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Called from the Womb

January 9, 2023

“The Lord called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name.” Isaiah 49:1b.[1]

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 . . . “ Psalm 139: 13-14.[2]

My great-grandmother, Anna, had a twin brother who died at birth or shortly thereafter.  The story of the death of Anna’s twin brother resonated with me because I have a twin brother.  David and I were my mother’s third pregnancy; she didn’t know that she was pregnant with twins. Even though her pregnancy lasted a full nine months, the old-fashioned doctor who delivered us hadn’t listened for heartbeats during her pregnancy. Four minutes after my brother, David, was born my mother was surprised to hear the doctor say “Bring another basket,” and I was ushered into the world.  

These stories came to mind when I read about a woman who lost her twin brother before birth.  Sarah Smith explains that she survived an abortion because the doctor thought that he was finished after he aborted Sarah’s twin brother. A few weeks after the baby boy was aborted, Sarah’s mother felt her abdomen move, and she realized that she was still pregnant.  Like my mother, she hadn’t known that she was pregnant with twins.  She went to the doctor and told him that she wanted to keep the second baby.  Sarah survived because the doctor did not know she was there.

Sunday, January 22, 2023 is Sanctity of Life Sunday, but we are looking at the subject this week because of Isaiah’s words in the Old Testament text for next Sunday: “The Lord called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name.” Isaiah 49:1b. 

Wherever you stand on the abortion issue, it is worth taking the time to take a closer look at the relevant facts. A few years ago, Breakpoint, Chuck Colson’s ministry, published a booklet, 21 Days of Prayer for Life.  It was a prayer guide for individuals and groups to pray for all victims of abortion—the unborn, expectant mothers and fathers in crisis, grandparents, those emotionally suffering from abortions they had, and others.  The following is a summary of the booklet’s four primary arguments in favor of the pro-life position. 

The Bible Affirms Life

Scripture confirms that we are made in God’s image: “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness . . .So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1: 26-27, see also Genesis 9: 5-6, James 3:9).  Humans are valuable because they were made in God’s image, not just because of what they can do.  And because they are made in God’s image, intentionally taking innocent human life is wrong (Exodus 23: 7; Proverbs 6:16-19; Matthew 5: 21).  Abortion is forbidden by Scripture because it is the intentional killing of an innocent human being.  

 Abortion is not specifically mentioned in Scripture because it was unnecessary to explain the importance of human life in the culture for several reasons: (1) Children were viewed as a blessing, while infertility was a curse (Psalm 137:3-5; Genesis 20: 17-18; 1 Samuel 1: 6; Genesis 30:1, 22-23); (2) One’s bloodline lived on through one’s descendants; (3) Continuing the family line was essential for national security when a group was surrounded by hostile nations; (4) Having children was a sacred responsibility; (5) The early Christians in Jesus’ time were largely Jewish, who understood the Scriptural command against killing innocent people. 

Science Affirms Life

The developing embryo is different from other bodily cells.  Dr. Maureen Condic, Assistant Professor of Neurobiology and Anatomy at the University of Utah explains that starting with conception human embryos function as organisms: “Embryos are not merely collections of human cells, but living creatures with all the properties that define any organism as distinct from a group of cells; embryos are capable of growing, maturing, maintaining a physiologic balance between various organ systems, adapting to changing circumstances, and repairing injury.  Mere groups of human cells do nothing like this under any circumstances.” 

Logic Affirms Life

David Boonin, a proponent of abortion, describes photos of his son Eli on his desk, and the photo of Eli he keeps in the top drawer of his desk. The picture in the desk drawer is sonogram image taken 24 weeks before Eli was born.  Boonin says, “The sonogram image is murky, but it reveals clearly enough a small head tilted back slightly, and an arm raised up and bent, with the hand pointing back toward the face and the thumb extended out toward the mouth. There is no doubt in my mind that this picture, too, shows the same little boy at a very early stage of development. And there is no question that the position I defend in this book entails that it would have been morally permissible to end his life at this point.”   

But does body size or stage of development determine whether a human can be killed?  Infants are less developed than teenagers, but do they have less value?  Embryos are dependant on their mothers for survival, but infants are also dependent on their parents for a long time. The child and teenage brains are not fully developed, but do they have less value? The logical answer to these questions is that the size of the human, the stage of development, the degree of dependency, or the environment (womb v. world) does not determine the humanity of a person. Therefore, if it is immoral to kill a person after he or she makes the eight-inch journey from womb to world, then it is immoral to kill a person who hasn’t yet made that journey.  

Chuck Colson made the argument against the use of abortion as a social policy: “The logic that supports abortion as a ‘useful social policy’ to prevent the birth of ‘defectives’ or to reduce welfare and crime, applies with equal force at all stages of life.  If the body is merely an instrument of the self, if it has no inherent dignity, then we are free to dispose of it at will—or others are free to dispose of it for us.” (Charles Colson and Nancy Pearcy, How Now Shall We Live? (1999) Tyndale Publishing Co., p. 118).  

Founding Documents Affirm Life

Some of our most important historical documents (Declaration of Independence, Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, and Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”) have their roots in the biblical concept of the imago dei—that we are created in the image of God.   If those who support pro-life positions are irrational for basing their arguments on a Creator, then our founding documents and others, are irrational as well.  The second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence starts as follows: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”  The first of the inalienable rights is the right to life. 

This short discussion of issues is not intended to gloss over the very difficult burdens women carry with respect to all abortion decisions, including those where the pregnancy resulted from rape and incest or where the health of the mother is truly at risk.  

Over 20 years ago I wrote a short play called “Life Matters,” performed by teenagers in our congregation on Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, discussing various difficult issues relating to the importance of preserving human life.  One of the characters, Nicole, addresses the question of the health of the mother: “There are no easy answers in those situations. But we don’t throw out speed limit laws because someone may have to break the speed limit to get to the hospital for an emergency!  I think that we can have laws against abortion that carve out reasonable exceptions and still protect life in the womb.”   

Another character, Meg, closes her argument with a quote from Deuteronomy: “God said, ‘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: 19-20).

 If you believe that life matters, that we are created in the image of God, and that each life is precious, you will want to assist those who are struggling with an unexpected or unwanted pregnancy.  If you are pro-life you already have heart for those who are making difficult pregnancy choices.  You may wish to get involved in a local crisis pregnancy center to help women in crisis and their families.  In addition to offering medical services for expectant mothers, the centers assist the women with infant needs.  These centers also often offer counseling services to help women who are having difficulty recovering from the emotional after-effects of abortion. 

Next Sunday we will read Isaiah’s statement that God called him before he was born.  God calls out to the unborn to claim them as his own. You can help protect these unborn children to ensure that they have an opportunity to live out God’s purpose for their lives. If you share the belief that God has a purpose for each of us that was in place before the moment of our birth, then you will want to help pregnant women in crisis and their babies.

Prayer:  Father, as the Creator of all living things, you chose to create humans in your image.  Thank you for blessing us with the gift of life and for giving us an eternal soul.  Help us to protect and preserve life in every way we can.  Each embryo carries your stamp.  Each embryo contains the potential to live a life according to your special plan for the person that embryo will become.  Protect the unborn.  Help, protect, and comfort all expectant mothers and fathers in crisis, grandparents, those emotionally suffering from abortions they had, and others.  We ask these things in your name. Amen

Diane Cieslikowski Reagan

[1] The Scripture texts for the Second Sunday after Epiphany are Isaiah 49:1-7; 1 Corinthians 1:1-9; John 1: 29-42a; and Psalm 40: 1-11. 


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