When is it OK to Murder?

Ruth Davidar Paul   |   April 16, 2019 

One subject has been on my mind recently. It haunts me and seems to follow my every online interaction – it pops up in news articles and has been in the limelight for a while now. That issue is abortion.

I have read articles on both sides. I know all the arguments from pro-choicers and pro-lifers. I have heard heated debates with neither side backing down. I know the worst-case scenarios that are usually brought out like rabbits from hats when pro-choicers are backed into a corner, robbing pro-lifers of the wind in their sails.

And it troubles me. None of the arguments arrive at a consensus or conclusion. Both sides leave with their own opinions stuck well in the mud. Yet, for a subject that deals with life and death, shouldn’t there be a more clear right and wrong – a black and white instead of all this grey?

To begin with, the words ‘choice’ and ‘life’ are not even the opposite ends of the same spectrum. ‘Choice’ implies having the right to choose or an option. So the antonym for choice would be ‘not having an option’ i.e. being under duress, obligation, duty, or coercion. The opposite of ‘life’ on the other hand is ‘death’, not ‘choice’. So the debate is skewed from the very beginning. The two sides don't even have the same starting point!

If you are arguing that a woman should have control over her own body – I agree. She should have the right to choose the man she wants to marry and have children with. She should have the right to choose if she wants to get married at all (I’m talking about those who are called to remain celibate). But if you are arguing that she should have the right to kill another human being because it is inconvenient for her to bear a child – then I categorically do not agree.

Having just gone through my second pregnancy, which was difficult, uncomfortable, and painful, I can understand where women are coming from when they say we should have a choice if we want to go through the entire 9-month process at all. The choice is simple – use a condom (or one of the many other forms of birth control now readily available and reliable); not kill the baby!

If I said that because I wanted to live a comfortable, relaxed, pain-free life I should have the right to murder an innocent baby, what would you say? A few years back, such a statement would make me sound like a psychopath or sociopath. But in today’s confused world, most wouldn’t even blink at such an atrocious declaration.

How can killing another person ever be a solution for any situation? I know, the old argument about victims of rape or incest will now be thrown in my face, but as much as my heart breaks for the victims, how can murdering an innocent baby provide justice to the mother? The perpetrator of the crime should be punished thoroughly, not the baby. I am not advocating that the mother keep the child in such a case; there are many couples aching for a child and unable to bear their own. There are thousands of prospective parents on the adoption waiting list in India, some have been waiting for years! So why kill the baby is my question? What did the baby do to deserve death?

On what basis do we ascribe value to human life? Usefulness to society? Then all of humanity should be a certain optimum age and in perfect health. That sounds ridiculous – to imagine a world of flawless 18 to 50 year olds, but when we blur the lines, it’s a slippery slope to eugenics, which is where we seem to be headed. I think of Joni Eareckson Tada and I look at her having to live with severe disabilities for most of her life. Would her life be considered of value? Given that she has lived with paraplegia and cancer for so many years, perhaps the humane thing would have been to abort her when she was in the womb? Does that sound shocking? But that is what we seem to be advocating!

In India, abortion is legal up to 20 weeks but only in certain cases. And one of those reasons is if the child has severe abnormalities. To be honest, I do not know how I would have reacted if any abnormalities had shown up during my ultrasound scans. However, I did have the choice to check if my baby had Down’s Syndrome and was counselled that in that case I can choose to abort. My husband and I decided not to do the test because we knew that even if our baby had Down’s Syndrome, we would never abort. I’m not saying it is an easy decision. However, if we truly believed that all human life is valuable and has intrinsic worth because it is God-breathed and God-created, then we don’t have the right to rob that unborn baby of its right to live. It would be difficult, yes, but again, murder is not the solution.

I can go on but most of my arguments are rehashing what has been said many times before. There is only one infallible standard that presents right and wrong unequivocally and that is the Bible. So as I am wont to do when confused or confounded, I turned to my Bible for some answers – any answers actually, anything to make sense of all this vitriol and rage and pain and heartache. Psalm 139: 13 – 16 took on a completely new depth and wealth of meaning when read from the perspective of abortion.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

What is the psalmist saying here? Firstly, that God creates each baby. He individually crafts and fashions each one – they aren’t mass produced in a factory. I love the imagery used – He weaves and knits each sinew and bone together; He’s not just throwing some lumps of clay together but He is thinking, planning, and crafting something unique. Imagine what gall I must have to choose to flush something that precious down the toilet!

Secondly, He has a plan for each baby. He writes down all that he or she will do in their lifetime. He has a special book in which each day’s activities are written down. Imagine that. What depth of detail, organisation, and preparation. And all this is when the baby is in the womb, even before conception – not after birth. We make plans for our children as they grow up. Their Heavenly Father has already planned everything before they were conceived. Yet we argue foolishly about the non-personhood of unborn babies, the viability of life, and the mother’s choice to kill that infant! What pride and arrogance that shakes its fist in the face of an omnipotent God!

Thirdly, God knows each unborn baby. I know this sounds like I’m repeating myself, but just imagine what that knowing means. Yahweh, the omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient God knows that baby who is going to be aborted. He recognises that baby, knows every finger and toe because He put it there, knows the whorls on the tiny fingerprints, recognises the DNA because He wove it together, knows the number of hairs on that little head, knows when the heart began beating because He had ordained the day and time, and knows exactly when it was terminated. He knows. And He is a God of justice who will avenge every injustice. Hebrews 10:31 says, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

I wish we would be shaken out of our complacency with holy fear. Those arguing for pro-death (it cannot be pro-choice any longer) are arguing against God. Let us not cloak it in euphemisms any more. The truth, as unpalatable as it may be, is that God has created each life, and man has no right to take that away.

So what am I saying? That we grab our pitchforks and attack pro-choicers? No, rather, let us boldly state the truth, always reminding them in love that God is merciful and gracious. He will forgive those who repent. And we pray, diligently and fervently, that the blinded eyes be opened. As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4:1 – 4:

“Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.  Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.  The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

So let us understand who we are fighting against in actuality – the god of this age who is Satan. Let us stand fast and hold on to the truth regardless of the shifting sands of cultural views and opinions. And let us fight for the defenceless unborn.

 

Photo by Ravi Roshan on Unsplash

 

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Ruth Davidar Paul is a freelance copy editor and content developer, who loves rummaging through used books stores and collecting old books. Apart from filling her home with overflowing bookcases, she enjoys deep conversations, jigsaw puzzles, painting, and daydreaming. She currently lives in Chennai with her husband Abhishek and their children Abigail, Jordan, and Amy.

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