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Abortion And The Bible


Neon Genesis
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Why do all those pro-life Christians think the bile condemns abortion? I've read the entire bible myself and I couldn't find a single verse in it that said abortion was a sin. There is a condemnation of abortion in the Didache but it's not considered an official part of the biblical canon and fundamentalist Christians don't consider it divinely inspired. Pro-life Christians justify their view by saying the fetus has a soul beginning from conception but as far as I'm aware, the bible never says at what point the soul enters a fetus. Pro-life Christians point to that verse that says God knew us before he formed us in the womb but that verse only says God is omniscient at best and still says nothing about a fetus. Jesus says in the NT that anyone who harms a child should throw themselves in the ocean but Jesus still never says anything about fetuses. If you read the OT, God seems to have no problem with killing babies outside of the womb and pro-life Christians will go to great lengths to justify God's immoral actions yet will condemn a woman who has aborts a fetus that hasn't even developed the ability to feel pain yet. So even taking a literal reading of the bible, on what basis is there to condemn abortion as murder?

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Exodus 21:22-25 addresses a miscarriage rather than abortion per se. Here, if a miscarriage is unlawfully caused, the remedy is compensation to the parents. This seems to view the fetus more like property (such slaves, animals, etc.) than a protected life.

 

I don't object to people who are pro-life. There is no scientific answer, or consensus in our society, to the question of when life begins and they are entitled to their view. However, this view, IMO, should not be imposed on others who are also entitled to their view (within limits). I think most Americans agree that once the fetus is born, it should be a protected life. So, that is where I think the legal line should be drawn.

 

George

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My own view draws a line at when the fetus reaches the point of development where pain is experienced. I'm not talking here of simple reflex reactions, but of that point in brain development where the fetus begins to exhibit reactions similar to a new born. Is the fetus minimally conscious at this point? I can't answer that question with certainty. On the other hand, if primary consciousness begins at some point in the womb, I would think there might be a conceptual connection to what some call ensoulment.

 

Myron

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My own view draws a line at when the fetus reaches the point of development where pain is experienced.

 

I think you are defining your personal 'moral' line. Where do you think the 'legal' line should be drawn above which it would be murder?

 

My personal moral line is viability and maybe my preferred legal line as well. The problem is that some of these lines are fuzzy and changing (with medical technology). So, drawing a clear legal line between conception and birth can problematic from an enforcement point of view.

 

George

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I think you are defining your personal 'moral' line. Where do you think the 'legal' line should be drawn above which it would be murder?

 

My personal moral line is viability and maybe my preferred legal line as well. The problem is that some of these lines are fuzzy and changing (with medical technology). So, drawing a clear legal line between conception and birth can problematic from an enforcement point of view.

 

George

 

George,

 

I some states the view I presented is also the legal line. I think the line is drawn at 21 months.

 

Myron

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Weeks? 21 weeks? As opposed to 21 months - i.e. a child nearly 2 years of age?...is what I was joking about. :)

 

Paul,

 

Yes, I meant weeks. Your good humor prevails.

 

Myron

 

(edit to add)

 

I did a Freudian Slip here. It was Frued who coined the term ID which means child is an "IT" for the first few years of life, not quite a person. Freud leaves me more than a bit uncomfortable.

Edited by minsocal
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Exodus 21:22-25 addresses a miscarriage rather than abortion per se. Here, if a miscarriage is unlawfully caused, the remedy is compensation to the parents. This seems to view the fetus more like property (such slaves, animals, etc.) than a protected life.

 

 

In Numbers 5, God uses abortion as a form of truth serum to determine if a woman had an affair.
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In Numbers 5, God uses abortion as a form of truth serum to determine if a woman had an affair.

 

Neon,

 

Not having the best of days here, but I'm a bit confused.

 

Numbers 5 (New Revised Standard)

 

"1 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 2 Command the Israelites to put out of the camp everyone who is leprous, or has a discharge, and everyone who is unclean through contact with a corpse; 3 you shall put out both male and female, putting them outside the camp; they must not defile their camp, where I dwell among them. 4 The Israelites did so, putting them outside the camp; as the Lord had spoken to Moses, so the Israelites did. 5 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 6 Speak to the Israelites: When a man or a woman wrongs another, breaking faith with the Lord, that person incurs guilt 7 and shall confess the sin that has been committed. The person shall make full restitution for the wrong, adding one-fifth to it, and giving it to the one who was wronged."

