I was asked, “Does the Bible ever use the word ‘abortion’?” this week.  The short answer is that the Bible does not use it in the way the questioner meant.  Nowhere do we find a command, “Thou shalt not abort.”

There are all sorts of moral issues to which the Bible does not speak directly.  Nowhere do I find a verse that says, “Thou shalt not drive drunk.”  It’s not just modern issues.  There is no command, “Thou shalt not eat human flesh” despite the fact that the Bible clearly sees cannibalism as one of the horrors of siege warfare (cf. Jeremiah 19:9).

Still, the Jews had a common understanding of the basic outlines of the Scripture's views on right and wrong.  Luke 10:27 records a lawyer summarizing the Law:  “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”  Jesus affirmed this understanding.  When the lawyer found that he and Jesus agreed, Luke says he wanted to “justify himself,” so he asked another question:  “And who is my neighbor?”

That is the question that led to Jesus’ great parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37).  Jesus tells of a man, attacked and dying on the side of the road.  Two men cross by on the other side of the road.  They were those expected to be holy, priests and Levites.  Finally, a good man attends to the victim, sacrificing his own time and resources.  This good man was one expected to be inferior, the Samaritan.

Samaritans were a class of people who lived near the Jews and claimed some common faith, but they also rejected much of the Jewish orthodoxy and mixed with idolaters.  They were precisely the kind of neighbors whom Jewish lawyers would be tempted to count as un-neighbor. 

But Jesus is not content simply to count the un-neighbor as neighbor.  His parable turns the tables on the question “Who is my neighbor?”  When Jesus finishes His parable, He asks, “Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor?”  For Jesus the question is not, “Who can be classified below ‘neighbor’ so that he has no moral claims on me,” but “Am I acting like a good neighbor myself?”

This is relevant to the abortion question.  “When does a fertilized egg become a human being?” is certainly another form of “Who is my neighbor?”  Like the priest and Levite who pass by the man on the side of the road, a fearful mother may want to deny that the child within has any moral claim on her.  Similarly, society as a whole may wish to deny those children and their mothers have any moral claim on all of us.  Like the Samaritan who does choose to care for the wounded man, any mother who cares for a child will be sacrificing her time and treasure.

That’s precisely why the twitter movement #unplannedparenthood has been so beautiful.  Story after story has been filed under #unplannedparenthood describing how an unplanned pregnancy brought love, grace, wonder; the stories are endless.  Do yourself a favor and read them.  One of my favorites:  

When I see someone in need, their humanity is not at stake.  God knows that person and loves them, no matter their age/ability/race (Ps 139:13-16).  What is at stake is my own humanity.  When I act as a neighbor, I am more.  When I pass by, I am less.

Most of the women who consider abortions are in positions where the people around them have already made their own decisions not to be a neighbor.  Worse, the people sadly influencing the pregnant mother have often refused to be a father or a grandparent.  Telling stories of the joy and grace of unplanned parenthood can encourage pregnant women to embrace the gift that is given within by the only Creator of life.

Yet if we stopped at only telling stories, we’d miss one of the great points of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  Jesus did not just sit around and tell stories about being a neighbor.  He acted in grace.  He saw us, dying on the side of the road.  He did not hesitate to sacrifice all He had for us.  But it was also “for the joy set before Him [that Jesus] endured the cross, despising the shame” (Hebrews 12:2).  Jesus suffered for us, but He rejoices in us today.  Isn’t that the story of parenthood?