Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Does Scripture Support the Right to Life?

J. P. Holding says that it does, and that pro-chioce interpretations are unreasonable.

7 comments:

Jim Jordan said...

Yes, it does. A pro-choice "Christian" needs to examine whether they truly believe.

John W. Loftus said...

Let me now briefly argue against the Christian pro-life so-called “Biblical” position.

In the first place, for most Christian people, abortion is the best evangelistic tool they have going for them. That’s right! For most Christians aborted fetus’ go directly to heaven. Granting the fact that Christianity is losing ground in America and in the Occident today, they would be better off letting people have abortions, since there is less of a guarantee that these aborted babies would've embrace the Christian faith as they grow in an increasingly secular culture. Because of Christian activism they will wind up in hell. Think on that one!

But for other Christians consider these thoughts. Nowhere in the Bible is there a reference to an abortion by a woman who was facing an unwanted pregnancy. Jesus never spoke of it, nor did the N.T. writers, even though abortion and even infanticide were taking place in the Roman Empire. Why the silence?

None of the passages like Jeremiah 1:5,nor Psalms 139,nor Luke 1:41-44refer to the status of the unborn child. Jeremiah, for instance, has God say that even before Jeremiah was born, God had destined him to be a prophet. Psalms 139merely describes how God created us. But just as a car is put together piece by piece and has no real value as a car until it’s fully formed, so likewise this passage doesn’t indicate the moral or legal status of the fetus. Luke 1merely describes a baby moving in Elizabeth’s womb. How could it be possible that John the Baptist “leaped for joy” upon hearing Mary’s voice? This is all superstitious stuff, prophetic awareness of the status of Mary’s baby, and/or wives tales about babies, and which says nothing about the legal status of the baby.

Exodus 21:22-23is usually invoked, but Exodus 21:21is usually ignored—nuff said, since slavery and polygamy were acceptable in their day. It’s a debatable passage anyway you look at it (was it a miscarriage?), and if God wanted to be clear about it, then why isn’t it clear? Who’s life is the author speaking of here? Obviously, the mother’s life, since she was the one who was struck. And why didn’t the Jews get its supposed pro-life message, since they didn’t see anything in it to outlaw abortions, and there is no record of any adult life being taken for causing a miscarriage. (Speaking of which, why aren’t there funerals for miscarriages?). Furthermore, this passage says nothing at all about when the child in the womb has legal status.

But even the church has not always taken the extreme pro-life position, that the fetus is a human being from the time of conception. Thomas Aquinas argued that the fetus didn’t have a soul until several weeks into the pregnancy, and the Council of Vienne adopted his view in 1312 AD. Neither has America in times past under common law ever held to the extreme pro-life position. Both have tolerated abortion “even if performed late in the pregnancy.” [James Rachels, The Elements of Moral Reasoning, (p. 60)].

The truth is that the Christian tradition is ambiguous about abortion, and still is to this day. Usually the Christian view is influenced not by the Bible, but for other reasons which are read back into the Bible, much like Medieval people did with a geocentric universe, or even when it comes to war, capital punishment, women’s rights, and even Sabbath day and baptismal views. But on each of these issues the church is still debating with both sides of any issue arguing their case from the Bible because the Bible can be used to support both sides of many issues. “People’s moral convictions are not so much derived from their religion as superimposed on it.” [James Rachels, The Elements… (p, 61)].

Edward T. Babinski said...

J.P. Holding? Why do you bother with him? He's one mixed up inerrantist and will spend his days arguing with other inerrantists I'm sure, over conflicting interpretations, no such interpretations being themselves inerrant.

More importantly, how exactly does J.P. Holding deal with the following data (or lack of mention concerning "abortion") from the Bible?

Scholars agree that the verse in Exodus is NOT speaking about a fetus being expelled by violence and "surviving." Like that was even a possibility back then. It's death is taken for granted, and the penalty of eye for eye only concerns what happens to the woman suffering the miscarriage. The fine is simply the payment for losing the future offspring.

Here's some major scholarly opinion on the subject:

Abortion as such is not discussed in the Bible, so any explanation of why it is not legislated or commented on is speculative.

A key text for examining ancient Israelite attitudes [toward the fetus] is Exodus 21:22-25: “When people who are fighting injure a pregnant woman so that there is a miscarriage, and yet no further harm follows, the one responsible shall be fined what the woman’s husband demands, paying as much as the judges determine. If any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.” Several observations can be made about this passage.

The Hebrew text at v. 22 literally reads “and there is no harm,” implying that contrary to current sensibilities, the miscarriage itself was not considered serious injury. The monetary judgment given to the woman’s husband indicates that the woman’s experience of the miscarriage is not of significance, and that the damage is considered one to property rather than to human life. This latter observation is further supported by the contrast with the penalties for harm to the woman herself.

