This story reminds me of an interesting query I have posed before. Christians are proud to have the slogan and belief that "life begins at conception." But what does that specifically mean? How do we know exactly when in the process of human reproduction that a soul is implicated in the flesh any more than we do when it is that a soul leaves the body in the process of death? A soul is supernatural and beyond the explanation of science.
As with the concept of inserting of genetic material into a human egg in cloning, the potential joining of laboratory created sperm and human eggs from the above linked story reminds me of this question in my mind. Even in normal human sexual reproduction, at what exact point in the PROCESS of fertilization is the soul implicated? Is the soul implicated at the point of:
Penetration by the sperm of the egg's zona pellucida?
Entry of the single winning sperm into the perivitelline space of the egg?
Fusion of the sperm with the egg's plasma membrane?
The egg's cortical reaction causing the zona pellucida to become "hardened " and refractory (preventing other sperm from entering)?
Entry of the sperm contents into the cytoplasm of the egg?
Formation of egg and sperm pronuclei through the reactivation of the cell cycles?
(Pronuclear formation takes place a few hours after penetration of the sperm into the egg)
Following anaphase II, when the egg chromosomes remaining in the cytoplasm disperse and the female pronucleus forms?
When the sperm nucleus is decondensed and transformed into a male pronucleus?
The two pronuclei move towards the egg center?
Pronuclear envelope breakdown?
The spatial organization of microtubule arrays by the centrosome, connecting the egg and sperm chromosomes?
Final intermixing of the maternally and paternally derived chromosomes to establish the genome of the embryo?
Preparation for the first cell division?
Most people know little of the science of reproduction and think that "fertilization" is a simple process which occurs in the blink of an eye. Not so. The intricate saga of fertilization can and does fail at any of the above amazing processes. Even my simple summary of some of the milestones only scratches the surface of all the intricate biochemical events involved, many of which science is yet (if ever) to discover. Which of these is the "critical event?" Scripture certainly does not tell us. Why?
The answer to this question in my opinion is simple. It happens when God wants it to. The more important implication of this question and its answer is that we shouldn't be messing around with what is solely God's territory in the first place!
"Life begins at conception?" What does that mean? How is that related to God's plan other than in a negative sense in which we rightly say that abortion is murder? Why do we let the abortion debate define God's plan of life?
Human life began with God's breath of life into Adam. It continued in his taking of Eve out of Adam. It continued with the joining of the two in marital relations, ordained by God, and by which God created offspring of Adam and Eve. Life continues today with the joining together of man and woman, if and when God desires that joining to result in the gift of offspring.
Does every joining together of egg and sperm (fertilization?) create life? Not every joining together of man and woman does. It is God's business when and if such unions between man and wife, and sperm and egg, result in life.
We are given the gift of marital love and the one-flesh union. God adds the gift of children if and when he so pleases, just as he gives spiritual life through the gift of faith if and when he so pleases. If we follow God's design, these questions about how life is conceived do not need to even be asked, let alone answered. In fact, it is better we not ask or answer them, just as it is better not to ask why some are saved and not others.
So what's my point? Abortion is wrong for the same reason contraception is wrong, and for the same reason that human cloning and "artificial sperm" are wrong. They are all contrary to God's plan for the union of man and woman. They are all against God's will. Why do we always seek to rank sins, thinking abortion worse than contraception? Why are abortifacient birth control methods considered so much worse than non-abortifacient methods?
"For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." [James 2:10]
"For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled." [Matthew 5:18]
The law convicts me just as severely as the abortionist. I am contraceptive at heart even though I employ no overt methods of family planning. I am a rebel against God as much as those who do employ such methods... even as much as those who abort their children, although I desire to think myself better.
"All Have Sinned and Fall Short of the Glory of God." [Romans 3:23]
Yet Christ forgives us all, having given Himself for the life of the world.
"And the law came in besides, that the trespass might abound; but where sin abounded, grace did abound more exceedingly: that, as sin reigned in death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. We who died to sin, how shall we any longer live therein?" [Romans 5:20-6:2]
I sin horribly every day, being guilty of violating the whole law ... yet struggling with sin (living a life of repentance) by God's grace is a far cry from living in sin (unrepentant).
"O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God--through Jesus Christ our Lord!" [Romans 7:24-25]