One More Thing On Abortion
October 17 2006
It makes some VERY interesting points. Points that I never thought of as a Christian or an Atheist. It is worth reading the entire thing because it has a good message that is about more than just abortion. Please take the time to read it. And as the person below wrote when they posted it on their site, I would like your opinions ON THE ARTICLE- not on me like "your dumb" or "your logic is flawed". This isn't my logic. I just think this writer has a good point.
Why Abortion is Biblical
hate me for this one, I'm just a messenger. Although I wish I was
brilliant and scholarly enough to be able to figure this out on my own,
I have copied the entire article from an article by Byron Elroy
McKinley. http://www.elroy.net/ Enjoy. Please comment and tell me what you think.
One sided. That's the abortion stance of most Christians -- one
sided. We hear the Christian Coalition speak against abortion. We hear
Focus on the Family tell Republican candidates it will not support them
unless they state their opposition to abortion. We hear Operation
Rescue's Christian members praying God will turn back the clock and
make abortion illegal again. Over and over we are bombarded with the
"Christian" perspective that abortion is outright wrong, no exceptions.
With all these groups chanting the same mantra, there must be some
pretty overwhelming biblical evidence of abortion's evil, right?
Wrong. In reality there is merely overwhelming evidence that
most people don't take time to read their own Bibles. People will
listen to their pastors and to Christian radio broadcasters. They will
skim through easy-to-read pamphlets and perhaps look up the one or two
verses printed therein, but they don't actually read their Bibles and
make up their own minds on issues such as abortion. They merely listen
to others who quote a verse to support a view they heard from someone
else. By definition, most Christians, rather than reading for
themselves, follow the beliefs of a Culture of Christianity -- and many
of the Culture's beliefs are based on one or two verses of the Bible,
often taken out of context.
This is most definitely the case when it comes to abortion.
Ask most anti-abortion Christians to support their view, and they'll
give you a couple of verses. One, quite obviously, is the Commandment
against murder. But that begs the question of whether or not abortion
is murder, which begs the question of whether or not a fetus is the
same as a full-term human person. To support their beliefs, these
Christians point to one of three bible verses that refer to God working
in the womb. The first is found in Psalms:
- "For Thou didst form my inward parts; Thou didst weave me in my
mother's womb. I will give thanks to Thee, for Thou art fearfully
wonderful (later texts were changed to read "for I am fearfully and
wonderfully made"); wonderful are Thy works, and my soul knows it very
well. My frame was not hidden from Thee, when I was made in secret, and
skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth. Thine eyes have seen my
unformed substance; and in Thy book they were all written, the days
that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them."
- Psalm 139:13-16
passage does make the point that God was involved in the creation of
this particular human being, it does not state that during the creation
the fetus is indeed a person. According to Genesis, God was involved in
the creation of every living thing, and yet that doesn't make every
living thing a full human person. In other words, just because God was
involved in its creation, it does not mean terminating it is the same
as murder. It's only murder if a full human person is destroyed.
But even if we agreed to interpret these verses the same way that
anti-abortion Christians do, we still have a hard time arguing that the
Bible supports an anti-abortion point of view. If anything, as we will
soon see, abortion is biblical.
Anytime we take one or two verses out of their context and
quote them as doctrine, we place ourselves in jeopardy of being
contradicted by other verses. Similarly, some verses that make perfect
sense while standing alone take on a different feel when seen in the
greater context in which they were written. And we can do some rather
bizarre things to the Scriptures when we take disparate verses from the
same context and use them as stand-alone doctrinal statements. Some
prime examples of this come from the same book of the Bible as our last
quote. Consider these verses that claim that God has abandoned us:
- "Why dost Thou stand afar off, O Lord? Why dost Thou hide Thyself in times of trouble?"
- Psalm 10:1
- "How long, O Lord? Wilt Thou forget me forever? How long wilt Thou hide Thy face from me?"
- Psalm 13:1
- "O God, Thou hast rejected us. Thou hast broken us; Thou hast been angry; O, restore us.
