September/October, 1997 Volume XII Number 8
Convictions or convenience: A spiritual stronghold? -- Where do we go from here?
It is a tragic irony that we who are Christians try to persuade people not to have a single surgical abortion, while as a result of our choice to take the Pill we may be having two, three or a half dozen chemical abortions ourselves.
My intention is not to finger-point. I take no glee whatsoever in writing this. I do not wish to put my brothers and sisters on the defensive. Nor do I assume the worst of them, that they will all ignore this evidence and be callous to the lives of their unborn children.
If we'd had the information then that we do now, I am convinced Nanci and I would have stopped using the Pill. In the face of the overwhelming evidence, I think many others will make the same decision. Of course, I am not naive. I realize that many otherwise pro-life people will continue to take the Pill and many Christian physicians will continue to recommend it. I do hope that over time this will change, as our consciences become sensitized.
I have spoken with many Christian physicians, brothers I deeply respect, asking them their opinions on this research. One said, "I've never heard of any of this before." Another said, "I've heard rumors, but no one has ever pointed me to any hard evidence."
I believe what I've presented here is hard evidence. There is a clear answer to our question "Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions?" The answer is definitely "yes."
In the face of this overwhelming evidence, our position on the Pill offers a great test of our true convictions. Do we really believe human life begins at conception? And will we exercise this conviction even at the cost of our personal inconvenience?
Or perhaps what we thought was a conviction will be proven to be no more than a preference. Perhaps the truth is, if we can avoid abortion without inconvenience to ourselves we will do so, but if it requires extra effort on our part, we will go ahead and risk the lives of our children. (In fact, they are really not "our" children to risk -- they are created by God and owned by God, and entrusted to us by Him to protect and nurture.)
Can God, who creates each human life at the point of conception, fully bless the pro-life efforts of CPC volunteers and Right to Life workers and sidewalk counselors and pastors and doctors -- and any of us -- when we turn right around and use, prescribe or recommend a product that sometimes takes the life of an unborn child?
Are we consistently pro-life or only selectively pro-life? Do we oppose later abortions while not really caring about the earliest ones? Is the only difference between us and those we call "proabortion" that they are willing to embrace the killing of bigger and older children while we are willing to embrace the killing only of smaller and younger children? Are we moral relativists and gradualists different only in degree but not in kind with those we call abortionists?
Because we have grown so accustomed to the Pill, will we turn our heads away from the risks it poses to our children? Do we dare to play God by infringing upon his sole and sacred prerogatives over human life?
We often encounter proabortion people who deny the basic medical and moral realities of the issue, and sometimes we shake our heads in wonder at the extent of their denial of the obvious, that abortion kills children and that it is ethically unacceptable. Many pro-lifers, for instance, have lived in denial when we've said, "I oppose abortion, except in cases of rape, incest and deformity." (Of course, an unborn child is a child; regardless of how he was conceived and what his handicaps are, it is wrong to kill a child.)
Because of social pressures and half-hearted convictions, when it comes to something so deeply entrenched in our society and in the Christian community as the Pill, each of us is fully capable of denial. Looking back, I believe I was in denial on this issue from the time I first heard about it six years ago. Why didn't I dig deeper? Why didn't I research it more carefully?
I have many other reasons to explain it away, but perhaps the bottom line is because I just didn't want it to be true. But there are many things I don't want to be true that still are. I don't want to believe there is an eternal hell; or that as a Christian I will be held accountable for my life's works at the judgment seat of Christ; or that millions of children go to bed hungry each night; or that abortion kills children; or that the Pill causes abortions. I don't want to believe any of these things, but I believe each of them nonetheless because the evidence clearly demonstrates them to be true.
Is there a supernatural reason for our ignorance and denial on this issue? As much as I believe in the spiritual realm and the spiritual battle, I am not as quick as many people to attribute every misunderstanding or problem in the church to demonic influence. However, consider what Jesus said: "the devil . . . was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies" (John 8:44). When Satan carries out murder in an outwardly "civil" society, inevitably he must bury the murder in a huge grave of lies so that no one sees the corpses. When he convinces the church of these lies he has achieved his greatest victory -- it's hard to imagine a more horrid irony or a more crippling blow to the church than that we, followers of Christ, would make choices that result in the deaths of our own children.
