Counter-Cultural Christianity: Abortion

Psalm 139:13-16

January 17, 2015 | Brian Bill

As we kick off a new series this weekend called, “Counter-cultural Christianity,” I thought it would be good to explain why we’re tackling culturally controversial topics like abortion, homosexuality, racism and suicide.

  1. Many churches have caved on biblical truth.  We won’t do that here.  Our aim is not to be politically correct, but to be biblically correct.  It’s time for churches to speak out…and reach out to those who are confused and ensnared.  As our culture spins out of control we must maintain our call to be salt and light in a decaying and dark world.
  2. Some churches clobber sinners.  We want to always remember that the gospel is for sinners.  It’s ok to be incensed about evil but we’re to extend love to those who practice evil things.  One of the guys I went to Moody with and is now pastoring posted something profound this week: Most people don’t reject the gospel of Christ; they reject the gospel they’ve seen in others.
  3. Our model is Jesus Christ.  We don’t want to cave into sin or clobber sinners but instead to follow Christ as our example.  John 1:14 says that Jesus is “full of grace and truth.”  When a woman was caught in adultery in John 8:11, Jesus ministered grace to her and told her truth: “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”  Likewise, we’re called to minister in truth and with grace.

This past Thursday at the Quad Cities Association of Evangelicals meeting, I was asked to be on a panel to plead with area pastors to address the plight of the preborn and discuss the atrocity of abortion in our churches.  This helped me to think through why I’m so compelled to preach on this topic.

Here are seven reasons I wrote down why some pastors don’t preach sermons on the topic.

  1. It’s too divisive.
  2. It’s perceived to be political.
  3. Pastors don’t want to shame those who have had abortions.
  4. Some are not convinced it’s wrong.
  5. Others are afraid of being labeled a “single issue” pastor. 
  6. Many don’t want to be associated with angry pro-lifers.
  7. Some simply don’t know how to address it.

Here are 10 reasons why we must speak on moral matters.

  1. Abortion is a biblical, moral and ethical issue, not a political one.  A case could be made that it’s the most important moral issue in all of history – the war in the womb is the worst genocide to ever inflict planet earth.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer, also confronting appalling evil during Nazi Germany, wrote these words, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” I like how Pastor Matt Chandler addressed this: “I know some of you are like, ‘Don’t do it, man.  We just found this church….Don’t do this!  I don’t want to find a new church!  Don’t get political on me.’  Listen friend.  This isn’t political…this is a biblical, ethical, spiritual issue that, to our shame, few of us have been moved by.”
  2. One of our roles is to help people think biblically about issues today.  Our calling is to be biblically correct, not politically correct.  Because the preborn are people they must be protected.
  3. Satan is a thief, a liar and a murderer.  Jesus put it like this in John 10:10: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.”  John Calvin followed this dictum: “The pastor ought to have two voices: one, for gathering the sheep; and another, for driving away wolves.” 
  4. Our call is to the little, the least and the lost.  Matthew 25:40: “The King will answer them, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’”  Did you know that there’s a life taken every 20 seconds?   That corresponds to 225 babies who will not take their first breath during our 75-minute worship service.
  5. Silence is a powerful weapon of the enemy.  Abortion is murder AND God is merciful.  If we don’t speak up, where will people hear truth and find grace?  A woman named Nancy Kreuzer, who had an abortion, wondered why there is such a “penetrating, deadly silence” in the church on the topic.  Listen to what she wrote in Preaching Today: “After a while I started to wonder, ‘Is my sin of abortion so unspeakable?  Does my abortion, on a scale of all other sins, rank so despicably high that, though forgivable cannot be mentioned’…if abortion cannot be safely talked about in Christ’s church, well, where can it be talked about?” (Preaching Today, 1/12/2015).
  6. This is part of our call to the gospel ministry.  People must recognize sin before they can be saved.  We can’t minimize it or explain it away.  Talk about sin and then hold up our Substitute!
  7. Abortion is in your church right now.  1 out of 3 have had abortions.  Think of all the men who have been complicit or paid for them.  Church people are in crisis – believe me, you are not preaching to the choir.  
  8. We’re called to stand against the flow of culture.  As salt we’re to retard the rottenness and as light we’re to expose deeds of darkness.
  9. Our ultimate aim is evangelistic.  I’m not interested in winning arguments with people but instead want to win their souls.  We need to equip our people to live on mission by engaging people who think differently than we do in order to win them to Jesus Christ.  I love this motto that one Pregnancy Center uses: “Saving lives, two at a time.”
  10. This will help us save babies.  I told the story of a pregnant young woman in our previous church who listened to a prolife sermon and cancelled her scheduled abortion.  Her son is now a junior at Pontiac Township High School and the quarterback for the football team.

