This is not a defense of the humanity of the unborn. It is an argument that if the unborn are human they ought not to be aborted. There are some abortionists who believe that the unborn are human beings. But these doctors do abortions regularly anyway because they believe that taking innocent human life, while tragic, is justifiable in view of the difficult circumstances faced by mother and child. Some of these doctors want to be Christian and Biblical, and do not see their practice as wrong. I have written this brief paper to encourage these doctors to reconsider.

1. God commanded, "Thou shalt not murder" (Exodus 20:13).

I am aware that some killing is endorsed in the Bible. The word for "kill" in Exodus 20:13 is the Hebrew rahaz. It is used 43 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. It always means violent, personal killing that is actually murder or is accused as murder. It is never used of killing in war or (with one possible exception, Numbers 35:27) of killing in judicial execution. Rather a clear distinction is preserved between legal "putting to death" and illegal "murder". For example, Numbers 35:19 says, "The murderer shall certainly be put to death." The word "murderer" comes from rahaz which is forbidden in the Ten Commandments. The word "put to death" is a general word that can describe legal executions.

When the Bible speaks of killing that is justifiable it generally has in mind God's sharing some of his rights with the civil authority. When the state acts in its capacity as God's ordained preserver of justice and peace, it has the right to "bear the sword" as Romans 13:1-7 teaches. This right of the state is always to be exercised to punish evil, never to attack the innocent (Romans 13:4).

Therefore, "Thou shalt not kill," stands as a clear and resounding indictment of the killing of innocent unborn children.

2. The destruction of conceived human life — whether embryonic, fetal, or viable — is an assault on the unique person-forming work of God.

Can we say anything from Scripture about what is happening when a life in the womb is aborted? Consider two texts. Psalm 139:13 says, "Thou didst form my inward parts, Thou didst knit me together in my mother's womb."

The least we can draw out of this text is that the formation of the life of a person in the womb is the work of God. God is the "Thou" in this verse. Further we can say that the formation of life in the womb is not merely a mechanical process, but is something on the analogy of weaving or knitting: "Thou didst knit me together in my mother's womb." The life of the unborn is the knitting of God, and what he is knitting is a human being in his own image, unlike any other creature in the universe.

The other, less well-known, text is in the book of Job. Job is protesting that he has not rejected the plea of any of his servants, even though in that culture many people thought that servants were non-persons and only property. The thing to watch for here is how Job argues.

Job 31:13-15 says, "13) If I have rejected the cause of my manservant or my maidservant, when they brought a complaint against me, 14) what then shall I do when God rises up? When he makes inquiry, what shall I answer him? 15) Did not he who made me in the womb make him? And did not One fashion us in the womb?"

Verse 15 gives the reason why Job would be guilty if he treated his servant as less than a human equal. The issue isn't really that one may have been born free and the other born in slavery. The issue goes back before birth. When Job and his servants were being fashioned in the womb the key person at work was God. That's the premise of Job's argument.

So both Psalm 139 and Job 31 emphasize God as the primary Workman — Nurturer, Fashioner, Knitter, Creator — in the process of gestation. Why is that important? It's important because God is the only One who can create personhood. Mothers and fathers can contribute some impersonal egg and some impersonal sperm, but only God creates independent personhood. So when the Scripture emphasizes that God is the main Nurturer and Shaper in the womb, it is stressing that what is happening in the womb is the unique work of God, namely, the making of a person. From the Biblical point of view gestation is the unique work of God fashioning personhood.