Questions From Readers
● Can a woman who has had a stillborn child reasonably expect the baby to be resurrected if she is faithful to God?—J. R., England.
Let us say at the outset that we sincerely sympathize with women who have had such an experience. We realize that it is a very sad event, and it once again underscores our need for God’s new order where “death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be any more.” (Rev. 21:4) Only then will such tragic results of human imperfection be eliminated.
When a woman conceives, an ovum being fertilized by a male sperm, life is passed on. According to God’s view, the living embryo or fetus in the womb is considered a soul, and, under normal circumstances, it will in time be a separate individual before God. According to the Mosaic law, if a man damaged a woman, causing her to lose the child developing in her womb, the punishment was “soul for soul.” (Ex. 21:22, 23) It is for this reason that, from a Biblical standpoint, willful abortion is murder.—Ex. 20:13; 1 Pet. 4:15.
In some cases, though, sickness or accident kills the developing embryo or fetus before it grows to full term and is born. While the immediate causes for such miscarriages and stillbirths are many, human imperfection is the root cause. And we have to look to God for the permanent end to imperfection.
What about the possibility of a resurrection in these cases? Resurrection implies a raising to life again. The examples in the Bible of persons raised to human life again indicate that the person comes back to life with the same degree of physical and mental growth possessed at death. (2 Ki. 4:17-36; Acts 20:9-12) Applying that to miscarriages and stillborn deliveries, is it reasonable that in the future Jehovah will insert back into the womb of a woman a partially developed embryo, or possibly a number of them? No, that does not seem so, nor is it likely that women who have had this sad experience actually expect that.
Furthermore, resurrection is for persons who have lived as individuals before Jehovah. Even a child who lives for only a short time after birth has existed as a separate person. But a miscarried fetus or stillborn child, though from a Biblical standpoint considered a “soul” while it was developing, never actually lived as a separate and distinct individual. So it would appear that such situations do not fall under the resurrection provision outlined in the Bible.—Acts 24:15.
We fully appreciate that this view might be most disappointing to some. But we can assure all that it is not offered out of callousness or dogmatism. Rather, we are simply replying frankly and honestly on the basis of what we find in God’s Word. We emphasize that we are not in position to pass judgment on particular cases. All sorts of “borderline” situations might be brought up, and about them we have to say: God is the judge, and, being aware of all the circumstances, he will have to decide.
We know that Jehovah is truly perfect in wisdom, mercy and justice. He is “a God of faithfulness, with whom there is no injustice; righteous and upright is he.” (Deut. 32:4) Christians should develop trust in him and his promise: “You will cause me to know the path of life. Rejoicing to satisfaction is with your face; there is pleasantness at your right hand forever.” (Ps. 16:11) So we urge all who have had the sad experiences discussed above to leave the matter in Jehovah’s hands, confident that he will do the right and just thing.—Job 34:10; Gen. 18:25.