Dr. Alan Branch joins in this episode to discuss the history of abortion and biblically consider how Christians should understand it.
I highly recommend Dr. Branch’s book Born This Way?: Homosexuality, Science, and the Scriptures and his other book Affirming God’s Image: Addressing the Transgender Question with Science and Scripture.
We look into the history of abortion in history from ancient times until the present day, examining how the current movement has progressed over the last 50 years.
Listen to this episode to hear Dr. Branch give us 3 practical ways to respond to the abortion movement in a biblical way.
Resources Recommended by Dr. Branch:
- Fearfully and Wonderfully Made Ethics and the Beginning of Human Life by Dr. Megan Best
- Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice by Francis Beckwith
Dr. Branch is the Professor of Christian Ethics at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Research Fellow of Christian Ethics at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. You can view his website here.
Please leave a review of this episode with your honest thoughts or share any comments with us here.
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Welcome to the Brooks Picast, a packcast made for the Church hosted by a justified center and frequent guests. Pes woome your hosesback, well Hillo guys welcome back to the Brooks podcast. I have something amazing to hear the guys today, really great guest, dtor J Allen Branch. He is a professor at Midwestern, baptistheological seminary of the school that Iam currently attending, and I took one of his classes really really enjoyed it. Hes guns PhD from southeastern babtisteological seminary he’s a research fellow and Christian ethics for the ERLC and is t he’s the author of two books born this way: homosexuality, science and the Scriptures and affirming God’s image. I personally have read born this way: homosexuality, science, an th scriptures like almost twice now, and it is really fantastic. So I’m super excited to have you on doctor, branch’ thinking so much for joining today. I’m glad to be with you brooks. I thought I’d start out by asking something a little fun just so the audience gets to know you a little bit. What’s one thing about yourself that you think people might not know just from reading your books and articles? Oh Um, I own a Harley Davidson and I enjoy riding it very much. That is amazing. I know a bunch of people who would eat that up. How long have you owned Harley, so I have owned a Harley for about a year and a half. I did not buy my first motorcycle to about three and a half years ago. My first motorcycle was a small Hunda and then, in March of two thousand and nineteen about a Harley Davison, superload Turings, a sporster superloatturing, twelve ner CC motor and as an atermarket exhaust put on it and it’s it’s not a big bite, but it suits me really well and is Nice I’ve written it on couple of troops out west had a great time that is really cool like Westin Co, so dor branch, it seems like defending Christian. A Christian Understanding of sexuality is, is one of your things, one of the things you’re really passionate about, and I also really enjoyed yeur teaching and and the thoughts that you had on abortion. I thought in this in the political atmosphere that we’re in currently and just knowing a lot of the people that I I know, I feel like they’d, be super helpful to talk about abortion with you Um. So I guess I just want to start off with just asking: Why do we? Why do we believe it’s important to talk about abortion? Why is that something that you’ve dedicated time to study and to teach well, first of all, wee like to point out that the issues of sexuality and abortion are very closely connected. It’s no coincidence that you have the sexual revolution in the late sixties, the summer of Lo e nineteen, sixty seven as San Francisco and then six years later, you get a Rody Wade in January of nineteen. Seventy three abortion is a brutal coping mechanism for sexual promiscuity, the the widespread of availability of contraception, fueled, the sexual revolution. It was perhaps an excelerant is a better word. I think we still would have had the sexual revolution without the ORLD countraept opill, but the ocpce certainly was an incelerant, but the point, being sooner or later, all contraceptives fail. Some of the modern ones, long anting, reversible, contreceptives seemd- to be more affected with even day fails from time to time. The point being is, as a general rule, if someone has a pomisterous sex sooner or later, they’re going to father a child or become pregnant with the child, and so, if you were having sex with no intention of having children and the child comes along with what do you do? Well, the coping mechanism of choice for our culture has been abortioned nd, so the two issues are are closely related Ye and you did a great job of teaching that and writing about that as well Um and specifically from a philosophical, scientific and Biblical perspective coming at it a D, I found that really helpful. So can you can you give a brief history of kind of abortion in the United States? How that came amount right? Well, I think in thilet’s make sure we understand. Abortion was not unknown in the ancient world. So typically, what would happen is an antiquity two millennia go. A woman would take and aordifatient some