- Psalm 60:1
out-of-context verses to support that God doesn't care for us anymore,
we can even use them to show how we can ask God to do horrible and vile
things to people we consider our enemies. In this example, King David
even wanted God to cause harm to the innocent children of his enemy:
- "Let his days be few; let another take his office. Let his children
be fatherless, and his wife a widow. Let his children wander about and
beg; and let them seek sustenance far from their ruined homes. Let the
creditor seize all that he has; and let strangers plunder the product
of his labor. Let there be none to extend lovingkindness to him, nor
any to be gracious to his fatherless children."
- Psalm 109:8-12
interpret that God, speaking through David in these Psalms, is saying
we have been abandoned by God and that when wronged we can ask God to
cause our enemies to die and cause our enemies' children to wander
hungry and homeless? Indeed, it would seem the case.
But rather than interpret that God is with us as a fetus, but
forgets us as adults, and yet will allow us to plead for the death of
our enemies, we need to look at the greater context in which all these
verses are found: songs.
Called Psalms, these are the songs of King David, a man of
great faith who was also greatly tormented. He was a man of passions.
He loved God, lusted for another man's wife, and murdered him to get
her. He marveled at nature and at his own existence. All his great
swings in emotion are recorded in the songs he wrote, and we can read
them today in the Book of Psalms. What we cannot do is take one song,
or one stanza of a song, and proclaim that it is indeed to be taken
literally while taking other stanzas from David's songs and claim they
should not be taken literally.
Yet that is exactly what anti-abortion Christians are asking
us to do. They use those few verses from the Psalms to support their
dogma that abortion is wrong. They proclaim those verses as holy writ
and the other verses as poetry that we should not be following.
Clearly, this is a perfect example of taking verses out of context. And
it leads us to only one conclusion: if we cannot trust that God wants
to kill our enemies and abandon us, we must also conclude that we
cannot trust that God has defined the fetus as being a person.
For indeed, if we allow that kind of thinking we could also
make an argument that God is willing to maul children to death if they
make fun of a bald guy who just happens to be in God's favor. You think
I'm joking, but I'm not. In the book of Second Kings, our hero, the
Prophet Elisha, who was quite bald, so it seems, was taunted by a group
of young boys. Elisha's response was bitter and cruel:
- "...as he was going up by the way, young lads came out from the
city and mocked him and said to him, 'Go up, you baldhead; go up you
baldhead!' When he looked behind him and saw them, he cursed them in
the name of the Lord. Then two female bears came out of the woods and
tore up forty-two lads of their number."
- 2 Kings 2:22-24
those forty-two kids for making fun of a bald prophet? We can certainly
make an argument for that if we use the anti-abortionists' kind of
Likewise we can also use the anti-abortionists' methods to
establish that God approves of pornography, as seen in these following
verses by Solomon as he pondered the female body:
- "How beautiful are your feet in sandals, O prince's daughter! The
curves of your hips are like jewels, the work of the hands of an
artist. Your navel is like a round goblet which never lacks for mixed
wine; your belly is like a heap of wheat fenced about with lilies. Your
two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle."
"Your stature is like a palm tree, and your breasts are like its
clusters. I said 'I will climb the palm tree, I will take hold of its
fruit stalks.' Oh, may your breasts be like clusters of the vine, and
the fragrance of your breath like apples, and your mouth like the best
- Song of Solomon 7:1-3,7-9
steamy stuff. Taken by itself, it would appear God is indeed promoting
a written form of pornography. But just like Psalm 139:13-16, we cannot
take it by itself. Instead we must take it within the context it was
The same is true with the other two verses used by anti-abortion
Christians to defend their cause. From the book of Jeremiah, these
Crusaders are fond of quoting the phrase, "Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee," from the first chapter. But they never quote the entire passage, which changes the meaning considerably:
- "Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Before I formed
thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the
womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.
Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child.
But the Lord said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to
all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt
speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver
thee, saith the Lord. Then the Lord put forth his hand, and touched my
mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy
mouth. See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the
kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw
down, to build, and to plant."