The biggest threat to Satan's success in killing the innocent is that people become aware of the truth and then act on it. When I consider my own ignorance and lack of motivation to pursue and act on the truth that the Pill kills children, I am forced to conclude this may well be a spiritual stronghold that the evil one has on the church. Until we come to grips with, repent of and abstain from the chemical abortions we ourselves are having, I wonder how effective we will be as Christ representatives in general, and in particular in our efforts to prevent abortions.
Many surgical abortions happen in Christian churches, far more than most people realize. According to the latest Guttmacher Institute study, it is now just under one out of five women getting surgical abortions who claims to be a born again Christian. But it is the chemical abortions that are going almost completely unchallenged, even in the most pro-life churches and organizations, and it is these that represent the direction of abortion in America and around the world. Trends indicate that in years to come there will be fewer surgical abortions, because of the popularity and "ease" of chemical abortions. If the church herself is committing chemical abortions as a way of life, then we are woefully unprepared to fight the abortion battle at any level, let alone this one.
Ironically, the move to chemical abortifacients brings us full circle, since it is actually a return to the ancient way of doing abortions. In times where surgical abortions were very rare, certain herbs, chemicals and poisons were given to women by abortionists, who were often apothecaries or unethical doctors with a knowledge of what chemicals induced miscarriages.
That's why the ancient Hippocratic Oath taken by physicians stated, "I will give no deadly medicine to anyone if asked, nor suggest such counsel, and in like manner, I will not give to a woman a pessary to produce an abortion." A pessary was an oval stone inserted in the vagina sometimes used to prevent conception and sometimes used to cause an abortion.
As the IUD is parallel to the "pessary" (a physical device) of the Oath, so the Pill and other chemical abortifacients are parallel to the "deadly medicine" ethical physicians would not prescribe.
It was in the face of such chemical and device-caused abortions that Christian leaders in the first few centuries consistently denounced all abortions. For instance, in about AD 200, Minucius Felix wrote in Octavius, "There are women who swallow drugs to stifle in their own womb the beginnings of a man to be -- committing infanticide before they even give birth to the infant." In the fourth century Basil the Great wrote, "Those who give abortifacients for the destruction of a child conceived in the womb are murderers themselves, along with those receiving the poisons." (See Appendix C: Abortion: Perspectives of the Early Church Leaders.)
In fact, a strong case can be made for understanding the Greek word translated "sorcery" in Galatians 5:20 as a reference to administering drugs to commit abortions. This word is "pharma-keia," from which we get our word "pharmaceuticals," or drugs. The administering of drugs and potions was common in sorcery, and hence the word sometimes took on that secondary connotation. But it is also used in the Greek literature of the day with its original primary meaning of drugs, chemicals or medications. The most prevalent social example of the evil use of chemicals was using them to induce abortions. Pharmakeia was used early in the second century by the physician Soranos of Ephesus in his book Gynecology, referring specifically to drugs which cause abortions.
Galatians 5:20 lists pharmakeia as one of the "acts of the sinful nature," and precedes it with sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery and idolatry. All of these relate to the immoral practices that led to many unwanted children and therefore many abortions, giving further logic to the idea that pharmakeia may in fact refer to using chemicals to kill unborn children.
The same word is used three times in Revelation. In Revelation 9:21 it says: "Nor did they repent of their murders, their pharmakeus, their sexual immorality or their thefts." In 21:8 it states: "But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, the pharmakeus, the idolaters and all liars -- their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur." In Revelation 22:15 it says, "Outside are the dogs, the pharmakeus, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood."
As the devil loved the sacrifice of children in the ancient heathen cultures, so he loves the sacrifice of our children in our modern culture. Whether children are sacrificed to a heathen god called Moloch or to the god of our own convenience, he does not care. (See Appendix F: The Shedding of Innocent Blood.) Whether these children are born or unborn does not matter to the Murderer from the beginning, for each of them is equally created in the image of God, and by killing them he comes as close as he can to striking out at God himself. In killing those created in his image, Satan kills God in effigy.
The evil one's vested interests in our blindness on this issue cannot be overstated. The forces of darkness desperately do not want us to see these newly conceived children as their Creator sees them. If we are to come over to God's way of thinking about them, it will only be through searching the Scriptures, praying, examining the evidence and openly and boldly addressing this issue in our churches and Christian organizations.
