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Abortion is NOT Condemned by the Bible. Not even close.

posted by Gus diZerega

I have been working on a book on the 60s and the culture war.  As part of my research, I looked at Biblical criticisms of abortion – not a major theme of the book by any means, but I am touching on it.  The anti-abortion movement has been a critical part of the culture warriors’ attack on women and the feminine.

What I found amazed me.  I want to pass it on to any Pagans or others reading this blog.



There is NO mention of abortion in the Bible.  Here is a site that purports to give the Biblical case against it.

Scripture mentions human life being in the womb at some point, but it NEVER mentions that conception is where Biblically important life begins.  All one can tell from the Biblical passages is that at some time while in the womb the fetus becomes a person.  To my knowledge mo one has ever argued otherwise.

In fact, I was amazed, truly amazed, to discover there is no direct mention of abortion anywhere in the Bible.  None at all.  The closest is Exodus 21:22-25, which the above site does not mention.  But this passage does not support the religious right claims, it rebuts them:

And if men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she has a miscarriage, yet there is no further 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.

Violently causing a miscarriage is punished by a fine, and an uncertain one at that.  Every other injury is compensated by the principle “an eye for an eye.”  If the mother is accidentally killed, the responsible party is still executed.  But if she miscarries, only a fine is levied. 

Very creative Biblical interpretation indeed is needed to conclude from this passage that abortion is murder.  This is a pretty weak reed to split a country, murder doctors, and terrorize others in the name of some God or other.



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Jeffrey Scott Brockmeier

posted February 6, 2009 at 10:37 pm


Wrong! That which requires “very creative Biblical interpretation” is your assertion that the Bible condones or encourages abortion. This is a very sad article, indeed. I hope that no one listens to your tirade. To be expected, nonetheless, in these last days (scoffer).



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Wellsy

posted February 6, 2009 at 10:41 pm


What does it mean “And if men struggle with each other and strike a woman…”? This could imply that the fine is levied in the event of an unintentional injury to a pregnant woman. Abortion may still be classified as an intentional injury.



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Gwyddion9

posted February 6, 2009 at 11:06 pm


I completely agree with the article. Many conservative Christians are constantly trying to re-define the Old Testament, the Tanakh to be precise, to support their religious views. To the ancient Hebrews, the baby-fetus, whatever you like, wasn’t a human being until it took its first breath. They didn’t consider it a “human being” until this time.
Personally, I think the Christian Bible should only have the New Testament, as it’s the only relevant portion to their religion. If you speak to most of the Jewish individuals on this board, they’ll tell you they’re tired of Christians trying to reinterpret, redefine, recreate the Tanakh to support their religion.



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Tom

posted February 6, 2009 at 11:47 pm


Hello, Gus. I’d like to start of by giving you credit for being a wise (and perhaps wiley) pagan.
Preferably, I’d rather not get into a debate with you on Biblical exegesis. Instead I’d like to take a page out of your own book.
“So I seek to discover arguments enabling us to agree on concrete outcomes even if their motivations will be as limited by their own experiences and individuality as mine are. Doing so requires me to try and find commonalities between myself and others, bridges over which we can come to agreements.”
This is the style of dialogue I’ve tried to implement when debating with the ‘pro-choice’ crowd. I used to be libertarian on the abortion issue until I studied fetal development and the various abortion procedures themselves, in addition to viewing graphic images of the aftermath of abortion. My libertarian views were a stumbling block to practicing my religion. Through advanced scientific technology I was able to ‘see the light’ so to speak. When we try to bring up physiological reasons (brain waves, central nervous system, animation and response to touch, etc.) we end up in circular arguments about the unborn being better of dead than unwanted, tiring phrases like ‘right to choose’ and so on and so forth.
One common misconception that keeps recycling is that anti-abortionists are attacking women. Most pro-lifers I work with are women, some of them post-abortive. Independent studies come out which show that post-abortive women are more prone to psychological problems, substance abuse, and health issues (infertility, breast cancer, myoptic pregnancy to name a couple). It is women who we are struggling to protect, seeing as half of aborted fetuses are female (with the carrier always being female adding up to 75% females being negatively affected). Also, many are pressured by members of their social network, poor economic circumstances, lack of health care among others.
“All one can tell from the Biblical passages is that at some time while in the womb the fetus becomes a person.”
Have you studied fetal development? If so, what criteria would you use to define a ‘person’ or human being worthy of rights? Under what circumstances should these rights be compromised?
http://www.focusonthefamily.com/downloads/heartlink/pdf/firstninemonthsbook.pdf



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Gus diZerega

posted February 7, 2009 at 12:52 am


To Jeffrey-
Thanks for reading this blog. But…
Hopefully your Biblical reading is better than your reading of my post, though from its sound, I have my doubts. Can you find anywhere where I say Bible condones or encourages abortion? I said it clearly does not condemn it as murder since it does not treat causing a miscarriage accidentally as murder though it makes no similar exceptions regarding accidents in causing other injuries. Your quarrel is with scripture, not me.
I have no idea what the authors felt about the subject other than that it was NOT murder and it was an injury of some sort when done as an (accidental) act of violence against a bystander. (Which obviously is not condoning it.)
To Tom:
Very thoughtful post – and thank you for the compliment!
I personally think that abortion is a morally complex issue that should be left to the woman involved. When the mother of my God son became a pregnant single woman, she chose to carry him to term despite my and other friends urges she abort the fetus.
He is a wonderful kid whom I love without reservation. I am glad she did not act on my recommendation, But this situation is not relevant to other women. Had she not had an earlier abortion, she would not have had this baby. Is he of lesser value than the prospective baby she did not have? I don’t think so.
I hope this example shows this is not a simple intellectual argument for me. There is more to say here, but I don’t have the time right now. Maybe we can discuss it later.
I think the issue of whether a fetus is a human in some morally significant sense is progressively less answerable the earlier in the pregnancy we go, and that the prospective mother should have complete authority over the issue.
Beyond that, I THINK that either the soul or spirit enters into the fetus at some point before birth, but is separate from the physical fetus, or that the human develops in stages beginning sometime before and also after birth. I dunno. But because neither I nor anyone else knows for sure, we should leave it to the pregnant woman to decide. She knows as much as me, and likely a lot more
Secondly, the culture warriors’ target is not women, it is the feminine. Some women are on their side, and are even culture warriors themselves (Ann Coulter and Sarah Palin are the most visible examples), This is not relevant to me. Some women were members of the Nazi Party, some women support their kids blowing themselves up as suicide bombers, some women voted for George Bush. That they hold these positions does not in itself give their positions any more credibility. Women as well as men can screw up or be corrupt. To my mind it gives them less credibility, not their position moe credibility.
Thirdly, I have only superficially studied fetal development. I am personally happy with some version of the third trimester rule the Supreme Court adopted, or maybe a rule of ‘quickening” as when restrictions might be levied. Not bans, restrictions.
Rights begin in my opinion with the creation of an individual distinct from its mother.
bb
Gus



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Robert

posted February 7, 2009 at 12:54 am


I don’t care what the Bible says or doesn’t say about abortion. I do believe that there is a point in pregnancy it is morally wrong. I just don’t believe that occurs at conception. But abortion during labor in the ninth month, yes, that is morally wrong. Is perhaps your point that you do not believe in right and wrong?



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PhoenixOrion

posted February 7, 2009 at 2:52 am


What I find ironic about the culture warriors is that their main issue is abortion, which is not once mentioned in the Bible. You’d think if it were that important to God, he would have slipped it in somewhere (maybe in between the instructions on how to sacrifice a wide variety of animals). And their second issue is homosexuality, which is only mentioned in the Bible about six times (twelve if you’re being really generous). The Bible mentions adultery far more than homosexuality, why don’t the culture warriors focus more on cheating spouses than gay people? And the law of fair weights and measures appears six times in the Bible, why aren’t Christians directing their wrath toward improperly calibrated truck weigh stations as well?



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Rombald

posted February 7, 2009 at 3:27 am


Not being Christian, I don’t care what the Bible says, and I don’t know why you do.
However, you’re right about the Bible. One can actually go further, in that Numbers 5 probably approves of abortion. Catholic doctrine has also not always been consistently anti-abortion (read Aquinas).
However, don’t you think there are good pagan arguments against abortion? For a start there’s “An it hurt none …”. There is also the HIppocratic Oath, which must be the only pagan European text that maintained its authority through the Christian centuries. There is also the tendency for pagans to be vegetarian and pro-animal-rights, which seems to me to fit naturally with the prolife movement.
I should also point out that it is only since the 1950s that abortion has been seen as a liberal and feminist issue. 19th-century feminists saw abortion as evidence for male control of women, and there must surely be a case for that now – think of the pressure to have abortions put on women by boyfriends, fathers, university authorities, etc.



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Epona'Bri

posted February 7, 2009 at 7:49 am


I find it interesting that most of the people arguing this problem are men. Have any of you been in the position to have to make a life or death choice in this matter? Well, I have. When pregnant with our second child, we were told that the baby would most likely be born with some sort of mental retardation. We were encouraged to get an abortion. We declined, and still lost the baby in the 5th month of pregnancy. And yet, I am pro-choice. Just because I decided to not have an abortion with that child, at that time, it doesn’t mean I would make the same decision with another child at another time. And I most certainly would not dictate to another woman about what to do with her own body and child. And other women, and most certainly, not men, should have the right to do so either, simply based on a religious bias.
It makes me so angry that people push and push and push women to do what they want her to do, simply based on their religious beliefs. And then they pat themselves on the back and congratulate one another for saving another life and go back home. And who is left to help this scared and confused mother? Do these people stay with her, give her moral support, financial support, emotional support, during her pregnancy, when she goes in labor and after the child is born? Are they there when she is so stressed out about money, childcare, work, the father or lack of one; when she is so tired and can’t deal with the crying and care and demands?
If you oppose abortion for religious reasons, then don’t have one. It’s that simple. But if you insist that everyone else do the same thing, you’d damn well better be there for the women who need the extra help. Will you be?
Apparently saving unborn babies is the right thing to do, but when that child gets older, being abused by unprepared parents is okay, being killed as a soldier is acceptable, and being blown up as a doctor at an abortion clinic is a win. In all cases these are someone’s children, and children of God. God does not just love born again believers. He/she/they love all of us no matter what our beliefs.
If you are going to campaign against abortion, they you’d better be willing to do something to follow up with the child who will be born and his/her mother.
Gus, these comments are not actually directed at you. I know you are trying to find in the Bible something that says that abortions are ordained by God. As a student of comparative religions, I agree that they are not. It’s individual’s interpretations of the Bible (which was written by man, anyway), and those people will look for anything that supports their own personal beliefs… even if they are not true or right.
Namaste…



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Gus diZerega

posted February 7, 2009 at 8:41 am


I blogged this for two major reasons. First, the really nasty religous attacks on Pagans have been made by be religious right. Remember Robertson and Falwell going on as to the reason 9-11 happened was because Pagans and others were so influential? I do. They also make opposition to abortion almost a litmus test for being Christian or politically acceptable.
It s obvious that their attempt to do this CANNOT be justified on supposedly literal interpretation of scripture, because it isn’t there.
It would be good if everyone knew that their choice of issues was as arbitrary and unBiblical as it is, It would help us to see them for what they are: people who pick and choose issues based on their very human attitudes, and then claim their issues, and no one else’s as the will of the lord.
There is a second reason, one I find more interesting in a positive way. Fundamentalism has accepted modern concepts of reason that see truth only in literal and not mythic terms. (See their view of the Eucharist.) Since this logic, so central to science, undermines the scripture they claim to be literally true, because the evidence says it is not, they then resort to irrational assertion that because they choose to believe this, it must be so.
Given this attitude, I was genuinely amazed the evidence for what they assert is actually contradicted, to the degree the Bible says anything at all about it.
Those who point to pictures as arguments against my post will not have read it very closely.