- Jeremiah 1:4-10
special event -- the birth of a prophet. God brought the prophet
Jeremiah into the world for a divine purpose, and because of that, God
was planning Jeremiah's life "before" he was even conceived. God was
preparing him to do miraculous things, such as speak on behalf of God
while still a child and setting him up as an overseer of nations and
kingdoms. But the anti-abortionists simply overlook this on their way
to claiming that the one phrase they quote proves God sees us as
individual people while still in the womb. God saw Jeremiah in that
way, but to claim it applies to all of us is akin to saying that we
were all prepared as children to speak for God, and that God has placed
all of us "over the nations and over the kingdoms" of the world. In
essence, to claim this verse applies to anyone other than Jeremiah is
to claim that we are all God's divine prophets. We are not; therefore,
we cannot apply these verses to our own lives.
Another problem in this passage is the phrase, "Before I formed
thee in the belly I knew thee." In Psalm 139:13-16 the
anti-abortionists claim that because God was active in the creation of
King David in his mother's womb that we must conclude the fetus is
recognized by God as being a person. But here we see God stating that
he knew Jeremiah "before" he was formed in the womb. By
anti-abortionist logic, we would have to conclude that we are a human
person even before conception. Since this is a ridiculous notion, we
must, therefore, conclude that the anti-abortionist is interpreting
these verses incorrectly.
The last verse most often quoted by anti-abortion Christians
relates the story of Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, and
Mary, the mother of Jesus, while both were pregnant. When they meet,
the pre-born John the Baptist leaps in his mother's womb at Mary's
salutation. Let's read the original:
- "And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with
haste, into a city of Juda; And entered into the house of Zacharias,
and saluted Elisabeth. And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard
the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was
filled with the Holy Ghost:"
- Luke 1:39-41
anti-abortion lobby would like this to mean that all fetuses are
sentient persons because one is recorded as knowing Mary's words and
then leapt inside the womb, the logic is as flawed as the Isaiah
misquote. Again we have a miraculous event. Again we have a divine
prophet whom God had ordained since before he was conceived. And this
time it's even more miraculous, because the gestating John the Baptist
is reacting to the approach of Mary, who at the time was pregnant with
Jesus. Unless we believe all of us are chosen before birth to be the
divine prophet ordained by God to herald the arrival of Christ on
earth, then we cannot claim this passage refers to us. And indeed, it
does not. While gestating fetuses are known to move and kick as their
nervous systems and muscles are under construction, only
divinely-inspired babies understand the spoken words of the mother of
Jesus and can leap in recognition.
The point to all this is simple: we cannot take the verses we like
and interpret them to support what we want to support. And, more to the
point, we cannot simply accept what some Christian leaders proclaim as
being God's word on a given subject without carefully reading the full
text of the book and taking into consideration the entire context. We
cannot, as we have shown, simply interpret those few verses from
Psalms, Isaiah, and Luke as a reason to be against abortion. And, as we
will see in a moment, there are still other verses -- if interpreted in
the sloppy manner demonstrated by anti-abortion Christians -- in the
Bible that could easily lead us to argue that indeed God, at times,
supports abortion. Let's take a look.
In the full context of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon makes the
point that much of life is futile. Over and over he writes that if life
is good then we should be thankful. But when life is not good, Solomon
makes some interesting statements:
- "If a man fathers a hundred children and lives many years, however
many they be, but his soul is not satisfied with good things, and he
does not even have a proper burial, then I say, `Better the miscarriage
than he, for it comes in futility and goes into obscurity; and its name
is covered in obscurity. It never sees the sun and it never knows
anything; it is better off than he.'"
