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When does human life begin? This question lies at the heart of the abortion/right-to-life controversy. We need not look far for the answer, because the Bible supplies us with the truth.

Even though we cannot fully understand the miracle of the creation of life (Ecclesiastes 11:5), the Bible does tell us quite a bit about it . . . the things we need to know.

As we know, both Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, were created by God, but not through the birth process (Genesis 1:27; Genesis 2:7, Genesis 2:21-22; Genesis 5:2; Deuteronomy 4:32; Matthew 19:4; Mark 10:6). However, Adam and Eve are the only exceptions. But even though all other humans are produced through the birth process, we must remember that our reproduction is not possible without God's help (Genesis 4:1; Genesis 29:31; Ruth 4:13; Psalm 119:73; Isaiah 42:5; Isaiah 49:5; Acts 17:25).

God knows each of us before we are formed in the womb or born (Jeremiah 1:4-5). There are many instances of God announcing the births of specific people before they were conceived which supports this fact. Just a few such predictions of births are Ishmael (Genesis 16:11), Isaac (Genesis 18:10; Genesis 21:1-7), Jacob and Esau (Genesis 25:22-23), Samson (Judges 13:1-8), John the Baptist (Luke 1:11-25), and of course, Jesus (Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 9:6; Matthew 1:23; Luke 1:31). God also knows and sets our purpose before we are conceived. This is illustrated for us in several scriptures. Jacob and Esau were to become two nations, with the older serving the younger (Genesis 25:23). Samson was to be a Nazirite of God (Judges 13:7). Jeremiah was to be a prophet (Jeremiah 1:5). All of David's days were ordained before they came to be (Psalm 139:16). John the Baptist's name was foretold (Luke 1:13), and his life service to God was known (Luke 1:14-17). Amazingly, while in the womb, John the Baptist even knew when he was in the presence of His Lord and Savior (who was in the womb of His mother), for John leaped for joy in his mother's womb (Luke 1:44)! From these scriptures, we can easily see that God loves us not only before we are born, but also before we are conceived!

Scriptures also tells us what takes place in the womb. God gives us life and watches over our spirits (Job 10:12). In the womb, we are created (Psalm 139:13), shaped (Job 10:8), made (Job 10:8; Isaiah 44:2), formed (Isaiah 43:1; Isaiah 44:2; Isaiah 44:24; Isaiah 49:5), molded like clay (Job 10:9), poured out like milk and curdled (Job 10:10), clothed with skin and flesh (Job 10:11), knit together (Psalm 139:13) with bones and sinews (Job 10:11), and fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). Our frame is made in the secret place [womb] (Psalm 139:15). We come into being in the womb (Job 10:19). And once we come into being in the womb, we can only cease to exist by dying (Job 10:19) and/or by being killed (Jeremiah 20:17). For this reason, God specified stiff penalties in the Old Testament for even accidentally injuring a pregnant woman (Exodus 21:22-25). In fact, the Bible states that we are children, not "fetuses," before we are born (2 Kings 19:3; Isaiah 37:3).

Children are gifts and blessings from God (Genesis 33:5; Psalm 127:3) and should always be viewed as such even before they are born and even when they are unexpected. God blessed Adam and Eve and told them to be fruitful and increase in number (Genesis 1:28). While enslaved in Egypt, the Israelites multiplied no matter what the Egyptians did to them because they were blessed by God (Exodus 1:8-13). In fact, when the Hebrew midwives feared God enough to refuse to kill the male Israelite children as they were being born (which brings to mind today's "partial-birth abortions"), God blessed them with families of their own (Exodus 1:14-21). Because Hannah was obedient to God and relinquished her first and only child to serve in God's temple, God blessed her with more children (1 Samuel 2:21). In fact, God gives many barren women cause for rejoicing when He gives them children (Psalm 113:9).

Just as fertility and children were always viewed as blessings in Biblical times, there are a few scriptures which indicate that infertility is sometimes a punishment from God for immoral behavior. One such incident occurred when God caused every woman in Abimelech's household to be infertile because of Abraham's wife, Sarah (Genesis 20:18). And this was even though Abimelech did not know that Sarah was already married. Another scripture clearly defines disease and infertility as the Old Testament penalty for an Israelite woman who defiled herself by sleeping with a man other than her husband (Numbers 5:20-31). Of course, not all infertility is the result of immorality, nor are all immoral people punished with infertility.

The Bible shows us there is a remedy for infertility: prayer and faithfulness. The above-mentioned bout of infertility upon Abimilech's household was healed when Abraham prayed (Genesis 20:17). Abraham and his wife, Sarah, received their first child when he was 100 years old and she was 90, because Abraham was faithful to God (Genesis 17:15-22; Hebrews 11:11). Rebekah conceived her first child in answer to Isaac's prayers (Genesis 25:21). Hannah's prayers for a child were answered (1 Samuel 1:27). And John the Baptist was conceived as the result of Zecharaiah's prayers (Luke 1:13).

Upon review of these scriptures which tell us that life is formed by God, He knows us before we are conceived, He watches over our spirits as we are formed in the womb, we are children while still in the womb, and that children are gifts and blessings, we can see what a great value God places upon the life of each and every one of us . . . even before we are born.

Copyright © 1998 Kimberly B. Southall. All rights reserved.