The following is a post a good friend made and it is so good, I want to share it here:
Sunday, August 7, 2016
I saw a recent article on the Internet in which a certain Curtis F. attempted to convince his readers that the Bible actually gives moral acceptance of abortion. Indeed the author says that Scripture hasn’t a single verse which condemns, it while having 5 verses which approve of it.
Needless to say, I do not agree with his article. Let’s consider first his 5 verses, then we will consider relevant passages which exclude the unjust taking of fetal life.
1) First he cites Exodus 21:22-25, which, he says, shows that God does not value fetal life as much as it does post-natal life. His translation reads: “When men have a fight and hurt a pregnant woman, so that she suffers a miscarriage, but no further injury, the guilty one shall be fined as much as the woman’s husband demands of him, and he shall pay in the presence of the judges. But if injury ensues, you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.”
I am not sure which version he used for this citation. I checked 22 different ones and didn’t find the wording he employed. However that may be, his is a bad and misleading translation. The verb translated “miscarriage” is וְיָצְא֣וּ (wə·yā·ṣə·’ū). That word simply means “to go or come out.” There is nothing about it which implies that the fetus coming out is dead or injured. Thus the vast majority of translations give a literal translation, namely that the child simply comes out, namely, prematurely. OK…but why then does the text speak of “further injury”? It doesn’t. The text contains no Hebrew word for “further.” That is added by those who think a miscarriage occurred. The Hebrew simply says, “if there is injury.” So, if the blow caused the fetus (or fetuses--the text employs a plural) to come out, i.e., prematurely, there is a fine (apparently for the inconvenience). But if there is injury to either the fetus or the woman, there will be a penalty assessed. And the penalty is assessed the same no matter whether the woman or the fetus is injured. This shows the equality of pre- and post-natal life.
Note that had the aggressor in the text struck the woman in the face or chest, it is unlikely that the child would have come out. So it is probable that he intentionally struck the pregnant belly of the woman seeking to cause damage to her child. While abortion involves the intentional ending of pregnancy prior to term, the woman generally agrees to the procedure. In this case it is not so. Still we could say that the intentional taking of fetal life is assessed a life for a life. In other words it is considered murder to kill prenatal life without cause. (More about “cause” below.) Thus, this verse provides the opposite of what the Mr. Curtis F. imagines. It is the prohibition of killing babies in the womb.
We could stop here, as Scripture has spoken. But let us consider his other texts.
2) Next he cites Ecclesiastes 6:3-5: “If a man beget a 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.”
He titles his remarks on this verse: “Unfulfilled Life Not Worth Living.” But a cursory reading of the verse shows both that Solomon considers the stillborn in question to be fully human, and that he holds that such life is of greater value than that of those born and living unfulfilled. The author again has it backwards. Make no mistake, as some “pro-choice” advocates have admitted, if life within the womb is fully human, then it must be protected as much as post-natal life, not taken. Solomon is simply opining that because prenatal life has experienced none of the disappointments of those actually born, it has an edge on them.
3) Numbers 3:39-40: “The total number of Levites counted at the Lord’s command by Moses and Aaron according to their clans, including every male a month old or more, was 22,000. The Lord said to Moses, ‘Count all the firstborn Israelite males who are a month old or more and make a list of their names.'”
Curtis concludes from this that, to Scripture, fully human life must begin at 1 month. Nonsense. This is a census. Censuses often excluded the very young and the very old. For example Num. 4:30 excludes from a census taken for military purposes, those under 30 or over 50. That hardly implies that you aren’t human before 30 or have lost your humanity at 50. Other censuses began at 20 (e.g., Num. 1:3). Why the infants younger than 1 month were excluded we can’t be sure, but to conclude that the reason is that they aren’t human is totally unjustified. Perhaps it was because of the infant mortality rate while walking through a wilderness, such that the child might have died before the census could even be completed. Further, should we draw the conclusion that women weren’t human because they weren’t included in the census? Finally, it apparently sailed over Chris’s head that the text says all males over 1 month. That implies that those under 1 month were males, the same in humanity and gender as those over 1 month of age. After all, it didn’t say those “creatures with outdoor plumbing are human at 1 month.”
4) Genesis 2:7: “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”
Curtis interprets this verse (as others do) that life begins with first breath. That’s not what Genesis 2:7 is about. In context, Adam was fully formed, but not alive. He couldn’t move. He was a mass of inert chemicals. The same cannot be said of nascent life at any stage, zygote to full term fetus. Both the sperm and the egg are living cells which combine in the zygote into a living, genetic individual. No breath from God needs to animate it. The zygote and Adam are in the same condition. Free oxygen radicals are stored in the Zygote. Fully formed Adam is just more advanced in development than the zygote.
5) Numbers 5:27: “If she has made herself impure and been unfaithful to her husband, this will be the result: When she is made to drink the water that brings a curse and causes bitter suffering, it will enter her, her abdomen will swell and her womb will miscarry, and she will become a curse.”
This is a verse in a regulation involving jealousy on the part of a husband. He thinks that his wife has had an affair, but he can’t prove it. Thus he is to take the matter to the priests, who tests the woman with a drink of dirty water. If she has had an affair, the water “causes her thigh to drop.” Curtis smugly considers this to teach that “Abortion Is Okay, If The Mom Doesn’t Approve.” He also refers to the water of testing as a “magical potion.” Truly the waters in question have about them no medicinal value. And, in fact it this were parallel to abortion they should have. Technically the text does not say that she was pregnant, or, if she is, that the dropping of the womb implies the death of the child. But if it does, it is not the humans who end the life. God takes it. And God, the giver of life, is fully in the right to take it back at any stage from conception to advanced age. Further, in the vast number of abortions, the mother approves. I wonder if Curtis would approve of aborting a baby against the wishes of the mother? Well, it isn’t a medical procedure and God doesn’t give any human the right to take a life according to this text.
