Today we continue our series of bulletin articles looking at why abortion is wrong. My articles initially focused on the Biblical evidence against abortion. But last week we also saw that God’s people have usually understood abortion to be a sin, beginning with first century Jews. This week I want to show that the early Christians also considered abortion a sin.
The early Christian church had the writings of the Old Testament and the New Testament as their authoritative Scriptures. But also circulating at the time were other writings by Christians. These were not considered to be the word of God, but are nevertheless helpful in understanding what early Christians believed.
One such writing is called the Didache. It was probably written between 85-110 AD and provides insight into what the teachings of the early church were. It clearly renounces abortion and infanticide: ‘thou shalt not murder a child by abortion nor kill them when born’.
Another early Christian writing is the Epistle of Barnabas. It was written about 130AD and also condemns abortion: ‘Thou shalt not murder a child by abortion, nor again shalt thou kill it when it is born.’
And a final example comes from Tertullian, an early church theologian (160-220AD). Tertullian wrote: ‘In our case, murder being once for all forbidden, we may not destroy even the fœtus in the womb, while as yet the human being derives blood from other parts of the body for its sustenance. To hinder a birth is merely a speedier man-killing; nor does it matter whether you take away a life that is born, or destroy one that is coming to the birth. That is a man which is going to be one; you have the fruit already in its seed.’ For Tertullian, life begins at conception – anything that is going to be human is human.
Therefore God’s people have a long tradition of condemning abortion as sinful. But is the abortion of a person an unforgivable sin? No. Through repentance of your sin and trust in Jesus’ death for your sins you can be forgiven for any sin, including the wrongful termination of another human.
Do you recognise abortion is wrong like God’s people have always done?