The Sixth Command: Life is Sacred…in Action

“You shall not murder.”  (Exodus 20:13 ESV)


We believe abortion breaks the sixth command. Why? A basic theology is that wherever God’s image is, there it is to be protected. The battle here is when does personhood begin? Is it when a child is outside of the mother’s womb, or during pregnancy, or at conception?

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made….My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance.” (Psalm 139:13-16 ESV)

These tender spiritual words describe God’s loving attention upon us even from our beginning, within the mother’s womb. Exodus 21:22-25 describes the punishment for someone who purposely strikes a baby in the womb to kill it. What is the punishment? Death. It says why, “life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth.” This is the biblical principle of retribution. Justice is served by an equitable punishment for the crime committed—a life for a life. That baby in the womb is a life.

The so-called pro-choice position is that the fetus is neither a life nor a person but a collection of molecules and nothing more. They also argue that the rights of the mother trump the rights of the child. Why should we care? Why should we participate in the struggle? If we truly believe that this child in the womb is a human life, then we have a responsibility to do what we can to protect it. If we heard that this week, 20 teenagers were going to be murdered at a building near Broadway Methodist Hospital, what would we do? Yet how many people will die at the Planned Parenthood office next to Broadway Methodist this week? You see, it’s not enough to simply not abort; the ethic is the responsibility we have to protect human life.

What can we do? I had an interesting conversation with a man well-connected on this subject. He related to me what he was told by an expert in the field, that the common issue with women coming to a pregnancy center or Planned Parenthood is not whether their child is human yet or not. Most often, this unwanted pregnancy feels to them like their life is over. For them, it’s not about God, or legal or philosophical debates, or even the fetus; it’s about them. It’s about their freedom to live unencumbered by the responsibilities of raising a child. They want the problem fixed.

This is why holistic ministries like Women’s Centers and crisis pregnancy centers are turning public opinion on this. They used to accuse us of only caring about babies but not women. But now there are 2,200 crisis pregnancy centers across the US and that accusation is largely silent. All life is precious including the mother as well. In fact, is abortion ever morally justified? The only way I can see it to be is when it is necessary to save the life of the mother. There are challenging ethical situations, but if we believe the child in the womb is a person, then it is a life to be protected.

Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

©2014 Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address ( on the copied resource.

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