sort of drug to cause an abortion, and someone has well described it. The process back then, as playing Russian roulette with three bullets in the chamber. So the idea was the woman would take enough of a a poison to induce a miscarriage, but not enough to kill her, and so it was a very, very tricky thing, but abortions wene unheard of and child abandonment was probably even more R, more common and the early church. Fathers are very clear that Christians don’t aword their babies and they don’t abandon their babies. So the only place where the specific word abortion is used in the Bible, his Infrosquenti, his fifteen wher Paul, refers to himself. After all, these other resurrection appearances he says last of all to me- is one born out of time. Well, that’s realy the word for abortion. There he’s saying by I’m just an oddity of God’s grace. If you will that that Christ appeared to me, there is some debate about the word Parmakea and the list of the works. The flesh in galations five that Wurd for a kid could could be used in antiquity to refer to an abortion, but on aortipation, but it wasn’t strictly limited to that. So I’m hesitant to narrow down that term to just just an abortion, though. Certainly the word Barmakea was used to refer to boardofations and at Pop Soo, and maybe more than that, but it’s not less than that is Caeli Esr, and so my suspicion is. It means more than that and the works of the flesh, because the broad nature was bing e dress. That said, in the United States, abortion was illegal in all fifty states. Up until the late sixties, Sokin a lot of things going on in the sixties. Several states began to liberalize their abortion laws, most notably in New York in Hawaii, and so there was this trend towards liberalizing abortion laws. But by the early seventies the vast majority of states still outlawed abortion and w over two thirdsand states. It was illegal to have an abortion, so you saw something happen in nineteen. Seventy three very similar to what happened in two thousand and fifteen with t e overdevaiersus hoges decision, where the Supreme Court stepped in and a majority of of paers in Washington DC decided on a moral issue on behalf of the entire nation which rarely works out. Well, when the Supreme Court does that, I would point someone back to plessy versus Fergerson and to the dreadstot decision before the civil war, both of which the Supreme Court tried to settle huge moral arguments on ther, which is not what they’re designeg to do. It’s really judicial tearing Y as what it is, so they uh, I think, even more and more. Over the last I mean Nineteen d sixty seventies, that’s not that long ago, fifty years ago, maybe- but even in that last fifty years, I think that we’ve seen the the judicial branch gained more and more power and to d now R. I think they legislate from the bench a lot of times. Well, they do, and the challenge is that it’s not just the Supreme Court, it’s all these circain courts and what not scattered around the United States. So, instead of winning moral debate as a typical strategy, theological socialethical liberals prefer to work through the courts because, instead of having to convince an entire poculice, all you have to do is find one judge that can somehow see things your way and strike a gavilind there. You DOA busted in teconsent and though the case came out of Texas. A row was the h the name to try to keep Norman mccorny anonymous, but normal mccorby was the Jane Ro and she was a young woman living in Texas who gotten pregnant and she was approgued by some prerabortion lawyers that wanted to challenge Texas is law outlawing abortion, an a Texas, priminalaized ortion in nineteen? Seventy one, one of these lawyers that approached her was actually a member of Travis Avenue of Bapgist Church in Fort Worth she was a southern baptist. So one of the lawyers arguing the road case before the court was actually it was actually southern baptist, which shows a lot of confusion in my own denomination at that time Um. So the court ruled in two decisions and January O nouteen. Seventy three delivered on the same day. They are evil, twin sisters, Roby Wade and DOBE BOT o most people. If they know something about this, they just know roby way, but you have to read: Roby Wade and Dov Bolton together, they’re delivered on the same day. So what roby way did was it legalized, abortion in all fifty states and it struck down any law in any state which the bast majority of estates had, which said that abortion, except to save a mother’s life, iniminent Ajer, is, is illegaltis supring course Ho. You can’t do that. We’re going to strike all these laws down, which had been in place for an a very long period of time, but they decided on the side of a minority at that time and Um, a minority, moral opinion and so roby Wade, but is based on a debated notion of right to privacy, which was first declared as a constitutional idea. N, N, N Nineteen and sixty five Griswall B, Connecticut and Chriswold, was as tout as wold was the head of the Plain Pairent Association in Connecticut, so plane, parrothood POPs up and all these apportion cases griswalebe Connecticut was in an abortion case. It was about contraception, but the Supreme Court declared this right to privacy well, eight years later, t that right to provacyy privacy, first declared in reference to contraception, was expanded and applied to