Life: conception and birth – a matter of the heart
As we approach the biggest celebration of the year, the birth of Jesus the Christ, the topic of babies, conception and when is it a life has been brought into focus.
This is quite the debated topic: does life begin at conception or birth? So to get to where I am heading with this, we need to first go through the basics.
We all know “how” babies are made, but have you thought about the miracle of 2 separate gametes, an egg and a sperm, becoming a single being that is growing internal organs, bones, muscles, a brain, and has a heart beat?
For me, this part of our formation process is the most miraculous! It goes from 2 minuscule gametes, each being only half of the genetic material necessary to form a complete organism (that topic is deep too), to becoming 1 being! Within 3 weeks, this embryo ball already has some nerve cells. By the end of the 4th week, a face is being formed, with eye sockets, mouth, lower jaw and throat in process. Its tiny heart tube is beating 65 times a minute now! How can this be??
In the second month, the ears are being formed, the arms and legs are buds, and fingers and toes are beginning too. The neural tube (brain, spinal chord, and other central nervous system tissue) is well formed. Digestive tract and sensory organs are beginning to develop now. Bones start to replace the cartilage. By now, the baby is only about 1″ long. So much growth in just 4 weeks!!
By the end of the 3rd month of development, the baby is fully formed, but will continue to mature. It can open and close its fists, all organs and extremities are present, and the circulatory and urinary systems are functioning.
By the 6th month, finger prints and toe prints are visible.
This little miracle has developed 300 soft bones, along with every necessary system this human being needs to survive, and can live in the world now if born prematurely.
Babies in utero wiggle, kick, suck on their fingers, and stretch. They feel pain, they hiccup, they smile.
Yet many don’t believe this is a “life” until they take that first breath of air. Here is their reasoning:
“Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature….and there he put the man whom he had formed.”
“The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”
And, God commanded Ezekiel to call the Winds to breathe life into the lifeless dry bones!
Others believe that when the heart starts beating, this is the sign and proof of life. That would coincide with if the heart stops beating, that life is over. (Yes, technically, they can be brought back if done so within a few minutes. Also not going into the brain dead discussion here.)
“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”
Perhaps we need to look at this differently. The entire creation process we read about in Genesis is miraculous and mysterious too. We cannot know the specific details of how it really happened. The beauty is, it did. Just like a baby being formed. Exactly how this baby’s life develops in such a short time, is mind boggling. Yet, it does. This doesn’t take faith. We see the proof. Proof of God’s creation, and proof of the baby’s existence.
Wikipedia says “Life is a process”. That means it is always changing, being transformed. It says, “Life is considered a characteristic of something that preserves, furthers, or reinforces its existence”.
This is the order of all things: conception, then birth. (Life takes part in both. There must be life for a new life to be conceived.)
Conception: is the beginning of, the creation of, the forming of (a life).
Birth: is the visible reality of (that life conceived, a breathing, separate life).
Life: is the physical existence and condition that distinguishes man, animals and plants from inorganic matter, and is the spiritual path that a person chooses to follow in response to God within.
We have to go through the physical formation process before we can be born.
We have to go through the spiritual formation process before we can be born again and transformed. New life = born again.
“Jesus answered him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’…unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of Spirit, is spirit.'”
What am I trying to say in all of this? First, my point is: that if God’s hand is in it, if He is at work, and He is life, then we must conclude that it is life He is working on. Just because this blastocyte/embryo/fetus/baby does not have breath yet doesn’t discount what it is. It is His creation, no matter the stage of the process. Who are we to claim it is not a life? It is not ours to judge, because He has ordained it to be. He has allowed it to be formed, and it will continue to form. He desires for this human baby to have His breath of life. Secondly, my point is: we as adults have breath in our lungs, and our hearts beat regularly, both of which mean we are alive. Without them, we would be dead. Combine them with God’s grace and divine foreknowledge, and we are here today.
So it doesn’t matter if we consider a baby a living being until it is born or not, because it is God’s creation within. He is forming it, His breath will come to it because He has given it a heartbeat, and yes, He has plans for that little one!
Our job is to protect it, treasure it and give that baby the opportunity to fulfill God’s plan, just as others did for us. To deny that, is to deny God’s will for that baby.
“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.”
“And he (Jesus) said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.”
Matthew 22:37 (note the many areas of man’s involvement for loving God)
Food for thought: In heaven, we won’t be dependent on breathing oxygen, but we will have life. We won’t be dependent on our blood, but our hearts will be beating.
Fun facts: I apologize if this blog is confusing. You may need to read it 2x to really grasp my thought process. It was enlightening to research and compile notes, but much got left out. For further research on this topic, I recommend you do your own study in God’s Word, and pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal truths to you.
Photo by: Kari Wiseman – Baby Karli