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Melissa

posted February 7, 2009 at 8:43 am


Every single pregnancy is different. Period. If you’re a woman who has had a child or two (or ended the pregnancies) you know this as a truth. No man could.
Of course abortion isn’t in the bible! I’m betting it was left out during the ecumenical counsel that decided – thru the [male] holy spirit – what books and letters were to be included in the Christian holy scriptures. Or perhaps it was left out because the Wise Women who knew the herbs to use to safely end a pregnancy weren’t held in respect by these men (find me a woman with a voice at the counsel). Surely the male leaders for the most part didn’t give a flying you- know-what about the women and their desires. Husband: “Of course you want to have 11 children! It doesn’t matter if you don’t have any teeth left, or bone density, or even hair! You *must* help populate the earth with more Christians! We don’t have enough. I’m smarter and wiser, get in my bed and spread your legs now!”
Abortion can be legal, safe and rare. Especially with sex education that teaches birth control! Blessed be the Pill, condoms, etc.
I believe orgasm helps us experience deity. Why not? Orgasm is something everyone can do (even though some need practice), with a lover or even alone! Orgasm is quite equitable! Enjoy and use the wonderful tools we have available today so you won’t get pregnant!



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Bob

posted February 7, 2009 at 9:51 am


There’s a lot the Bible doesn’t explicitly spell out, true. But the Roman Catholic Church doesn’t look at the Bible as the only source of the faith. We have something we call Sacred Tradition.
A parallel could be drawn with the U.S. Constitution. It doesn’t explicitly spell out a right to privacy, for example, but our nation has traditionally held firm to the belief and connects the idea easily to Founding fathers even if they didn’t spell it out word for word in any of the founding documents.
So it’s the same with the Bible and abortion. Is there a commandment, “Thou shall not have an abortion”? No. But there are plenty of verses that speak to the idea behind the doctrine (a quick Google search will find them for you).
And please, let’s not try to paint St. Thomas as some sort of pro-abortion priest. The limited scientific knowledge of the Middle Ages made it impossible for him to see what we see now with ultrasound technology.
One last point: There is a lot about paganism that I find absolutely ridiculous, but yet I don’t feel the need to write a book about it, or blog about it, etc. Until I see a post like this that needs a response, I mind my own business about your faith, and I wish you would do the same with mine.
I’ve yet to go to the Catholic section of Beliefnet and find an article posted with a title like, “Why Paganism doesn’t make sense” or “The Absurdity of the Three-Fold Law explained”. Haven’t seen the same kind of obsession with other faiths that some people here have with ours. And I hope I never do.



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Fall Morning

posted February 7, 2009 at 9:56 am


There’s no way our ancient ancestors could have envisioned the world we are in today with its complexities and overload. It’s simply wrong for one person to tell another what to with their body and inflict their beliefs on others. The right-to-lifer’s are no different in their stance than are other extreme religion-based philosophies operating out there across the world. We need a live and let live attitude instead of “do it my way because. . .” mentality that causes so much suffering. I’ve never had an abortion but I will defend to the end my divine right to have one if I wanted it. No wonder the Bible doesn’t talk about abortion. They were probably wise enough to back away from that issue slowly and say “use your own judgment.”



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Ramona

posted February 7, 2009 at 9:59 am


I believe “Thou shalt not kill” should cover that.



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Bob

posted February 7, 2009 at 10:04 am


“It’s simply wrong for one person to tell another what to with their body”
But it’s not just their body.. Their destroying another’s body in the process.. And that’s murder.
It’s amazing. A woman will acknowledge the other life inside her when she wants to pig out because after all “eating for two”, but she can’t make the same distinction when it comes to abortion.
Mind blowing.



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Melissa

posted February 7, 2009 at 10:37 am


“But it’s not just their body.. Their destroying another’s body in the process.. And that’s murder.”
But, I don’t believe it IS another body and I have every right to believe this.
To me, it’s a bunch of cells *connected* to the woman’s body by an umbilical cord until there’s a chance the cells can survive on their own. If it WAS a separate body, then whatever the mother does wouldn’t directly affect it. However, everything the mother does affects it: drinking alcohol, not getting prenatal care, or not receiving family planning counseling. What’s in the uterus is part of the woman, not a separate entity *to me*.
The main problem I find discussing abortion is that pro-lifer’s REFUSE to admit that others are entitled to their own opinion! As long as abortion is available, legal, and safe, Americans can have and honor their own beliefs (if you don’t believe in abortion don’t get one!). Otherwise, Americans are limited to what only some of us believe. That’s unAmerican to me.



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Melissa

posted February 7, 2009 at 10:43 am


“A parallel could be drawn with the U.S. Constitution. It doesn’t explicitly spell out a right to privacy, for example, but our nation has traditionally held firm to the belief and connects the idea easily to Founding fathers even if they didn’t spell it out word for word in any of the founding documents.”
Actually, you can defend the Right to Privacy in each of the following amendments to the US Constitution: 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 9th.
Would you be willing to live in the USA without these amendments protecting your rights?



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Mama Kelly

posted February 7, 2009 at 11:38 am


“But it’s not just their body.. Their destroying another’s body in the process.. And that’s murder.”
My own opinion is that a religious imperative does not necessarily make good law.
The argument made by the pro-life movement hinges on their belief that the soul is present from the moment of conception (even though there is no clear Biblical evidence to back this up) – thus equating abortion with murder. This religious belief is not enough for a nation to outlaw it.
Do I personally believe that abortion should not be used as a form of birth control? Of course. I will even go so far as saying that for my own personal beliefs, and my attempts to follow the Rede (an’ it harm none), abortion would be an option of last resort – again for me personally.
But, just as my own religious morality does not necessarily make a good mandate for all to follow we have to remember that our Christian forefathers were very careful to create a democracy and not a theocracy – they were very clear to make a seperation between matters of faith and matters of government. We should remember that example.



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FALL MORNING

posted February 7, 2009 at 11:59 am


People are going to believe what they want to believe regardless of what others say. And it is everyone’s right to do so. It’s when the beliefs of others cross the line and infringe upon the free will of other people, by trying to take away their right to choose, that it must stop. What goes on with another’s body is nobody elses business. I was an unwanted child who bore the brunt of a mother forced to keep me before abortions were legal. She didn’t want me, I wasn’t loved, and she made it clear early on that her relatives interefered and talked her into keeping me because they thought later she would feel differently. She never did. She knew she wasn’t ready to be a mom and she hated me for being alive. I can’t tell you how many times I wished I was dead or had never been born because of my enviornment. Her family may have had good intentions, but in the end the scope of suffering caused by her being forced by others to do what they wanted, rather than what she intuitively knew was best, ruined lives. My fate was sealed by others noble ideals. Family members talked about taking me but in the end nobody wanted me so I suffered and finally grew up. All you people out there saying abortion is murder–maybe, but take it from the person who lived it, there are things worse than death because I’ve been there. If a mom doesn’t want to give birth, leave her alone. Tend to your own lives and stop sticking your noses in where they don’t belong. Wait until it happens in your family.



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Tom

posted February 7, 2009 at 12:09 pm


“The main problem I find discussing abortion is that pro-lifer’s REFUSE to admit that others are entitled to their own opinion!”
I, a staunch pro-lifer, do firmly believe that EVERYONE is entitled to their own opinion. You could have the opinion that everyone over the age of eighty should be picked off so they wouldn’t drain the resources more productive people use. You’re entitled. Where I’d have a problem is if you were to act on this ‘opinion’. Believe whatever makes you happy, only don’t go around killing people. Get the difference?



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FALL MORNING

posted February 7, 2009 at 12:25 pm


Let’s see the people who say abortion is murder take on all these unwanted children and go to the expence and do the psychological work of raising them properly. How many hundreds of children will you take in this week alone to add to your family? Actions speak louder than words. Walk the talk. It’s easy to be holy up on the mountain. Let’s see what you do down in the marketplace when the time comes. If all these unwanted children are born and just so many are adopted, the rest end up in foster care, or worse. You call that living?



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Franklin Evans

posted February 7, 2009 at 12:40 pm


I like Rombald’s attempt to move the issue into a rational direction. My own concern is not that abortions happen, but that technology has changed the playing field.
In past go-rounds, I’ve seen citations that early Christians found contemporary practices immoral. There are reports of Roman practices of abortion, and how those Christians (by way of reaction, IMO) refused to follow them.
Over the intervening centuries, medical technology declined (rather, its availability, but I digress). Abortifacients were well known. Infanticide was embedded in oral tradition. Reproduction became heavily politicized. One need not go back to Biblical accounts for many stories of children being the victims of power-mongering and such.
Anyway, fast forward to modern times. Inheritance is no longer the primary mode of transference of power. Individual rights and sovereignty are much more than the offhand (and heavily spun) narcissism charges by conservatives. Technology has made abortion a fact of life instead of a desperate attempt by a woman backed into a metaphorical (or actual) corner, or a tool of statecraft.
When choice is cited, I suggest that these issues be considered along with the moral concepts of the rights of the fetus. Those rights were never given the force of law unless that law benefited those whose power was protected by the law. We (general) must take the bad with the good, and protect a woman’s choice because that is what is new, not abortion. It boils down to one “definition” of feminism which, like many pithy sayings, contains depths well worth exploring:
Feminism is the radical notion that women are people. — Cheris Kramarae and Paula Treichler



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Franklin Evans

posted February 7, 2009 at 12:52 pm


Not meaning to double-up, but because it’s a separate point:
Gus has an excellent point in making this a religious issue. It’s not (as would cite) a matter of detailed holy text or its interpretation, nor is it about general takes on morality — by which I mean to say that my being a “pagan” does not give anyone the right to assume what my beliefs are, any more than one can assume the beliefs of the member of a Christian sect simply by seeing the word “Christian”. It is much more fundamental than any of that.
Christianity is directly opposed to individual sovereignty. This is supported by much more than holy text. It is founded in centuries of practice and doctrine. The logic is simple, and I regret that this will be offensive to some: if abortion were required by dogma in the case of adultery or out-of-wedlock pregnancy, we would be arguing about a woman’s right to not have an abortion.



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Anita Crane

posted February 7, 2009 at 1:28 pm


Mr. diZerega,
Abortion IS condemned in the Bible. Catholic canon lawyer Pete Vere discusses this in his May 2007 Interim article.
Here is a brief excerpt: “As a pro-life Christian, it troubled me that the Bible never mentioned the words “abortion” or “contraception.” [Professor John Riddle’s book] Eve’s Herbs provided me with a startling realization: in ancient and medieval times, contraception and abortion were often considered a form of sorcery and witchcraft, rather than a form of medicine.”
Please read the entire article at http://www.theinterim.com/2007/may/06abortioncontraception.html.
I trust you will do thorough research and consult scholars before you make further statements on Catholic books such as the Bible.



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Tom

posted February 7, 2009 at 1:31 pm


Fall, you must still value life very much, cause after all you’re still here. And FYI, I’ve been involved in practically every facet of the pro-life movement including fundraising for expecting mother’s, moving furniture, the choose-life license plate initiative in my own state. No we don’t just tell women not to have abortions and then leave them flapping in the breeze. There are, however, plenty of couples willing to adopt, just not enough adoption agencies who work in placement and referrals, so the waiting period is long. The fact that I’m not personally involved in raising adopted children frees me to address and facilitate many other processes vital to making the experience of motherhood barable.
“…the rest end up in foster care, or worse. You call that living?”
Some foster cares are better than others. In any event, I doubt that a high percentage of ex-foster children would say that they wished they were aborted. The trials and tribulations help to mold us so we can better appreciate the finer things in life.



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Gus diZerega

posted February 7, 2009 at 1:59 pm


A note to Bob,
I do not believe you will find the word ‘Catholic” in my post. As a matter of fact it was aimed at political right wing Fundamentalists, who are, last I checked, a good deal more anti-Catholic than I am. Google Hagee and Catholics sometime, and look around. Some ultra conservative Catholics are as bad, but they are a minority among culture warriors and frankly weren’t on my ind wen I wrote this blog. I am also very well aware the Catholic Church finds guidance in more than a literal reading of the Bible and were I criticizing the Catholic perspective I would have written something MUCH different.
The Catholic Church’s position on abortion is wrong in my opinion, but it has not gone out of its way to attack Pagans (at least for the past hundred years)and finally endorsed democracy. Given that, I have little interest in criticizing it unless it officially assaults our constitutional order.
I am impressed that you see me saying or implying a lot of things I did not say, but do not address seriously the things I did say. You then write you find lots about Paganism ‘ridiculous’ while complaining hat you never attack us until I attacked your Catholicism. Maybe you can quote my attack on Catholicism or Christianity as such – if you can find it.
Capice?



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Gus diZerega

posted February 7, 2009 at 2:11 pm


To Anita-
I looked at the article you cited and it does not support what you claim. No Biblical verse is cited.
It does however strongly if unintentionally support my argument that the attacks on abortion in all its forms are an attack on the feminine as equal to the masculine.



