Russell and Duenes

A Fetus is Not a Living Person with a Soul Until After Drawing Its First Breath

with one comment

A friend sent me a piece entitled, The Bible Tells Us When a Fetus Becomes a Living Being, and I was greatly saddened by it. I cannot read the author’s mind, but I can read his or her words (it’s an unsigned article), and I can surely read the Bible’s words. And having read them, I can conclude either that the author does not read very well, or has willfully distorted the Bible’s teaching. I find it amazing that a blog which headlines itself under the banner that “the LORD secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy” (Ps. 140:12), would define out of human existence the most poor, vulnerable and needy human beings among us.

The piece begins with a rather incredible statement, asserting that the living sperm joining up with the living ovum does not become “a living human being,” at least according to the Bible. This is erroneous from a biblical standpoint, but it is surely erroneous from a scientific standpoint. The sperm is a living human sperm; the ovum is a living human ovum; thus, what else could the joining of these two living human things be? All of the DNA is there. Everything necessary for the human being to grow and mature is present. The oxygen is there, even if it doesn’t come through the lungs (HT: Randy Alcorn). All that’s needed from conception onward is nutrition and a safe environment. Surely it would be odd for science to credit a living being as a human being, but for God to think him or her no different than the placenta, a mere “living tissue.” Further, are we to believe that 2 minutes before birth, when the baby is still in the birth canal and has not drawn a breath, he is still just “tissue.” This is absurd scientifically and theologically.

Then we get to the author’s interpretation of Scripture. The author says that because Adam was not a living being until God breathed the breath of life into him, (Gen. 2:7) then the unborn are not human beings because they have not drawn breath. Yet, a little more care with the text would show that, 1) Adam is unique in that God formed him as an adult out of the dirt, so he never lived in the womb, and 2) God’s breathing life into Adam does not tell us when God breathes human life into each one of us.

Then the author moves to passages in Job and Ezekiel which explain that what gives us human life is the breath of God. Well and good. But how does the fact that God’s “breath” allows me to live tell me that I’m not a human being, a human person until I take my first breath? Is this author truly reading the text? The author is no more careful with difficult texts like Exodus 21:22. At the least, one should consider that it might not say what, at first blush, one thinks it does. (See Greg Koukl’s attempt to understand this verse). Psalm 139 at the least teaches that God is knit us together in our mother’s womb. Yet the author just blows right past this.

And then consider the biblical texts this piece leaves out. It does not mention John the Baptist leaping in his mother’s womb at the sound of the pregnant Mary’s voice (Luke 1:41). Also not mentioned is Job 3:3 (“Let the day perish on which I was born, and the night that said, ‘a boy is conceived.'”) David intimates that he was a sinner from before his birth (Ps. 51:5). Mere tissues are not sinful; human beings are.

Ultimately, the piece descends into innuendo and name-calling. Those who believe that we are full human beings from conception are called “extremists” and accused of being “politically motivated.” We’re told that this is simply about “reproductive choice,” and implicit is that pro-life people are being judgmental by opposing abortion. The author serves up platitudes such as “if you don’t like abortion, don’t have one.” Yet this is like saying, “if you don’t like infanticide, don’t engage in it,” with the implication being that it’s OK to let others engage in it if they choose to. Of course the author would say that infanticide is different, because the baby is now “breathing.” But this simply puts us back to the question: What is the unborn? The author’s answer is badly wanting. Also served up is the common trope that opposing abortion will lead to “back alley butchery” and the like. After Kermit Gosnell, does anyone truly believe that legal abortion clinics are paragons of hygiene, health and safety for women?

But what is saddening about this is that it purports to give us the heart of God on the unborn. No pro-life advocate denies the difficulties attending to abortion. None I know simply casts off the mother as a murderer, with no compassion and desire to love her and see redemption in her life. But to make it out that the unborn are simply nothing more than living tissue, and that those who believe otherwise are villains and judgmental extremists is disheartening. To offer up that Jesus is not grieved by abortion simply because He did not use the word “abortion” means that He does not consider anything grievous which He did not mention explicitly: Chattel slavery, sex trafficking, beating one’s spouse, or being judgmental of women who have abortions, among them. This is perhaps most saddening of all. May God have mercy on us and give us his heart, lest we walk the walk of death.



Written by Michael Duenes

July 25, 2013 at 8:40 pm

One Response

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  1. Hmm… I don’t think pro-lifers are necessarily called “extremist” in believing life begins at conception considering the fact that 60% of Americans still believe abortion is morally wrong. The main issue is that studies show that safe, legal abortions decrease the chance of death and injury much more than unsafe, illegal abortions. The legality of abortion isn’t really the issue here. It’s the hearts of the women getting the abortions. Even if abortion were to become illegal, it would occur as surely as marijuana smoking still exists illegally in large numbers. However, at the same time, illegality would make it more dangerous for women to where two lives would be lost rather than one. I’m all for making abortion illegal if women would truly stop putting their lives at risk. Surprisingly, abortion rates have gone down with Democratic presidents because they favor universal contraception. Individuals need to stop whining about “paying for someone else’s sex life” and realize that science shows that condoms and birth control actually decrease abortion rates.


    July 26, 2013 at 4:22 pm

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