Valuing the Baby in the Womb

Title: Valuing the Baby in the Womb
Text: Exodus 21:22-23
Time: February 7th, 2015

 
A couple of weeks ago we passed the forty-second anniversary of the infamous Supreme Court decision Row v. Wade that legalized abortion in all fifty states. February 22nd, 1973 was the day the decision was handed down by the infamous Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun. Ever since that sad day Christians in the United States have been struggling in respect to what to do about the abortion holocaust. Well, abortion is still with us, it’s still legal, and Christians haven’t come up with any solution to eliminate it yet. As a pastor, I’ve decided that I would preach a pro-life or anti-abortion message every year in order to keep up the protest against abortion until it’s outlawed in the United States. So this year I’ll continue that tradition whether it has any immediate effect or not. For me, it’s about truth, it’s about principle, it’s about bearing witness for what the Lord God teaches us is right and wrong. Abortion is wrong; it’s murder. So I’ll keep on teaching against the murder of abortion until something changes or until I die, whichever comes first. The problem with the law as it now stands is that once passed and once the law is established it becomes nearly impossible to change because then it becomes a kind of precedent. We hear politicians, both Republican and Democratic, say that Row v. Wade is fixed law – that’s what I mean. It almost becomes something that gets fixed into the system and then it becomes almost unthinkable to reverse it. That’s the problem with bad laws, they just get established and their errors perpetuate generation after generation. It will almost take some great big revolution, either spiritual or social, to change something that’s so fixed in the legal system. But recently there have been some signs of hope for our cause against abortion. Not that progress has been made to overturn it, but there is marked progress in restricting it of late. The good news is that more and more states are restricting access to abortion, especially the gruesome late term abortions where viable babies are killed, sometimes even outside of the womb after they’re born. These kinds of abortions are more and more being outlawed in states. But even other kinds of abortions are being restricted through regulations and legal stipulations. That’s a positive sign. So it’s not all negative concerning abortion today. But what we need to do as Christians is continue to protest the whole idea of abortion, because, as I said before, it’s murder plain and simple. There are plenty of biblical references to murder or unjustified killing that can be applied to abortion, but let me talk about just one today, Exodus 21:22-23, “If men who are fighting 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.” Let me say a few things about this passage.

First, the passage is dealing with the baby in the womb primarily not the woman’s health. Exodus 21:22-33, “If men who are fighting 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.” I’m not saying that the verse isn’t speaking to any injury on the part of the pregnant woman, I’m saying that it’s dealing with the baby in the womb primarily in reference to any injury. How do I know this? Because is specifically says a “pregnant woman” and “she gives birth prematurely.” Why would it include these details if it were talking exclusively or primarily about a woman who might be injured by two men fighting? It wouldn’t. It clearly wants to deal with a situation where a pregnant woman’s baby is injured because it talks about the hypothetical situation of her giving birth prematurely as the result of being hit by a man. In other words, the central concern of the passage seems to be the baby in the womb who is prematurely born as the result of the pregnant mother being struck by men fighting. Now what might that look like? We can imagine two men fighting, throwing each other around, pushing and shoving and rolling around on the ground and throwing punches. What they are fighting about doesn’t really matter. They are fighting and it’s getting rough. The woman, who is the wife of one of the men, we can imagine, is standing off to the side – or maybe she’s actually trying to intervene and help her husband win the fight in some way by punching or hitting the other man actively. But maybe she’s off to the side passively watching while these two men are fighting. We just don’t know. In any case, somehow or another, the other man not her husband accidentally or purposefully pushes or hits or shoves the woman in some way and probably makes her fall to the ground. By shoving or hitting or pushing the pregnant woman, in the hypothetical situation, the woman begins to go into labor and gives birth prematurely. Now remember, this is before the days of hospitals, doctors and modern medicine. So a premature baby, especially greatly premature babies, didn’t stand much of a chance of survival. The baby would probably die or be greatly crippled or retarded. So it was a serious issue. Now the verse doesn’t specifically say injury to the woman or the baby, it just says if there is an injury. But since it brings up the fact the woman is pregnant and involves the baby in the womb in this way, we must assume it’s talking primarily about the unborn baby, yet we should also include the woman herself, because after all if she’s hit and later dies, that death would definitely need to be dealt with legally as well. So the most natural interpretation of the verse includes both the mother and unborn baby, but most probably is referring primarily to the child in the womb in respect to injury.