Time to search our hearts and change our ways?
Christian couples who are using the Pill, it is time to sit down and have a heart to heart talk. As a matter of conscience and conviction, do you believe you can or should continue with the Pill? Or is it time to consider other alternatives? Surely we should search the Scriptures together, pray together, look at the facts presented here, and ask God's guidance for our families.
Pastors, counselors, physicians, nurses, pharmacists and others: what will you do with this information? Our churches, our patients, our counselees, our families look to us for leadership. Let's take our God-given role seriously and provide that leadership. At the very least we must present people with both the scientific facts and the biblical principles, so they can be informed enough to make wise and godly decisions. We dare not be silent in the face of the lives of children created in the image of God. "Speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves; defend the rights of the poor and needy." (Proverbs 31:8-9) (See Appendix H: Defending the Weak and Helpless)
If for some reason you are not satisfied with the evidence presented here, will you commit yourself to find out the truth? Go to the Scriptures first, then go to the medical journals and textbooks. Call the Pill manufacturers. (Of course, you must be prepared for the fact that they have been trained to deal with questions from pro-lifers and to minimize concerns about abortion. Even then, if you persist in your questions, most of them will acknowledge that their literature is in fact correct -- the Pill does sometimes prevent implantation of a newly conceived human being.)
If after investigating the issue, you still are not convinced, ask yourself "If this evidence doesn't convince me, is there any evidence that would?" Is it possible -- and I ask this with caution and, I think, without a critical spirit -- that your own vested interests in this issue are blinding you to the truth?
It is always better to live in the light than the darkness, even if for the moment the darkness may be comforting to the eye. Ultimately, facing the truth will set us free, while denying it will put us in bondage. The truth about the Pill may disturb us -- it certainly disturbs me -- but if we respond prayerfully to what we know, we can make informed choices to follow the Lord and affirm his Lordship over us, our families and our churches. God will surely bless us for that.
Let God's Word be the final one: "This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live." (Deuteronomy 30:19)
Note: If you wish, feel free to copy this booklet or download it from our website at http:/www.epm.org/~ralcorn and give it to your friends, family, church or anyone else. You have my full permission to do so. If you prefer to order copies of this booklet from Eternal Perspective Ministries, you can contact us at 2229 East Burnside #23, Gresham, OR, 97080.
If anyone has information_particularly primary sources_either refuting or supporting any claims of this paper, please send it to Randy Alcorn at the above address or at email@example.com. I will further revise this article and post each revision at our EPM website. I will also publish any relevant responses, including arguments and evidence from those who disagree.
Appendix A: When does each human life begin?
The answer of scripture
"The babies [Jacob and Esau] jostled each other within her [Rebekah]." (Genesis 25:22)
"In the womb he [Jacob] grasped his brother's heel; as a man he struggled with God." (Hosea 12:3)
"Your hands shaped me and made me. Will you now turn and destroy me? Remember that you molded me like clay. Will you now turn me to dust again? Did you not pour me out like milk and curdle me like cheese, clothe me with skin and flesh and knit me together with bones and sinews? You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your providence watched over my spirit." (Job 10:8-12)
"Did not he who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same one form us both within our mothers?" (Job 31:15)
"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made . . . My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." (Psalm 139:13-16)
"Surely I was sinful at birth; sinful from the time my mother conceived me." (Psalm 51:5)
Note: Only a person can have a sin nature. David's statement clearly shows he was a person at the point of conception.
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." (Jeremiah 1:5)
"His mother Mary . . . was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit . . . [the angel said] 'what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.'" (Matthew 1:18-20)
"But the angel said to Mary 'you will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. . . . The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.'" (Luke 1:30-31, 35)
Summary of Luke 1:39-44: After the angel left, Mary "hurried" (v. 39) to get to Elizabeth. Unborn John the Baptist (in his 6th month after conception) responded to the presence of the unborn Jesus inside Mary. Allowing for travel, Jesus was no more than 8-10 days beyond conception when they arrived. Implantation doesn't begin until 6 days after conception and isn't complete until 12 -- most likely Jesus was not yet fully implanted in his mother's womb when unborn John responded to his presence.
Appendix B: When does human life begin?
