[Editor's Note: January 22, 2013 marks the 40th anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision, which effectively legalized the roughly 50 million abortions that have now been committed in America. The following is an edited transcript of a sermon delivered by pastor and long-time pro-life advocate, John Piper. Audio and video versions are available at desiringGod.org.]
How does abortion relate to spreading a passion for the supremacy of God in all things?
The way I've thought about abortion over the years as a preacher—and I'm mainly a preacher, one who has to speak about abortion in the context of worship from the Bible—is to relate it to God. We always devote one Sunday (the Sanctity of Life Sunday) to abortion and one Sunday to racial harmony every year.
In fact, the Martin Luther King Sunday and the Sanctity of Life Sunday in American life come back to back. And I regard that as a wonderful providence, because usually the people that are passionate about racial diversity and racial harmony are not the same people that are passionate about abortion (and vice versa). But I want a church where everybody is passionate about both. So to preach on them back to back is really important. That they are both God issues is what I want to say year after year after year.
Abortion is a God issue, and I think the first way you see that is in Psalm 139 where it says "I am fearfully and wonderfully made" (verse 14). And the language that is used is that a baby is knit together in its mother's womb. Well who's the knitter? The knitter is not nature. The knitter is God, which means that what's happening in a woman's tummy is that God is at work. God is making a human being.
Now, you don't mess with that. You just don't get in God's face and say, "Let me at it! I'm going to take it out! I'm going to chop it into pieces." You don't do that.
And you don't do it for God's sake. God gives, God takes away, God makes babies. We don't make babies. We put the pieces together through sexual relations and God causes a being that never was and now is and always will be to come into being.
Here's the way I handle the ambiguity of the moment of personhood. How do you know, Pastor John, that the person-forming work of God happens at the moment of conception? Why not at, say, quickening, the first time you feel the baby kick? Is that when you can call it a person? Or when it takes its first breath? I talked to a Christian doctor who told me that she believed—because of Genesis 2, when God breathed life into Adam and he became a living soul—that when the baby takes its first breath, then it becomes a human. Which means that late term abortions mean nothing to her as a Christian.