Part 2 in a 3 part series.
Last time we looked at when life begins. This time we’re going to look at abortion and the Law of God, as found in the Scriptures. Lets see what the modern prophets say on the subject of abortion.Nothing via revelation that we are aware of, thus nothing binding to the Church.
Before looking at what ancient prophets had to say on the subject, let’s see what the Church councils:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes in the sanctity of human life. Therefore, the Church opposes elective abortion for personal or social convenience, and counsels its members not to submit to, perform, encourage, pay for, or arrange for such abortions.
The Church allows for possible exceptions for its members when:
- Pregnancy results from rape or incest, or
- A competent physician determines that the life or health of the mother is in serious jeopardy, or
- A competent physician determines that the fetus has severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth.
The Church teaches its members that even these rare exceptions do not justify abortion automatically. Abortion is a most serious matter and should be considered only after the persons involved have consulted with their local church leaders and feel through personal prayer that their decision is correct.
The Church has not favored or opposed legislative proposals or public demonstrations concerning abortion.”
While this moderate view may make all but the most liberal or fundamentalist of Christians happy, it fails the doctrine test for a few reasons. The first being that this is policy, not doctrine so it is not binding on the religion. In other words, it can be changed at any point and time with no notice. This is because it was neither given by revelation nor was it sustained by the body of the Church as doctrine or Scripture. It is nothing more than what those the wrote the policy see as a good idea at the time.
To get the real doctrine of the Church, we must look to the ancient scriptures, as modern revelation is silent on the subject. Looking at the Bible, for those that claim to be “Biblical” or “Bible based” Christians, we find that God himself rejected the idea fundamentalist Christian view that abortion is a form of murder.
If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her [she has a miscarriage], and yet no mischief [or other harm] follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.” – Exodus 21: 22-25
This is Old Testament law – the really hash stuff. Back when God seemed to be angry and vengeful, much less forgiving than in the New Testament. These are literally the verses just before the “eye for an eye” that many Christians still use today to push execution for murderers. What it is saying is clear, if a man (or person, generally speaking) looks to hurt a woman maliciously and the baby dies, the husband has the option to take them to a judge and ask for money – compensation for lost property, so to speak. This implies both that if the injury is an accident, not of ill intent, no harm, no foul and that if the husband wanted the baby to miscarry, then again, no harm no foul. It is only a crime if the person kills the fetus when the man doesn’t want him to. This negates the idea that the Bible is against abortion. The Bible is merely against hurting the living woman and loss of future property.
This is clear because all of the retribution seems aimed at hurting the living woman, not the child she is carrying. The Lord clearly cares for the life of the mother, much more so that He does the life of the unborn child. The fetus is an after thought. While this sounds sad, even tragic, the Lord clearly has a plan for these unwanted children.
This is the Old Testament, the lesser law – not the higher law of Christ found in the New Testament. So the argument can still stand that the higher law would be against abortions. However, the New Testament is silent, leaving us to look for more information if we want answers to this question.
Likely the best scripture arguing against abortion would be Doctrine and Covenants 59: 6, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Thou shalt not steal; neither commit adultery, nor kill, nor do anything like unto it.” The “nor kill” would not count as reflects the same law to not murder found in the 10 commandments, which speaks only to not murder those that have been given the breath of life. The last part, “nor do anything like unto it,” could be reasoned as speaking about abortion but it is unclear and the foot notes added by the Church all reflect the fact that beastliness and male-on-male homosexual acts are a sin for those that have accepted Christ (Ex. 22:19; Lev. 18:22; 1 Cor. 6:9; 1 Tim. 1:10 are the scripture specifically referenced). Modern revelation is also unclear on the topic.
The Book of Mormon at least explains the Lord’s view on what happens to these unborn children:
Listen to the words of Christ, your Redeemer, your Lord and your God. Behold, I came into the world not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance; the whole need no physician, but they that are sick; wherefore, little children are whole, for they are not capable of committing sin; wherefore the curse of Adam is taken from them in me, that it hath no power over them… little children are alive in Christ, even from the foundation of the world; if not so, God is a partial God, and also a changeable God, and a respecter to persons; for how many little children have died without baptism!” – Moroni 8: 8, 12
According to what can be gleaned in LDS cannon, abortion is not only irrelevant in the eyes of the Old Testament God, but should send children straight to the Celestial kingdom, if they are in fact living humans when it happens (Doctrine and Covenants 137: 10). If not, it is most likely they will just wait for their next chance to receive a body.
While there are other scriptures that could be argued against abortion, like those that talk about the blessing of having children (Psalms 127: 3-5) and mankind is in fact commanded to have children (Genesis 1: 28/Moses 2: 28), the real question here is why is the Church just making things up? A plea to the Lord for answers and a new Section in the D&C could clear things up very well. These scriptures talk of encouraging children, but it is clear at this point that the life of the mother is the most important, until the child is born. Then both have equal rights to life as living beings.
The life of the mother, according to the Bible, should be protected first and foremost. Laws that prevent abortions, even with exceptions, would potentially prevent the poor from getting needed medical treatment while allowing the rich to buy the procedure for their own wants. Therefore, as a Christians, we should teach correct principles, and strive to protect our neighbor’s right to send their soul to Hell, if that should be the case.
That said, there is a lot of evidence to mull over before coming to any conclusion on comparing Church policy to the Scriptures. Part 3 on this topic will go over these discrepancies to see if a conclusion can be found.