Many pro-life advocates use the Bible in making their arguments. While the Bible does have a lot to say about the unborn and about the value of human life in general, the use of Biblical arguments in the discussion of abortion’s legality is often well-intentioned, but misguided.
You see, laws in the United States are not based on religion. In fact, our Founding Fathers specifically planned to create a nation where religious freedom was protected. In order to do that, one must have a secular country based on logical principles, not a theocracy. History has shown that government based upon religion inevitably persecutes those who disagree with the religion in power. Many, if not most, of those who came to America and founded this nation came to escape religious persecution. They knew firsthand the dangers of living in a church state. They wanted to ensure freedom for all, so they set up a secular government and laid out basic principles to limit the government’s power and prevent oppression of the people. Their principles were based on the concept of inalienable rights (also known as human rights) – rights that are innate in every human being and which government cannot grant or take away. These rights include the right to life, liberty, ownership of property, religion, a fair trial, and many others – all developed from basic logical principles. And, in this country, laws are to be made by the people, but only in accordance with these principles so that no one's rights will be violated.
The primary purpose of our government and our laws is to protect the inalienable rights of the people, not to stop people from doing wrong things. It’s an important distinction.
Of course, these logical principles on which our country was founded are quite consistent with a Biblical worldview – and not by accident. The concept of inalienable rights, for example, comes from the view that mankind is the product of a Creator who has endowed them with these rights. Religious freedom is also consistent with the Bible. After all, even God Himself does not force Himself upon anyone, but gives all people the free choice to choose Him or not.
But one cannot enforce every doctrine from the Bible in a secular society. There are things that are wrong, according to the Bible, which cannot be made law. How would one, for example, make lust or coveting illegal? And while the Bible commands us to remember the Sabbath day, one cannot enforce this on all people within a society without violating their freedom of religion. These are all examples that demonstrate that not everything that is wrong should be illegal.
Did you catch that? Not everything that is wrong should be illegal. That’s important to remember when making arguments about whether or not abortion should be legal.
Arguing that abortion is morally wrong is one thing. To do that, you do have to refer to God and His laws. You need the Bible. It is quite possible to make a compelling case from the Bible that abortion is wrong.
But to show that abortion should be illegal – for all people, of all religions, in a secular society – takes more than that. The argument that abortion should be illegal requires showing that government has a duty to make laws prohibiting abortion. In other words, it is necessary to show that abortion violates inalienable human rights.
Keep in mind that all violations of inalienable rights are wrong (since these rights come from God), but not all wrong things violate inalienable rights. Wrong things must also be violations of inalienable rights if they are to fall under government’s jurisdiction. Government isn’t in the right and wrong business. Government’s business is protecting inalienable rights.
How does one decide what should and should not be legal in a secular society? The answer lies in applying the concept of inalienable rights by making laws that protect the human rights of all the people. Thus, murder should be illegal – not because the Bible says it is wrong, but because such a behavior violates the inalienable right to live of the victim. Similarly, theft should be illegal – not because the Bible says it is wrong, but because theft violates the right to own property of the victim. Since government's purpose is to protect the inalienable rights of all the people, any activity or behavior that violates someone's inalienable rights should be illegal. Government should never allow violations of inalienable rights or it has failed in its primary duty.
If we hope to make abortion illegal we must use the correct argument. We have to develop a secular argument against abortion that demonstrates that abortion violates inalienable rights. Without the argument from inalienable rights, we have failed to show why a secular government should be involved in prohibiting abortion, regardless of how wrong it is. It is this secular argument we MUST be making if we are to succeed. Many of us who are pro-life are Christians and have religious reasons to believe that abortion is morally wrong according to the Bible. However, that does not mean that abortion should be illegal in a secular society. We have to make the right argument if we are going to produce change.
The truth is, the unborn do have inalienable rights. They are human beings with the same rights as all other human beings. And those rights should be protected in a secular society just as the rights of all other humans should be. This can be demonstrated with science and logic and can convince even those who do not believe the Bible. More importantly, this is WHY abortion should be illegal – not because the Bible says it is wrong, but because abortion is a violation of basic human rights. All people should be in favor of protecting the rights of all human beings, regardless of their religion.
Stay tuned for more development of these ideas. As time goes on, we plan to provide solid arguments that abortion does, in fact, violate the inalienable rights of the unborn. We also plan to debunk the many arguments (if you can call them that) of the pro-abortion side with logic and science.