abortion

However we may pity the mother whose health and even life is imperiled by the performance of her natural duty,
there yet remains no sufficient reason for condoning the direct murder of the innocent.
- Pope Pius XI

In 1973 the United States Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade struck down a Texas statute that prohibited all abortions except to save a mothers life. The decision ruled that a state may not regulate abortion in the first three months of pregnancy. The state may regulate abortion during the second three months only for the protection of the woman's health. The state may prohibit abortion during the third trimester to protect fetal life.

The timetable was based on a medical determination of when a fetus becomes viable. That is, a fetus does not have legal personhood until it can live on its own without the umbilical cord. Those who argue against abortion call it murder, saying that an egg becomes a new person at the moment it is fertilized.

The Bible has nothing to say on abortion. Considering its antiquity, there was no knowledge of human anatomy and how reproduction worked. There was always the risk of miscarriages, but I suspect that induced abortions were extremely rare if they existed. But since anti-abortionists are fond of quoting out of Scripture as if God hates abortion, it is only fair examine in detail. The conclusion in this report is that God has no objection to abortion. The anti-abortionists have disingenuously taken him out of context.

When does life begin?

The key to defining to personhood comes from Genesis 2:7 when God gave Adam life by breathing into him. Adam had a fully formed body at the time.

7then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. (Gen. 2:7)

While we know now that breathing is a bodily function; a body has to initiate the first breath of air. The biblical understanding has it reversed: God initiates the first breath. Breathing is synonymous with soul and spirit. The Hebrew and Greek translations tell the story.

The Spirit of God moved over the face of the waters. -The Hebrew for "spirit" is rauch, which means wind or breath.

2The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters. (Gen. 1:2)

She died when her soul departed. -The word "soul" is also synonymous with breathe. The Hebrew translation comes from nephesh meaning breathing creature.

18And as her soul was departing (for she died), she called his name Benoni; but his father called his name Benjamin. (Gen. 35:18)

Jesus warns to fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. -The Greek word for soul is psuche, meaning breath.

28And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matt. 10:28)

Jesus warns that blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. -Greek for spirit is pneuma, meaning a current of air.

31Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. (Matt. 12:31)

In conclusion, according to the biblical definition of soul and spirit, a non-breathing fetus is not a living person. It doesn't become a person until it comes out of the womb and breathes on its own. We could argue that whether by miscarriage or by abortion, God decides whether he wants to initiate that first breathe. A Christian might say, "God works in mysterious ways."

Baby Killing

Anti-abortionists commonly call a fetus a baby, and then condemn abortion as "baby killing." From that leap they quote out of the Bible as if the Bible unanimously condemns baby killing. This sampling shows that the Bible has at times encouraged baby killing.

17Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man by lying with him. (Num. 31:17)

34And we captured all his cities at that time and utterly destroyed every city, men, women, and children; we left none remaining; (Deut. 2:34)

53And you shall eat the offspring of your own body, the flesh of your sons and daughters, whom the LORD your God has given you, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemies shall distress you. (Deut. 28:53)

3Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.'" (1 Sam. 15:3)

12And Hazael said, "Why does my lord weep?" He answered, "Because I know the evil that you will do to the people of Israel; you will set on fire their fortresses, and you will slay their young men with the sword, and dash in pieces their little ones, and rip up their women with child." (2 Kings 8:12)

16At that time Menahem sacked Tappuah and all who were in it and its territory from Tirzah on; because they did not open it to him, therefore he sacked it, and he ripped up all the women in it who were with child. (2 Kings 15:16)

16Their infants will be dashed in pieces before their eyes; their houses will be plundered and their wives ravished. (Isaiah 13:16)

5Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. (Psalm 51:5)

8May his days few; may another seize his goods!
9May his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow!
10May his children wander about and beg; may they be driven out of the ruins they inhabit!
11May the creditor seize all that he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his toil!
12Let there be none to extend kindness to him, nor any to pity his fatherless children! (Psalm 109:8-12)

9Happy shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rock! (Psalm 137:9)

18Their bows will slaughter the young men; they will have no mercy on the fruit of the womb; their eyes will not pity children. (Isaiah 13:18)

20Look, O LORD, and see! With whom hast thou dealt thus? Should women eat their offspring, the children of their tender care? Should priest and prophet be slain in the sanctuary of the Lord? (Lam. 2:20)

6slay old men outright, young men and maidens, little children and women, but touch no one upon whom is the mark. And begin at my sanctuary." So they began with the elders who were before the house. (Ezek. 9:6)

14Give them, O LORD- what wilt thou give? Give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts. (Hosea 9:14)

16Samaria shall bear her guilt, because she has rebelled against her God; they shall fall by the sword, their little ones shall be dashed in pieces, and their pregnant women ripped open. (Hosea 13:16)

29For behold, the days are coming when they will say, 'Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never gave suck!' (Luke 23:29)

For Abortion

These passages show no moral concern for bring a fetus to full term. Some make the case that the quality of life is as important, if not more important, than being born.

