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AN ANSWER CONCERNING ABORTION
Recently, in an effort to justify the choice of abortion under certain circumstances, brother Jack Kirby made an attempt to define the genesis of life. Although he is careful to say he does not condone all abortions, he objects to referring to it as "murder." The basis for his reasoning is the supposition that life begins at birth, not at conception. While all of this may appear to be an exercise is meaningless discussion, there is a fundamental flaw in the reasoning of brother Kirby. It is important that this flaw be addressed because of its impact upon those with an already defective view of God, life, and salvation. The times in which we live are dominated by carnal reasoning and efforts to justify purely selfish motivations. It is wholly inappropriate for people to be subjected to the reasoning of sophists like brother Kirby in such times.
I am reproducing brother Kirby's article so you can see for yourself how he reasons on the matter. My own reply follows that presentation.
Given O. Blakely
ABORTION - IS IT MURDER
BY JACK H. KIRBY
That abortion is a problem today is unquestioned. It is estimated that as many pregnancies are willfully terminated in the United States each year as there are babies born. Abortion is being condemned as murder under all circumstances in some circles.
The concept that all abortion is murder is based on the assumption that life begins at the moment of conception. However, this needs to be proven before the conclusion that all abortion is murder. Grant any argument its major premise, and the conclusion is inevitable.
In an article in the November, 2001 Ensign, entitled "When Does Life Begin?", I affirmed that life does not begin at conception, but at the moment of birth. We pointed out that something (in this case a fetus) can be alive without having life. If life begins at birth, then the destruction of a fetus could not be considered as murder unless it could live outside its mother's womb. If the fetus could live after being removed from the womb, and it is destroyed in the process, it is evidently murder. If it is removed and allowed to breathe, then it is birth and life. Aborting a fetus that is not developed enough to live outside the womb cannot be murder because it cannot sustain life.
We are not advocating abortion, and certainly not fornication (which is the real sin). We are not to be understood as advocating abortion as a means of birth control. However, in those cases of early pregnancies where the mother's life is in danger, or where pregnancy occurred because of rape, we should not make a woman feel guilty of murder who elects to terminate the pregnancy by abortion in the early months. Would it not be murder by consent if she earned the fetus to term knowing that it would destroy her own life?
The position that life begins at conception would place abortion and the practice of birth control in the same category. However, like many other questions, some are driven to extreme positions to be consistent, and then find themselves in conflict with plain Biblical teachings. In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul arms that sexual .intercourse is for physical pleasure as well as for reproduction. Let us not bind where God did not bind.
Let me emphasize again that we are not de-emphasizing human life. Neither should one understand that euthanasia would be the next step if abortion is not murder. Euthanasia is dealing with a person who previously enjoyed life. Taking life is murder, but abortion where life is not present cannot be.
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BROTHER BLAKELY'S ANSWER
I was troubled by the haberdashery that brother Kirby pawned off in his personal view of the genesis of life. The liberty he exhibited in sounding out his private views of life concern me, because he is speaking of a matter that pertains to God. Since God alone "makes alive" (Deut 32:39), and life itself is described as "the spirit" or "breath of God" being in our "nostrils" (Job 27:3), we are obliged to reflect the mind of the Lord in our view of life - whether of its beginning or its conclusion. Brother Kirby's reasoning was much closer to the earth than to heaven, reflecting human wisdom rather than the mind of Christ. I thought his statement concerning living things was most unique: "something can be alive without living." What a breakthrough in the field of definition! I suppose something can also be dead without dying.
I realize it conforms to the world's way of thinking to say "where pregnancy occurred because of rape, we should not make a woman feel guilty of murder who elects to terminate the pregnancy by abortion in early months." Those who imagine they have been granted the ability to make such decisions would be better off to pray to the Father, "deliver us from evil." If they are as wise and insightful as they pretend, God will surely hear their prayers. The interesting thing is that when the law approached the matter of rape, it demanded the death of the one who raped the woman (Deut 22:25-27).
The postulate that life begins at birth rather than conception does not account for the growth process. Where is growth ever attributed to something or someone that is not alive, or living? In his rudimentary wisdom, even Solomon knew that "bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child" (Eccl 11:5). How is it that Almighty God Himself formed, and knew, Jeremiah before he exited from the womb (Jer 1:5). Was He recognizing as a person something that was not alive? Why did He choose to identify Jeremiah as a person while he was still in the womb? It was Jeremiah himself that was "formed," "sanctified," and "ordained" by God almighty when he was in "the womb." Is that the way God speaks of something that is not living? And God makes a point of saying these things applied BEFORE Jeremiah was "born." God and brother Kirby speak differently of children in the womb.