 

Myron

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It's this passage here

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the Israelites and say to them: If any man’s wife goes astray and is unfaithful to him, if a man has had intercourse with her but it is hidden from her husband, so that she is undetected though she has defiled herself, and there is no witness against her since she was not caught in the act; if a spirit of jealousy comes on him, and he is jealous of his wife who has defiled herself; or if a spirit of jealousy comes on him, and he is jealous of his wife, though she has not defiled herself; then the man shall bring his wife to the priest. And he shall bring the offering required for her, one-tenth of an ephah of barley flour. He shall pour no oil on it and put no frankincense on it, for it is a grain-offering of jealousy, a grain-offering of remembrance, bringing iniquity to remembrance.

Then the priest shall bring her near, and set her before the Lord; the priest shall take holy water in an earthen vessel, and take some of the dust that is on the floor of the tabernacle and put it into the water. The priest shall set the woman before the Lord, dishevel the woman’s hair, and place in her hands the grain-offering of remembrance, which is the grain-offering of jealousy. In his own hand the priest shall have the water of bitterness that brings the curse. Then the priest shall make her take an oath, saying, ‘If no man has lain with you, if you have not turned aside to uncleanness while under your husband’s authority, be immune to this water of bitterness that brings the curse. But if you have gone astray while under your husband’s authority, if you have defiled yourself and some man other than your husband has had intercourse with you’— let the priest make the woman take the oath of the curse and say to the woman—‘the Lord make you an execration and an oath among your people, when the Lord makes your uterus drop, your womb discharge; now may this water that brings the curse enter your bowels and make your womb discharge, your uterus drop!’ And the woman shall say, ‘Amen. Amen.’

Then the priest shall put these curses in writing, and wash them off into the water of bitterness. He shall make the woman drink the water of bitterness that brings the curse, and the water that brings the curse shall enter her and cause bitter pain. The priest shall take the grain-offering of jealousy out of the woman’s hand, and shall elevate the grain-offering before the Lord and bring it to the altar; and the priest shall take a handful of the grain-offering, as its memorial portion, and turn it into smoke on the altar, and afterwards shall make the woman drink the water. When he has made her drink the water, then, if she has defiled herself and has been unfaithful to her husband, the water that brings the curse shall enter into her and cause bitter pain, and her womb shall discharge, her uterus drop, and the woman shall become an execration among her people. But if the woman has not defiled herself and is clean, then she shall be immune and be able to conceive children.

This is the law in cases of jealousy, when a wife, while under her husband’s authority, goes astray and defiles herself, or when a spirit of jealousy comes on a man and he is jealous of his wife; then he shall set the woman before the Lord, and the priest shall apply this entire law to her. The man shall be free from iniquity, but the woman shall bear her iniquity.

Edited by Neon Genesis
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It's this passage here

 

Neon,

 

I know this is something of a bad pun. Could you provide the Bible translation source and the verse numbers from Numbers. I'm having trouble finding a match. I use a search engine with many different translations. The numbering would help as you said "Numbers 5" and that is what I looked for.

 

Myron

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I'm using the NRSV bible and this is from Numbers 5:11-21.

 

Neon thanks.

 

Your quote ends ...

 

"This is the law in cases of jealousy, when a wife, while under her husband’s authority, goes astray and defiles herself, or when a spirit of jealousy comes on a man and he is jealous of his wife; then he shall set the woman before the Lord, and the priest shall apply this entire law to her. The man shall be free from iniquity, but the woman shall bear her iniquity." (emphasis added)

 

Myron

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Neon thanks.

 

Your quote ends ...

 

"This is the law in cases of jealousy, when a wife, while under her husband’s authority, goes astray and defiles herself, or when a spirit of jealousy comes on a man and he is jealous of his wife; then he shall set the woman before the Lord, and the priest shall apply this entire law to her. The man shall be free from iniquity, but the woman shall bear her iniquity." (emphasis added)

 

Myron

 

I think the real question here is whether Jesus rejected this notion. I think so.

 

Myron

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Why do all those pro-life Christians think the bile condemns abortion? I've read the entire bible myself and I couldn't find a single verse in it that said abortion was a sin.

 

So even taking a literal reading of the bible, on what basis is there to condemn abortion as murder?

 

I don't think anyone could quote a verse that directly condemns abortion outright, but I think some will interpret various passages to support their argument that an unborn is to be considered an innocent child, and not simply an organic fetus.

