Today I received an intriguing email from a friend of mine. It was concerning a YouTube video from John Piper, you can view it here. In response to that video clip my friend and I had a short discussion. Here is how it went.
“Jerry, I’m not trying to be a smart a** here, but let me ask you, do you really think Jesus would have spoken out against abortion? If so, based on what?
It amazes me that within the Christian community you find avid pro-lifers and avid pro-choice advocates. How can that be if the message is somehow clear that Jesus would have spoken out against abortion? That somehow in the biblical text there is a clear mandate or even a strongly implied mandate that life is sacred. My goodness, even God had no trouble destroying the “first born” of Egypt to get his point across.
I am appalled at our President’s and our country’s casual stand in support of abortion. However, if the voice of the Christian community cannot unite around the horror of such an event, the question must be asked “Why not?”
My Friends reply: “The most powerful part of the argument for me is the dichotomy between the pro-choice view of “protecting the rights of women” while ending the lives of unborn woman.
Was there abortion in Jesus’ day?”
“Yes, there are a slew of dichotomies… a pregnant woman is murdered and the person responsible is charged with killing two people. How can that be if the “fetus” is not a human being? A woman can have her “baby” ripped from her womb and dumped in a trash can or flushed down a toilet, but another who gives birth and leaves her newborn baby in a trash can is charged with a homicide. The list goes one. Many Americans care more about saving whales or spotted owls.
Now to your question. I know it is not definitive, but a couple of on-line resources make the following observations.
Different religions have different teachings about abortion. It was most common in ancient Greece and Rome. The Assyrians impaled women on stakes for attempting abortion. The Jewish Talmud teaches the fetus is not a person and has no rights. In the year 1312, The Church in the Council of Vienna embraced the view that abortion was considered homicide only after the fetus was already formed, which was usually at the end of the first trimester. (All About Popular Issues, http://www.allaboutpopularissues.org/history-of-abortion-faq.htm )
 Prehistory to 5th century
Abortion was a common practice. Evidence suggests that late-term abortions were performed in a number of cultures. In Greece, the Stoics believed the fetus to be plantlike in nature, and not an animal until the moment of birth, when it finally breathed air. They therefore found abortion morally acceptable. (Wikipedia)
That being said, I suspect one could conclude that yes abortion was practiced in Jesus’ day. In fact it may have been common. Now whether it was an issue that Christ encountered during any of his ministry may not be known. However, you would think such a heinous act (at least in our minds) would have been hard to escape. That may allow us to draw two conclusions; 1) he was not concerned about the practice as it existed in those days or 2) he was unaware of the practice. Having said that, one would think if people came to him for all manner of healing, for trivial questions concerning taxes, or even his encounter with the woman caught in adultery, the topic might have come up. Even the woman at the well with five husbands was either sterile, had a ton of kids, was really lucky or aborted some pregnancies. Either case, Jesus mentioned nothing specific about any of it.
Don’t ya just love easy answers to hard questions?”
He had a short reply that included this remark, “And he (Jesus) did love children.”
Now I’m not certain the issue of abortion will ever be resolved, at least not in my lifetime. However, I do believe unless we come to terms, as a nation, on this issue and stop destroying innocent lives, we will never prosper or be a light to others. That does not mean we are or are not a Christian nation and should or should not adhere to Christian principles, it simply means that if we are not a nation of moral conscience, we will never be an example to other nations. Never.
I don’t know why Jesus did not address this issue. I’m not sure why someone like Luke, apparently a physcian (Col. 4:14), did not address this issue. For whatever reason they both were silent. That ought to give us pause for concern about our “line in the sand” mentality when it comes to what the Bible says about abortion. Furthermore, it ought to give us a bit of reasonable understanding for those who support a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy.
I for one, think it’s wrong and should never be something our government supports. However, I oppose it on socially moral grounds not so much specific biblical grounds. I also oppose it on practical grounds – if we allow the killing of innocent babies how far down the road will it be before we decide to kill “useless” old men and women?
Yes, Jesus did appear to love children. At least he loved thier innocence.