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44% of evangelicals say the Bible is ambiguous on abortion: What the Bible clearly says about the unborn

Ryan Denison is the Senior Fellow for Theology at Denison Forum, where he contributes writing and research to many of the ministry’s productions.

He is in the final stages of earning his PhD in church history at BH Carroll Theological Institute after having earned his MDiv at Truett Seminary. Ryan has also taught at BH Carroll and Dallas Baptist University.

He and his wife, Candice, live in East Texas and have two children.

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Seen from above, a pregnant woman covers her stomach with her hand. Baby shoes and ultrasound photos lay next to her.
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A recent study by the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University, in partnership with Dr. George Barna, found a number of disturbing trends among evangelicals and Christians at large. 

For example: 

  • 52 percent of evangelicals do not believe in absolute truth. 
  • 48 percent “believe a person who is good enough or does enough good works can earn eternal salvation”
  • 61 percent do not spend regular, daily time with God’s word. 

While those examples are problematic, to say the least, I’d like to focus on two other results I found to be even more disturbing: 

  • 44 percent of evangelicals “claim the Bible is ambiguous in its teaching about abortion”
  • 34 percent say that abortion is “morally acceptable if it spares the mother from financial or emotional discomfort or hardship.” 

Perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that when we reject the idea of absolute truth and increasingly spend less time in Scripture, our beliefs will increasingly diverge from the Lord’s. 

But the Bible is anything but ambiguous on the value of children, both in the womb and after birth. 

What does the Bible say about the unborn?

Psalm 139:13 states, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”

Psalm 22:10 makes clear that “from birth I was cast on you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God.”

If you want to discount those passages by arguing the psalms are speaking poetically, note that God tells Jeremiah “before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5). 

The prophet Isaiah echoes those sentiments: “This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the Lord, the Maker of all things, who stretches out the heavens, who spreads out the earth by myself” (Isaiah 44:24). 

The Old Testament law further makes clear that God sees the unborn child as a fully formed and valued life given that he mandated: “If people are fighting and hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life” (Exodus 21:22–23). 

New Testament examples include: 

  • “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit” (Luke 1:41). 
  • Paul writes that God “set me apart before I was born and called me by his grace” (Galatians 1:15). 

Now, just because the Bible says it doesn’t mean all Christians will believe it. But, as one writer of Not the Bee said, “If you’re one of those folks who think the Bible isn’t clear about the infinite worth of the lives of unborn babies made in the image of God, I challenge you and beg you to read each of those verses again, slowly, and ponder their incredible implications.”

Not knowing what the Bible teaches about a subject as important as abortion is a problem. Knowing what it teaches and then willfully ignoring it or twisting its words to justify the murder of innocent children, however, is far worse. 

The Bible is anything but ambiguous on the subject of abortion, and the hundreds of thousands of babies each year that are killed because their parents deem them an inconvenience unworthy of life need us to be equally clear that we will value them just as much as God does. 

Will you?

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