To preach the Gospel while neglecting Scripture’s clear mandates on the sanctity of life verges on censorship of God’s Word.  Martin Luther stated, “If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition, every portion of the truth of God, except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are, at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ.  Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the solider is tested.”

Proverbs 31:8-9 compels us to do so: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.  Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

We can’t just sit back and do nothing.  Proverbs 24:11 lays it out in pretty strong words: “Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter.”  Moses urges us to choose life in Deuteronomy 30:19: “…I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses.  Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.”

Understanding the Atrocity of Abortion

Did you know that abortion is the leading cause of death in the world, killing as many people as all of the other causes of death combined?  In America alone, there have been more than 56 million abortions since it was legalized in 1973.  Here are some key stats.

  • Approximately 1.2 million abortions each year in America
  • For every 1,000 live births, 200 babies are aborted.
  • Women in their 20’s are the most likely to obtain an abortion.
  • The good news is that abortions are at an historic low, down a reported 4% from the previous year.
  • In 2014, 73 abortion clinics closed or stopped performing abortions.
  • 75% of abortion facilities have shut down since 1991.
  • In 2013, there were 44 abortion clinics in Texas, now there are only 16.

I want to draw our attention to a breathtaking passage from the Bible.  This section of Scripture functions much like an ultrasound, giving us a window into the womb.  Psalm 139:13-16 gives us a peek into God’s prenatal care unit, where we will see something so mysterious and so amazing it will forever change the way we look at life.  In this Womb with a View, God is intimately involved in the entire process. 

1. God creates people with a personality. 

Look at verse 13: “For You formed my inward parts; you covered me in my mother’s womb.” The word “for” indicates that this section explains the preceding 12 verses where we see God as omniscient (all-knowing), omnipresent (everywhere present at the same time), and omnipotent (all-powerful).

The “you” is emphatic – You created.  There is no one else.  God is intimately involved with our design, development and delivery.  In short, He made us.  It’s that simple.  Because God is the creator, He is the owner of the preborn – they belong to Him.  

Genesis 1:26 says that men and women are made in the image of God.  In Latin this is called the imago Dei.  The image of God has been stamped upon our very souls.  Genesis 5:3 tells us that this image is passed along from parents so that children are little image bearers of God: “Adam begot a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth.”

Notice also how David uses personal pronouns in this verse – my inward parts…covered me in my mother’s womb.”  There is no doubt that David believed that he was a real person long before he was born.  God clearly states in Jeremiah 1:5 that people have personalities even before they are created: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…”  Isaiah 49:1 adds: “The Lord has called Me from the womb; from the matrix of My mother He has made mention of My name.”

The Scriptures are clear, and science is playing catch-up due to the widespread use of ultrasound technology: Life begins at conception!  In Psalm 51:5, David considers his conception as the launch of his life: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.”  Have you ever considered that from the time of conception, nothing else is added to the embryo?  It simply begins a process of development.

When David says that God “formed his inward parts,” he is recognizing God’s creative power and personal involvement in those things that are truly personal.  The word “inward” is also translated as “heart” and in Hebrew as “kidneys,” which were thought to be the seat of emotions and the will and came to reflect the innermost and most private aspects of a person.  In other words, David acknowledges the fact that God created his spiritual personhood.