- Ecclesiastes 6:3-5
is a quality of life issue being put forth in the Scriptures. And in
this case, Solomon makes the point that it is sometimes better to end a
pregnancy prematurely than to allow it to continue into a miserable
life. This is made even more clear in these following verses:
- "Then I looked again at all the acts of oppression which were being
done under the sun. And behold I saw the tears of the oppressed and
that they had no one to comfort them; and on the side of their
oppressors was power, but they had no one to comfort them. So I
congratulated the dead who are already dead more than the living who
are still living. But better off than both of them is the one who has
never existed, who has never seen the evil activity that is done under
- Ecclesiastes 4:1-3
an argument for both euthanasia and abortion. When quality of life is
at stake, Solomon seems to make the argument that ending a painful life
or ending what will be a painful existence is preferable. Now remember,
we're not talking about David's songs here. We're reading the words of
the man to whom God gave the world's greatest wisdom.
And Solomon was not alone in this argument. Consider the words of
Job, a man of great faith and wealth, when his life fell upon the
hardest of times:
- "And Job said, 'Let the day perish on which I was to be born, and
the night which said, "a boy is conceived." May that day be darkness;
let not God above care for it, nor light shine on it.'"
"Why did I not die at birth, come forth from my womb and expire?
Why did the knees receive me, and why the breasts, that I should suck?
For now I would have lain down and been quiet; I would have slept then,
I would have been at rest, with kings and with counselors of the earth,
who rebuilt ruins for themselves; or with princes who had gold, who
were filling their houses with silver,. Or like the miscarriage which
is discarded, I would not be, as infants that never saw light. There
the wicked cease from raging, and there the weary are at rest. The
prisoners are at ease together; they do not hear the voice of the
taskmaster. The small and the great are there, and the slave is free
from his master."
- Job 3:2-4,11-19
- "Why then hast Thou brought me out of the womb? Would that I had
died and no eye had seen me! I should have been as though I had not
been, carried from womb to tomb."
- Job 10:18-19
strong argument here that the quality of a life is as important if not
more important than the act of being born. Indeed, we could claim that
the Bible supports ending a pregnancy in the face of a life without
quality. And, if I wanted to be bold, I could claim that this
interpretation is in fact a biblical mandate to support the use of
abortion as a way to improve our quality of life. And taking these
verses to their extreme, I could claim that abortion is not just a good
idea, it is a sacrament.
Actually, I will stop short of making that claim. In fact, I will
stop short of making the claim that the Bible condemns or supports
abortion at all. It does neither. The condemning and supporting comes
not from the words of the Bible but from leaders within our Culture of
Christianity who use verses out of context -- the same way I just did
to support abortion -- to support their views against abortion. The
condemning and the supporting comes not from the Scriptures but from
average Christians who take the easy way out, accepting one or two
verses of the Bible as proof that their leaders are speaking the gospel
truth. The condemning and supporting comes not from God but from those
who do not take the time to read the Bible, in its own context, and
decide for themselves the meanings therein.
For indeed, there is one passage in the Bible that deals
specifically with the act of causing a woman to abort a pregnancy. And
the penalty for causing the abortion is not what many would lead us to
- "And if men struggle and strike a woman with child so that she has
a miscarriage, yet there is no further injury, he shall be fined as the
woman's husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges
decide. But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a
penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand,
foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise."
- Exodus 21:22-25
This is a very illuminating passage. In it we find a woman losing
her child by being stuck by men who are fighting. Rather than it being
a capital offense, however, it is relegated to a civil matter, with the
father-to-be taking the participants to court for a settlement. But, as
we read on, if the woman is killed, a "life for a life," then the men
who killed her shall be killed. Some have claimed that the life for a
life part is talking about the baby. But from reading the context we
can see this is not true. It also states a tooth for a tooth and a burn
for a burn. Babies don't have teeth when they are born, and it is
highly unlikely a baby will be burned during birth. It is pretty clear
that this part refers to the mother. Thus we can see that if the baby
is lost, it does not require a death sentence -- it is not considered
murder. But if the woman is lost, it is considered murder and is
punished by death.