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Pitch313

posted February 7, 2009 at 2:12 pm


Was the culture war being fought during the 1960s? My own recollections of my own little patch don’t include much that seem like the deliberate faith-based strategy of scuffling for control of cultural content as it influences political disputes.
I’d date that as beginning in the 1970s.
As for what the Bible says vs. what some are convinced that the Bible says (even if it may not), my sense is that the force of arguement always favors the Bible saying or believing that is says. Not what the Bible doesn’t say.
I’m thinking that if we Pagans declare that, following appropriate review of the Bible, we don’t find that it says anything about abortion, then the faith-based pro-abortion side will assert that it’s because the Devil blinds us. Or that we’re not worthy. Or something.
The Bible game is fixed.



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jaundicedi

posted February 7, 2009 at 2:44 pm


Back before Roe v. Wade I was a young Lutheran trying to decide if I should accept a scholarship to seminary. I was starting to have serious doubts about some doctrine,(I didn’t discover Paganism until many years later), but the Church was still in its liberal activist form back then and a lot of us would have reasoned discussions about abortion.Most of us conceded that the Bible wasn’t any help at all except as a starting point. It came down to the twin issues of viability and sentience. It was obvious that viability was going to keep changing as science progressed and eventually it would be possible to grow a child to term without a womb at all. Thus the question ultimately became “When does sentience begin?”
I just wanted to remind some of the Fundimentalist posters that a lot of us were Christians once who came to the place we are now through a long process of struggling with important questions of faith, spirituality and philosophy.



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Anita Crane

posted February 7, 2009 at 4:08 pm


Gus,
Apparently you missed something. As the excerpt says, abortion falls under witchcraft and socery. For example, 1 Samuel 15 discusses “the sin of witchcraft.” See Nahum 3 where God condemns a harlot for selling out her family and nation via fornication and witchcraft.
Furthermore, even before the Bible was published, the 12 Apostles, led by Pope Peter, further discussed the 5th Commandment “Thou shalt not kill” by condemning abortion explicitly in a document called the Didache. This is pretty common knowledge.
Here’s the excerpt from the Didache:
“You shall not commit murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not commit pederasty, you shall not commit fornication, you shall not steal, you shall not practice magic, you shall not practice witchcraft, you shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is born.”
The commandments are in Exodus 20 and Deuteromy 5. Check out Matthew 19:18, where Jesus states the 5th Commandment more strongly as, “Thou shalt do no murder.” (Douay-Rheims translation)
There is much more. Consider reading Professor Riddle’s books mentioned in Vere’s article.
Bottom line, even if, as a pagan, you don’t care what God or the Church say, you know by way of natural reason that life begins at conception. So if you really champion the rights of persons, male and female, you cannot justify murdering them at their most vulnerable state of life.
Enough said.



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Franklin Evans

posted February 7, 2009 at 4:49 pm


Anita, it’s a bit unfair to claim Biblical citation on a work that does not appear in the Bible, and is not considered canonical outside the Catholic view. To be fair on my part, I’d like to know how the Didache can be cited as a source in this context. It would seem to be rather esoteric for the vast majority of believers.
Be that as it may, you hit a nerve that deserves examination: the “sin” of witchcraft/sorcery. I suggest you reconsider any modern view that abortion be counted under that particular sin. The witchcraft/sorcery of the past has been replaced and explained by modern technology and science, there being nothing supernatural or demonic about what midwives and herbalists did in the past.



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FALL MORNING

posted February 7, 2009 at 5:27 pm


People will never agree on these issues, and it’s okay. For people who can’t put themselves in the other person’s place, well, there’s always karma. People will never agree on that issue either, so we all have to live our lives believeing at the level of our own consiousness. There are many levels of understanding and they are all good. Some people are deep, others very shallow. People with narrow views live narrow lives. Down through time women have suffered by male domination and been forced to do what men wanted just to live. It’s not like that anymore. I may still be alive, but after what I went through I shutter that any other girl should walk in my shoes. What about quality of life? A live and let live attitude sounds like peace on earth to me. Clearly, those who haven’t been there can’t understand.



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Kalimat

posted February 7, 2009 at 5:44 pm


One of the true problems I have with abortion is the mentality that we can decide that a human being isn’t “alive enough to be killed.”
Human beings tend to be very cavalier with the lives of things they do not value.



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Tom

posted February 7, 2009 at 6:23 pm


Fall, I really do appreciate your last post. We do have to live our lives beginning at the level of our own conscience. However, I believe we can appeal to a higher level of conscience as well as grow in communion with that trancendent loving kindness. I agree that there are many levels of understanding, yet many are far from good. This much has been evident by the failed results of facism, communism, pure capitalism, anarchy, and even Hellenism (sorry Gus; just had to slip that one in there:-)
I too have struggled through many hardships, manic depression and chronic substance abuse to name a couple. I as well shutter that another should suffer the same fate. This doesn’t necessarily mean that my quality of life was inferior, though. It has been a turbulent ride, however, and induced sporatic nauseoun as well. The live and let live proposition is the entire thrust of the pro-life argument. It’s what pro-lifers have been lobbying for the past 3 1/2 decades.
My own religion has many aspects in common with the Hindu offshoot of Kharma. Basically, if you eat rancid meat, then you will get sick. A generic explanation lacking any inherant emotion maybe, but one that may resonate with a select few.
To you, Gus; I’m feeling rather generous right about now. With so much being lost in translation and biblical archaeology as limited as it is, it is rather hard if not impossible to corroborate or prove unequivocally that the Bible condemns abortion. Some of us traditional Christians contend that the Bible was never assembled to stand autonomously. I understand if you’re jumping one hurdle at a time, so I’m sorry if I got a little ahead of myself. I look foward to reading your future insights on the topic and wish you adeau.
In the meantime, a little minow for you to snack on (you can pick this apart in no time, but he is one of my favorite apologists):
http://www.wikio.com/video/505431



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FALL MORNING

posted February 7, 2009 at 7:09 pm


Tom – Who cares about the finer things in life even if you have them if you’re going through hell on a moment by moment basis? Money isn’t love, even life itself isn’t being loved, love is love and without it life is meaningless. No one should have to endure their life with the idea that they’re being spiritually molded to enjoy the finer things in life. That’s rediculous. I grew up in a 5,000 square foot house and the misplaced values my family operated with did them no good whatsoever as they became old and got sick. I was an obligation they didn’t want and they didn’t care how I felt about anything. I was born in an era where women had no choices and my mother was trapped with a child she hated. If suffering molded me for the finer things in life then I must be a billionnaire spiritual Avatar. You and Buddha may think suffering is growth, and maybe it is, but neither of you ever knew my mother.
Women who don’t want to be pregnant should have options. To abort rather than put a living being through hell is being responsible.



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Tom

posted February 7, 2009 at 7:55 pm


I really don’t wish to get into a pissing contest with you, Fall, as to who suffered the most hardship. I guess the saying ‘Within every cloud is a silver lining’ is a form of fool’s gold to you. You could very well be a billionnaire spiritual Avatar who’s unwilling to make a deposit.
In regards to Buddha your understanding is radically different than mine. He contends that attachment is the source of suffering; not that suffering is a stepping stone to obtaining spiritual Nirvana. Suffering isn’t symptomatic of purgation in Buddhist philosophy (at least as far as I can tell).
In regards to choice, there can be way too much of it. One can’t even go into a supermarket without seeing twenty some odd different kinds of ketchup. The same can be said for vehicles, insurance policies, investment vehicles, ‘organic’ food labels, toothpaste, soy (not that I’m into that), beef, processed pork, vegetables, and what have you. People in this day and age are given so much ‘choice’ that they typically drive themselves into frenzies on a bi-weekly basis.
Women who don’t want to be pregnant have a foolproof way of preventing it, barring forced entry. Should the unexpected occur, there are yet even more ‘responsible’ options available other than aborting or putting a child through hell.



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Darren

posted February 7, 2009 at 10:05 pm


What most of the posters seem to miss (and Gus points out over and over again) is the fact that no one here is saying abortion is a GOOD thing, the Pagan mindset just allows the individual to make this decision (and accept any ‘return’ energy) based on their own knowledge and interpretation of their situation. And on the other hand, the fundamentalist right-to-life folks say, “We think it is wrong for us, so the rest of you MUST fall into line with us.” The difference is that Pagans are not willing to accept every statement (or even a single interpretation of a NON-statement) as an ‘unbreakable law of God.’ Fundamentalists seem to be saying that because the Bible condemns any form of ‘witchcraft’ that if a fundamentalist says that breathing is a form of witchcraft, all good “Christians” will immediately be expected to hold their breath. Hmmmm, that COULD solve a few issues…



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jaundicedi

posted February 7, 2009 at 10:38 pm


Since “Witchcraft” is a distinctly European term does anyone know what Hebrew term was mis-translated to become that?



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Robert

posted February 7, 2009 at 11:29 pm


“Christianity is directly opposed to individual sovereignty. This is supported by much more than holy text. It is founded in centuries of practice and doctrine. The logic is simple, and I regret that this will be offensive to some: if abortion were required by dogma in the case of adultery or out-of-wedlock pregnancy, we would be arguing about a woman’s right to not have an abortion.”
Well, no.
You might be shocked to learn that the Baptists, of all people, started their churches as communities supportive of each human being finding his or her own path to Divinity. Before them there was, for instance, the Jednota Bratrska in Bohemia. The thing is, Christian movements that are all about individual decision making keep springing up, and they almost always are subverted into becoming organizations like Southern Baptists today. It would be more helpful to understand why this happens than to paint all of Christianity with a single broad brush.



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Darren

posted February 7, 2009 at 11:32 pm


jaundicedi,
I think the original term (prior to the King James rewrite was poisoner, not witch in Deuteronomy: “Ye shall not suffer a poisoner to live…” http://in.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080627015155AAayWcQ
Below id from the Link above:
Actually, it is one of the most mis-interpreted phrases in the Bible…
It (Exodus 22:18) actually means:
Don’t suffer… because the witches are not suffering… so don’t give into their demands at your own expense…
But some people just want to read “kill em all” in everything they see… I know… it’s hard to believe that so many thousands were killed over a blatant mis-interpretation of some dusty old Jewish scrolls… but it’s true.
You have to keep in mind that the Bible is written in poetic form… it misses the conjunctive phrases that we use in modern english … It would read this way:
Thou (you as Christians) shalt not suffer (so that) a witch (can) live (prosper).
In fact, just two lines after that the Bible reads:
“Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.”



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Darren

posted February 7, 2009 at 11:35 pm


Not Deuteronomy…Exodus… Apologies



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jaundicedi

posted February 8, 2009 at 12:31 am


To Darren, My thanks. I thought I remembered reading that but it was a reference in a work of fiction and therefore suspect and the part about the poetic form was new to me. I also remember reading in the preface to the Gnostic scriptures that the word “sin” in the New Testament was originally a Greek archery term meaning, “To miss the mark”. “All have missed the mark and fallen short of the glory that is God.” makes a lot more sense.



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BrokenSp1r17

posted February 8, 2009 at 2:39 am


I’m not going through 40-odd replies in this post. But I will give you my two cents.
You’ve missed some verses that can support “God is pro-life/anti-abortion”. One is Psalm 139:13 – 16. The author is praising God for His love, care and guidance while in the womb. So obviously, every baby still in the womb is known by God. The others are Matt 6:26 & 30. They state that God thinks of people, despite their sins, are more cherished than other creations. One other one to ponder is Matt. 25:40. The verse states that the “least you do unto the least of these, you’ve done unto Me.” So, if I kill my unborn baby, I’m theoretically killing Jesus.
Granted there are times when the mother’s health is at risk if she continues the pregnancy; but they are rare.
The one thing I find sick are all the Pagans who bow down to fertility goddesses, the “Blessed Mothers”; and then–Butcher the Goddess’ blessed creation. WHY?!!??!?!! And here I thought that great egg in the sky we technically call the moon loved and mothered all life, including people…. “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer : therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.” Matt. 23:14, KJV
“Truly wonderful, the mind of a child is.”~Jedi Master Yoda SW II: AotC



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Your Name

posted February 8, 2009 at 4:25 am


There are LOTS of places where in the bible god kills babies and forces miscarriages and commands his followers to murder kids.
Dont bleive me? Look it up!
Hosea 9:11-16, Numbers 5:11-21, Numbers 31:17 (Moses), Hosea 13:16, 2 Kings 15:16, 1 Samuel 15:3, Psalms 135:8 & 136:10, Psalms 137:9, Leviticus 20:9, Judges 11:30-40 (child sacrifice!), 2 Kings 6:28-29 (cannibalism of children), Deuteronomy 21:18-21, Judges 19:24-29, Exodus 12:29, 2 Kings 2:23-24, and much more!
Not very “pro-life” is he? >.