the notion of an abortion, and it said well, if someone has a right to privacy to purchase contraception, then will expand this. You have a right to privacy N. perhaps the most frustrating thing is justice. Batman who wrote the majority decision is incredibly atrocious, moral argument. He he’s attempted to be an amateur historian and he didn’t do a good job at that he intempts to PA an amateur league, Leks Berd. He doesn’t do a a very good job that I have it extremely Mustis, Blackman uh, but among many things he also equivocates. At one point he says that well, the the state of Texas urges that life begins that conception and he uses the word life in reference to biological life, which is what Y stakeen o fate for our school says that we believe in the sanctity of humanlife conception and natural death. So Justice Blakman once sentence, says well the state, the state of Texas argues that lie begins a conception, twosoisis Lajery says you know that there’s great debate among all these philosophical legal experts about whe life begins, he’s just equivocated and the first sentence he uses. The word lie in reference to biological life and then in the next sentence he uses the word life and he doesn’t mean biological life he’s using it in reference to a debated notion of philosophical personhood, and it’s really bad when a student equivocates on a paper is manipulative and evil and vile when a supreme court just icso knows better equivocates in a supreme court decision and it’s its a horribly argued decision. So what happened was the same day in roby way. They said divided pregnancy, up into three trimesters and said the first Trie Tat. Two Trimester states can’t make any laws prohibiting the portion. They said the third trimster they can make some laws except where the mother’s Helth is concerned. So the same day they issued a decision in another case originating in my home state Georgia called Dovi Bolton and Dobi Bolton. They clarified an expanded rod by defining the life of the mother and his broaest since possible to include everything. Emotional financial, familish, dress, anything and so the challenges when most Christians, even Geicl Christians, think about lying for the mother and I’ve had a lot of church people say to me. Well, I want abortion to be legal for the lafh of the mother. Typically, what they have in mind is something an iniminent crisis like can heptopic pregnancy and I agree, and so does every other Prolan a sisters, there’s no late resolve and the top of pregnancy, the mother’s going to em it. The pregance is going to rush her she’s, going to Bley to debth and impossibly died. It same crinical emergency. What you have to keep in mind is Christians. Evegelical Christians have this narrow definition of life of the mother, obarian cancer might come in or uterine cancer or something the same thing. Secular people have a broad broad definition, so robeak was clarified and expanded by Dov Bolton, Roby Wade was so horribly argued that it gets challenged over and over again after twelve years of Reagan and Buch Appointes to the supring court. The whole issue of aborsing is revisited aain, I N on nine Huteen and ninety two and planned parenthood versus Casey. I planned parent who to South East Pennsylvania versus Casey long stories short they ay shifted. Abortion, writes the United States from a debated notion of personhood to the more explicit liberty interest in the fourteenth and Menment, but in doing so they articulated this incredibly wild and broad notion of moral autonomy, which basically means anything goes in some. It’s a very troubling decision. One thing that came out of it, though, was they allowed. They they allowed states if they so choose to impose certain limitations on abortion of, for example, or rental consent. So it’s hard to imagine, but this happened when I was a boy, a a girl that I knew very well I’d gone to school. With all my life, we ere in Tenth Grade Naneteen, eighty two Paulon County Georga. She got on the bus in the morning and she said my mom doesn’t know this, but the boy I’m dating has gotten me pregnant and somebody’s driving me down to an Atlanta for an agortion Oday she’s fifteen years old. She leaves o High School her mother never knows she drives down to Atlanta and gets an abortion. They drive her back out the polincounty high school she gets on the bus Ang. She sit behind me on the seat, talking about getting an abortion and her mother never knew. I knew her mother, so this still happens in some states. Well, what happens and PLANPAR UNVERSUS casy. They allowed states that they so desired to implement things like parental consent or twenty four hour waiting periods, and things like this so one comes out. This is why abortion laws in Missouri and Kansas are far more conservative than California n New York. That’s thvary around the nation. You can’t technically outlaw abortion. A lot of folks have been pushing at it with Um expanded. The the medical expertise on how to deal with neonate has wildly increased by several expositionally by several magnitudes orders of magnitude. So children that may not have lived back in Nineteen D. seventy three when rotyway was decided. Co actually live today. So this has changed the whole notion about when the fenus is actually viable. So a lot of are really prudent and I really say savvy and I mean as a compliment really savvy. polized