What is life? Does life in a human being begin it at conception? These are some of the most important questions for Christians for which the answer has serious implications. In this post, we will explore what Scripture has to say about life and when it begins at the womb.
I believe it is best to put some disclaimer before discussing the topic so that the post will not mislead anyone.
for the LORD had closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham’s wife.Gen 20:18
And her rival also provoked her severely, to make her miserable, because the LORD had closed her womb.1Sam 1:6
This post by no means endorses the use of IVF treatments. It merely discusses if the destroyed embryos have life or not. If God shuts the womb, no man can go against His decision.
How is a child born?
There is a misunderstanding that children are always born because of the will of God.
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.John 1:12
There are three ways a human can be born – excluding ‘born of God’ which speaks about spiritual (i.e, born of the Spirit):
- Born of blood
- Born of the will of the flesh
- Born of the will of man
Hence, humans born are not always from the will of God. They can also be born of blood, by the will of flesh or man. It was not God’s intention for Abraham to father Ishmael. The same was with the child born of adultery between David and Bathsheba.
Blood is Life
But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. Surely for your lifeblood I will demand a reckoning; from the hand of every beast I will require it, and from the hand of man. From the hand of every man’s brother I will require the life of man.Gen 9:4-5
Only be sure that you do not eat the blood, for the blood is the life; you may not eat the life with the meat.Deut 12:23
‘For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.’Lev 17:11
Both in the laws given to Noah and to the Israelites, God mentioned that blood is life.
And He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground.Gen 4:10
When Cain murdered Abel, it is the blood that cries out to God from the ground. The fact that blood is life, is crucial to understand Scriptural position on IVF treatments for infertility and abortions that constitutes murder.
“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.John 6:63
To be in context and relevant for this post, we will exclude the spiritual aspects of what Jesus spoke about life.
Zygote, Blastocyst and Fetus
To identify if IVF treatments are acceptable and abortions are murders according Scripture, we need to first understand the development of fetus and figure out when the baby has it’s own life, that is blood. The embryo’s blood cells start developing at around week 5 gestational age (3 weeks after conception)1. Hence, according to Scripture, life begins in the womb after 2 weeks.
Another factor to consider is Zygotic splitting. A zygote is the fertilised egg cell that results from a man’s sperm fertilising a woman’s egg, and it contains all the genetic information from both parents to form a new individual. It soon starts to divide and subdivide into many more cells called blastomeres, which eventually form the embryo. Zygotic splitting occurs between days two and six when the zygote divides, usually into two, and each zygote then goes on to develop into an embryo, leading to identical twins (or triplets if it divides into three). These are known as “monozygotic” twins (or triplets)2.
Hence, an individual person in flesh begins to develop after the implantation of blastocyst and have “life” at the end of 2 weeks when the fetus has its own blood.
- IVF treatments usually stop with blastocysts. Based on Scripture, these are not having life, for they have no blood cells in them. However, any form of treatment for fertility that involves destroying fetus that is 2 weeks old which has it’s own blood is murder.
- Parents can expect to see their babies lost miscarriages once again in resurrection if they had died after 2 weeks from conception
- Abortion (both surgical and using pills) of any fetus that is 2 weeks from conception is murder of an innocent life according to Scripture.
Life in the womb begins when the fetus has its own blood which Scripture calls as life. This happens when the fetus is after 2 weeks from conception. Hence, any form of abortion after 2 weeks is murder of an innocent life. However, IVF treatments for infertile couples usually stop with implanting or destroying or freezing blastocysts which is around day 5, when they don’t have life. Hence, life does not begin with conception but rather, when the fetus has its own blood, that is life.
1 “Fetal development: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.” Medlineplus.gov. 8 Jan. 2019. Web. 21 Jan. 2019. <https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002398.htm>
2 ScienceDaily. “Why single embryo transfer during IVF sometimes results in twins or triplets.” ScienceDaily. 18 Oct. 2018. Web. 21 Jan. 2019. <https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181009102542.htm>