My wife and I were recently blessed with the birth of our eighth child (and fifth boy), Samuel Paul. It is fitting that the eternal Son of God revealed His glory in human history as a baby, for according to Him babies are the truest representation of a citizen of God’s kingdom (Mark 10:14b). In fact, God so identifies with children that how we treat them is used as a litmus test for one’s very connection to God Himself: “Whoever receives one child like this in my name receives me” (Mark 9:37a).
Beliefs drive behavior. Principles determine practice. Values motivate investment. If our beliefs are informed by the God of the Bible then the question for us is not, “What is my opinion about abortion?” but rather, “What is God’s perspective on children?” The answer to this question will determine how well we understand our relationship to God as well as how we expect children to be treated.
Jesus placed the highest priority on children. He is intensely aware of how they are treated rewarding those who bless them, even with something as simple as a ‘cup of cold water’ (Matthew 10:42), and cursing those that harm them with a fate worse than death (Mark 9:42).
Placing the highest priority on children of all classes of human being is not a new idea introduced in the New Testament. We see the same priority placed on children in the Old Testament. In Leviticus 20:1-5 any Jew and even non-Jew found sacrificing a child to the demonic god Molech was to be stoned to death along with his whole family. But there was a catch. If someone finds out about another person sacrificing their child to this god Molech and does nothing about it they will suffer the same punishment as if they had done it themselves! This is the only place in all of the Old Testament law where the moral responsibility of the sin of one man is placed on the shoulders of another man just because he knew about it and didn’t do anything to stop it.
Even more than that, God places the highest priority of protection on children in the womb found in Exodus 21:22-25. Here if one accidentally causes a woman to miscarry the husband has a right to “appoint as a penalty a life for a life” (Ex. 21:23b). This represents the highest protection afforded any class of human being and it is specifically pre-born children. Note that the scenario represents an accident. What if the harm to a child in the womb was intentional? Perhaps “it would be better for him if, with a heavy mill stone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea” (Mark 9:42b).
While the Biblical witness is clear that God wants children to be protected and blessed Jesus drives home the point to His disciples in Mark 10:13-16 and adds a key piece of information; the answer to the question, ‘Why?’ The answer Jesus gives is because, “The kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these [babies]” (Mark 10:14b).
So exactly what is it about babies that makes them the ultimate example of a citizen of heaven such that if we don’t understand it ourselves we’re disqualified as citizens? Babies are voiceless, powerless, without influence or rights in this world. They of any class of human are the most vulnerable and defenseless unless someone takes responsibility for them. In fact babies in the womb are the only class of person in the United States of America who has been officially dehumanized. In 1973 the Supreme Court decided in the infamous case of Roe v Wade that pre-born children are not human, thereby stripping them of their God given rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. So why not abortion? It is ironic that the court of supreme American justice committed the highest crime against humanity by dehumanizing the most vulnerable of citizens paving the way for legalized infanticide. And unless someone stands in the gap and takes responsibility for these babies, they will perish.
The status of powerless babies in the womb in the U.S. mirrors our condition before a holy God. We are without power, influence, and voice. Were it not for the work of Christ on the cross we would have no standing before a just God. Through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross we have been gifted with a voice, power and influence before God the Father and we are to wield those tools as Christ did, not for Himself but rather on behalf of others. In taking the gift of salvation the Christ child offers us we acknowledge His Kingship over our lives and our obligation to sacrificially bless and protect those who cannot do so for themselves; the disenfranchised, dehumanized babies in the womb. “Permit the little children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Luke 18:15).