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Anonymous

posted February 8, 2009 at 9:46 am


It doesn’t matter what scripture says or doesn’t say, whether contemporary or societies of old approve or not, the taking of innocent life is WRONG, and everyone knows it. By quoting others and discussing what holy books say or imply is talking OVER the issue. This quite frankly puts the innocent in more jeopardy by turning them from human beings into the subject of a wasteful and self-righteous argument.



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Franklin Evans

posted February 8, 2009 at 10:22 am


BrokenSp1r17, please show me your evidence of Pagans who bow down to fertility goddesses, the “Blessed Mothers”; and then–Butcher the Goddess’ blessed creation. I’ve been a pagan for 35 years, the last 12 also a community activist and non-profit organizer, I’ve met hundreds of Pagans and I’ve not run into one who remotely fits your hyperbolic description. Also, I detect a distinct projection of your own beliefs onto the assumed beliefs of those Pagans you want to chastise.
Robert, I already join you in desiring to avoid the pitfalls of the broad brush… but if you will notice, I started out with “Christianity” and used the term “dogma”. I would respectfully ask that you not use Christian sects who have rejected dogma in whole or in part as rebuttals. I certainly would agree they do not belong under my brush. The vast majority of sects — meaning also by number of members — are dogmatic, doctrinal, and quite final in their rejection of contradictions. If some of them had gentler beginnings, I don’t really see that as an extenuating circumstance. That last is my bias, no doubt.
At its core — this being my support for the broad brush — is a tenet that cannot be spun away from a requirement for individual surrender to divine authority. There are semantical (and, to this pagan, ironical) circumlocutions around free will and submission to God that — again, for me — do not change that core.



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NightLad

posted February 8, 2009 at 10:25 am


I find it a rather irksome fact within the Pagan community (such as it is) that statements of our beliefs often include a definition contrasted with Christianity.
Perhaps this is because, as the dominant religion, we know that our points may be better received if given a basis most people can relate to. Perhaps some of us, having been raised in Christian homes, yet feel the need to seek definition by their standards. Perhaps some of us just want to find flaws in their ways, such as Biblical contradictions, and thumb our nose.
I for one am very tired of it.
Mr. diZerega , this is not directed at you personally. I understand the context in which you presented your points. However, in the discussion that has followed, I feel that, yet again, I see the Christian Comparison (for validation, mockery, et al) flowing all too freely.
Christians, at least none I have spoke with, do not define themselves by any other faith. For the most part, they hold their faith and their beliefs as a unique, separate entity and approach arguments and debates from that basis. The need to compare themselves to others, for whatever reason, almost never comes up.
I for one would love to see a similar solidarity within the Pagan community.
Personally, I don’t care what the Bible has to say about virtually any topic. Not insofar as it pertains to my personal faith, belief system and way of life.
I am not advocating ignorance of the Christian religion, or any religion for that matter. I believe we can learn about, and even appreciate, the different approaches to Faith and the Divine our brothers and sisters on Earth take.
Yet when it comes to defining my beliefs, my faith, my understanding of the Divine… I will stand apart and do so on my own terms: no need to gravitate around a Christian [or any other] sun. Pun intended. ;)



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Franklin Evans

posted February 8, 2009 at 10:58 am


NightLad, if I had a dollar for every time I ran into that brick wall of comparison… but from my POV, the difficulty is cultural and social rather than religious, under your valid complaint about semantics.
I could be snarky (as I am in another blog thread about abortion) and point out that Christians own the semantic territory and impose comparisons on the rest of us, so that any attempt to be independent of current or past lexicon will get you, at best, glazed looks. The truth under that reaction, though, is that the vast majority of pagans grew up at least nominally Christian. They simply don’t know better words to avoid the comparison pitfall. I’ve gotten plenty of glazed looks from pagans.
One valid comparison I offer is with our LGBT friends. They’ve been engaged in deliberate lexicon change for many decades, “reclaiming words” as I often see or hear it. Pagans need to make the same effort, and give it a similar timespan in which to have any constructive effect.
I have a friend who is a Dawkins-style atheist, and loves to tease me about my religion. She is also quite open about expressing her passion, whether in describing her feelings of others or just as colorful punctuation to what she says: “Dear God! For the love of God! God bless ‘em! Jesus Christ..!” She uses all of those and more (upper Midwest, dontcha know), yet is as “devout” an atheist as I’ve ever met. Hypocrite or deeply, culturally conditioned? I know her, so I can assert the latter. I see that in many of my fellow pagans, including myself who was never even nominally Christian.



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jaundicedi

posted February 8, 2009 at 11:38 am


I think too that because the Dominionist faction of Fundamentalist Christianity has been the loudest and most politically powerful voice in Christianity in America for the last decade or so they have become the image of Christianity in many younger non-Christian minds. Christianity needs to reclaim its own name from the narrow-minded definition its own extreme but politically powerful wing is giving it.



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Gus diZerega

posted February 8, 2009 at 11:41 am


This discussion has been , a bit overwhelming, to watch unfold.
I have a few more comments to add to the brew.
Some have equated the abortion-is-murder position with Christians as such. Given that Christians disagree on this issue, that does not fly. It is a mistake to say that any give religion says what I say it is when many followers of that way believe differently. That is why I have titled my blog A pagan’s blog. I do not pretend to speak for all Pagans, or all British Tradition Wiccans, or even all Gardnerians.
Second, the abortion-is-murder advocates have sought to have their position written into law. In doing so they are trying to force their views on everyone else. In a democracy this means they should be called upon to give good reasons for their views. At a minimum it is a sign of respect, and since they want their views not only respected, but written into law, they should respect those who disagree.
If we look at the reasons that have been offered to support the abortion-is-murder position, three show up as I remember. If I missed one, please give it.
1. Abortion is murder. BUT that is just the issue. Many people believe that this is not necessarily so, particularly at early stages. To them (us) it is absurd to say a patch of a few cells is a human being. NO reasons are given by anti-abortion forces against this reasonable doubt except to point to scripture.
2. Scripture is ambiguous at best. I pointed to the closest scriptural approach to the issue that I know of, and it clearly distinguished between punishments for accidentally killing someone and accidentally causing a miscarriage. No one who disagrees with what I said has attempted to address this reasonably unambiguous example, preferring instead to give MORE ambiguous examples as counter cases. For example, IF God knew us and protected us in the womb, that does not necessarily mean we were there from conception. The passage I pointed to suggests strongly otherwise.
3. Scientific evidence of certain mental processes in a fetus. This is better, but only applies to later stages in the process of fetal development. Are the mental processes that develop HUMAN, or simply biological? At this point we do not know. We may never know. And very few people advocate abortion in later stages unless the prospective mother’s life is at stake or she has serious health risks. So that is largely a non-issue.
4. Finally, the woman is pretty consistently ignored by abortion-is-murder advocates, in extreme cases, even when her health or life is at stake or she has been raped. For us who believe abortion is not a cut and dried issue of murder, we have no doubt that the woman is human. Given that all the rest is ambiguous, the decision should be hers and no on else’s.
I think this debate shows the risks in basing one’s religion on a sacred text that is supposedly inerrant. (This is not true for all Christians by any means, but is true for a disproportionate number of the abortion-is-murder crowd). The texts are ALWAYS ambiguous. Look at how supposed literalists find exceptions to “Thou shalt not kill.” Given that they are always ambiguous, and that we two-leggeds are fallible critters, it seems to me the height of arrogance to claim one’s pinon to be God’s point of view.
I have been very critical of this attitude in the Pagan community, when some have seemed to claim to speak for the Goddess on controversial matters. It is always harmful to lift oneself up to claims of infallibility by confusing one’s understanding with divine wisdom.



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Leah

posted February 8, 2009 at 1:56 pm


Sir, please let me thank you for titling your article so well. Abortion certainly is not prohibited in the Torah. In fact, the Torah prescribes abortion in certain situations. Christians simply don’t know how to read Torah and so they end up making a lot of bogus assertions. Jews don’t engage in attempts to educate the cretans, for obvious reasons, we know it will always foster anti-Semitism if we explain things to them that does’t match their theology. It’s always a no win situation for us.
The plain text of the Bible, in English, mentions in several different ways that the one and only suitable punishment for murdering a person is execution. Absolutely no monetary substitution allowed! Yet the punishment for killing a fetus is a fine. The writers are telling you plainly that a fetus is not a person.
Rabbi’s interpretting the Torah understood this thousands of years ago. That is why it has always been Jewish law that contraception is the womans’ right AND responsibility, even back in the days when many forms of birth control were herbal abortants.
Abortion is still required under Jewish law today if necessary to save the life of the mother. Our Sages reasoned long ago that a woman under extreme duress should not chose to leave the rest of her children motherless for the sake of a sibling they never knew. Like most Jewish law, the reasoning is very pragmatic.
Everytime I here someone claim that the Bible prohibits abortion I WANT TO SCREAM. The truth is that Rome prohibited abortion long before the Christian era, and it did so for purely racist reasons. The Romans were faced with a starkly declining birth rate among ethnic Roman women. Like educated upper class women everywhere, they produced fewer children. At the same time, Rome had absorbed tremendous masses of foreigners as the Empire spread. Most of them wanted to live in Rome. In short, the Romans soon found themselves vastly outnumbered by aliens. They sought to solve the problem by outlawing contraception and abortion for Roman women.
The custom was maintained zealously when Rome became Christian. In fact we have records of Jewish Ebionite Christians being reviled, persecuted and murdered by Greco-Roman Christians specifically because the Ebionites allowed abortion, as per Jewish law.
So, the next time a Bible-thumper screams about abortion, just try telling them that prohibiting abortion is an entirely Pagan Roman custom!
BTW- I am a very religious Jew. My Torah doesn’t say not to practice astrology either. The Bible is filled with astrology. It tells us not to worship it- there is a difference. And it also doesn’t say to kill witches- it tells US not to bring them into the covenant. There’s nothing wrong with a non-Jew practicing magic from the Biblical perspective, any more than it would be considered a sin for a non-Jew to eat shrimp (LOL). I hope everyone will please try not to pre-judge Jewish people or theology based on absurd translations of English Christian Bibles.
Thanks, Leah



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jaundicedi

posted February 8, 2009 at 2:19 pm


I would like to add one other point to those that us listed: The 18th century theologian Immanual Kant went on at length on the issue that virtuous conduct only had value if it was HARD. If we compel others to do the right thing there is no virtue there. It is the difficult CHOICE that gives it value.



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Wendy

posted February 8, 2009 at 3:22 pm


Leah made some valid points, but I do wish she would “please try not to pre-judge” Christians. In her first paragraph she groups all Christians together as cretans who are so ignorant that they(we) don’t know how to read Torah and so make bogus assertions. Exactly how is being prejudiced against all Christians any better than being an anti-Semite?



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Gwyddion9

posted February 8, 2009 at 4:05 pm


Wendy,
Perhaps Leah did lump all Christians together in the first paragraph of her comment, which wasn’t fair, however she is right in stating that most Christians know nothing about the Tanakh (Old Testament) other than how they are trying to interpret it to their religious beliefs rather than to whose beliefs it actually belongs, Jews. I know many Christians who seek to live a life following the example of Jesus and don’t try to justify any actions or beliefs; rather, they seek to emulate love, patience, forgiveness, etc., as they believe Jesus would show to others.
Many of the comments I’ve read on this discussion from the (my assumption) conservative Christians, seek to justify their positions in using the Tanakh. Most of the time, I’ve discovered them to be completely off base in their understanding. They seek only to justify their position using a verse, here and there. As has already been pointed out by the various comments, the Tanakh has verses that could be viewed as supporting abortion and those which do not support abortion.
The greatest abuser of the Tanakh is the RR or conservative Christians. They do not understand it nor, imo, do they care to understand it, rather they reinterpret it to fit their beliefs. If I have a question on the matter, I’ve found some Jewish scholars, who are Jewish, here on belief net. They are more than happy, when given an opportunity, to educate me on a subject in question.
Personally, I do not find error in Gus’s article. Having been Christian, I’m now Wiccan; I still remember Christian teachings and beliefs. I came from a Christian Denomination that didn’t see abortion as being condemned by “God” as some here are claiming. Christianity isn’t united on the subject as many sects of Christianity view it differently from one another. Abortion is obviously a passionate issue with many, regardless of the side one takes on this issue.