Why are offspring called "the fruit of the womb" (Gen 30:2; Psa 127:3; Isa 13:18)? Does fruit come from a domain in which there is no life? Jesus spoke of the absurdity of gathering grapes from thorns or figs from thistles (Matt 7:16). But what of obtaining fruit from a domain in which life does not exist? That is like gathering fruit from rocks! Job knew that God had made and fashioned him [a person] "in the womb" (Job 31:15). How could such knowledge be withheld from someone living in the blazing glory of the Sun of righteousness? If God makes and fashions what is in the womb, who will champion the right of a person - any person - to cut God's work short, terminating it as though God had dispensed such a right to mortals? Or, does brother Kirby care to say there are sometimes when God does not begin the process of children being formed in the womb? Or, perhaps, God becomes involved in the process only after the third month, sixth month, or during the travail that leads to birth.
The law dealt with a premature birth, or miscarriage. If a woman with child was struck during a fight between two men, and it resulted in the premature birth of her child, certain directions were given. If no "serious injury" occurred, and the mother and child lived, the offender would only be fined. However, in the case of death, whether of the child or the mother, the offender was to be put to death. The interesting thing about this, is that the punishment was described in these words, "you are to take life for life" (Ex 21:23). If that was true of a child lost when a man struck the woman bearing it, why is it not true of a man who intentionally aborts the birth of the child. And what of the mother who consents to such a procedure?
How is it that Jacob and Esau contended with each other while they were in Rebekah's womb? Were they living, or were those contentions merely muscle spasms? How is it that God referred to, what brother Kirby calls "the fetus," as "the children," "two nations," and "two manner of people" (Gen 25:22-23)? That is, indeed, a strange way to speak of two "somethings" that were not living. It cannot be countered that this was merely said in prospect of what they would be, for they are called "children" while yet in the womb. Unacquainted with brother Kirby's view, Paul also spoke of what was conceived by Isaac in Rachel as "the children being not yet born" (Rom 9:10-11). He made no distinction in the personhood of Jacob and Esau before and after they were born. Their identity as individuals began in the womb, not after their birth.
When David accounted for his own life, he did not point to his birth, but to his conception (Psa 51:5). It was he who was conceived, not a "fetus." Women who were, as brother Kirby would say, "pregnant," are said by the Holy Spirit to be "with child," not "with fetus" (Gen 16:11; Gen 19:36; Ex 21:22; 2 Kgs 8:12; Matt 24:19; 1 Thess 5:3). I suppose it might be conjectured that the child was not living, but such a conjecture is nothing more than an exercise of vanity and a display of abysmal ignorance.
Where in all of nature is something born that was not living before it was born? Even a flower was a living bud before it blossomed. If you could talk to cows and elephants, they would probably laugh if you attempted to tell them their calves were not living until they were born. How much more is such a thing an absurdity when it applies to the "offspring of God" (Acts 17:29).
When John the Baptist was conceived, the Holy Spirit chose to say of Elizabeth, "she conceived A SON in her old age," not a fetus (Luke 1:36). When John was yet in the womb, a "fetus" by brother Kirby's definition, it is said, "the babe leaped in her womb" (Lk 1:41). This leaping was motivated by a spiritual rationale, for it is written the babe "leaped for joy" (Lk 1:44). By scientific definition, John was a six-month unborn vertebrae, with neither personality nor life. By God's definition, he was 'the babe" that could be filled with the Holy Spirit and leap for joy. The word "babe" is the same word (brephos) used to describe Jesus, "the babe in swaddling clothes" (Lk 2:12). It is also used to describe what the shepherds found when they worshiped the babe Jesus (Lk 2:16). It is used to describe the "infants" women brought to Jesus to bless (Lk 18:15), and Timothy who was taught from a "child" (2 Tim 315). In fact, mighty John was "filled with the Holy Spirit, while yet in his mother's womb" (Lk 1:15). Can you imagine someone trying to explain to John that he was not living then, but was only "alive" -- that he was only a fetus, and not a person at all. I am sure he would tell them it does take life to enable someone to "leap." It also requires personality to experience "joy." For that matter, it should be repulsive to any child of God to hear the Author of life represented as filling an impersonal mass of human tissue with His Holy Spirit.
In the case of Jesus, if brother Kirby is right, a Living Spirit overshadowing Mary, conceived a non-living fetus within her who became living only when He was born (Luke 1:31-35). The spirit is careful to tell us Jesus Himself was "conceived in the womb" (Lk 2:21). The "child" Jesus had personal identity in the womb as well as in the manger, His circumcision, and His dedication.
It would be far better for those who see abortion as approved under circumstances of their own choosing, to simply state their opinion and let the matter go. There is no need to bring "living" into the matter, for then God has become a part of the discussion. To present God as conceiving an impersonal fetus (or, as some would have it, a "potential" person), and causing it to be living and personal only at birth (as in the case of our blessed Lord) is nothing less than foolishness draped with the cloth of intellectuality. Far better to cast such imagination away as foolishness and filthy rags. Such thoughts have no place in the mind of a child of God. They have been both conceived and birthed by men, not God. Further, humanly conceived terms are used as pillars to hold up such reasoning. Of course, those who chose such to speak in such a manner will give an account for their words.
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