I have reduced the amount of information to make it more manageable. For longer articles please read them in sections. I appreciate your interest in this valuable information.
The Biology of Humans and the Bible
“So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” – Genesis 1:27 NLT
Notice that God initiates the creation of mankind as biological people—male and female. Both male and female were created in God’s image, therefore, they were persons. Both equally possessed an eternal spirit capable of personal fellowship with their Creator.
Verse 27 is the third time that the word “created”, “bara” in Hebrew, is used in Genesis 1, and it always means to create something that has not existed before.
The first time it is used is in Genesis 1:1 where we read, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” (KJV) This verse records the creation of space (“the heaven”), of time (“in the beginning”), and of matter (“the earth”, or the elements in the universe which make up our physical environment, including us our physical bodies.)
The second time the word “bara” is used is in the creation of animal life, which possesses a “consciousness.” Plants, although highly complex, do not possess a “soul,” or consciousness. The word for soul in Hebrew is, “nephesh,” and although animals possess a soul it is instinctive consciousness, and not moral consciousness. This is why animals do not live forever nor will they be resurrected as humans will be.
Humans are much more than biological organisms; we are also people who have souls and spirits (Look to 1 Thessalonians 5:23). Sometimes in Scripture you will see the words, soul and spirit used interchangeably. Our souls give us the ability to think with our minds, make choices with our will, and feel emotions. Our spirit activates our moral consciences manifested in understanding right from wrong. Through a life-giving spirit, God created us in His image. We have, therefore, the capacity to know right from wrong, (a moral conscious), the ability to appreciate the beauty of His creation, think abstractly, commune with Him, and worship Him. Animals do not have this capacity.
Biology gives a baseline for identifying what constitutes a human. It is an objective, empirically verifiable, universally detectable marker of human status. The physical body is something we can see and identify scientifically—something we can all agree on. Human beings reproduce, “after their kind,” just as Genesis 1 says. This is a simple way to describe the “genetic code” built into the existence of all living plants, animals, and humans. An apricot seed will only produce an apricot tree and then apricots from that tree. Not apples. A dog will only produce another dog, or other variety of dogs. When a human sperm penetrates the human egg, it will only produce a baby boy or girl. Thus, everyone who is human is also a person; they do not need to meet any additional criteria.
God considers a baby in the womb as a person:
“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born, I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations” – Jeremiah 1:5 NLT
Scripture treats the body and soul as two sides of the same coin. The inner life of the soul is expressed through the outer life of the body. This is highlighted through the parallelism of Hebrew poetry (NASB, Italics added):
“My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You.” – Psalm 63:1
“When I kept silent about [refused to repent of] my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long.” – Psalm 32:3
Consider also a couple other passages: Psalm 44:25; Proverbs 4:21-22.
In one sense, our bodies have primacy over our spirits. This is one of reasons the Scripture exhorts us control our bodies. (Look to passages like: 1 Corinthians 6;18-20; 9:27).
The body is the only avenue we have for expressing our inner life, or for knowing another person’s inner life. The body is the means by which the invisible is made visible. Christianity is a holistic faith! Redemption awaits us—body, soul, and spirit when the Lord returns for us.
“Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. 24 God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful” – 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 NLT
This is why, at funerals and memorials, I encourage loved ones to see the body of the deceased, if possible, before they are buried or cremated. It dignifies the reality that God chose a human body as the important vessel through which, we came to know the person.
Christians have said to me, “His or her spirit has left them, and it is just their body.” Well, that is true, but we have only known anyone through their body. Since the body is sacred, I think it is more holistic to prioritize remembering an individual through their physical body. This is just my opinion.
Personhood theory says some humans do not qualify as persons. In that case, how do we determine which humans qualify? How do we identify the additional criteria they must meet? No two bioethicists (those who study the ethical issues emerging from advances in biology, medicine, and technology) agree on what personhood is, or when it actually begins. Their definitions are purely subjective, reflecting their own personal values, which is a hallmark of postmodern thought.
Why do we even need the concept of personhood as distinct from simply being human? I suggest that we do not! When we talk about our pets, we do not talk about cat-hood, or dog-hood, as something distinct from the biological fact of being a cat or a dog. No, if your pet is biologically a dog, that’s enough. The two-story false concept of personhood, (remember the lower story is one’s body and the upper story is the person), is a value construct. It is not a matter of facts, but a statement of opinion. Personhood theory, therefore, is not based on objective truth, but on what a person values the most. (In the case of abortion, the scientific proven fact is that life begins at conception).
Abortion rests on personhood theory
Has Moral and Legal Standing
An Expendable Biological Organism
Personhood theory reflects the false value/fact divide, which says values have no grounding in facts but are subjective choices. The lesson is that when you accept a modernist concept of the body in the lower story, inevitably you end up with a postmodern concept of personhood in the upper story, cut off from any objective criteria.