In addition to this, David declares that God created his physical personhood.  We see this in the phrase, “you covered me.”  The picture here is that our bones, arteries, muscles, and everything else have been woven together into a beautiful tapestry.  Job 10:11 captures a similar idea: “Clothe me with skin and flesh, and knit me together with bones and sinews.”  This word in Hebrew carries with it the idea of protection, which shows how precious the preborn personality is to God.  I love the picture in Psalm 71:6: “By You I have been upheld from birth; You are He who took me out of my mother’s womb.”

What’s in the womb is not a blob but a baby! 

What’s in the womb is not a blob but a baby!  We are not accidents or the products of impersonal chance.  God creates people with personality.  Secondly, God creates people with a purpose.

2. God creates people with a purpose. 

In verse 15 we see that God was there when we were being formed in utter seclusion: “My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.” The word “made” has the idea of performing an activity with a distinct purpose or goal in mind.  Listen.  God makes people on purpose for a purpose.  And He does all this “in secret,” which has the idea of a shelter.  Unfortunately, in our world today, the womb is no longer a protected place.

The phrase, “skillfully wrought” was used by embroiderers to describe how threads are woven into intricate patterns and designs to reflect the creativity of the Creator, as seen in Exodus 26:36: “You shall make a screen for the door of the tabernacle, woven of blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine woven linen, made by a weaver.”  With God all the parts fit together just right so they support one another.  And, because He is the Divine Embroiderer, unborn babies are intricate and complex, reflecting His beauty and are therefore special and precious in His sight.  

Nothing is hidden from God.  He personally puts our skeleton in place and then creates all the delicate parts of our bodies, weaving them together to form His living masterpiece.  I love the first words in verse 16: “Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed…”  The mention of God’s “eyes” reminds us that God is concerned with watching His creation and the word for “substance” is embryo or fetus.  The idea behind “unformed” speaks of being wrapped together as in a bunch or a ball, which by the way, is exactly what an early embryo looks like.  

The same God, who keeps His eye on the sparrow, also keeps His eyes on every human being as they grow and develop in the womb.  When you think about it, we are all just grown-up embryos!  There’s no difference between an 8-month old preborn baby and a newborn infant except location.

First, God creates people with a personality.  Second, He creates people with purpose.  Third, God creates people with a plan.

3. God creates people with a plan.


We see this in the second half of verse 16: “And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.”  God didn’t just ordain our DNA; he ordained our days.  He has pre-recorded each day of our life – before we began to breathe!   I love to read this verse to new parents because it reminds them that God has plans for their child and that He’s written them all down in His book.  That gives us confidence that God will do His work as we’re faithful to do ours.

The word “fashioned” is quite fascinating.  It means “to cut, frame or form” and is used in Genesis 2:7: “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”  It’s also used of the potter who has plans for his pottery in Isaiah 29:16: “For shall the thing made say of him who made it, ‘He did not make me’”?

Sometimes I hear people say that a woman should be able to do what she wants with her body.   I like Matt Chandler’s insight when he points out that a woman cannot do whatever she wants with her body.  For example, if she were to prostitute herself she could be arrested.  In addition, a baby might be in a woman’s body, but the baby is not the woman’s body.  The baby has its own DNA, genetic code, blood type, functioning brain, kidneys, lungs and its own dreams: “It’s not the woman’s body; it’s in the woman’s body.  That’s not the same.”

Are you aware that up to 85% of all abortion-minded women decide to carry their baby to term when they see ultrasound images?

God creates people with a personality, with a purpose and with a plan.  Ultimately, this is all done so that people will praise Him.

4. God creates people to praise Him. 

As David ponders all this, it’s no wonder that he breaks out into praise because it’s all about God!  Take a look at verse 14: “I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are your works, and that my soul knows very well.”  The word “fearfully” means to stand in awe or to cause astonishment or to be reverent.  The word “wonderfully” means distinct, unique, separate and “amazingly constructed. This is where we get the idea of the “sanctity of human life.”  

Again, I love how intensely personal this language is – I will praise you…I am fearfully and wonderfully made…and that my soul knows very well.”  David knows this deep in his soul because that’s how he’s been designed.  We’re made to worship Him.