Thus all the arguments of Curtis F. fail to impress, indeed 3 imply the humanity of the fetus, 1 is consistent with that humanity, and none establish a right of humans to end fetal life.
But does the Bible fail to condemn the taking of fetal life, as Curtis F contends?
The Bible opposes the taking of human life without cause (Gen. 9:6). Any shedding blood (i.e., killing) without cause is murder, and that is opposed by the 6th Commandment. This means that those who are pro-choice have the obligation to show that the shedding of the human life in the womb has justifiable cause, else they be justifying murder.
In addition to this, Curtis F. neatly avoids all verses which speak of the worth of the fetus, thereby implying that abortion is wrong. In addition to the 3 texts shown above to imply fetal life is fully human, there are several others from which we can deduce it.
David in Psalm 51:5 says: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.” How could you be a sinner from the moment your mother conceived you without being a human individual? Are mere “things” guilty of iniquity?
Psalm 139:13-16 says: For You formed my inward parts; you wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written, the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.
This is the passage which changed the mind of professors Bruce Waltke and Norm Geisler on this subject. In it God is said to personally know the the developing fetus, David, when he was being created in the womb of his mother. The kind of knowing that is spoken of is interpersonal knowledge, and that implies the existence of personhood from the moment that that creating began, which is stated to be conception. Some mistakenly suggest that this is not talking about a real human being because it is said that the days ordained for David are said not to have begun. But this is wrongheaded. Days for an individual are tabulated from the time the child comes forth, but the actual life of the child begins at conception—a day that is often hard for a woman or anyone else to know.
Exodus 21:22 says: “If men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she gives birth prematurely, yet there is no injury, he shall surely 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.”
We have spoken of this above, but let me note here that the word for child is more literally translated “seeds”. A seed is a single cell. The plurality used here allows for the possibility of multiple children in the womb. The most important thing to note is that the single-cell (a seed) existence of the child within the womb begins at conception. It has also been suggested that in the case of twins, one seed splits into two. It could be argued that in such instances, individual life only begins after the twinning or separation. Perhaps, but the ultimate point is that whenever there is a genetic individual, life is fully human.
The birth of Christ also teaches that life begins at conception. Consider these texts from Luke 1:31 & 35: And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. … The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.
Clearly the only time the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary was when Jesus was conceived. That’s when the Divine individuality incarnated with human genetic material and a new incarnate individual came into existence. Would Christ’s individuality differ from ours as to the moment when human genetic individuality begins? No.
Thus, it is clear that human, individual life begins at conception, and should be treated as having the worth of “life in the image of God” at that point. This excludes most reasons offered for abortion. Since the infant’s life is not worth less than the life of the mother, all reasons related merely to improving her life or way of life are insufficient. God Himself says that He creates the handicapped (Exodus 4:11): The Lord said to him, “Who gave a mouth to man, or who makes a person mute or deaf or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Since this is so, who are we to argue for aborting the handicapped?
I once lectured on abortion at Michigan State University, in a pre-law class. When I stated that fetal deformity wasn’t sufficient moral grounds to abort, a female in the audience jumped me and said, “Easy for you to say. You are a man. You don’t have to care for that kind of baby.” I looked at her intently and responded, “My sister is Down’s. I participate in her care all my life.” And in fact I did very directly for over 30 years.
Neither can we argue for abortion in the case of rape or incest, for the Scripture in Deuteronomy 24:16 says: “Fathers must not be put to death for what their children do, nor children for what their fathers do; each must be put to death for his own sin.” [emphasis mine] Rape and incest are problems of morality for the parents. They are not justification for killing innocent children, who, as the late Dr. Paul Ramsey of Princeton said, are merely like mislaid trespassers, rather than capital offenders.
Does this meant that it is never justified to abort? No. We noted in our discussion of Exodus 21 that the taking of fetal life is to be considered on the basis of a life for a life. Is there ever a time when the fetal life aggresses against the life of the mother, such that she is justified in protecting herself from that aggression? Yes.
When Roe v Wade was conjured up by SCOTUS, there were on the books about 12 medical indications for therapeutic abortion. They are all rare. Perhaps the best known of them include ectopic pregnancy, mid-stage breast and uterine cancer, and an encephalitic head of the fetus. In the first instance the baby is developing outside of the uterus, and if the portion of the tube which includes the fetus is not removed, the fetus will eventually break out into the abdomen and result in death to both by peritonitis. In the second instance, the pregnancy accelerates the growth of the cancer and it will become fatal to the mother if the fetus is allowed to come to term. In the third instance the fetal head will be unable to make it through the birth channel without rupturing maternal arteries and breaking the fetal skull…so both will die unless the there is a craniotomy. Thankfully, the advancement of medical diagnostic technology has made abortion generally unnecessary in this last case, but not all places in the world have that technology.
Thus we can say that, unless the fetal life is physically aggressing against the life of the mother, abortion is unjustified, and therefore murder. In those cases it would be a matter of defending the life of the mother. I would also add that in the case of the cancers, the mother may elect NOT to have an abortion, thus sacrificing her life for that of the infant. She has that right, but we must not force that choice upon her. Self-defense is justified on the basis of Ex. 22:2 and Luke 22:36.
I was once asked to speak at a Right to Life rally. When I mentioned that there were a few, rare justifications for abortion, I was never asked to speak at one again. That didn’t bother me. My task as a Biblical ethicist is to tell what God’s Word says, not to be popular with either pro-life or pro-choice. What I have given you in this note is what I see the Scripture teaching.