Drorah O’Donnell Setel, “Abortion,” The Oxford Guide to Ideas & Issues of the Bible, ed. by Bruce Metzger and Michael D. Coogan (Oxford University Press, 2001)
____________________________

There is no biblical proof-text against abortion. Deuteronomy 30:19 (“choose life”) has nothing to do with abortion; it has to do with being party to God’s covenant with Israel. Psalm 139:13-18 is less relevant to the issue than most people think; a careful reading of that psalm reveals that the “mother” in whose “womb” the psalmist was known by God is Mother Earth (notice the parallelism between “my mother’s womb” and “the depths of the earth” in the inclusio of vv. 13-15). Exodus 21 is very difficult, but it certainly does not speak directly to abortion; at most, it relates to an accidentally induced miscarriage, though it may refer to a premature birth. That interpretive decision is crucial, and I’m not sure how to resolve it. As far as I can tell, the only biblical passage that I know of that directly mentions a practice like we would think of as abortion curses a man who did not practice it on the fetal Jeremiah (Jeremiah 20:16-18). Now, having said that, I hasten to repeat that my general default position is anti-abortion (I am willing to listen to arguments on specific cases, though I’ve never had any input into a specific case), and I think a biblical case can be made for an anti-abortion position. But it must be a cumulative theological case, not a list of proof-texts--for there are no such proof-texts.

Dr. R. Christopher Heard [Old Testament professor at Pepperdine University, lifelong member of Churches of Christ], “Is the Bible Anti-Abortion?” at his blog, Higgaion, Friday, November 18, 2005 http://www.heardworld.com/higgaion/2005/11/is-bible-anti-abortion.html
________________

BIBLE VERSES THAT MENTION MISCARRIAGES (“UNTIMELY BIRTHS”) AND SUGGEST THAT IN SOME CASES “NOT BEING BORN” MIGHT HAVE BEEN BEST

Cursed be the day wherein I was born: let not the day wherein my mother bare me be blessed. Cursed be the man who brought tidings to my father, saying, A man child is born unto thee; making him very glad. And let that man be as the cities which the LORD overthrew, and repented not: and let him hear the cry in the morning, and the shouting at noontide; Because he slew me not from the womb; or that my mother might have been my grave, and her womb to be always great with me. Wherefore came I forth out of the womb to see labour and sorrow, that my days should be consumed with shame?
- Jeremiah 20:14-18

[This is the only Biblical passage that directly and indisputably mentions a practice that we would today think of as “abortion,” but notice, Jeremiah is cursing a man for NOT aborting the fetal Jeremiah.--E.T.B.]

Or as an hidden untimely birth I had not been; as infants which never saw light. There the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary be at rest. There the prisoners rest together; they hear not the voice of the oppressor. The small and great are there; and the servant is free from his master.
- Job 3:16-19

If a man beget an hundred children, and live many years, so that the days of his years be many, and his soul be not filled with good, and also that he have no burial; I say, that an untimely birth is better than he. For he cometh in with vanity, and departeth in darkness, and his name shall be covered with darkness. Moreover he hath not seen the sun, nor known any thing: this hath more rest than the other.
- Ecclesiastes 6:3-5

And here's some further food for thought for anyone who has read and studied the Bible concerning the topic of abortion and how much Yahweh "cares for" the fetus:

HOW PRO-LIFE IS THE BIBLE?

According to the Bible, God Himself is ready, willing and able to abort fetuses:

Their fruit shalt Thou destroy from the earth, and their seed from among the children of men.
- Psalm 21:10

The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they are born... let every one of them pass away: like the untimely birth of a woman, that they may not see the sun.
- Psalm 58:3,8

As for Israel, their glory shall fly away like a bird, and from the womb, and from the conception...Give them, O Lord: what will Thou give? Give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts...they shall bear no fruit...
- Hosea 9:11-16

Notice that the prophet Hosea is pleading with his God to punish the Israelites by murdering their unborn babies. The Bible never really provides a logical rationale as to why fetuses, babies, and children must be punished for the sins of their parents and others. Some would suggest that for God to kill unborn babies for their parent’s sins is somewhat misdirected retribution.

Gene Kasmar, WHY…The Brooklyn Center High School Bible Challenge. Part 1: The Evidence

Every living thing on the earth was drowned [by the Hebrew LORD--which included pregnant women and babies]...Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark.
- Genesis 7:23

Thus saith the LORD...Slay both man and woman, infant and suckling.
- 1 Samuel 15:3

Joshua destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD commanded.
- Joshua 10:40

The LORD delivered them before us; and we destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones.
- Deuteronomy 2:33-34

Kill every male among the little ones.
- Numbers 31:17

The wind of the LORD shall come up from the wilderness, and his spring shall become dry, and... Samaria shall become desolate... they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up.
- Hosea 13:15-16

With thee will I [the LORD] break in pieces the young man and the maid.
- Jeremiah 51:22

Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.
- Psalm 137:9

According to the Bible, God gave orders to kill children and to rip open the bodies of pregnant women. The pestilences were sent by God. The frightful famine, during which the dying child with pallid lips sucked the withered bosom of his dead mother, was sent by God. God drowned an entire world with the exception of eight persons. Imagine how such acts would have stained the reputation of the devil!
Robert G. Ingersoll

According to the God of the Bible it was more important to stone a woman to death if she should “entice you to follow after other gods,” than it was to rescue the life of any fetus she might have been carrying.