Friends, when we recognize God as the Creator of all things, especially of human life, praise is the proper response.  When we see Him as our Creator, we can’t help but break out into spontaneous song.  David is saying, “Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!  It blows my mind to think about it.  Your workmanship is marvelous – and how well I know it.  I stand apart as something special – different from all other forms of life.”

The Bible prods us to consider the origin of human life as God sees it and to worship Him for what He does in the womb.  We must respond with holy caution and with unwavering respect for the preborn because His stamp of approval is upon every human being – and He does not make junk.  God places a high value on human life because we reflect His character – though at times rather vaguely.  As a result, nobody is a nobody because everyone is a someone!

Listen carefully.  A mother (or father) has no right to take the life of a person creatively designed with personality, purpose and plans and who has been set apart to proclaim praise to the Giver of Life!

Friends, based on both biblical and medical evidence, the conclusion is obvious: human life is sacred and stamped with divine dignity and as such must be protected.  It is therefore wrong to murder an innocent human being.  To kill someone created in God’s image is to indirectly attack the God who created life.  Abortion must be defined as the destruction of a human life in violation of the 6th Commandment: “You shall not commit murder.”

Attitude and Action Step

I wouldn’t presume to tell you how to respond to the issue of abortion, but I urge you to follow the Holy Spirit’s nudges.  We can’t just sit back and do nothing.  Before I list some possible action steps, it’s important to start with some attitude adjustments we can make.

  1. Repent and confess our indifference.  We need to care more than others in our culture because we are Christ-followers!  This is a horrible genocide in our land!  Christians didn’t stand against racism like we should have in the 60s and now I wonder if our grandkids will question why we were so quiet and complacent when abortion was allowed in our land.
  2. Adjust our attitudes. Satan is the enemy of life, not doctors, people who are in favor of abortions, or politicians.  It’s way too easy for us to become self-righteous, smug and condemning.  As I’ve said before, we’re prone to get angry with people who sin differently than we do.  We are often more caustic than Christian in our dealings with people.  Instead of building bridges with those who are lost, our venom can erect long-standing barriers that end up isolating people from the gospel.
  3. We need to balance our “prophetic” and “priestly” roles as believers. According to the Guttmacher Institute, the number of abortions in the U.S. is falling each year.  One of the contributing factors for the decline is the changing attitudes about the moral implications of abortion.  Christians are making a difference and we need to keep speaking out but we must also offer love and compassion to those who need help.  We need to remember that the primary biblical call is to make disciples, not win arguments.
  4. If we say that we’re pro-life, we must strive for consistency.  We need to value all human life – the preborn, orphans, widows, the physically and emotionally challenged, people with Down’s Syndrome, the autistic, the homeless, those with AIDS, the hungry, refugees, those with Ebola, the poor, those in prison, and older people.  I read a blog recently in which a pastor lamented that while we focus on the preborn one weekend a year the church ignores matters of racism and bigotry.  On Monday we recognize the dream of Martin Luther King, Jr. but let’s do what we can to make this dream a reality.  The Christian worldview is that everyone matters – that’s why we’ll be looking at homosexuality, racism and suicide in the rest of this series.  Related to this, I saw an unsettling post this week: “One of the saddest things about this fallen world is that an adoption can cost $40,000 and an abortion $400.
  5. Practice purity and encourage others to do the same.  In our sex-saturated society, it’s not easy to be pure, is it?  Instead of focusing on shades of grey, its time for us to bring back the black and white of the Bible.  I’d like to encourage women to attend the “Pulling Back the Shades” seminar this Thursday night at Bettendorf High School at 6:30 p.m.  This cost is only $5 and will equip women to have an honest conversation about God’s purpose for intimacy.
  6. See yourself as an abortion survivor.  Can you raise your hand if you were born after January 22, 1973?  If so, you’re an abortion survivor!  Historically, those who have endured an atrocity have always labored in earnest to end acts of violence.  A Gallup survey shows that teenagers today are more pro-life than the general adult population.  72% of teens said they believe abortion is “morally wrong” while just 26% of adults agree with this statement.  I believe that Millennials will eventually put an end to abortion in our country.
  7. Serve at one of the Pregnancy Resource Centers.  It’s our great joy to partner with Pregnancy Resources out of our missions budget as they stand up for life in the QCA.  In 2014, the centers in Moline and Davenport provided 891 pregnancy tests, 481 ultrasounds, 124 new car seats, and thousands of packages of diapers.  On top of all this, over 3,500 middle and high school students heard the No Regrets abstinence message.  Could you stand if you serve at Pregnancy Resources?  To learn more, stop by the table in the lobby.
  8. Give to the baby bottle project.  Last year we collected almost $6,000.  I’d love to see us give at least $8,000 this year.
  9. Offer grace and forgiveness to those who need it.  Abortion is a sin but it’s also forgivable.  While we need to speak out against moral concerns in our society, we must also offer love and compassion to those who need help.  Studies show that the majority of women who’ve had abortions have significant emotional, physical and spiritual scars. Edgewood is a place of grace. If you’ve had an abortion, this message was no doubt hard for you to hear.  It is my deepest prayer that you will experience God’s redeeming grace and cleansing forgiveness.
Abortion is not the unpardonable sin. 