Built into the Christian definition of original sin is when God cursed women to multiply their pain. If this was true, it doesn't supply much incentive to bring a fetus to full term. Though it empowers the husband to dictate whether or not the mother may be allowed to abort her fetus no matter what her wishes and the danger to her life, it doesn't apply to unwed fathers.

16To the woman he said, "I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you." (Gen. 3:16)

Sarai's lament could be interpreted to mean that either God has prevented her from conceiving a baby or from carrying to full term.

2and Sarai said to Abram, "Behold now, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children; go in to my maid; it may be that I shall obtain children by her." And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. (Gen. 16:2)

If two men are fighting and hurt a pregnant woman so to cause a miscarriage, the perpetrator is only fined for causing an abortion. But if he harms the mother, he will be punished equivalent to the harm done.

22"When men strive together, and hurt a woman with child, so that there is a miscarriage, and yet no harm follows, the one who hurt her shall be fined, according as the woman's husband shall lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.
23If any harm follows, then you shall give life for life,
24eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,
25burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. (Ex. 21:22-25)

To see the misery of the oppressed makes one think that it is better to be dead. Better yet, it is better to not be born.

1Again I saw all the oppressions that are practiced under the sun. And behold, the tears of the oppressed, and they had no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power, and there was no one to comfort them.
2And I thought the dead who are already dead more fortunate than the living who are still alive;
3but better than both is he who has not yet been, and has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun. (Ecc. 4:1-3)

If a man cannot enjoy life's good things, he is better off having not been born.

3If a man begets a hundred children, and lives many years, so that the days of his years are many, but he does not enjoy life's good things, and also has no burial, I say that an untimely birth is better off than he.
4For it comes into vanity and goes into darkness, and in darkness its name is covered;
5moreover it has not seen the sun or known anything; yet it finds rest rather than he. (Ecc. 6:3-5)

Against Abortion

The passages used to denounce abortion are taken out of context and quoted as doctrine. It is a given that, according to Christian theology, God knows an egg from the time it is fertilized. To know a fetus is one thing. What its fate shall be is something else.

Sometimes the Sixth Commandment against killing is used as an argument against abortion; but the command is so categorical that it is meaningless. Besides, the Bible has dozens laws within the Ten Commandments that advocate killing.

13"You shall not kill. (Ex. 20:13)

When Job was suffering he found hope that God, by granting him life, loves him enough to preserve his spirit. Job was an adult. The passage is irrelevant.

8Thy hands fashioned and made me; and now thou dost turn about and destroy me.
9Remember that thou hast made me of clay; and wilt thou turn me to dust again?
10Didst thou not pour me out like milk and curdle me like cheese?
11Thou didst clothe me with skin and flesh, and knit me together with bones and sinews.
12Thou hast granted me life and steadfast love; and thy care has preserved my spirit. (Job 10:8-12)

Indeed, in the same chapter the suffering Job wonders why he was brought from the womb.

18"Why didst thou bring me forth from the womb? Would that I had died before any eye had seen me,
19and were as though I had not been, carried from the womb to the grave. (Job 10:18-19)

This Psalm of David was written by an adult. It is irrelevant.

10Upon thee was I cast from my birth, and since my mother bore me thou hast been my God.
11Be not far from me, for trouble is near and there is none to help. (Psalm 22:10-11)

This passage is wrongfully construed as if it comes from the thoughts of a baby in its mother's womb. Obviously it was written by an adult.

13For thou didst form my inward parts, thou didst knit me together in my mother's womb.
14I praise thee, for thou art fearful and wonderful. Wonderful are thy works! Thou knowest me right well;
15my frame was not hidden from thee, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth.
16Thy eyes beheld my unformed substance; in thy book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:13-16)

Isaiah tells us he was called from the womb. To apply this verse categorically is disingenuous.

1Listen to me, O coastlands, and hearken, you peoples from afar. The LORD called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name. (Isaiah 49:1)

Jeremiah 1:5 is quoted as shown below as if to imply every fetus is consecrated, therefore sacred.

5"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you . (Jer. 1:5)

In context, Jeremiah alone was consecrated by God to be a prophet to the nations.

4Now the word of the LORD came to me saying,
5 "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations."
6Then I said, "Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth."
7but the LORD said to me, "Do not say, 'I am only a youth'; for to all to whom I send you you shall go, and whatever I command you you shall speak.
8Be not afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD."
9Then the LORD put forth his hand and touched my mouth; and the LORD said to me, "Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.Jer. 1:4-9)

Below, the leaping baby suggests personhood. It's meaningless. As fetuses mature into fully formed babies they move somewhat. This is consistent with the Supreme Court ruling.

41And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit
42and she exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! (Luke 1:41-42)

This verse asks a question. The choice is up to the mother consistent with the Supreme Court ruling.

7. Shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?" (Micah 6:7)

Final Thought

Christianity glorifies the sacrifice an innocent man so the guilty can have life. It's kind of ironic when Christian anti-abortionists complain rhetorically about killing innocent babies.

Further Reading

Child Sacrifice Under Moses

Child Sacrifice in Ancient Israel