The Bible on Abortion: A Topic It Would Rather Passover

nawiedzenie_1It is estimated that HALF of all pregnancies end in spontaneous abortions. So, let’s be clear: if God wanted to stop abortions, this would be a great place to start. Obviously, there are definite biological reasons why an embryo might not make it, and most people (even firm believers) don’t blame God for allowing so many millions of fertilized eggs to die each year.

But many of the same people who give God a pass for allowing so many embryos to die, would like us to believe that God is punishing us for not making all abortions stop. Setting aside the fact that making abortions illegal does not cause them to stop, let’s examine what the Bible says DIRECTLY about abortion.

If men quarrel, and one strike a woman with child, and she miscarry indeed, but live herself, he shall be answerable for so much damage as the woman’s husband shall require and as arbiters shall award. But if her death ensue thereupon, he shall render life for life. —Exodus 21:22-23

 Here, the Bible’s clearest reference to a fetus being killed indicates that the fetus has some unspecified value, but it doesn’t have the value that the mother’s life has. If the mother is killed, it requires capital punishment. If the fetus dies, it’s whatever the husband demands and not capital punishment. So is a one-celled homo sapiens fully human at the moment of conception? Evidently not, according to the Bible.

The other Bible passage that deals DIRECTLY with abortion is the Ordeal of the Bitter Water. Here, the priest administers a potential abortifacient to a wife suspected of infidelity. To punish the woman impregnated by another man, the Bible commands that priests become actively involved in abortions!

If feelings of jealousy come over her husband and he suspects his wife of adultery, then he is to take her to the priest. Then the priest is to have the woman drink the bitter water. If she has been unfaithful to her husband, then when she is made to drink the bitter water, it will go into her, and her abdomen will swell and her womb will miscarry. But if she is clean, she will be free and will have offspring.
Numbers 5:14,15, 26-28

Many other references to abortions and miscarriages are written purely for rhetorical purposes, with no thought of taking a stand for or against abortion.

Why was I not stillborn? Why didn’t I die as I came from the womb? —Job 3:11

Then I said, “What sorrow is mine, my mother. Oh, that I had died at birth! Jeremiah 15:10

If his soul is not filled with good, and he does not receive proper burial, I say that an aborted birth is better than he. —Ecclesiastes 6:3

No judgement on abortion here, but one of those times when you wish the Bible had an editor to ask for a less grisly analogy.

In Hosea, God is asked to curse some enemies with spontaneous abortions, because that’s what God does evidently.

Lord, give them what they deserve. Make the women miscarry, or else make them unable to nurse their babies. —Hosea 9:14

And try to find a “sanctity of life” sentiment in this passage from Genesis:

Judah was told, “Tamar is with child by prostitution.” Judah said, “Bring her forth, and let her be burned to death.” —Genesis 38:24

Not so much concern for when life begins, but plenty for when it should end: at pregnant prostitutes!

And lastly, we have these three pasages that represent all of the bloodshed condoned and often encouraged by God in the Bible. When an entire city is killed off, that’s a lot of pregnant women dying. But don’t worry, God said it was okay.

Let them perish by the sword. Let their little ones be dashed, and let the women with child be ripped up. —Hosea 13:16

Because its citizens refused to surrender the town, he killed the entire population and ripped open all the pregnant women. —2 Kings 15:16

And now slay every male, even of the children, and put to death the women that have carnally known men. But the girls and all the women that are virgins save for yourselves. —Numbers 31:17-18

Now for the Anti-Abortion Bible quotes.

Well, the ones I’ve seen put forward mention ‘birth’ or ‘wombs’ like this:

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart. I appointed you as a prophet to the nations. —Jeremiah 1:5

Okay, this is mostly just Jeremiah trying to establish some street cred as a prophet, saying God chose him to be a prophet even before he was conceived. I would like to see the proof that Jeremiah had on that. I’m not sayin’ for sure that Jeremiah just made that up, but I’m just sayin’.

The Jeremiah passage does NOT say “Don’t abort,” it says “Jeremiah is awesome! Thus sayeth Jeremiah.”

NOTHING in the Bible comes close to saying “Don’t abort.” Don’t blame me; blame the Bible! It’s not hard. When the Bible wants to outlaw something, it just comes out and says it.