It's important to note that some anti-abortion lobbyists want
to convince us the baby in this passage survived the miscarriage. They
point to the more "politically-correct" translation they find in the
New International Version of the Bible. There it translates the term
"miscarriage" into "gives birth prematurely" (the actual words in
Hebrew translate "she lose her offspring"). While this may give them
the warm and fuzzy notion that this verse might actually support their
cause if maybe the child survived, it is wishful thinking at best. In
our modern era of miracle medicine only 60% of all premature births
survive. Three thousand years ago, when this passage was written, they
did not have modern technology to keep a preemie alive. In fact, at
that time, more than half of all live births died before their first
birthday. In a world like that, a premature birth was a death sentence.
Others have looked to the actual Hebrew words, themselves, to try and refute these verses. They note that the word "yalad" is used in verse 22 to describe the untimely birth, and that yalad is also used in other places to describe a live birth. They then go on to say other places in the Bible use the words "nefel" and "shakol"
to describe a miscarriage. Therefore, the argument goes, the baby in
Exodus 21:22 must have been born alive. It's easy to see how a novice
might make this mistake, but a closer look at the words in question
reveal the flaw in this argument.
The word yalad is a verb that describes the process of
something coming out - the departing of the fetus. Since it is
describing the process, and not the result, it could be used to
describe either a live birth or a miscarriage. Shakol which
shows up in Hosea 9:14, is also a verb, but its meaning is to make a
woman barren. Now a barren woman certainly might miscarry, but with
this understanding of the word, it's clear why the writer of Exodus
would not have used it since this miscarriage was caused by an
accident, not by barrenness. And the word nefel is not even a
verb. It's a noun. True, as a noun it is the term for a miscarried
fetus, but the writer wasn't using a noun. He was using a verb to
describe the coming out of the fetus. Thus, if I were describing a man
falling to his death, I would use the verb "to fall" which can be used
for both those who die and those who survive a fall, but to describe
the man himself I would use the word the "fatality." So we can see that
while a novice might mistake a verb for a noun and come to the wrong
conclusions about the original Hebrew words used in the Exodus passage,
a more careful look proves that the words only describe the action of
losing the fetus, not the fetus itself. And that being the case, we
can't use the Hebrew translations to determine if the fetus was alive
or not when it came out - so we are forced to accept that in all
certainly, considering the medical knowledge at the time, the preemie
died. This makes it even more clear that the "tooth for a tooth"
passage refers only to the mother, not to the miscarried fetus.
What has been so clearly demonstrated by the passage in Exodus
- the fact that God does not consider a fetus a human person - can also
be seen in a variety of other Bible verses. In Leviticus 27:6 a
monetary value was placed on children, but not until they reached one
month old (any younger had no value). Likewise, in Numbers 3:15 a
census was commanded, but the Jews were told only to count those one
month old and above - anything less, particularly a fetus, was not
counted as a human person. In Ezekiel 37:8-10 we watch as God
re-animates dead bones into living soldiers, but the passage makes the
interesting note that they were not alive as persons until their first
breath. Likewise, in Genesis 2:7, Adam had a human form and a vibrant
new body but he only becomes a fully-alive human person after God makes
him breathe. And in the same book, in Genesis 38:24, we read about a
pregnant woman condemned to death by burning. Though the leaders of
Israel knew the woman was carrying a fetus, this was not taken into
consideration. If indeed the Jews, and the God who instructed them,
believed the fetus to be an equal human person to the mother, then why
would they let the fetus die for the mother's crimes? The truth is
simple. A fetus is not a human person, and its destruction is not a
It is time to stop the one-sided view of abortion being
proclaimed by Christian leaders. These leaders do not -- despite their
claims -- have a biblical mandate for their theologies. It is time to
stop preaching that the Bible contain an undeniable doctrine against
abortion. It is time to stop the anger and hatred being heaped on
abortion doctors and upon women who have abortions, especially when
it's done in the name of a God who has not written such condemnations
in his Bible. It is time to stop, because the act of making a judgment
against people in God's name, when God is not behind the judging, is
nothing short of claiming that our own beliefs are more important than
God's. We must stop, because if we don't, then indeed the very type of
theological argument being used against abortion can be turned around
and used to proclaim that abortion is biblical.