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Wendy

posted February 8, 2009 at 6:12 pm


Thank you for your comments, Gwyddion9, but I did not say that I disagreed with anything else that Leah wrote, other than her presumption that all Christians are ignorant cretans. I actually do agree with everything else in her comment above. I also agree with everything in your comment, and I wholeheartedly agree with Gus’ article. (Did you assume that I disagreed with Gus as well?) I too know many ignorant and closed-minded Christians, but that does not justify prejudice against the religion as a whole.



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Leah

posted February 8, 2009 at 6:15 pm


Wendy,
I was referring to the subset of Christian fundamentalists who honestly think that Jesus and Moses spoke King James English. I am not kidding. There are Christians who believe that in 21st century America. Of course I wouldn’t have any reason to care what they think if they would just leave us alone, but they won’t. Honestly, the real reason for my temper flaring is because I am just so stressed out from having Evangelical neighbors harass me to death in my own home. I am not prejudiced against Christians in general. My grandfather was a Methodist minister so I am naturally very fond of Christians who spend their lives doing good deeds instead trying to control how everyone else thinks. And I sincerely do not think of Christians as somehow being dumber than Jews. I understand how I could have given that impression. I am sorry. My comments were regarding the language problem, which is very frustating to me at the moment. How does one reason with people who think Moses spoke King James English? I don’t know. Any suggestions? I mean, I would rather not even have to try except, like I said, they won’t leave me alone. It’s scary. I really don’t want to be unkind to anybody. And I don’t have the means to just move away.
Anyhow, I am sorry for what I said. I didn’t mean it. My husband of 24 years was Catholic born and educated, and he is waaaaay smarter than I am.



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Tom

posted February 8, 2009 at 6:21 pm


I do agree that biblical or theological arguments for abortion being murder are futile since so few of us ascribe to the same theology. Hopefully we can take the argument to a scientific level and discuss various procedures and physiological aspects of the fetus to acertain whether or not abortion is murder or the fetus is an actual human being.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJzSiAPXTiQ



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Tom

posted February 8, 2009 at 7:05 pm


Leah, you have my sympathies, as you’ve also managed to propel me into hysterical laughter. It isn’t that I take pleasure in the misery of others; it’s merely the absurdity of the thing that tickles my funny bone.
I’d start of by pointing out that the King James version wasn’t even the first Old-English translation; it was the Douay-Rheims version. Perhaps if they’ve studied foreign languages of any kind (doesn’t sound like this is the case, but it never hurts to ask) you could politely point out the limitations of translations into vernacular languages, seeing as how sentence structure, multiple meanings of the same word, cultural trends, and different modifiers can put the original intent of texts in doubt. If all else fails, then you can always file a restraining order or politely ask them to leave. You might even try to sell your experience to a Hollywood screenwriter, as this sounds like quite a horror story. With much luck and a little prayer, they could morph it into something big :-)



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Franklin Evans

posted February 8, 2009 at 7:47 pm


I have a strong interest in cross-medium “translations”. I enjoy movie adaptations of books (for example) as much for the writer/director choices on how to cinematically present something that will just not work on the screen in its original written form.
It’s the value of the story being told.
The printing of the Bible in vernacular is probably the most important event in the history of Christianity. It made holy text available outside the close control of a small clerical hierarchy. That it also gave rise to the fallacies of literal interpretation does not change that importance.



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Gwyddion9

posted February 8, 2009 at 8:08 pm


Wendy,
No, I didn’t think you disagreed with Gus at all. How I interpreted your comment to Leah, was the linking all Christians to the misrepresenting the Old Testament.
My apologies, as no insult was intended. I simply agreed that most Christians have no real understanding of the Old Testament but the lumping all together wasn’t correct, either.
Blessings



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Jerrac

posted February 8, 2009 at 9:12 pm


In regards to the original post. The Bible says that God knew us and formed us in our mothers womb.
Psalm 139:13
For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Job 10:11
You clothed me with skin and flesh, and wove me together with bones and tendons.
Psalm 119:73
Your hands made me and formed me; give me understanding so that I can learn Your commands.
It makes no mention of WHEN He did that. Therefore, saying that life only begins after a certain amount of time is an arbitrary human decision. We now know that the method God uses to knit us together in our mother’s womb is cellular mitosis (I think that’s right…). And that begins at conception.
If God takes the time to knit us together inside our mother’s womb, He obviously considers us alive, or at least worth something. Hence, killing a baby in the womb is murder.
Quote from Gus: “For example, IF God knew us and protected us in the womb, that does not necessarily mean we were there from conception.”
Um, that doesn’t make sense, you can come to both conclusions. God knowing us and protecting us in the womb could mean that He did so from conception, OR some arbitrary point of time after conception. Thus, saying one way or another is human interpretation. Which means you have to take the whole Bible into account. Taking the Bible as a whole leads me believe that God is the same, yesterday, today, and tomorrow (Bible quote), and since we are made in the image of God, we are just as alive now as we were at conception.
The passage quoted in the OP is obviously referring to an accident. Which is why only a fine was required. Also, when speaking about the Old Testament Law in regards to Christianity, you have to remember that most Christians consider it fulfilled by Jesus Christ. Basically, the Law was given to demonstrate how utterly impossible it is for humans to be right with God on their own. We can only become right with God through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. It’s the old covenant versus the new covenant. Judgment versus Grace. In the case of the man who caused the baby’s death, grace is extended to him because he did not kill the baby intentionally. Abortion is most definitely intentional.
Also, the Bible doesn’t have to outright condemn abortion. It is painfully obvious that life begins at conception, and the fact that people have been able to confuse that amazes me. The only difference between a grown up human and an unborn human is that the unborn human needs the womb to survive, and the grown up needs the Earth’s atmosphere to survive…
A couple other points. There are lots of Christians who help mothers who choose not to have an abortion. And I wish there were more.
Also, I personally believe that trying to use the Bible in a debate with people who are not Christian is utterly stupid. I only used it in this post because the OP was about the Bible. I also have spent quite a bit of time formulating the beliefs I learned from the Bible in a non-religious manner so that I could talk to people who are not Christian.



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Leah

posted February 8, 2009 at 11:16 pm


Isn’t it ironic that the only biblical literalists who were ever included in mainstream Judaism were the Saducees, and Jesus didn’t like them very much…
“If anyone cause a free woman to miscarry, if it be the tenth month, he shall give ten half-shekels of silver, if it be the fifth month, he shall give five half-shekels of silver.”



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Paulo

posted February 9, 2009 at 9:56 am


If had been aborted you wouldn’t be here to spew your terribly misleading beliefs. Good thing for you that your mother thought abortion wasn’t a good idea.
jon



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Gwyddion9

posted February 9, 2009 at 12:03 pm


Jon,
really dude, would you like some cheese with your whine?
Do you have anything of importance to say or something to add to this discussion?
As far as misleading, that’s your opinion and that’s all it is.
Justify however you want but it’s still an opinion.



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Leah

posted February 9, 2009 at 1:53 pm


Jon,
My mother had both of her legs amputated, up to the hip, for carrying a high-risk pregnancy when abortion was illegal (illegal due to someone elses religious beliefs!). Her baby was taken away from her because she not care for it. She lingered for a long time before finally dying of sepsis.
I can’t say it was a good thing for me that my mother didn’t have an abortion. In my religion, “I” am not my body. “I” am a soul. “I” am a soul who has been reincarnated into the body of a mammal many times before. I am sure G-d could have found a place to put me.



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Gus diZerega

posted February 9, 2009 at 1:59 pm


Wow. What a wonderful discussion! I am particularly grateful to Leah for giving such a learned and insightful comment from a Jewish perspective. But there is a lot of good stuff here.
I also have a quick response to Jerrac, who has taken the time to try and deal with what I originally said.
When I knit a sweater the sweater does not exist till I finish it. I think the stuff you cite supports me better than you.
Second, you still ignore the rather longer and much more detailed piece I quoted. Till you do, why do you think short poetic pieces that can be interpreted in other ways, as I have done, are so much more accurate than straightforward commands? HOW can you say you read the Bible to seewhat it says rather than what you want it to say?
Third, that we humans do not have perfect knowledge does not make our choices ‘arbitrary.’ What matters is that we can give reasons for them that others can question, and over time either we change our views or deepen our understanding – without ever saying we have it all. That works for science, for democracy, and I would argue for Paganism.
I will do a separate post on some of these issues shortly.
And I am so very grateful to this discussion. I have learned a lot.



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Jerrac

posted February 9, 2009 at 4:52 pm


Thanks for responding to me! I’ve posted similar comments a few times before on other blogs and usually was just ignored… :D
“When I knit a sweater the sweater does not exist till I finish it. I think the stuff you cite supports me better than you.”
But it will still end up as a sweater unless you stop working on it, or someone forces you to stop working on it.
A fertilized egg, a zygote, embryo, etcetera, will all end up as a full grown person unless something happens to it. This is one of the reasons I am amazed that people don’t consider conception as the beginning of a human life. As soon as an egg is fertilized, it will become a fully functioning human. The only way it doesn’t is if something bad happens.
“Second, you still ignore the rather longer and much more detailed piece I quoted. Till you do, why do you think short poetic pieces that can be interpreted in other ways, as I have done, are so much more accurate than straightforward commands? HOW can you say you read the Bible to seewhat it says rather than what you want it to say?”
Erm, what more detailed piece? I did address the verses from Exodus. Did I miss something? I’ll expand on them a bit anyway…
The verses from Exodus actually support the idea that unborn babies have value. Yes, it seems like it places less value on them, but that is because of human failings. Which brings me to how I reconcile the Law with the teachings of Jesus.
The Law was given to mankind when he had no way of being saved. Mankind was completely cut off from God. The Law was given to them as a bandage to that wound. While it gave them a way to seek forgiveness from God through sacrifices and guidelines on how to live, God never expected them to succeed. Thus, in the case of a fight accidentally causing a miscarriage, God was lenient.
Now, after the death and resurrection of Jesus, we can see the full purpose of the Law. It was designed to show us how sinful we are, and to point the way to Jesus. The Law shows us that there is no way to bridge the gap between us and God except by blood. It also shows that there is no sacrifice we can make that would bridge the gap permanently. Thus, Jesus had to be sacrificed as a perfect sacrifice. He had no sin, thus was perfect, and thus his death was able to bridge the gap.
As for the verses I posted, they demonstrate how God sees us. And, to be honest, they seem pretty literal to me. So, why do you see the verses from Exodus as more straightforward than the ones form Job and Psalms?
So, how do I read the Bible and know that what I am getting from it is what God intended? Um, well, most of the Bible is pretty straightforward. As long as you don’t take things out of context, you can pretty much just read it as literally what it says. I guess the biggest thing to reading the Bible correctly is not to let yourself take things out of context. You have to consider was the book of Matthew says at the same time as what Leviticus says. You can’t just pull a verse or two out of the middle of a chapter and say that it supports your position. You have to also take the chapter and book and the whole Bible.
“Third, that we humans do not have perfect knowledge does not make our choices ‘arbitrary.’ What matters is that we can give reasons for them that others can question, and over time either we change our views or deepen our understanding – without ever saying we have it all. That works for science, for democracy, and I would argue for Paganism.”
Hmm… So maybe I used the wrong word there. Just take it out if it bothers you, that won’t change my point. As far as God is concerned, baby cells inside the womb are alive at some point in time. If God hasn’t explicitly stated that life only begins after such and such a time period, then the best time to consider something alive is conception. When there is uncertainty, you always err on the side of caution.



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jaundicedi

posted February 9, 2009 at 6:05 pm


To Jerrac: It seems to me that you are arguing that POTENTIAL life is sacred here; that simply because something contains the template of the finished product that it ought to have the same protection as the finished whole. That is perilously close to the classic argument for the ban on birth control. I’m not sure many will accept that premise as a starting point.