  • In Luke, Elizabeth's baby 'leapt' in the womb when she met Mary pregnant with Jesus, thus used to argue for the consciousness of the fetus.
  • Job 3:16 "Or why was I not as a hidden stillborn child, as infants who never see the light?", thus indicating that a fetus is simply an unborn infant.
  • Jeremiah 1:5 "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." I guess read to indicate that if God's 'knows' somebody even before they are physically conceived, then they mean something to God even as a fetus.
  • In Genesis 25:21,22, Rebekah conceived twins, and "the children struggled together within her." Indicating a consciousness and humanity about them I guess.

Disclaimer: I support the right to have an abortion. I would like us as a society to do everything possible so as to prevent somebody from being in such a situation, but until that day arrives, I support a person's decision to have an abortion. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

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  • In Luke, Elizabeth's baby 'leapt' in the womb when she met Mary pregnant with Jesus, thus used to argue for the consciousness of the fetus.
  • Job 3:16 "Or why was I not as a hidden stillborn child, as infants who never see the light?", thus indicating that a fetus is simply an unborn infant.
  • Jeremiah 1:5 "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." I guess read to indicate that if God's 'knows' somebody even before they are physically conceived, then they mean something to God even as a fetus.
  • In Genesis 25:21,22, Rebekah conceived twins, and "the children struggled together within her." Indicating a consciousness and humanity about them I guess.

 

The passage in Jeremiah at best only describes God's omniscient powers but none of the other verses describe at what point the soul enters a fetus Taking the bible at its literal face value, there are far more passages where God approves of killing children already born than verses where God condemns abortion of an unconscious fetus.
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I think it is not fruitful to look for rules about the universe or humanity or proofs regarding God or the nature of God in the Bible. The Bible points us to the questions that humans have been talking about for millenia. I believe there is a positive arc toward respect for the life and dignity of all in the universe, but today's answers are to be discovered in a conversation not in quoting Scripture.

 

Dutch

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The passage in Jeremiah at best only describes God's omniscient powers but none of the other verses describe at what point the soul enters a fetus Taking the bible at its literal face value, there are far more passages where God approves of killing children already born than verses where God condemns abortion of an unconscious fetus.

I agree Neon - I was just pointing out what I think people using the bible to support an anti-abortion stance might use for their argument (rightly or wrongly - I believe wrongly).

 

I think it is not fruitful to look for rules about the universe or humanity or proofs regarding God or the nature of God in the Bible. The Bible points us to the questions that humans have been talking about for millenia. I believe there is a positive arc toward respect for the life and dignity of all in the universe, but today's answers are to be discovered in a conversation not in quoting Scripture.

Dutch

 

No doubt - it's proving a little difficult to get that across to bible-believing anti-abortionists though! That said - you're never going to win them across by trying to use the bible to defend abortion either.

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For what it is worth, I think we all have an intuitive sense that a zygote or fetus is special and the closer it gets to birth, the more special it becomes. I don't think anyone views a fertilized human egg, at any stage of development, as morally equivalent to an appendix, a toe nail or other body part which can be removed.

 

At what point it should get legal protection is a difficult question about which reasonable people can differ. The issue is which point-of-view should be imposed on everyone else.

 

George

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Pro-life Christians point to that verse that says God knew us before he formed us in the womb but that verse only says God is omniscient at best and still says nothing about a fetus.

 

By God referring to "us" ("you" in the original verse), no distinction is being made between the pre-born "us" (including as a fetus) and the post-born "us", indicating a continuity of person throughout all stages of development. This verse speaks volumes about the value of the fetus.

 

Pro-life Christians justify their view by saying the fetus has a soul beginning from conception but as far as I'm aware, the bible never says at what point the soul enters a fetus.

 

The Bible doesn't speak about a lot of scientific or philosophical concepts directly, but principles can be gleaned from its pages.

 

http://lmgtfy.com/?q=abortion+bible

 

A couple that jump out at me:

 

http://www.catholicn...ainst-abortion/

http://www.godandsci...ne/prolife.html

 

These expand on what I said under the first quote above.

 

There is no scientific answer, or consensus in our society, to the question of when life begins...

 

Sure there is. Any biology textbook will tell you that the conceptus is a distinct life form with its own DNA. From that point onward, all that changes is his size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency, none of which has any bearing on his value as a human being.

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