At one symposium, a professor of ethics made an observation that sounded a bit like Crockett's maxim: "Before we ever pick up a weapon to kill another human being, we must be quite sure that we are acting justly." This professor understood that war is a life-and-death matter and is not to be entered into without clear moral justification.

The analogy to the abortion debate is clear. Before we ever pick up any surgical instrument to destroy a developing human fetus, we must be certain we are acting justly.

What Does Your Conscience Say About Abortion?

At this point I must ask: "What is your conscience telling you on abortion? Why do you hold the position you hold? How did you arrive at your conclusions?" Too much is at stake in this issue to approach it without sober thinking and deep reflection.

Luther declared that to act against conscience is neither right nor safe. We have seen why acting against conscience is not right. Why did Luther add that it was not safe? Surely he had a theological consideration in mind. He was a man who harbored a strong fear of divine judgment. Luther believed in God and was persuaded that God would hold him accountable for all of his actions in this life.

The fear of divine judgment governs my actions regarding abortion. As a theologian, I am firmly convinced that God hates abortion and will judge it thoroughly. I also recognize that not everyone shares my view of God's opinions and intentions.

If there is a God, and if we are convinced that the evidence for His existence is compelling, then without question we are accountable to Him for our actions. Before we choose to participate in abortion, we must give serious consideration to what God's views in the matter might be. To ignore this is to ignore the call of conscience and to place ourselves in a perilous position. If an act against conscience is an act against God, then we can easily see how dangerous such an action is.

My book, abortion: a rational look at an emotional issue, is addressed primarily to those who are not sure about the ethics of abortion. If you remain uncertain, I urge you again not to engage in abortion unless you are absolutely certain for clear and sound reasons (which I'm not aware of) that abortion is an ethically justifiable action. The simple adage of common wisdom applies to you: "When in doubt, don't."


• Public opinion on the abortion issue has changed in the direction of the pro-choice or pro-abortion positions. The main reason for this is that abortion was legitimized by the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision.

• The New Testament teaches that conscience must not be violated in making ethical choices.

• Good advice for any ethical choice, but in particular when making a decision about abortion, is this: "When in doubt, don't."  

The above was an excerpt from abortion: a rational look at an emotional issue (chapter 5) by R.C. Sproul, published by Reformation Trust.


Dr. R.C. Sproul is founder and president of ligonier ministries and the author of the truth of the cross. For more than thirty years, Dr. R.C. Sproul has thoroughly and concisely analyzed weighty theological, philosophical, and biblical topics in books, seminars and "Right Now Counts Forever," his monthly column in Ligonier Ministries' Table Talk magazine.


For more of Dr. Sproul's teaching on his daily broadcast, visit renewing your mind at