David Closson is FRC's Director of Christian Ethics and Biblical Worldview. This article appeared on The Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood on January 24, 2020.
Today in our nation’s capital, hundreds of thousands of people will mark the 47th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion by participating in the 47th annual March for Life. The pro-life movement has been gaining momentum in recent years, driven by increased pro-life sentiment nationwide. Two days ago, a new Marist poll indicated that 65 percent of Americans are likely to vote for a candidate who supports significant restrictions on abortion. Notably, 47 percent of respondents who identify as “pro-choice” support restrictions on abortion (compared to 98 percent who identify as “pro-life”). The Marist poll also revealed that 76 percent of Americans (including 61 percent of Democrats) oppose using taxpayer dollars to fund abortion overseas.
Reflecting this increasing pro-life momentum, President Donald J. Trump announced he will address the March for Life today, becoming the first sitting U.S. president to speak in-person at the event. The president’s attendance at the march follows his decision earlier this week to designate January 22, the anniversary of Roe, as National Sanctity of Human Life Day. By setting aside a day to commemorate the lives lost through abortion, the president asked every citizen to “listen to the sound of silence caused by a generation lost to us” and encouraged Americans to “raise their voices for all affected by abortion, both seen and unseen.”
In addition, a growing number of states are enacting pro-life laws. Just last week, the West Virginia House passed a bill that would strengthen their state’s protections for babies born alive after surviving an abortion. The bill garnered overwhelming bipartisan support, passing 93-5. This is important because, according to a new, online map from the Family Research Council, federal law and 35 states (including West Virginia) currently do not adequately protect the lives of infants who survive an abortion. The bipartisan West Virginia vote is just the latest example of Democrat state legislators supporting pro-life legislation.
For Christians, the March for Life (and the increased media scrutiny accompanying the president’s attendance) offers an opportunity to rearticulate and reaffirm our pro-life commitments. Despite one presidential candidate erroneously insisting that the Bible says “life begins with breath” (and thereby concluding that Christians should support abortion rights), Christians committed to a high view of Scripture understand that God’s Word affirms the personhood of the unborn. In one well-known passage, David refers to his unborn life as fully personal, writing, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13a). For David, there is continuity from the prenatal person to the adult person writing the psalm. Other passages that affirm the personhood of the unborn include Psalm 51:5–6, Jeremiah 1:4–5, Isaiah 49:1, Job 3:3, Judges 13:3–5, and especially Luke 1:39–45, which is perhaps the most explicit affirmation of the personhood of the unborn in Scripture.
Robust biblical anthropology recognizes that personhood must be understood through the lens of creation in God’s image (Gen. 1:26–27). Abortion rights supporters, on the other hand, ascribe to a subjective understanding of personhood that relies on a cognitive or developmental view of humanity. Christians oppose this view, insisting that all people — born and unborn, old and young, mentally competent and mentally impaired — are made in God’s image. And while theologians debate the exact meaning of what it means to be made in God’s image, it can be agreed that, at the very least, human beings resemble God and represent him to the rest of creation in a unique way. This fundamental conviction that every person is an image-bearer of God and possesses inherent dignity is why Christians champion life.
As the nation directs its attention to the nation’s largest annual pro-life rally, Christians should take the opportunity to share with their friends and neighbors why followers of Jesus care so much about the unborn. We should speak with courage and conviction, while also remembering that there are many for whom abortion is a personal, rather than theoretical discussion. And we should remember that the gospel is good news for all people, including those personally affected by abortion.