legislators around the country and conservative stakes are trying to push that as as a way to to limit abortion access. I commente podoing, so I think it’s a wise strategy. That’s a brief history hope the letality of abortion in tossas yeah. So how would you summarize what a Christian should think about abortion whath, the Bible teachers on abortion? Well, I want to say something that I hope Young Christians all listen to. I’m fifty two I’ll be fifty three an just a month and a half. I guess two months now, but I hear a lot of young Christians now that I said well, we skys, like you, you’re, focused on this issue, o an abortion and we moved beyond that. Wev got all these other issues. We want to talk about and Um. I someone I really really respects his wai on pear life, but I’m going to talk about wond to ton. I agree: sanctitive of human life conception an natural death. What I want everyone understand is there’s a reason. Why guys like me, Hammer home the issue of the Samitity ofhumuline and ply anportion is so Egal, and simply this you have to talk about a portion and sanctity av live issues before you talk about any other moral issue, because if someone isn’t granted the right to life, they don’t get to exercising e other right. If they’re killed in the wound, we never get to talk about health care for if they’re killed in the wo, we never get to talk about IGLAXEAC education and theyr killed in the Wooun. We never get to talk about all sorts of issues related to the environment. What in O world they’re going to grow up Yeu? If people are killed in the flu, it doesn’t matter whatever writ we’re talking about. So, there’s a reason why it has logical priority have worried that young Christians are not really thinking clearly on that, there’s a reason why you have to have her hole, the issue, the sacity of human life in the womb. First, in fact, if you don’t hammer on that issue, first, you don’t ever have to worry about Outanasia ’cause, you just aborted them Alli and sub, and this issue of amortion. I realize young Christians to there’s the won. I’m worried about SAGETO ASS, but what about immigration? TAT ESANTOTOI A it is, and let me tell you what is related to abortion. More than Young Christians realize we have killed. Sixty million potential taxpayers in this country, they’ve been killed, there’s a reason why our Hispanic friends are rushing across the board is ecause, there’s jobs here, and one of the reasons there are jobs here is because we’ve aborted the next generation of taxpayers and if it were not premigration the population that the United States would have declined. So in a way the issues of immigration and abortion are connected. The reason there’s so many of our Hispanic friends that want to come here. T’s ’cause there’s jobs here, one of the repons why there are so many jobs here as we’ve aborted the working force yeah, I think we tend to like compart mentalize issues in our head as if they’re not all connected to one another and have implications, I mean it has implications practically like abortion connected to immigration, but also philosophically theologically. These things aren’t disconnected from one another. So go ahead. Noll, please you I was going to say. So how would you what would you encourage young Christians to do um in in the fight for the sanctity of life? How can we practically be thinking about this? I’m praying about this and and helping an this situation. The first thing to do is to live life of moral virtue and live according to God’s work m. Our first responsibility is ourselves that we are carrying ourselves in a way that we don’t contribute to the problem, and you know if you’ve ever lived very far away from God and then discovered the glace that God has to offer and- and you realize sometimes it takes years to realize the second and third order, magnitude of seeing him have committed thirty and thirty five years ago, IIT’s a very painful thing. So the grace of God is a good thing. I’m grateful for it in my life in ways that Um your really too painful to describe t what I would say is their first answer S. we’ve got to make sure that we are carrying ourselves as people of Christian integrity, so Um, it’s Um. There is letmy put it this way in Pilgrim’s progress at one point: Christian and faithful, minaguy named Mister Tokacive and Mser. Talktiv can talk a good game and he’s talking all about God and everything but and Faitefu was a little h Slaye by IM and he comes up to Christian and says: Hey you’re, not joining this conversation in Christian says: That’s ’cause that guy’s not a real Christian. He says Oh paple said but list now he talks and H Christian says to faithful e St I’ll. Tell you what you ask. You ask Mister Tokin of a question. Here’s the question on you ask you ask him: What is the first sign that someone has been converted Allright, so faithful as Mister Talktiv? Hey, I won aske. The question was the first sign that someone’s been converted and Mister Tompton says: Oh, the first sign that someone’s been converted, his great outcry against sin in the world and suddenly fateful alight comes on. He says: No, that’s not the first time you can been converted. The first sign you’ve been converted is not great. Outcry against him in the world is great outcrying against sit in your own heart. So before we start ranting against other people, we better make sure that our