Preborns Depend on Our Words
My wife and I found out that she was pregnant in mid-October 2020 and I remember it like it was yesterday. She woke me up on a cold Thursday morning at 2:00 a.m. by uttering three small but life-changing words, “Babe . . . I’m pregnant!” Three words woke me up from the fog of exhaustion, drew me out of my bed, and I embraced my wife as we cried out, “Praise God!” In the next following days, we disclosed this wonderful news to only a few family and friends.
When I shared this news to a few of our folks, I began to notice a pattern in the responses I received back. I would hear something along the lines of, “Congratulations! I can’t believe you’re going to have a baby!” Other times it would be, “You’re going to be a father!” I kept hearing the words “going to” which left me puzzled. The present continuous form of the verb “to go” plus the preposition “to” can be used in two ways. We can use “going to” when we have the intention to do something (e.g., I am going to buy John Piper’s book, Providence). We can also use “going to” to make a prediction (e.g., I think John Piper is going to write his next book on the second coming of Jesus Christ). Notice that both ways are used to talk about the future and not a present reality.
So, what’s the problem? You can’t say that life begins at conception and then say that life will begin sometime after conception. You can’t say that a preborn (i.e., a child that’s still in the mother’s womb) is a baby and then say that it’s going to be a baby. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. It’s either a present reality or a future expectation. But is it really that big of a deal? I mean, we know what a woman means when she says, “I’m going to have a baby.” It means, “I’m pregnant.” So, why should we care?
Words Matter Because Truth Matters:
It’s because Christians care about words, and Christians care about words because they care about truth. What are words? Words are the rails on which our thoughts ride and the oil pastels on the canvas of our mind. Words give us a lens to perceive the world around us. Words are the branches we cling onto to escape the quicksand of randomness and emptiness. Like tools in the hands of a craftsman, words can build up or tear down. Words can engender the fruit of life. But words can also cause great harm—they can dehumanize us, mar our dignity as children of God, and bridle our imaginations and callings. Words are a matter of life and death. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits” (Proverbs 18:21). In other words, Christians care about words because words are an indispensable window into reality—into truth! Our concern with truth is an echo of our concern with God and the things of God since God is the Truth (cf. Rom 3:3–4; John 14:6, 15:26, 16:13).
Language Is a Battleground:
There are many statements we hear today that we don’t necessarily think about because our culture has trained us to hear and say things without skipping a beat and batting an eye. Statements like “I’m going to have a baby” are one of them. Yet, it is essential for us to understand that language is a battleground that needs to be won if you want to win the minds of people who are unsuspecting. We often fall into new terms, phrases, and statements without really thinking what they mean or where they come from even though we may know what they mean. The statement “I’m going to have a baby” is just common parlance nowadays. But that’s in an age that’s become subjected to a dehumanization ideology. Saying that a preborn is “going to be a baby” connotes the idea that a preborn is not a baby, and that’s dehumanizing.
Preborns Are Babies:
Preborns do not become babies when it is decreed by the will of the mother. Preborns do not become babies when they reach a certain size. Preborns do not become babies when they move from one geographical location to another. A preborn is already a baby because life begins at conception. At conception, a human soul with an inherent dignity and moral status is generated. Both science, the study of God’s general revelation, and theology, the study of God’s special revelation in the Bible, speak with one voice and attest to this truth.
According to scientists, an organism’s life begins when it obtains a unique set of DNA and displays signs of organized development. At conception, a unique genetic code is created which is autonomous and differs from the mother. From the point of conception until death no new genetic information is needed to make the preborn entity a human being. This genetic code has an innate capacity for self-development. The fact that the preborn may die and the mother live, or the mother may die and the preborn live gives evidence that these are two separate humans. The preborn is not a potential human; the preborn is a human with a potential to develop.
Furthermore, the Bible offers sufficient evidence in supporting why life begins at conception. When the angel Gabriel visited Zechariah, the angel told Zechariah that his son, John, would be filled with the Holy Spirit even “from his mother’s womb” (Luke 1:15). Later, Luke records John leaping for joy in his mother’s womb because he was filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:44). Never in the Bible does it say that a person’s stomach or arm is filled with the Holy Spirit. Only entire persons are filled with the Spirit. This makes it reasonable to deduce that preborn John, filled with the Holy Spirit, is already a person. Therefore, even the tiniest preborns are complete persons in God’s eyes. The image of God is engraved in their very beings (Gen 1:26).
An Ontological Reality:
As I am writing this, my preborn child is still waiting in his mother’s womb. He’s not going to be a baby. He’s already a baby. I’m not going to be a father. I’m already a father. This is an ontological reality, and it has significant ethical implications. My preborn baby, including many others, is made in the image of God and must be treated with full dignity and respect. God’s Sixth Commandment extends to him as well.
Christians, our words matter because our preborns depend on them. Our words are windows into reality. When you share with others that your preborn is already a baby, you are pointing them to the wonderful truth that life begins at conception. Let this be a stepping stone to expose the darkness of abortion and shine the light of truth and justice (cf. Eph 5:11; John 3:20; Matt 5:16). I plead with you to interrogate and think through the things you say, theologically. Stand and speak for God’s truth.
 I’m using the word “preborn” instead of “unborn” because “preborn” conveys the notion that it’s already a baby, and that it is natural for the baby to be born. “Unborn” connotes the idea that it’s not a baby.
 J.K. Findlay et al., “Human Embryo: A Biological Definition,” Human Reproduction 22.4 (2007): 905–11.
 Francis J. Beckwith, Politically Correct Death: Answering the Arguments for Abortion Rights (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993), 42.
Tuezong Xiong (BS, University of Northwestern–St. Paul) received his bachelors degree in Pastoral Ministry and Bible at the University of Northwestern – St. Paul. He is currently studying at Bethlehem College & Seminary in Minneapolis, MN for his Masters of Divinity. He is the husband of Pa Kou. He also blogs at www.tuezongxiong.wordpress.com.