What Does the Bible Say About the Beginning of Life?

Rev. Robert Fleischmann, CLR National Director

Whether one talks about pregnancy, abortion, embryonic stem cell research, in vitro fertilization or miscarriage, one question becomes pivotal, “When does life begin?”

Because the question regarding the beginning of life is generally rooted in biological concerns we are inclined to first look for a biological answer. Instead, we find a different perspective from God’s Word.

The Bible is the account of man’s relationship with God. It is the story of perfect beginnings in the Garden of Eden and disastrous results in disobedience to God. From that point forward the imperfect state of men and women eternally separated them from God.

God, however, provided a unique solution. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Because there was no purity in us sinners God sent His Son, Jesus, as a substitute. He paid the price for sinfulness, and God accepted what Jesus did as payment for our sins. Our sins did not disappear.

Our sinfulness continues to wreak havoc in our society, our families and our personal lives. Jesus, however, became the perfect payment for our sinfulness and removed their eternal consequences. One portion of Scripture tells us that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), and in another part Jesus describes the eternity for those who refuse to renounce sin and confess Jesus as their Savior. On Judgment Day He would tell them: “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41).

There is nothing worse in all existence than being found guilty of sin before the perfect God. It is worse than any temporal human suffering. It is worse than man’s most terrible of tortures. It is worse than any contemporary injustice or tragedy. Being guilty of sin without a Savior has consequences that never end – and they are endlessly harsh!

Understanding that context helps us to answer the question about when life begins. We read in Psalm 51:5: “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” Life at conception is much more than a blob of tissue, a “part” of a woman’s body or developing flesh with potential. At conception there is already an accountability for sin.

It is biology, therefore, that helps us understand the more intricate details. When sperm and egg meet a new life  begins. Genetically each life inherits characteristics from the parents but all human life is uniquely individual and already accountable to God. If left undisturbed it grows, matures, exits the womb, grows and matures, exits the home, grows and matures and eventually exits this life. After fertilization the only things that change are maturity and location.

Biology indeed supports the Biblical truth that at conception – that is, when the sperm fertilizes the egg – life begins. That Biblical truth then guides us in how we look at beginning-of-life questions that challenge us today.


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