Never get a tattoo. I am the Lord. —Leviticus 19:28

Or

Never let a witch live. —Exodus 22:18

It’s funny how we finally stopped putting witches to death, which is clearly commanded by the Bible, while some Bible believers will grasp at any tangential verse to devise a Bible sanction against abortion.

I won’t get into why they try to make the Bible say what they want and not embrace what the Bible actually says about abortion. I would settle for them leaving the Bible out completely and making the best arguments they can. But it’s clear that if pro-lifers want to bring the Bible into the debate, the Bible is NOT on their side.

Michael Morris is the author of Bible Funmentionables: A Lighthearted Look at the Wildest Verses You’ve NEVER Been Told!, which features all of the shocking and hilarious verses that your minister, rabbi, or charismatic cult leader is afraid to preach.

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Now About That Vow of Silence…

Every Catholic schoolkid knows one thing: you don’t tell a nun to shut up. At least you don’t if you wanted to avoid rapped knuckles and the more long-term problem of eternal damnation.

Yet one man is finally doing what so many students have always dreamt of: Pope Benedict XVI is telling 1,500 nuns of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), who represent over 40,000 nuns, “You don’t make the rules here. I do.”

It seems the nuns made the mistake of not speaking out forcefully enough about abortion and gay marriage, and then they actually contemplated the possibility of the ordination of women priests. If the Pope would read his Bible a little more carefully, he would find that someone else didn’t speak out forcefully, or at all, on these issues: a guy named Jesus of Nazareth. We all remember him, right?

This papal bitch slap (N.B. To every nun who worked so tirelessly to educate mischievous little me—with very little pay and even less gratitude—forgive me for using this politically incorrect yet emotionally very correct phrase) is being euphemistically called “renewal” by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. Using the term “renewal” for this major rebuke is like a new dictator’s claim that he overthrew the government in order to “restore order.”

And who was appointed to tell the nuns what they can and can’t say? Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle, who is (in)famous for being the guy who ordered anti-gay marriage sermons be preached in all of Washington’s Catholic churches, in an attempt to defeat same-sex marriage legislation.

Interestingly, many churches refused to repeat Sartain’s political/religious opinion, to the approval of many churchgoers.

If Sartain and Benedict are looking for biblical justifications for this ecclesiastical crackdown, they won’t have to search very hard.

Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak. —1 Corinthians 14:34

It is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church. —1 Corinthians 14:35

I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. —1 Timothy 2:12

Theologians note that Paul himself very likely never wrote these quotes that are attributed to him. But thanks to some misogynistic, mischief-making forger who lived 2,000 years ago, these sentiments made it into the most revered holy book in Western culture.

Usually it’s fairly easy to find Bible passages that would contradict other passages, but when I searched for verses that speak positively about the rights of women, there were slim pickings:

Husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel. —1 Peter 3:7

The next closest thing I found were the many occasions where Paul addresses the following female leaders and other important women in the early Christian church:

  • Apphia —Philemon 2
  • Euodia —Philippians 4:2
  • Junia —Romans 16:7
  • Mary —Romans 16:6
  • Nympha —Colossians 4:15
  • Persis —Romans 16:12
  • Phoebe —Romans 16:1
  • Priscilla —I Corinthians 16:19
  • Syntyche —Philippians 4:2

So you see, religious women have a long tradition of being active in the church and following Jesus’ call to serve the needs of others. The Vatican, on the other hand, has a long tradition of holding onto power and keeping its concentration of wealth restricted to a relatively small group of increasingly conservative men. Maybe it’s a force of habit, as it is a part of evolution: men feel threatened by forces that could potentially lower their social status—so even priests who may never reproduce (ideally) still possess the genes from their forefathers who behaved and successfully reproduced with this mentality. Let’s all just breathe a sigh of relief that the fathers of the church have not yet started quoting this biblical gem:

If anyone deliberately disobeys the priest who serves the Lord your God or the judge, that person must die. —Deuteronomy 17:12

Meanwhile, I’ll start searching for those quotes from Jesus’ Sermon on Gay Marriage. I think it starts “Blessed are the straight.”

Michael Morris is the author of Bible Funmentionables: A Lighthearted Look at the Wildest Verses You’ve NEVER Been Told!, which features all of the shocking and hilarious verses that your minister, rabbi, or charismatic cult leader is afraid to preach.