don’t know. Neither do I profess to know or dictate what should be done in similar situations today. But there are some things we can know, and it is with those things that we are more concerned.

Cyrus, the Persian king, was chosen and named by God some 100 years before he was born (Isa. 44:28; 45:1-4), and in the first year of that king’s reign, he began to fulfill the mission which God had planned for him (2 Chron. 36:22, 23). To Jeremiah, the Lord said, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations” (Jer. 2:5).

God told Zacharias and Elisabeth that they would have a son, that his name would be John, “and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb” (Luke 1:13-15). At about the same time, Mary was told, “And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shall call his name Jesus” (Luke 1:31).

Similar examples from the Scriptures could be cited, but these are sufficient for us to ask some questions and reach some conclusions. Do you think that the mothers of Cyrus, Jeremiah, John the Baptist, and Jesus should have considered an abortion, when God “knew” them even before they were conceived or born, and had their missions in life planned? It may be said that God revealed sufficient information to the mothers of John and Jesus that an abortion clinic was not an option, but nothing is said about the mothers of Cyrus and Jeremiah having such information.

How can prospective mothers today know what is in store for their unborn children? Where would the champions of abortion be if their mothers had decided to visit an abortion clinic? Sure, these may be hypothetical questions, but they should remind us that God is the Father of our spirits (Heb. 12:9), the Giver of life, and that when in doubt as to the scientific or medical protocols of birth and life, we need to give at least equal consideration to what God’s will may be in the matter. If all women were to embrace the philosophy of abortion, the population of the world would not only decrease, but it would cease. And why should some women continue to accept the responsibilities of marriage and childbearing while the rest pursue a selfish course and in many cases simply satisfy the lust of fornication?

Let us consider the matter of figurative, or spiritual abortion, for many religious people become guilty of this practice, while voicing their opposition to fleshly abortion.

God had plans for fleshly Zion, as well as for spiritual Zion, and the two ideas are inseparably related. “Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? saith the Lord: shall I cause to bring forth, and shut the womb? saith thy God” (Isa. 66:7-9). According to the premillenialist, God had plans to set up his kingdom, but he aborted those plans when the Jewish nation rejected their Messiah. God had said 700 years before Christ came that he would be rejected (Isa. 53:3), and some 300 years before Isaiah’s time, “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion” (Ps. 2:6). And this was to be accomplished in spite  of the fact that kings and rulers would “set themselves . . . against his anointed” (Ps. 2:2; Acts 4:25-30). No, God did not allow some premillennial abortion clinic to abort his plans concerning the kingdom.

There are other religious people who oppose fleshly abortion, but set up their abortion clinics in an effort to keep people from being born into the family of God. As the Jews tried to hinder the establishment of Christ’s kingdom and those who would enter that kingdom (Matt. 11:12), “Elymas the sorcerer . . . withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith” (Acts 13:8). I have seen people who would not be born into the kingdom themselves, and who would also discourage others from being “born of water and of the Spirit” that they might enter the kingdom (cf. Matt. 23:13; John 3:5). As Nicodemus could not discern between a physical and a spiritual birth, so are some today unable to discern between a fleshly abortion and a spiritual abortion.

We are born into the family of God by the incorruptible seed of God’s word (1 Pet. 1:23), and that word tells us that we become children of God through faith and baptism (Gal. 3:26, 27). As the Lord hates “putting away” (Mal. 2:16), so does God hate abortion, whether it be fleshly or spiritual.