It was more important to stone a woman to death the day after her wedding night “if she was discovered not to have been a virgin,” than it was to wait and see if she might have conceived new life that night.

It was more important to stone a woman to death for “adultery,” than to wait and see if she might be pregnant.

It was more important to stone a woman to death for “failing to cry out while being raped within earshot of the city,” than it was to spare the life she might have conceived during that ordeal, during which the rapist may have held a knife to her throat, or strangled her into silence and submission.

And what about the test of “bitter water” mentioned in chapter five of the book of Numbers? The test consisted of mixing dust from the floor of the Hebrew tabernacle with “holy water” to make a concoction that a woman drank to test whether or not she had committed adultery. If she had, it says, “her belly will swell and her thigh will rot.” Scholars have pointed out that “thigh” is a euphemism for sexual organs. So if the woman had committed adultery and had conceived as a result, then the “bitter water” would induce an abortion (“her thigh would rot”). (I wonder if this means that Bible-believing women who are accused of having affairs ought to swallow some dirt from the floor of their church mixed with “holy water?” Or better yet, swallow an abortion pill like RU-486 in front of the whole congregation?)

And what about children who “curse their parents?” The Bible says, “Kill them!” (Ex. 21:17; Lev. 20:9; Mat. 15:4; Mark 7:10) The Bible does not say how old the child has to be, but it does emphatically state they must “surely be put to death” should they “curse their parents.”

Ah, the good old days, when God fearing people had higher priorities than “saving fetal lives.” They were too busy stoning whomever enticed them to worship other gods, stoning adulteresses, stoning women who weren’t virgins on their wedding night, stoning women who “failed to cry out” during rape, and stoning sassy children. In other words they were too busy with all of those higher priorities to worry about “the fate of fetuses.”

Sincerely,

Edward T. Babinski, editor of LEAVING THE FOLD: TESTIMONIES OF FORMER FUNDAMENTALISTS

Edward T. Babinski said...

To add to what I just wrote above, see the Jesus and Mo cartoon on abortion:

jesusandmo.net/category/abortion/

Kathy Ch said...

I'm having a hard time even understanding how you can possibly try to justify taking a life of another human being through any means, let alone using the bible to try to twist truth into lies. Taking an unborn child's innocent life is not ok. As far back as "thou shall not kill" makes it crystal clear. Please.... at least be willing to admit sin

Anonymous said...

If you are talking about ed's post, did you read any of what he just wrote? He's not trying to justify sin, he's pointing out how the "biblical" support for a pro-life position is very flimsy. Not the same thing.

Phil Odendron said...

Read Prov.6:16-17, Deut. 27:25 Jer. 1:5; Lk. 1:13-17; Gen. 4:25; Jud. 13:3-5
IT IS FINISHED! All sins have been wiped out. We're now under God's umbrella of grace and mercy because of Jesus. Our faith, our hope and belief keeps us there. Those who choose abortion are not making choices based on the Lord's will or morality, but for convenience. Online research shows low numbers and percentages of women (and their babies) 'HAVING TO' have an abortion due to health risks. Moreover, abortions from rape is less than 0.5% of all rape victims annually.

I was 19 when I aborted my kid. It was suggested to my girlfriend and I to have an abortion because marriage was not an option. We were not saved then. We went to a planned parenthood consultation that took all of ten minutes to discourage marriage and encourage abortion. After all, the two and a half month old fetus was just a piece of lettuce.

We went to a clinic in L.A. and paid $500 to sit in a waiting room packed full of some 30-35 young women; I was the only male present. Two prostitutes made room for me to sit down and Paula sat on my lap. We waited about 2 hours while watching girls come in and go away; ushered into 4 or 5 small rooms down a hallway. We never saw anyone leave the way we came in. I picked Paula up 4 hours later from the alley in back.

We engaged in light conversation with one of the prostitutes and learned that most of the women in that clinic were prostitutes. I stupidly asked, "Is this your first time?" She said to my amazement, "Oh no, I've had 10 abortions in the last 4-5 years.” WOW! "That's gotta be a record," I joked. She said, "No, not at all. Most of these women come here on a regular basis and some have even had more." What ever happened to sex education in school and free birth control pills? Sin is ramped and reckless. Planned parenthood is a joke, wasteful, and immensely tax dollar expensive. Paula and I left that afternoon and drove home. We lived a few hours away and she was exhausted, weak, and scared. I didn't think of the ramifications of this abortion; at 19, who does? It took Paula a week to recover but things could have gone much worse. Thank God it didn't.

This happened almost 40 years ago and things haven't improved regarding the issue of abortion. I pray for Paula from time to time and hope she's okay these days.