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Gwyddion9

posted February 9, 2009 at 6:20 pm


Thanks jaundicedi,
You beat me to the punch.
I agree with you, that Jerrac is arguing the “potential life.”
One of the issues, i guess is the best word, is the contradictions in the Old Testament. As has already been stated, verses can be found that can be interpreted to support abortion and verses can be found that can be interpreted that do not support abortion. That’s one of the issues i see with the Bible, it isn’t honestly clear on many things.



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Jerrac

posted February 9, 2009 at 9:01 pm


No. I am not arguing potential life. I am saying that at conception, a life WITH potential begins.
What contradictions in the Old Testament are you talking about? And what verses can be interpreted to support abortion? If you disagree with my explanation of Exodus 21:22-25, please tell me why.



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Gwyddion9

posted February 9, 2009 at 11:09 pm


Jerrac,
What Does The Bible Say About Abortion?
Absolutely nothing! The word “abortion” does not appear in any translation of the bible!
Out of more than 600 laws of Moses, none comments on abortion. One Mosaic law about miscarriage specifically contradicts the claim that the bible is antiabortion, clearly stating that miscarriage does not involve the death of a human being. If a woman has a miscarriage as the result of a fight, the man who caused it should be fined. If the woman dies, however, the culprit must be killed:
– Ex 21:22-25:
“If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, Eye for eye, tooth for tooth …
The bible orders the death penalty for murder of a human being, but not for the expulsion of a fetus.
When Does Life Begin?
According to the Old Testament, life begins at birth–when a baby draws its first breath. The bible defines life as “breath” in several significant passages, including the story of Adam’s creation in Genesis 2:7, when God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Jewish law traditionally considers that personhood begins at birth.
Desperate for a biblical basis for their beliefs, some antiabortionists cite obscure passages, usually metaphors or poetic phrasing, such as:
– Psalm 51:5:Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
This is sexist, but does nothing other than to invoke original sin. It says nothing about abortion.
The Commandments, Moses, Jesus and Paul ignored every chance to condemn abortion. If abortion was an important concern, why didn’t the bible say so?
Many antiabortionists quote the sixth commandment, “Thou shalt not kill” (Ex. 20:13) as evidence that the bible is antiabortion. They fail to investigate the bible’s definition of life (breath) or its deafening silence on abortion. Moreover, the Mosaic law in Exodus 21:22-25, directly following the Ten Commandments, makes it clear that an embryo or fetus is not a human being.
An honest reader must admit that the bible contradicts itself. “Thou shalt not kill” did not apply to many living, breathing human beings, including children, who are routinely massacred in the bible. The Mosaic law orders “Thou shalt kill” people for committing such “crimes” as cursing one’s father or mother (Ex. 21:17), for being a “stubborn son” (Deut. 21:18-21), for being a homosexual (Lev. 20:13), or even for picking up sticks on the Sabbath (Numbers 15:32-35). Far from protecting the sanctity of life, the bible promotes capital punishment for conduct which no civilized person or nation would regard as criminal.
Mass killings were routinely ordered, committed or approved by the God of the bible. One typical example is Numbers 25:4-9, when the Lord casually orders Moses to massacre 24,000 Israelites: “Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the Lord against the sun.” Clearly, the bible is not pro-life.
Most scholars and translators agree that the injunction against killing forbade only the murder of (already born) Hebrews. It was open season on everyone else, including children, pregnant women and newborn babies.
Does God Kill Babies?
– Psalm 137:9:Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.
The bible is not pro-child. Why did God set a bear upon 42 children just for teasing a prophet (2 Kings 2:23-24)? Far from demonstrating a “pro-life” attitude, the bible decimates innocent babies and pregnant women in passage after gory passage, starting with the flood and the wanton destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, progressing to the murder of the firstborn child of every household in Egypt (Ex. 12:29), and the New Testament threats of annihilation.
Space permits only a small sampling of biblical commandments or threats to kill children:
· Numbers 31:17 Now therefore kill every male among the little ones.
· Deuteronomy 2:34 utterly destroyed the men and the women and the little ones.
· Deuteronomy 28:53 And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters.
· I Samuel 15:3 slay both man and woman, infant and suckling.
· 2 Kings 8:12 dash their children, and rip up their women with child.
· 2 Kings 15:16 all the women therein that were with child he ripped up.
· Isaiah 13:16 Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be spoiled and their wives ravished.
· Isaiah 13:18 They shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eyes shall not spare children.
· Lamentations 2:20 Shall the women eat their fruit, and children.
· Ezekiel 9:6 Slay utterly old and young, both maids and little children.
· Hosea 9:14 give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts.
· Hosea 13:16 their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up.
Source: http://www.freethoughtpedia.com/wiki/Abortion_and_the_Bible
Again to reiterate, in Jewish tradition, the fetus/baby isn’t considered to be an actual human being until they take their first breath. The thoughts and verses explain why I find contradictions in the Old Testament (Tanakh). This is one of many sites I’ve reviewed and found the information accurate.



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Jerrac

posted February 10, 2009 at 11:53 am


Would you please explain why my explanation of Ex 21:22-25 is insufficient for you?
As for the rest of the verses, I’ll respond soon. I need to eat breakfast and do some homework first…



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Leah

posted February 10, 2009 at 12:33 pm


Gwyddion9,
You are exactly right. What modern people “don’t get” is that the Bible was written BY scholars TO a warrior culture. The name “Hebrew” appears to come from the term “abiru”, found in both ancient Babylonian and Egyptian texts, which was used to describe a class of people who refused citizenship in the 3 great Empires (the third was Hittite, whose library hasn’t been fully translated yet). The Abiru were mercenaries, as in, the Egyptians gave the Abiru the best land of Egypt (Goshen) in exchange for protecting Egypt’s northern border from the Hittite incursion. Everybody knows the rest of that story.
The point is, that by the time you remove the text from it’s historical context, you’ve already missed the point. How does one convince a group of warriors to settle down and live a holy life, keeping in mind that NO ONE around you has any intention of adopting a peaceful lifestyle? You give them rules to live by- lots of rules, 613 to be exact. Then you hope and pray that each generation will become more observant of the rules as they begin to experience the consequences for breaking those rules.
The Bible is a series of political biographies and historical events that took place over a very long period of time. Battles were written down because they were noteworthy. Simple, boring everyday life of wasn’t. So you have a situation where the violence is time-compressed, and the reader is left with the impression that there wasn’t any lovingkindness in between. The history of Europe would seem at least as savage to a foreigner if the same format was used.
I’ve never met anyone who believed in earnest that G-d told King Jehu to bring the heads of 70 child rivals to his throne in a basket. Incorporating the phrase “Our G-d the Lord said…” was a very effective literary tool used to attribute everything that happen to the same G-d. Otherwise they would try praying to a different god every time they asked for something they didn’t get. Or look for demons around every corner when something bad happened.
The bottom line is: we were told to “make progress” not “make everything like it was 4,000 years ago”. Abortion was OK in ancient times. Women had a 1 in 15 chance of dieing in childbirth. In the surrounding cultures, unwanted children were discarded in garbage fires, sold as sex slaves, or left to fend for themselves. Mohammed recounts the same horrors still going on in his lifetime.
Americans really do need to have a serious discussion about abortion policy. Our politics has been reduced to a pro-choice party and a pro-life party. Add a dose of religion and it goes from disagreeing to hating each other. If we could ever have the discussion based on science, compassion, shared ethics, etc., instead of the Bible, then I think we can form policy we can all live with.



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DG

posted February 11, 2009 at 10:23 am


To be considered “cherry picking” the author would have to cite at least 2-3 examples from the Bible to support his claims. Just one example taken out of context doesn’t mean anything. This blogger is just a rank amateur at writing and critical thinking.



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Brian

posted February 11, 2009 at 10:45 am


While the debate rages on, there is one thing that is irrefutable: The BABY in the womb has his/her own DNA; therefore 1- it is not the mothers choice to do with ‘her’ body what she wants, when its not her body at all, and 2- God loves everyone, and wants no one to perish. So please, don’t think twice- pray



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Gaarik Daruth

posted February 11, 2009 at 12:42 pm


2- God loves everyone, and wants no one to perish.
I would start by saying, “Which God?” but multiplicity is rarely accepted within the denominations of the Christian Church, whether in a single person or in divinity. When the Christian Church, or at least individuals within it, begins to accept multiple souls in one body, then we can have a discussion of God vs. Gods, but until then, you won’t have a clue as to what I am talking about.
What I will point out is that God, according to your own holy book, hates sin and is willing to wipe out sinners in order to eliminate it again and again. Noah’s Ark. Hell, the Quails in the desert. How about explaining why there are really only 2 tribes of Israel when we get to Jesus’ time period? (There is actually a great story about the destruction of the entire tribe of Benjamin, in which the children are specifically named as targets in the slaughter.) And these are the BELIEVERS. Even afterward, the Catholic (meaning Centralized) church justified murder of several groups, including the Cathars, for their sins and heresy. The Protestants and Catholics continued to kill each other for the same reasons. Finally, “The wages of sin is death.” I’m sure you’re familiar with that one.
God loves everyone? If love involves killing them off and punishing them for eternity, I want no part in it. These were people with their own DNA that were slaughtered time and again, supposedly at the will and word of God; taking into account the argument for original sin, why would God have any more sympathy for an unborn child? This is a human sympathy, and therefore a human choice, to have compassion or not for the fetus.
God loves everyone? God loves His own, and you hope and pray as a Christian that you’re not on the wrong side of that, because you don’t make that choice. He does.
-Gaarik, brother (in spirit) of Christos



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Jerrac

posted February 11, 2009 at 9:07 pm


“Thou shalt not kill.” Is KJV. Most of the time it is translated as “Do not murder.” The verses you quoted were not about people being murdered. They were the casualties of war. If you need to know the reasons for that war, read Exodus and Joshua. It’s pretty clear, but I’ll explain a bit here.
Also, the verses quoted are taken out of context. Under the old law, God punished sin by death. For the Israelites, this took the form of sacrifices. When the sinners were not repentant at all, they suffered the consequences. As for the nations God ordered Israel to slaughter, they were evil sinful nations that would lead Israel away from God if they were left there. God’s reasons for destroying them are explained very clearly in the Bible.
So those verses are not contradictory if you take the entire Bible into account.
I will admit that the word ‘abortion’ does not occur anywhere in the Bible. But, the Bible very clearly shows/states that God places value on what is in the womb. The verses from Exodus in the original post, and the verses from Psalms and Job prove that. Therefore, even if you can’t admit that it is an unborn, alive, baby, who are we to end what is in the womb? God has staked His claim on it.
Read this: http://www.ccel.us/AbortionandtheXian.Chap4.html It talks about how God considers even the unborn as human. Starting around page 40 or so.
In conclusion, it takes a radical misinterpretation of the Bible to say it doesn’t condemn abortion.



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Gus diZerega

posted February 11, 2009 at 9:11 pm


Quick response to Jerrac-
The point I made with regard to the verse you cited was to show it can be interpreted in very different ways. It is vague in its meaning since a half knit sweater by no stretch of the imagination is a sweater.
BTW, in the Hirshfield rebuttal in a more recent blog, someone sent in a very good and careful description of the meaning of the verse I cited. I am even more sure that it undermines any attempt to say the Bible can be reliably cited as condemning abortion as murder.
Gus



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Jerrac

posted February 11, 2009 at 9:29 pm


A quick quote from that link I found, to encourage you to read it… :D
” In the New Testament, Luke in particular is sensitive to the development of the unborn. In chapter 1, Elizabeth greets her visiting cousin Mary with these words: “Behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy” (Luke 1:44). Two elements are noteworthy here.
First, John the Baptist in his mother’s womb leaped for joy in response to Mary’s greeting. Human emotion is explicitly attributed to the unborn John. His mother Elizabeth was probably still in her sixth month, since it seems likely that Mary’s visit followed closely upon the announcement by the angel Gabriel (cf. Luke 1:36,39). Elizabeth’s statement should not be dismissed as poetic hyperbole, since Luke specifies that Elizabeth was speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:41). Furthermore, it is now well known that an unborn child can respond to touch at eight weeks and at 25 weeks can respond to human voices and feel pain and discomfort.[14] There is no scientific basis for precluding human emotion in John the Baptist at that stage of his prenatal life.
A second point worthy of note is the use of the term brephos to describe John in the womb. Elsewhere in the New Testament the same term is used freely of infants and the newly born (Luke 18:15; 1 Pet. 2:2; Acts 7:19). Here again we have language indicating an understood continuity between prenatal and postnatal existence.”
A final thought on why the Bible never specifically condemns abortion. Because it is VERY obvious that abortion is murder, God had no need to condemn it specifically.