The answer of science
"I have learned from my earliest medical education that human life begins at the time of conception. I submit that human life is present throughout this entire sequence from conception to adulthood and any interruption at any point throughout this time constitutes a termination of human life."
Dr. Alfred M. Bongioanni, professor of obstetrics, University of Pennsylvania
"After fertilization has taken place a new human being has come into being. . . . This is no longer a matter of taste or opinion. Each individual has a very neat beginning, at conception."
Dr. Jerome LeJeune, genetics professor at the University of Descartes in Paris (discoverer of the Down Syndrome chromosome)
"It is scientifically correct to say that an individual human life begins at conception."
Professor Micheline Matthews-Roth, Harvard University Medical School
"By all the criteria of modern molecular biology, life is present from the moment of conception."
Professor Hymie Gordon, Mayo Clinic
"The beginning of a single human life is from a biological point of view a simple and straightforward matter -- the beginning is conception."
Dr. Watson A. Bowes, University of Colorado Medical School
"I oppose abortion. I do so, first, because I accept what is biologically manifest -- that human life commences at the time of conception and, second, because I believe it is wrong to take innocent human life under any circumstances."
Dr. Landrum Shettles, pioneer in sperm biology, fertility and sterility, discoverer of male- and female-producing sperm.
Appendix C: Abortion: perspectives of the early Church leaders
Note: The Didache was a second century (AD 120) catechism for young Christian converts. The inclusion of these statements shows that instruction to not commit abortion was a basic and essential Christian teaching, not a fringe or secondary issue.
"Do not murder a child by abortion or kill a new-born infant." (The Didache 2.2). "The Way of Death is filled with people who are . . . murderers of children and abortionists of God's creatures." (The Didache 5:1-2).
"You shall love your neighbor more than your own life. You shall not slay a child by abortion. You shall not kill that which has already been generated." (Epistle of Barnabas 19.5; 125 AD)
"We say that women who induce abortions are murderers, and will have to give account of it to God. For the same person would not regard the child in the womb as a living being and therefore an object of God's care and then kill it. . . . But we are altogether consistent in our conduct. We obey reason and do not override it." (Athenagoras, Legatio 35, AD 165)
"The fetus in the womb is a living being and therefore the object of God's care" (Athenagoras, A Plea for the Christians, 35.6; AD 177)
"It does not matter whether you take away a life that is born, or destroy one that is coming to the birth. In both instances, the destruction is murder." (Tertullian, Apology, 9.4-6; second century)
"Our whole life can go on in observation of the laws of nature, if we gain dominion over our desires from the beginning and if we do not kill, by various means of a perverse art, the human offspring, born according to the designs of divine providence; for these women who, in order to hide their immorality, use abortive drugs which expel the child completely dead, abort at the same time their own human feelings." (Clement of Alexandria, Paedagogus 2, AD 175)
"Reputed believers began to resort to drugs for producing sterility and to gird themselves round, so as to expel what was conceived on account of their not wanting to have a child either by a slave or by any paltry fellow, for the sake of their family and excessive wealth. Behold, into how great impiety that lawless one has proceeded by inculcating adultery and murder at the same time." Hippolytus, Refutation of all Heresies 9:7, AD 200)
"The wealthy, in order that their inheritance may not be divided among several, deny in the very womb their own progeny. By use of parricidal mixtures they snuff out the fruit of their wombs in the genital organs themselves. In this way life is taken away before it is born. . . . Who except man himself has taught us ways of repudiating children?" Ambrose of Milan, Hexameron, c. AD 350)
"Those who give abortifacients for the destruction of a child conceived in the womb are murderers themselves, along with those receiving the poisons." (Basil the Great, Canons, 188.2; fourth century)
"Thou shalt not slay thy child by causing abortion, nor kill that which is begotten. For everything that is shaped, and has received a soul from God, if slain, it shall be avenged, as being unjustly destroyed." The Apostolic Constitutions 73; AD 380)
"Why sow where the ground makes it its care to destroy the fruit? Where there are many efforts at abortion? Where there is murder before birth? For you do not even let the harlot remain a mere harlot, but make her a murderer also. You see how drunkenness leads to whoredom, whoredom to adultery, adultery to murder; or rather something even worse than murder. For I have no real name to give it, since it does not destroy the thing born but prevents its being born. Why then do you abuse the gift of God and fight with His laws, and follow after what is a curse as if a blessing, and make the place of procreation a chamber for murder, and arm the woman that was given for childbearing unto slaughter?" (John Chrysostom, Homily 24 on Romans, c. AD 375)
Jerome called abortion "the murder of an unborn child" (Letter to Eustochium, 22.13; fourth century). Augustine used the same phrase, warning against the terrible crime of "the murder of an unborn child." (On Marriage, 1.17.15; fourth century)
