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When Does "Life" Begin?

One of the most emotional controversies in many countries today is the question of when human "life" begins. Some are of the opinion that life begins at birth, when the infant is living completely separate from its mother. Others believe that life begins at the instant of conception, since what is developing is plainly a human being. Still others have set various arbitrary times between conception and birth, whereby the unborn has legal rights and protection upon reaching a certain point of development, but may be legally (by man's law, that is) killed and disposed of prior to that time.

People What Does The Bible Say?

The Bible makes plain that "life," that is, of identifiable human beings, begins not at birth, but at conception. In fact, in at least some cases, individuals are known by God, by name, even before conception.

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations." (Jeremiah 1:5 RSV)

"But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer is heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John [see John The Baptist]. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth; for he will be great before The Lord, and he shall drink no wine nor strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb." (Luke 1:13-15 RSV)

"For Thou didst form my inward parts, Thou didst knit me together in my mother's womb." (Psalm 139:13 RSV)

"And The Lord said to her, "Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples, born of you, shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the elder shall serve the younger." When her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb. The first came forth red, all his body like a hairy mantle; so they called his name Esau. Afterward his brother came forth, and his hand had taken hold of Esau's heel; so his name was called Jacob." (Genesis 25:23-26 RSV)

"And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus." (Luke 1:30-31 RSV)

Fact Finder: What is the Sixth Commandment?
Exodus 20:13


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