sexual ethichs and our sactity of lipendics are what they should be. So that’s the pirstn thing I’d say as Ta Os. I that’s encouraging to me to even here yeah my favorite bi. Just so you know my favorite book ever read outside the Bible was pogen’s Progress Banco, but I think that’ that’s also spurgeon’s favorite book nri. I don’t know that spurgeon would have. Let me teach at his college ’cause couldn’t side to second landing confession, O C um, but you know what you do: teach it as college, so heroke CIGARSI’m only having fine club Ann Fishere, N, a light. Hearted go good nature teason, but here seriously, so that thing I would say, is that in your churches I mean the next thing to do is once we get our own house and order, we should be plugged into a local church and to make disciples and teach them seremember how sexual ethics an abortion ar time. So the first thing we do if e R really concerned Abot the sanctity of human life as we teach our young people in our church’s sexual athics. Listen narmy used to have this doneass, don’t tell thing about homosexuality. Let me tell you the big Dohnass don’t tell in Baptist churches as this is that couple living together before they get married. We just lie onon line. We don’t want to know, and so would we have to teach the folks in our church, sexual ethics and then to value human life, that children are blessing from God and there all of us were a pain in the neck when we were born to somebody and so just to accept that and that children are a blessing and they can being a parents the hardest job I’ve ever had in my life. So it’s not claiming it’s easy, but what we are saying is that we receive children as a blessing from God. Then uh at I can say is keep mat, fighting the good fight and every venue that God gives you to make reasons. Dmake reason to arguments in favor the SAE to do him. Alay thin, I uld say, is try to be PAG iget pretty wound up about these things, but in honesty, when I’m dialonging with people with whom I disagree, I make every effort I can to beg pracious and polite I’m fir, but I try to get theme to thinking. If you can just get someone else to think it said someone has Duso O it. I don’t remember who is put in a pebble in someone’s shoe. I mean very rarely it’s going to convince someone in one conversation: Oh Wow. I never realize it or life nom ye, but what you can do is get them to start thinking about some things and put a pebble in their shoe and hopefully overtime. Now the Peblin shes Singa. You got to stop. Take the shoeoff and get the pebble out right, sometimes we’re dropping little nuggeges of truth alone. The way thatits Gontroun around the back of someone’s mind until finally, they jus stop a think about it and that’s hopefully what we can do. I think those three things like his erol oses in order doing good discipleshoip in the local church and then in our moral argumentation, with other people showing Lore paciens and trying just to get them to think well. Dcor branch. I didn’t actually tell you that I was going to ask Tis, but just because we I feel like there’s so much more to be said, a D and Um, I’m just wondering what are some resources that you would recommend m for someone that wants to t to study more about this. So there’s a guy that used to be anevengelucko is now Roman Catholic. His name is Francis back with Um. He was hand of the enage Lical Theoliz President Evan Enical theological society when he converted back to Roroman atolysis and went back to the Church of his baptism. So I am what I would say, though, is when it comes to abortion. He makes some extremely good arguments read his stuff on abortion. I wouldn’t read his stuff on Asamation by grace long to paid the Lon, but on abortion I would so Francis backwitt there’s a a Christian physician out of Australia. Megan best and she’s written this wonderful work called fearfully and wonderfully made by motios medias about four or five years ago, is the most n resprase that it is the best pro lifebook that touches on a lot of issues from birth tot, as someone said, Womeda Tom she’s touching on all of them, and she also addresses some of the issues related to contraception and SANTITIBI issues. U She also deals with emergency contraception. She she addresses the different agortion procedures. She addresses into blash procedures, itcalled fearfully and wonderfully made his extremely well written. If someone just emails me I’ll, send t I my class nose for free, they can look at that. I think I actually have my notes in abortion up at ALN branch, ethics dcom, but Um. So those are some of the places I might Lov. That’s awesome I’ll, throw a link to some of those resources, Antoour website. Also, if you’re listening, I would really recommend checking out Dr Branch’s books that he’s written I can per personally tell you they’re, really well written, really helpful books and IILL put links to both of them in the description as well. Doctor Branch, I really loved having you on the podcast Hiy thinkhe’s, so much for joining and talking if Oitio yeah, what a joy I wish you everbegotry and thanks for having Mil absolutely thank you for streaming. This episode of the Brook concast. Please leave a review of the concast, with your honest pouts and for more content for me. Follow me on twitter. At Mr Brooxter. That’s Mi s, T er, brooxster and instgrm at Brok, Dot Szecu in the next episode