Second, the death penalty is the punishment if either the mother or child dies. Exodus 21:22-33, “If men who are fighting 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.” In other words, if a life is taken, then a life is required. If the baby dies due to its premature birth then the man who caused the injury must die, or if the mother dies as a result of the injury the man who caused the injury must die. “Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise,” Exodus 21:24. Now any student of the Old Testament already knew that this legal principle was utilized by the Jews but what many people don’t realize is that it included the rights of the unborn in the womb. If someone caused the death of an unborn baby that person was liable for the death penalty as well. What does this prove? It proves that the unborn baby in the womb was seen as a person and the penalty for its death was the same as the penalty for any person’s death – the death penalty. But some people might object by saying the passage is really talking about the death penalty for the pregnant woman, if she’s hit and is injured, gives birth prematurely and dies as the result of the injury or complications of giving birth prematurely. But as I’ve already explained, the passage, if it’s talking only about the woman, could have omitted any reference to the child in the womb, if it were talking about the woman only. But it doesn’t. It talks about the unborn baby and then it talks about the baby born prematurely. It talks more about the baby than the woman. So it’s meaning to communicate the value of the child in the womb, because it shows the same death penalty is imposed on the man who causes the death of the child due to premature birth as it would the death of the woman, or any woman or any adult. No, it’s clearly talking about the death penalty for the death of the child. Somebody must be responsible for the death of the child, and the passage says the man who hit the pregnant woman who caused the premature birth and the eventual death of the child due to being born prematurely is the cause. The man who caused the problem is put to death, as anyone who takes the life of another person is put to death under the divine law of God. The Bible doesn’t grade the value of the unborn baby as our modern society is prone to do. For example, it doesn’t say an early premature death is less offensive than a late term premature death. It treats it all the same. A person is a person, whether a little unborn, a mature unborn, an infant, a child, a teenager, a young adult, an adult, middle aged or senior. A person is a person and has a right to life. Anyone who takes such a life, his life will be taken.

Third, the lesson is that all human life is sacred and deserves the same right to life. Exodus 21:22-33, “If men who are fighting 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 demand and the court allows. But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life.” The awful Supreme Court decision of 1973, the Row v. Wade decision, contradicts the truth of the passage we’ve been examining because it artificially and foolishly divides pregnancy into three so-called “trimesters.” It then goes on to explain how abortions might be regulated based on the trimester stage of the unborn. The assumption of the Court was that the unborn baby in the womb was more valuable or more human or more of a person as it approached its birthday; further away from its birthday it is less a person, less human, and therefore, abortion should be less an issue in a less mature unborn. But that is imposing a faulty human standard upon human life. Biologically speaking, at the moment of conception a unique individual person is created in the womb. The only thing that little unique individual person needs is time and nutrition to grow into a full-size person. Just as we don’t take away the right of personhood of a child because it’s not full-sized yet, so we shouldn’t arbitrarily take away the right of personhood of an unborn child because it isn’t fully mature yet. Yes, but what about all the premature unborns who die naturally in their mother’s womb anyway, some people might ask. We’ve been looking at a verse that talks about injury and death of a premature baby due to injury to the mother, but what about all the many premature deaths of babies due to no apparent crime, that happen naturally? Well, we might ask the same kind of questions of children and adults, “What about all those children and adults who die all the time due to no criminal activity?” People die for many reasons all the time that have nothing to do with crime. Children die for physical reasons, as do adults. Children get sick and die, so do adults. Children die from all kinds of things, adults the same. There is nobody to blame; death happens. Miscarriages happen, babies born prematurely often die too. People die of natural causes all the time, as do unborns, children, teenagers and adults. But if someone causes the death of an unborn, a child, a teenager, an adult, a senior citizen, then that is a crime and requires punishment. Why? Because all of these are humans, persons, creatures made in God’s own image, the imago dei of the Old Testament.

We fight for the right to life in the pro-life cause because we are taught to do so by the Bible itself, from passages like the one we’ve examined today. Everything in the Bible points to the personhood of the child in the womb. Unfortunately, our modern, secular and sinful culture has departed from the biblical worldview and is now pushing a lawless, immoral, valueless view that makes human rights the object of popular opinion or majority vote. Countless polls are taken today to show that more and more people think abortion is acceptable, and the conclusion, therefore, is that abortion is ok because people have decided that it’s ok. This is moral relativism. It’s morality based on human expedience. We voters are asked to decide what is right and wrong, good and bad. Whatever our elected representatives think is best for public policy is what we get. Whatever our judges decide is best for us is law. It’s all based on human decision and human opinion. In fact, that’s just the language of the court system – the majority opinion, the court’s opinion – as if to underscore human supremacy over divine law. There is no question that the courts have overstepped their bounds in legalizing abortion, but I’m not sure now if a popular vote would really change things much today. I don’t believe a popular vote would eliminate abortion in all fifty states; it might in some, probably would in some, but in others it probably wouldn’t change a thing. It would be nice to see at least some states have the opportunity to outlaw abortion within state boundaries. The practicality of a constitutional amendment banning abortion in all fifty states is growing very slim; I don’t see that happening, short of a divine miracle from God. What is a real possibility is at some point each state is given the right to choose whether it will allow abortion or not, or to what degree it will regulate it. If we could see even that, it would be progress. That would mean some states could and would ban abortion outright. States like Texas, maybe. While other states might compromise and allow abortion in some circumstances with heavy regulation of it. While other states, more liberal and progressive, would probably keep abortion as it is today. Letting the states decide their own abortion policies in definitely not the best answer, but it might be best we can get right now, with the hope that later we can ban it outright in all fifty states. Then at least we could have some states that outlaw it, making it more difficult to obtain, thus saving thousands and thousands of unborn lives. Let’s pray that we could see at least something of a partial ban in this country in the near future.

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