We must be sensitive and non-judgmental toward those who have had abortions – and toward those who have encouraged abortions, like boyfriends or husbands.  They are in need of grace and forgiveness, not condemnation.  It is my deepest prayer that you will experience God’s redeeming grace and cleansing forgiveness.  Abortion is not the unpardonable sin. 

If you’ve had an abortion, or were complicit in one, allow Jesus Christ to cleanse you.  Repent and receive Jesus Christ as your Savior.  Pregnancy Resources offers a Bible study called “Forgiven and Set Free” for post-abortive women.

  1. Stand up for life.  This cannot be minimized as you interject God’s views on life into conversations, post pro-life status updates on Facebook and provide counsel to people who are in crisis.  I applaud each of you for your boldness on a controversial topic and as your pastors, we will do all we can to keep you encouraged and informed.

Let’s be honest.  This is not easy to talk about in church or in the workplace or at the lunch table at school.  You will not be applauded by your peers if you hold to biblical values.  Let’s just expect it and get over it.  Actually I may have shrunk our church this weekend and if not yet, I may do it during the rest of the series.  But as. one pastor says: “What a small price to pay for rallying the rest of us toward what is true and right and good before the King of Glory.”

Search Me

Look at the last two verses of Psalm 139: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”  This is a courageous and very dangerous prayer to pray.  God wants us to invite Him to search our lives.  The verb “search” is used for digging up valuable minerals in a mine.  The term “try me” is used of examining precious metals to prove their purity.

While it is certainly a good idea to do some self-analysis, it is even better to ask God to examine us.  Most of us, when examining ourselves, will arrive at the conclusion that we’re OK – or at least that we’re better than our neighbor or co-worker.  In asking God to evaluate our lives, we are really inviting Him to do four things.  I should warn you that this takes a great deal of humility:

  • Search me.   All of me; even my darkest secrets and deeds.
  • Try me.  To see if I am pure and true and see if I have any sluggishness or selfishness.
  • See me.  Let me know what you find.
  • Lead me.  Show me how to correct my ways – lead me the right way.

Brothers and sisters, don’t be afraid to ask God to point out offensive stuff in your life.  Allow Him to show you things that grieve Him, or bring pain to other people.  When He exposes something, own it, confess it, and yield to the God who knows you intimately – and yet still loves you completely.  Be willingly accountable to Him.  As someone has said, “A good person desires to know the worst of himself.” 

Having placed our confidence in Christ, no skeleton can come tumbling out of some hidden closet to expose our past and no character flaw can come to light that would make God turn away from us.  He already knows everything about us – and still loves us!   

We have been created with personality, with purpose and with a plan.  Let’s now praise Him with our lives and with our lips.

Do you have any thoughts or questions about this post?