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Jerrac

posted February 11, 2009 at 9:48 pm


I’ve been reading that page I linked to, and midway down, where it says page 50, it gives a detailed explanation of Exodus 21:22-25. Much clearer than anything I can come up with…



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Gus diZerega

posted February 12, 2009 at 12:05 am


Jerrac-
You continue to miss my point.
The quotes you offer are ambiguous. THAT is my major point regarding what you bring forward. That the texts you cite can be REASONABLY interpreted in different ways. They CAN be interpreted as you do. They can also be interpreted otherwise. Does a zygote leap for joy? I think not.
Why have years of Jewish readings indicated otherwise than you have? Why do many Christians disagree? THINK about it.
I have yet to read a half-way convincing argument that changes my reading of the passage I cited.
Let me be frank here – IF the Bible explicitly stated it was against abortion because it was murder, as a Pagan that would not change my mind on the subject. Not at all. Read literally, the Bible seems to endorse many things I find objectionable or absurd and certainly sincere Christians have done horrible things in its name.
But as a matter of simple fact, no such condemnation is explicitly made and the case I brought forward pretty clearly says otherwise, though it only discusses violently caused miscarriage, and not deliberate abortion.
It is arrogant to impose your views on others by force of law when your evidence is ambiguous and it impacts people’s lives so intimately. Set a good example and let God sort it out. Unless your God is so weak and insubstantial that he needs you to do his work because he can’t.
I use lower case because a god like that does not amount to much.



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Jerrac

posted February 12, 2009 at 10:47 am


Um, accidental, violent, miscarriage is extremely different from abortion… The only similarity is that a baby dies. Abortion is premeditated and deliberate. About as far from accidental as you can get. Hence why I was talking about how life begins at conception.
Have you read the link I posted? From your comment, I am unsure if you have. If you haven’t, it explains the Biblical support for life much better than I can, and you should read it.
As far as a zygote leaping for joy, I’ve always read that as John moving suddenly. Which, for a baby in a womb, is pretty much a leap.
Jewish readings disagreeing with Christian. Um, maybe because we are two different religions? We shouldn’t be, but non-Christian jews reject Jesus just the same as every other non-Christian. They no longer serve God.
I am not imposing my views on anyone. I have just be discussing them with you. Sure I would love to outlaw abortion, but that is no more imposing my views than me seeking for the speed limit to raised, or forbidding the death penalty.
Finally, the only way you can interpret the passage the way you have, is if you take it out of context, and seek to interpret it one way. It’s not ambiguous at all.
I have made the point about keeping things in context several times. If you have responded to it, would you point out where? I missed it… If you haven’t responded to it, please do so. Because no one who seriously reads the Bible will agree with your assertion unless you explain how it is true even in context.



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Simon

posted February 12, 2009 at 12:28 pm


Abortion. It’s one of those hot button issues that always generates a good back and forth. It’s a red herring though really. I mean heck, Bush won in 2004 on this very issue and then went on to save the lives of exactly no babies at all.



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Gus diZerega

posted February 12, 2009 at 1:36 pm


Jerrac-
I have read the stuff you linked to. Interesting discussion of the passage I cited. It suggests there are two differing interpretations, with the term “miscarriage” being a mistranslation and ‘premature live birth’ being the better translation. Translations are enormously difficult and many Christians have killed one another over different readings of a text originally written in a very different time and place – one big reason why I am no fan of sacred texts.
Your Name gave an orthodox Jewish interpretation of that passage in his/her reply to my response to Rabbi Hirschfield’s criticisms, in my blog a bit above this one. It supports pretty unambiguously my reading, but with much greater depth and sophistication. It helps to be part of a tradition many thousands of years old. I am sure you will reject it anyway.
I will leave it to scholars to fight that one out. BUT I think the entire idea of a premature live birth in those times is a bit of a stretch, a very long stretch, used to bring a troubling text into agreement with current dogma. Even today most premature births require modern medical technology to keep the premie alive, if it succeeds. The Jewish interpretation, by contrast, makes a lot of sense. The Bible likes to go on and on with rules and laws – and does not make what would appear to be a very obvious distinction here.
The most that can be said of your position is that the Bible is even more ambiguous than I thought it was. It CAN be read in the way you like. It can also be read DIFFERENTLY, as a great many Christians and apparently most Jews have.
Significantly, your own rebuttal is radically different from that passage you referred me to. You wrote: “The passage quoted in the OP is obviously referring to an accident. Which is why only a fine was required.” But the death penalty ALSO applied to the man who accidentally killed the woman. Intent is not what matters, outcome is. In the one case the outcome is a human death, in the other case the passage clearly indicates otherwise. Go back and read my original post!
I do not understand how you could miss this contradiction in your interpretation unless, as I suspect, you read scripture to find what you know (because you have been told) is already there. My entire argument hinged on the fact that the standards applied to the woman’s death were different than the standards applied to the fetus. Please go back to the careful description of that passage by Your Name.
As to my argument that the religious right and their allies consists of bad citizens intent on oppressing other Americas, you compare outlawing abortion with setting a speed limit or forbidding the death penalty. Nope. Here is why.
Forbidding the death penalty will make those who support it unhappy, but it will not actively infringe on their lives. We have to make a decision on punishing crimes, and any particular decision will make someone with a different view unhappy. In so far as we respect our fellow citizens, even if we disagree we will abide by their decision if it was made lawfully, and seek to persuade them to change their minds. I disagree with the death penalty and use rational arguments to try and persuade others to agree. But I am not personally oppressed by the death penalty.
Setting the speed limit will infringe on lives, but ANY speed limit will infringe on lives, and one has to be set somehow. Everyone will in principle be equally affected by the speed limit. Setting it democratically is probably the best way.
Abortion is different because it involves the woman’s control over her own body, and the kind of life she wants to have a chance to live. Using standards that cannot be proven scientifically, that cannot elicit agreement among people of good will who read the same text, from a text other people of good will do not regard as sacred, you would impose your beliefs on others over deeply personal matters that are basically none of your business. The matter is between the woman and God, if God wants to get involved. Further, when enforced abortion bans have often caused the death of the woman concerned. Still, you would outlaw abortion. So you are to that extent an active oppressor of people who have done you no harm.
This kind of attitude has repeatedly led to religious violence, as it has in this case. Doctors and nurses have been murdered, and there is no disagreement among any people of good will that they are human. Until 9-11, anti-abortion zealots were our worst domestic terrorists.
I am about done with responding to this post. I have said my piece and learned the Jewish community generally agrees with me and been given a guft of an orthodox interpretation of that passage, a valuable lesson, as they actually read the OT in Hebrew. You have shown me that even what appears straightforward in the King James version can be seen as murky, NOT clear. (Although when I read Your Name’s exegesis I am comforted with the KJV’s essential accuracy on THIS point.) All other passages cited are open to different interpretations as to when what starts as two cells from mother and father becomes a human being.



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Dan Babcock

posted February 12, 2009 at 11:06 pm


At what point Jesus become Human answers the abortion issue.At the moment of incarnation He would be God in the flesh. To kill that which is made in the image of God is the crime of murder.
To say that it isn’t is age old hardness of heart against God and man.
When man and woman have sexual union they become one flesh and are one in God.Let not man put them apart. If egg and sperm become one they recieve one eternal spirit from eternal God and cannot be killed except in the flesh.Since all sin is eternal the murderer becomes an
eternal murderer. This sin is only forgivable by Christ’s atonement on the Cross which we need to present to the Father.



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bob tapout

posted February 15, 2009 at 7:46 pm


Jeremiah 1:5
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,before you were born I set you apart
Proverbs6:16-19
One of the 6 things God hates is the hands that shed innocent blood.
If god knew you before he formed you in the womb, if he set you apart before before you were born, Than you must have been innocent from the time of conception.
You can not just read the bible, you have to be in the word and have knowledge of the spirit of the bible to understand it. I pray that the holy spirit comes upon you, Enlightens you, and brings wisdom to you as you read his word, and I pray that he brings you peace beyond human understanding.



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Mike Anderson

posted April 2, 2009 at 4:43 pm


Dude it is sad to see how dumb you are! I strongly recommend you find somone alot smarter than them and let them teach you. You don’t want to step out into eternity someday in your present mental condition. It won’t be pretty!



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Karleen

posted May 17, 2009 at 1:33 pm


Bob, In Jeremiah god is talking about making a prophet. He’s not regarding all fetuses as life, he’s talking about his plan to make a prophet, and then making him. You have to read the surrounding words to put it in context. I know that’s not what you want to do, but that’s how it’s supposed to be read.



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Loren

posted October 16, 2009 at 8:17 pm


First of all to end this, when God says not to sacrifice your children to Molech he means it…. Thus yes, it is a sin, to lie is a sin as well, so judge as you be judged but do not deny the word of God less you seek his wrath….



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Gus diZerega

posted October 17, 2009 at 8:40 pm


The rationality of your argument equals the rationality of your religion.



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LT

posted December 4, 2009 at 5:35 pm


As a heads up, I am pro-life and this is my stream of consciousness …
If abortion is permitted for women, then abortion should be allowed for men. How many men are scared to be fathers? How many men don’t want to be fathers but are forced to? Nobody feels any sympathy for these men. They can’t simply go to a clinic and “fix” the mistake. They have to, at the very least, pay child support for 21 years. And if a guy even thinks about complaining, the first thing out of everybody’s mouth is “you should have worn a condom.” It’s so ironic that nobody says the same to the woman. Especially because she doesn’t have to wait until she is in the moment to prevent pregnancy. And no, the super-majority of abortions are not because of rape (forcible or statutory), or incest – it’s pure consensual sex. If you can make it to the clinic for an abortion, why can’t you make it there for birth control? The double-standard is sickening. Personally, I think that only men who are married or divorced from the mother should be responsible. Unmarried men should have the choice of assuming paternal responsibility. Sure more unmarried may abort without child support, but at least everybody can have a “choice” and every child will be “wanted” because that’s what life is about – making bad decisions and asking everyone else to fix it. And don’t even let me start in on the number of repeat abortions. If abortion is so great, then why not let it be birth control? The fetus is not a life afterall so what’s the harm. People have ambulatory surgery all the time right? People have six kids, why not have six abortions like the women in Russia (their rates are ridiculously high). The fact that we have an upper limit on abortions, two, or three, or four, suggests that we all think it’s wrong on some level. It’s almost as if we give folks a pass for one or even two, but then when we hear a woman has three or four abortions watch how quickly you pro-choice people start to rally and call names. Be real. At the end of the day, just watch an abortion. Seriously, see what’s so harmless and so small. At three months see what comes out of that tube. Has anyone ever wondered why women (and couples) who miscarry are so shattered (even if it is at 3 months when it’s just a “fetus”)? It’s because there is a life inside. If you don’t believe just try it. I may be grossed out to see a doctor remove my kidney, or pull a tooth, or fix my nose during a rhinoplasty. But nothing, and I mean nothing, is more horrific than watching an abortion. What comes out is very little but you may be able to see arms, legs, and maybe even toes and fingers. It is an image that will stick in anyone’s mind forever and you will always wonder what could have become of this “fetus”? One thing’s for sure, I feel if women were required to witness their abortions and dispose of their fetuses the number of abortions would drop faster than s**t into a toilet ball. After that, I don’t think more kids would be born or aborted; on the contrary, people would be more careful about birth control. Sex is not free! That’s why we have marriage. Deal with the consequences or protect yourself, but don’t run. That’s a coward’s way out. Be honest with yourself – you all are cowards. I hate that line, I can’t have the baby and give it up for adoption, but I can have the abortion. Just watch what the doctor takes out of you. Or ask to see someone else’s abortion (if that’s even possible).
I know life get’s hard. Trust me. But watching an abortion will forever change anybody. I am not perfect. I am a sinner. So I am not judging any person, but I will judge this act of abortion. It is wrong. I do tons of wrong acts. But none of my wrong acts have interfered with ten toes and ten fingers. Let God judge at the end and may he have mercy.



