Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare (Jeremiah 29:4-7).
It is right to be anti-abortion. It is better to be pro-life.
The Lord’s charge to the exiles in Babylon is telling, and full of wisdom, for it concisely gets to the heart of God and His mission for His people. As Israel is captive in a foreign land, the Lord charges her with two things. First, Israel is to have children. In this strange land, the people are to multiply, having children who themselves will have children, the command extending to subsequent generations as well. Secondly, Israel is to seek the welfare of the land to which they have been taken captive. In other words, they are to seek to bless their captors, loving their enemies as they actively seek their good.
I would suggest that these commands, while two, are one. It has been so from the beginning, when God blessed and commanded mankind to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the earth and subdue it, exercising dominion over it. What happens as man carries out the command? Created as the image of God (Gen. 1:26), man’s fruitfulness means that God is made known throughout the world as man fills it and governs over it in a manner befitting his status as God’s image, seeking the good of creation that God had already deemed “very good.” God’s mission and commitment to bring blessing to the world is not only inseparable from the bearing and raising of children, it is built upon it.
One of the ways the church has conformed to the bent of our culture is by separating the work of God from bearing and raising children, too often failing to appreciate the connection between the Christian living and childbearing/childrearing. Rather, much like our culture, Christians often hold that children are a choice, to be considered in light of our larger goals and vision of life. To many, the idea that our larger goals and vision of life would be considered in light of biblical fruitfulness sounds strange and out of order. But God didn’t just tell Israel to be fruitful and multiply in Babylon. Nor did He just say seek the welfare of that city. He charged Israel with both, suggesting that God’s blessing this foreign land in which Israel lived as strangers and sojourners would happen as Israel multiplied and sought the good of the godless land in which they found themselves.
What do we mean by pro-life? We can believe that the killing of the vulnerable is wrong, and seek to bring it to an end. And we should. But is standing against abortion or euthanasia all that we mean by pro-life? Pro-life in the Scriptures is a recognition, even celebration, of life as God’s blessing, and an active commitment to bearing and raising children in families whose purpose is to love God and love their neighbors, actively seeking the good of the cities in which they live as exiles. If we are anti-abortion only, we will miss the blessing, and the great means by which God seeks to reach into this dark and wayward world.