Life in the Womb

In the ever-complicated web of the pro-life and pro-abortion debates in this day and age, even devout Christians have become divided over these huge ethical questions about life and death in the womb.  While the Bible does not directly address the topic of abortion (as many progressives like to point out), the Bible does directly address pregnancy a couple times.  One of these cases, in particular, is very straightforward and relevant to the modern debates.

In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”  (Luke 1:39-45 ESV)

So we’ve got two pregnant women, Mary and Elizabeth, and Elizabeth’s unborn baby (John the Baptist) responds with joy to the presence of Mary and her unborn baby (Jesus).  Cute, right?  But take a look at the previous sections of Luke 1, and check out how far along these pregnancies were.  Elizabeth was about six months along; baby John the Baptist was getting big.  Mary was less than one month along.

Jesus wasn’t even technically a fetus yet, he was an embryo.  At that point he had zero “viability” of life outside the womb.  Mary certainly wasn’t showing.  In fact, she might not even have had much chance to know if she was pregnant at all if it hadn’t been for the Archangel Gabriel having visited her and Joseph.  And yet, the real personhood and life of embryonic Jesus is affirmed here.

I point this out because I just came across a popular internet graphic/meme doing the rounds:

Sure, it’s witty and kind of funny.  But if you’re someone who believes in the teaching authority of the Bible, this analogy doesn’t hold up.  Humans are not like cupcakes, unborn children are not ingredients.  Even though we often refer to pregnancy as “having a bun in the oven,” Christians believe that life begins at conception, and therefore the “baking” is already done.  The fetus or embryo isn’t uncooked, it’s ungrown.  And there is a significant difference between the two.

By way of a final disclaimer, this is strictly a Bible-only line of reasoning, and can only demonstrate Christian belief and teaching, not “prove” or “defend” it to a non-Christian.  But if you do believe in the authority of the Bible, then you’ve got to understand what Mary and Elizabeth are showing us: life is life, no matter how tiny or undeveloped.

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About Fr. Brench

I'm an Anglican Priest and a sci-fi geek. Therefore, I write about liturgy & spiritual formation, theology & biblical studies, and Doctor Who. But I keep those blogs separate so I don't confuse too many people!
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1 Response to Life in the Womb

  1. Walt says:

    A good look at that passage, thanks for posting.

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