Put bluntly, abortion supporters have lost the argument on the scientific level. They can no longer deny that an embryo is biologically human. As a s result, they have switched tactics to an argument based on personhood, defined ultimately by their own personal views and values. And when their view is codified into law, their private values are imposed on everyone else.
It is interesting to me that millennials, 51%, a small majority, believe abortion is morally wrong, compared to 37% who say it is morally acceptable. The reason is not that millennials have grown more conservative generally. It’s that they understand abortion as a human rights issue. (Look to Lydia Saad “Generational Difference on Abortion Narrow,” Gallup.com, March 12, 2010.)
Having grown up in a world surrounded by ultrasound images, they have greater empathy for the child now visible in the womb. And having grown up in a scientific culture, they have witnessed the miracle of neonatal medicine that makes it possible even for babies born extremely prematurely to survive and flourish—babies the same age as those being aborted down the street at the abortion clinic. This is one of the reasons why our church, when I was pastoring, gave thousands of dollars to Crisis Pregnancy Centers (now called Pregnancy Resource Centers) to supply them with ultrasound machines. When a mother sees her baby in the beginning stages of development in her womb, she potentially changes her mind about her abortion.
As an aside, the American public’s perception of the holocaust only became negative after pictures were released of Germans massacring Jews in the gas chambers. This is why today pro-choice advocates do not what to show pictures of babies being aborted. It is simply too gruesome and revealing of the life and death of the precious child. This is also why Planned Parenthood clinics do not show mothers the actual abortion in process while the mother’s baby is being torn apart and showing pain and emotion in her womb. When I was a student at OSU the right to life activist were bullied, threatened, and quickly removed from the MU Quad by state officials because they were holding up pictures of babies being aborted.
The truth hidden allows evil to flourish.
Once again, marvel with me in the enlightening Word of God:
“You guided my conception and formed me in the womb”! –Job 10:10 NLT
Two Inevitable Questions
When we present the biblical realities about life, abortion, and other such subjects we will hear two questions.
- Aren’t we imposing our biblical views on others?
- What right do you have to impose your beliefs on others?
These questions are repeated over and over by sophisticated and intelligent people from both the secular public square, and sadly, the Christian community. Even asking the question, “aren’t we imposing our biblical views on others?” We can see how Christians have absorbed the secular doctrine that it is illegitimate to speak from a Christian perspective in the public arena. They sadly believe that doing so violates ideals of neutrality and objectivity.
• Every person has right to express their opinions
• In a way, all established laws are imposing views and morality on others. Examples: The laws penalizing murder, rape, stealing, kidnapping, etc. Even a traffic light is imposing an opinion on the driver.
• No opinion is neutral and/or totally objective.
• When an opinion is based on an absolute right or wrong it is a valid view.
• Even a so-called secular opinion is a private and subjective view.
• The so-called objective views about life and abortion are based on one’s subjective and private values.
By the way, we are not obligated to answer every question posed to us. Jesus Christ did not answer everyone’s questions. But sometimes we can, as He did, answer the question with another question.
• Are you imposing your beliefs on others?
• Are your opinions objective and or neutral?
• Does diversity include a moral view that opposes someone else’s opinion?
• Are both sides tolerant enough to hear a divergent opinion?
Personhood Theory rests on a highly contentious, two-level view of human nature that involves a course utilitarian (actions are right if they are useful or practical) view of the body (lower story) along with a subjective, arbitrary definition of the person (upper story). Nothing is neutral about any of that. And when the government mandates policies based on that worldview, it is imposing a secular ideology on an entire society.
It is no secret that the major factor driving the demand for abortion is sexual immorality. Sex outside of marriage produces children who are unexpected and unwanted. With regard to the Greco-Roman world, historian Michael Gorman writes, “by far the most frequent reason for abortion was to conceal illicit sexual activity.” (Look to Gorman and the Early Church, 15). There is a direct and obvious relationship between sexual hedonism and abortion.
The argument of back-alley abortions, and the protection of the mother are simply red herring arguments in the vast majority of cases.
Those who support abortion are not relying on science. They have taken a moral stance that the Declaration of Independence is wrong in pronouncing that all people are created equal. For many pro-choice proponents they are saying that all life is not equal. To borrow a line from George Orwell’s Animal Farm, “some lives are more equal than others.”
#1 Please explain the three uses of the word “bara” or “create” found in Genesis chapter one.
#2 Describe the difference between body, soul, and spirit.
#3 Muse over the verses identifying the soul and spirit being two sides of the same coin.
#4 Describe personhood theory out loud to someone else. The purpose of this question is to equip you to speak on your feet. I just took two occasions to do so in my last interactions with people this week. The illustration in this article will help you.
#5 Why are more millennials against abortion? Explain this to someone else.
#6 I attempted to respond to two questions with my answers and questions. What answers and questions would you present?
#7 What is the value of providing pictures of babies being aborted?
#8 Why is Personhood Theory opposed to the Declaration of Independence pronouncing that all people are created equal?
Standing up for the Unborn,