> Articles from the Abolitionists of North Idaho > 01/25/2015
When are preborn human beings “persons”? When does the spirit enter the preborn body?
When we argue that abortion is murder, we are arguing that preborn human beings are made in the image of God and that they are fully human and are indeed persons with the same value as born persons. It is because of the fact that people are made in God’s image that He prohibits our murdering them (Genesis 9:6).
Many people in the past have tried to argue the personhood of preborn humans from scientific facts. These have included when the heartbeat begins (the heart starts beating and circulating blood only 2 to 3 weeks after fertilization), when there are measurable brain waves (synapses form in the spinal cord 5 weeks after conception, and an EEG can detect brain activity usually by the 12th week of pregnancy). Then, there is the argument about when a preborn baby feels pain, currently argued as at around 20 weeks post fertilization.
But, the Word of God is said to be sharper than any two edged sword and is the full counsel of God. What are the bible’s arguments as to when the spirit enters the body? Some of the common arguments used from the bible include:
1) Psalm 139:13-16 - For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.
2) Jeremiah 1:5 - Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.
3) Every woman in the bible who is pregnant is said to be “with child”. For example, Genesis 16:11 - And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the Lord hath heard thy affliction.
These are just some of the commonly used scriptural arguments.
In this article, I will focus on two less well known but perhaps more solid scriptural foundations for the fact that at conception, the human spirit indwells the human body (even if that body is only a handful of cells versus trillions of cells in an adult human body). First, let’s acknowledge what is the part of a human being that is made in the image of God.
Since God is a Spirit (John 4:24), then it is clearly not our bodies that are in His image. The bible talks generally about two parts to a man, the inner man and the outer man (or, more specifically the outer man being the body, or flesh). As to the inner man, that is the soul or spirit of the man, that which transcends the mortal body and is everlasting from the time of its creation:
Ephesians 3:16 - that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
The contrast between soul and body can be seen in 1 Corinthians 5:5 “to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
Two solid scriptural arguments for life at conception.
The two most solid biblical arguments for life at conception, for full personhood at conception, for a human spirit in the human body at conception….are found in James 2:26 and Luke chapter 1. Let’s examine them:
James 2:26 - For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
Although the main point of this verse is not that the body without the spirit is dead, it is making a comparison to this apparently obvious fact. The assertion is that if a body is alive, then the spirit is present. Abortions are obtained BECAUSE the baby’s body is alive, and is growing. If the body inside a woman’s body were dead, the woman would not consider surgical or chemical removal of the baby’s body, because her own body would naturally purge the uterus of the dead baby’s body.
If cells are reproducing, if there is motor activity in those cells, then that baby’s body is alive. And, based on James 2:26, if the body is alive, then the human spirit, that which is in the image of God, is present in the body.
It is a mind blowing fact to consider the human spirit, that part of us that will endure everlasting, whether with the Lord or in the lake of fire. How does one quantify the human spirit? It can not be seen, can not be measured, almost can not be comprehended. But, it is the essence of “who” we are. The body is its shell. The body is perishable, can be seen, felt, sensed, measured, yet the body is not that which has the most value according to God.
The second biblical argument that presents a solid case for personhood at conception is found in Luke chapter 1. In Luke 1, we see two persons, both in utero, and both at vastly different ages since conception:
Verses 24-31: And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying, Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.
And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.
Here, we see that when Elisabeth was in her 6th month of pregnancy with John the Baptist, an angel visited Mary and told her she would conceive Jesus. Watch carefully what happens next:
Verses 34-37: Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible.
Note that the angel said to Mary that the Holy Ghost SHALL come upon her. He had not yet come upon her. At that moment of the saying, she was not yet pregnant with Jesus. Then, what did Mary immediately do?
Verses 39-40: And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; and entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth.
She left the presence of the angel and went WITH HASTE to the hill country to Elisabeth, who was dwelling in a city of Juda the scripture says. Judah is a district south of Jerusalem, and Hebron was the city at the center of it. Mary was dwelling in the city of Nazareth of Galilee, which was well north of Hebron by at least 80 miles. Scholars estimate a journey in that era to be of 3 to 4 days duration.
If Mary went with haste, she presumably started the journey soon after the angel’s visit, and thus almost immediately after conception of Jesus by the Holy Ghost. Since she journeyed with haste, she probably arrived at Elisabeth’s house within a week of conception. In a normal pregnancy, conception happens as the egg travels down a fallopian tube. Then, within a week of conception in the fallopian tube, the fertilized egg implants in the lining of the uterus. During that week, the baby is multiplying cells at a phenomenal rate, starting with two cells, and rapidly expanding to 8, 16, hundreds, then thousands. The baby’s body is alive and growing rapidly.
Note, what the scripture says as to Mary’s arrival at Elisabeth’s house:
Verses 41-44: And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: and she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.
By these scriptures, we see two main things. First, John, 6 months along in the womb of Elisabeth was cognizant of the presence of Jesus and leaped. Second, Mary is pregnant and is declared to be a mother by Elisabeth, and more specifically mother of the Lord. Meaning, the Lord was already accounted as present within the womb of Mary.
All that, within the first week of conception. What that confirms is that people are people from the moment of conception. Fully human, fully persons, with spirits present in the baby’s developing body.
And as such, EVERY abortion is the murder of an image bearer of almighty God.
And as such, all human abortion should be abolished to protect these innocent human beings and to comply with the laws of God.