For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them (Psa. 139:13-16).
The Bible constantly uses the things of this world to instruct us. Proverbs, for example, teaches us the importance of industry: “Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise” (Prov 6:6). To illustrate the life-giving power of God’s word, Isaiah points to the rain that causes plants to grow (Isa 55:10-11). And Jesus, lamenting the obstinance of the Pharisees, says he often longed to gather them as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings (Matt 23:37; Luke 13:34). Throughout the Scriptures, we see things of the world declaring the glory of God: The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the Lord is a sun and a shield.
Another of these signposts is what we might call sacred space, set apart for the Lord and His purposes. The cardinal example of sacred space is the Holy of Holies, the place in the Tabernacle where the Lord dwelt. The Holy of Holies was indeed holy, set apart from the rest of the world and accessible only to the high priest, who was permitted entrance—and with very specific instructions—only once each year. Anyone else who approached the Holy of Holies did so at the peril of death.
The womb is also a sacred space. It is set apart from the rest of the world; while inside God works, knitting His image together. He seals off entry to the womb, so that the baby remains protected as God and the mother undertake this sacred work. Then, when the Lord’s weaving is finished, and the baby is ready to encounter the world, He opens the womb.
The abortionist, therefore, has some work to do. He must open that which is sealed shut. He must force his way into this sacred place, where he then inserts weapons of destruction—knives to cut and forceps to twist—tearing apart the child God has woven together, removing pieces bit by bit from a now ravaged womb. Then, in a grotesque and blasphemous parody of God’s work, the abortionist reassembles the dismembered body on a tray in order to ensure that his work is complete.
Why does he do this? Why does he destroy the work of God? Because, in fact, if the abortionist does not destroy the baby—if the child somehow survives—it is called a “botched abortion.” Contrary to the familiar rhetoric, the goal of abortion is not the termination of a pregnancy. The goal is a dead child. It is a violent and intentionally mortal assault on both the work of God and the image of God.
Am I making too much of the parallel? I don’t think so. And I am not the only one to make it. Peter Leithart pushes further. Noting that the word used for knitting the child together in the womb is the same word used for the weaving of the curtains of the Tabernacle, Leithart argues that the infant is being made into a dwelling place of God. The implications are obvious, and terrifying. Leithart warns: “We are talking here not only about slaughter of the innocent but about sacrilege, a direct attack on ‘space’ claimed by God. That is the most serious offense possible. Paul’s warning hovers ominously over our nation: ‘If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy.’”
It is a testimony to the blinding hardness of the human heart that we can declare something as obviously unnatural and destructive as abortion to be a woman’s right. And it is a testimony to the apathy of the church that we think so little about it. But God is watching. The frame of the unborn child may be hidden from the world, but the child is not hidden from Him.