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Matt

posted February 7, 2010 at 3:58 pm


Abortion fine Sir is obviously the ending of the capability of Life that God gave to all of His creatures. The gift to end that life is not one that God originally gave humanity. Humanity stole that power from God through sin (Cain and Able) through Adam and Eve. God allows us to murder things, but He does not Condone it… It is such a Pagan Abboration that God keeps Abraham from doing it…In a perfect test of faith in Abram’s Pagan language. It is so much not a question that brief mention is only given… I hope someday fine sir that you let go of the will to disbelieve…



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gus diZerega

posted February 7, 2010 at 4:42 pm


Can you provide any reason at all to believe that what you say is true rather than your opinion, given that I assume your pipeline to God is no better than mine, and I gave some Biblical quotations that are pretty clear.



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Tonya

posted March 10, 2010 at 11:13 pm


Johm leaped in the womb by the holy spirit!! This means something.He was alive!!! He was able to be touched by God’s spirit!!



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Gus diZerega

posted March 10, 2010 at 11:39 pm


Tonya-
WHEN did Jphn leap in the womb?
As a zygote? {retty far along?
Assuming the story is true – and nonChristians can be reasonably expected to ask for more than a brief Biblica; citation given contradictoru and ambiguous information, such as I recounted, it is very vague as to when. Mothers know that the fetus moves. The later in the pregnancy, the more. Those of us who see things as having a spiritual dimension can also accept that at some point a future being visits and perhaps begins to inhabit the fetal body. But at what point? Zygotes do not leap, that’s for sure.
Gus



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Mark

posted February 8, 2011 at 5:56 pm


There are a few places in the bible where unborn are mentioned, and *EVERY* place it happens, from Jacob and Esau right through to John the Baptist, the unborn children are spoken of about as human individuals while still in the womb. If unborn children were not human, the Bible would not speak of them as though they were. Further, the Bible talks many times about women *conceiving* children, not merely giving birth to them. If they are children at conception, then they are human at conception. I cannot see how one can claim to believe the Bible to be the inspired word of God and believe otherwise.
It thus follows that abortion involves the taking of a human life.
The number of cases for which killing a human being is actually allowed by God is relatively small and quite clearly defined, and rarely, if ever, does the actual reasons that people have for performing an abortion actually satisfy any of them. Trying to argue that nowhere in the Bible does it actually specifically condemn abortion as a means to justify it conveniently ignores the fundamental notion that the unborn baby is a human being, as much made in God’s image as any fully formed adult, and it follows that the attitudes that drive abortion simply do not respect that fact. Disrespect of the worth of a human being *IS* explicitly condemned in the Bible, both by Jesus himself as well as being echoed in some of the epistles.
And it’s worth noting that Jesus himself also had a few nasty words to say to the people of his own time who chose to try to follow the letter of the law, as given by Moses, without adhering to its spirit and intent. It seems to me that advocating abortion simply because it is not explicitly forbidden is choosing to put oneself in the same category as those that Jesus called hypocrites and serpents.
Of course, if you don’t believe the Bible in the first place, then why should it even matter what it does or does not say? Why should you feel that you have to prove to somebody whose beliefs that you don’t even share that they are wrong about something that you don’t even believe in the first place? Not only are you quite likely to be less of an authority on scripture than somebody who actually believes it, but you end up kinda sounding like you don’t know what you’re even talking about.



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Gus diZerega

posted February 8, 2011 at 7:39 pm


So Mark – your style of arguing is to completely ignore one passage discussed and make vague comments about others unmentioned and uncited, followed by whining that some of us do not accept the Bible in the first place.
Once many of us did.
Why don’t you demonstrate some interest in actually communicating and look at this site by someone who for a long time was a conservative Christian. I believe he understands the Bible a great deal more than you, given the content of his argument and of yours.
http://www.elroy.net/ehr/abortionanswers.html
Then come back if you want. But don’t waste our time if you will not address our arguments.



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Pingback: Does the Old Testament De-Value Fetuses? - Steven Waldman

saronne

posted February 24, 2012 at 8:25 pm


I wouldn’t disagree re the bible, but even infanticide was permitted under Roman law.

When you abort a fetus that might very well be viable, what else is it but murder? We read all the time about some woman smothering her child at birth, or putting a live baby in a plastic bag to smother, etc- and if she is caught she is tried for murder. How can this be any different?

I am a Dem, pro-environment, and the care of the baby both before and after birth- with our taxes, if necessary. And if mothers can’t-or-won’t- pay for their care, the state has to take over with funding.

Again, protection of babies was almost a non-issue in the Bible, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t progressed into appropriate action- and compassion.



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Damian Grasso

posted March 19, 2012 at 3:54 am


22If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.

23And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life,

24Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,

25Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

Nice try, I think there’s a reason this isn’t mentioned in the text. Sorry mate, but you should put the verse on the page so we can make up our own minds.



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Dan

posted October 12, 2012 at 11:07 am


Don’t worry too much on the debate. You will find out the truth and answer (already in GOD’S WORD, Thou shalt not kill. When you stand before the Lord after you die. Everyone knows that unborn child is a human being. You’ll find out, don’t worry.



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Gabby

posted January 15, 2013 at 2:11 am


The Hebrew “yeled yatsa” in Exodus 21:22-25 does NOT mean “miscarriage”. But rather simply “premature birth”…literally “children coming out”. Not necessarily as “dead”. Some English Bibles have it as “miscarriage”, but that is a MIS-TRANSLATION. That’s not what the Hebrew expression actually necessarily means. But rather simply the children or fruit coming out. And in this context it’s obviously in a PRE-MATURE TIME AND WAY. So as it says in the KJV, NKJV, and NWT….

“And in case men should struggle with each other and they really hurt a pregnant woman and HER CHILDREN COME OUT (“yeled yatsa”), but no fatal accident occurs (this was referring to the no fatal accident occurring TO THE CHILDREN COMING OUT…NOT to the woman!!!, as so many biased and sloppy people have wrongly thought, for idiotic agendas….It doesn’t say the words “to the woman”…and the overall context was the fetus inside the mother, not really the mother herself), he is to have damages imposed upon him without fail according to to what the owner of the woman (her husband) may lay upon him; and he must give it through the justices. 23 But if a fatal accident should occur (again, TO THE BABY…BECAUSE IT WAS NOT THE MOTHER BEING REFERRED THERE), then you must give soul for soul.”

the word for actual \miscarriage (Hebrew sakal) is not used here. Sakal is used some 23 times in the Old Testament; sometimes it is rendered as “miscarry” in the NIV but always — invariably — it refers to childlessness.

Why wasn’t “sakal” used in Exodus 21:22, kiddo? Because “yeled yatsa” simply describes a PRE-MATURE birth…either dead or alive. Not necessarily a still birth, per se.

The problem is that pro-Abortion so-called “Christians”, who idiotically desperately use this text to try to somehow defend abortion rights miss a couple of things.

Number one: “miscarriage” was NOT the word there, in Verse 22 of Exodus 21, and it’s a MIS-TRANSLATION in SOME English Bibles (put together, no doubt, by people who are easy on the abortion practice)…but the Hebrew words “yeled yatsa” simply means “children coming out”…meaning “PRE-MATURE BIRTH”.

Number two: And IF that “pre-mature birth” turned out to be ok, with “no fatal accident” (NOT to the mother, but to the BABY, as again the words “to the mother” are not there, so people need to stop hallucinating those words there, when they just aint there…and the FETUS was the context…sighs), then the man had to pay a FINE AND RESTITUTION imposed (so even if the baby didn’t die, even if it came out ok but prematurely THAT STILL GOT PUNISHED!!!

Number three: When it says in verse 23 “but if a fatal accident should occur” it’s referring, again, TO THE BABY…not NOT NOT to the mother. Because the overall point and question in these two Verses was the pregnancy and the baby “coming out prematurely”.

Number four: LOL…let’s just say it happens to be the way that pro-Abortion desperados say it is in those two Verses, that it was a “miscarriage” that only warranted a “fine and restitution”…and that when it says “fatal accident”, it was referring only to the mother, and not the baby. Let’s just say it’s that way, for the sake of argument (even though it doesn’t say that, because the Hebrew was not “miscarriage”, and also it doesn’t say specifically the words “to the mother” regarding fatal accident…but just for arguments’ sake)…this is the problem with the pro-abortion people and phony “Christians”, regarding this. Even if it was a “miscarriage” that warranted simply some fines and penalties, THAT WOULD STILL MAKE THE LIFE OF A FETUS IMPORTANT AND THE TAKING OF IT, EVEN ACCIDENTALLY, SOMETHING FROWNED UPON, AND WARRANTING AT LEAST SOME FORM OF PUNISHMENT!!!! Meaning that even IF those Verses say what pro-abortion phony Christians say it does, THAT WOULD STILL (lol ) make taking the life of a human fetus WRONG!!!!

Number five: but it doesn’t say “miscarriage” (those English Bible versions that have it that way are a joke, and are not rendering the Hebrew correctly there, as again, “yered yatsa” means “children coming out”…not necessarily as “dead”…not necessarily as “still births”…but simply premature births…either dead or alive.) And also, a little later in the Verses, it doesn’t say the words “to the mother” when it says “if a fatal accident should occur”. So how can you say dogmatically that when it says “fatal accident” that the mother for sure is in question? Why can’t “fatal accident” being referring to the fetus? Because you wrongly think that earlier when it said “children coming out” that that’s a miscarriage still birth already…but the problem is that that’s not what the Hebrew means or says. It’s PRE-mature birth, dead or alive, that was in question. And IF that premature birth turns out to be a “fatal accident”…guess what? THAT MAN WHO DID IT EVEN ACCIDENTALLY……GETS PUT TO DEATH!!!!!!

Number six: Also, there are plenty of other Verses in the Bible (even admitted by people like Tom Head, who is wrong in thinking the word is “miscarriage”, but rightly knows that Biblically personhood began before birth), like while Rebekah is pregnant with the twins Esau and Jacob, for example, Genesis 25:22 states that “the children struggled together within her.” Likewise, when Elizabeth (pregnant with John the Baptist) meets the Virgin Mary, “the child leaped in her womb” (Luke 1:41). One of the most frequently cited passages in the abortion debate is Psalm 139:13, which addresses God with the statement that “you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”

And again, in Exodus 21:22-25, if a man even ACCIDENTALLY brought a “fatal accident” TO THE UNBORN PREMATURE BABY…he’d be executed. Yikes. Abortion of an unborn baby is murder in the Bible. Read it honestly, carefully, and accept it, deal with it, and get over it already. And stop the sloppy nonsense, desperation, and outright lying already.



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Joshua Tilghman

posted January 19, 2013 at 8:57 am


Gus,

You’re right on this one. I have scoured the Bible looking for something on abortion when I was still in the church. I actually wanted to find proof that the Bible taught against it, but I never could find a verse that was definitive.



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Kathy

posted February 4, 2013 at 9:41 am


Thou shalt not kill. It’s a commandment. An abortion is killing a fetus. A living, growing baby and not a bunch of tissue.



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matt

posted March 18, 2013 at 1:39 pm


does the bible not say life starts at conception?

and does the bible not say “do not murder”?



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Gus diZerega

posted March 18, 2013 at 1:49 pm


Kathy and Matt- I no longer write for Beliefnet. Thou shalt not kill refers to human beings. The passage I quoted in the Bible, plus years and years of Jewish interpretation of what it means, suggests you are wrong. And no Matt, it does not say that human life starts at conception.



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Ty

posted March 7, 2014 at 5:23 pm


Some Christians try to flip it and say the verse means “premature birth”, band that if the baby dies, then the eye for an eye verses applies. But this is totally wrong, because it also says tooth for a tooth, but babies don’t have teeth!!!, thus those verses apply to the woman not the baby. Also, how can a pregnant woman have premature birth from getting beat up? She can have a miscarriage. Duh.



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childon

posted March 28, 2014 at 1:51 am


Our body is the temple of GOD,we should not commit murder in condition,What in a process to abort the child and the girl lose her life [who to blame



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Gus diZerega

posted March 28, 2014 at 1:37 pm


I am always impressed in a depressed sort of way with how those claiming to speak for God and the Bible completely ignore any argument that the book says something different from what they believe. The arrogance of those who claim to be able to understand God so much better than anyone else that they do not need to even address alternative perspectives seems to me to take pride to a breathtaking height.



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Leida Charleston

posted October 6, 2014 at 10:08 am


great blog :)!



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