"The fetus, though enclosed in the womb of its mother, is already a human being and it is a most monstrous crime to rob it of the life which it has not yet begun to enjoy. If it seems more horrible to kill a man in his own house than in a field, because a man's house is his place of most secure refuge, it ought surely to be deemed more atrocious to destroy a fetus in the womb before it has come to light." (John Calvin, sixteenth century reformer)
Appendix D: God is Creator and Owner of all people (and therefore has sole rights over all)
"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." (Genesis 1:27)
"Know that the Lord Himself is God: it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture." (Psalm 100:3, NASV)
"For every living soul belongs to me, the father as well as the son." (Ezekiel 18:4)
"Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand." (Isaiah 64:8)
"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
Appendix E: God has exclusive prerogatives over human life and death
"See now that I myself am He! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand." (Deuteronomy 32:39)
"The LORD brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and raises up." (1 Samuel 2:6)
"You shall not commit murder." (Exodus 20:13)
Note: Except when he specifically delegates that right to men (e.g. capital punishment, self defense, or just war), God alone has the right to take a human life.
"And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. . . . And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man."(Genesis 9:5)
"If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman's husband demands and the court allows. But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise." (Exodus 21:22-25)
"Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account." (Hebrews 4:13)
Appendix F: The shedding of innocent blood
"Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molech, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the LORD." (Leviticus 18:21)
"The LORD said . . . 'Any Israelite or any alien living in Israel who gives any of his children to Molech must be put to death. The people of the community are to stone him. . . . by giving his children to Molech, he has defiled my sanctuary and profaned my holy name. . . . If the people of the community close their eyes when that man gives one of his children to Molech . . . I will set my face against that man and his family and will cut off from their people both him and all who follow him . . ." (Leviticus 20:1-5)
"Do this so that innocent blood will not be shed in your land, which the LORD your God is giving you as your inheritance, and so that you will not be guilty of bloodshed." (Deuteronomy 19:10)
"The LORD sent Babylonian, Aramean, Moabite and Ammonite raiders against him. He sent them to destroy Judah, in accordance with the word of the LORD proclaimed by his servants the prophets. Surely these things happened to Judah according to the Lord's command, in order to remove them from his presence because of the sins of Manasseh and all he had done, including the shedding of innocent blood. For he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the LORD was not willing to forgive." (2 Kings 24:2-4)
"The LORD said, 'What have you done? Listen! Your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground.'" (Genesis 4:10)
"For God will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death. He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight." (Psalm 72:12-14)
"There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers." (Proverbs 6:16-19)
"Therefore as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I will give you over to bloodshed and it will pursue you. Since you did not hate bloodshed, bloodshed will pursue you." (Ezekiel 35:6)
Appendix G: How God sees children
"See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven." (Matthew 18:10)
"But Jesus called the children to him and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these." (Luke 18:16)
"Your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost." (Matthew 18:14)
"Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him." (Psalm 127:3-4)
Appendix H: Defending the weak and helpless
"Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked." (Psalm 82:3-4)
"Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, 'But we knew nothing about this,' does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?" (Proverbs 24:11-12)
"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy." (Proverbs 31:8-9)
"Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins." (James 4:17)
"House of David, this is what the LORD says: 'Administer justice every morning; rescue from the hand of his oppressor the one who has been robbed, or my wrath will break out and burn like fire because of the evil you have done -- burn with no one to quench it.'" (Jeremiah 21:12)
"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come . . . take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. . . . I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me. . . . For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me. . . . 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'" (Matthew 25:31-46)
Randy Alcorn is the author of "Money, Possessions & Eternity"; "Pro Life Answers to Pro Choice Arguments", and other books. He is on staff at Multnomah Bible College. He and his wife Nanci founded Eternal Perspectives Ministries in Gresham, Oregon.
© 1997 Advocates for Life Ministries