I saw your comments yesterday, but did not have the time or energy to enter into a conversation that will almost certainly be two ships passing in the night. I will share what I consider faulty in your arguments, but then I want to express my central concern at the end of this post.
Nowhere in the Bible does it say, “Thou shall not have an abortion.” The biblical case against abortion is extremely weak which is why opponents are reduced to using Psalms about God knowing us in the womb, or begging the question by presuming that every reference to murder is a condemnation of abortion as well.
“Telescoping” is the practice of projecting modern concepts onto ancient texts. So the opponents of Galileo were able to “prove” the earth does not orbit the sun treating ancient poems as if they were scientific. It is the same error to take poems not directly addressing abortion and using them as “proof.”
Another exhausting technique is called “dump trucking” which means to dump a bunch of scripture passages and force your opponent to refute them all. You listed a bunch of passages, but only three remotely approach the topic at hand -Psalm 139:13-16, Jeremiah 1:4-5 (saying God knows us in the womb) and Ex. 21:22-25)
You claimed that your opponents don’t care about scripture, but I have studied scripture my entire adult life in Greek and Hebrew which is why I can point out the emptiness of your argument. The idea that our souls enter the body at conception comes from Aristotle, not scripture. The word for “soul” or “spirit” means “breath” in Hebrew and the ancient Rabbi’s (before Greek influences) generally held that personhood begins at birth.
The two passages about God knowing us in the womb say nothing about the question of when personhood begins. God also knows the chick in the egg, but that doesn’t make it a person. We misuse the text when we twist it out of context and claim it is making a scientific claim. This was the error of Galileo’s opponents.
Finally, you quoted Exodus 21:22-25 which seems to make your case, but the text can be read in different ways. The NRSV quotes the passage in a way that sounds to say the fetus does not have personhood status. In that translation, injuring a woman should be punished by an eye for an eye, but inducing a miscarriage should be punished by a fine.
“22 When people who are fighting injure a pregnant woman so that there is a miscarriage, and yet no further harm follows, the one responsible shall be fined what the woman’s husband demands, paying as much as the judges determine. 23 If any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.”
If you look at the rest of the chapter it talks about slaves and women as property. I may love scripture, but I don’t want to bring that horror back to life in modern jurisprudence. There is much in the Bible that would be abhorrent if applied today.
So my three concerns can be summarized as follows: I do not accept your biblical interpretation, I do not accept your claim to be judge of other peoples’ lives, and I don’t want to live in the theocracy for which you advocate.
Thank you, Jim, well said.
As an Agnostic, I appreciate your refuting this with your knowledge of scripture. As a woman, I thank you for your kindness and thoughtful comments.
Yes, Jim, I agree with you. Thank you for your knowledge and your words.
Thank you for using the phrase “begging the question” correctly. 🙂
Hello, there! While I have not read the original post that spawned this response, I would ask that we might consider a few other scriptures for the sake of building our biblical insight into this subject. I do not wish to cause argument, but I do feel this is an important subject and that we all need to look deeply into the Word and heart of God and see what truths can be applied to abortion. While abortion was not a big topic in the Bible, and so not actually “mentioned” by word in the Bible, let us consider that the correct response to it can be inferred by what is taught in the Word of God.
Going back to what you have mentioned about Exodus 21:22-25, you said that in the NRSV, it refers to the birth as a “miscarriage.” However, I have read that the translation of that verse from Hebrew says, “…so that her fruit depart.” This would seem to go along with the ESV’s translation that says, “…so that her children come out.” I do not know Hebrew, so I do not know if this translation is perfectly correct, but I would hope that it is close.
My other thought is how we are to defend the rights of the “needy” in Proverbs 31:8. While I know you might say this is talking about those who are poor, I did find a translation of the Hebrew which says this: “Open thy mouth for the dumb, in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction.” Again, this may come down to a translation thing, but if that truly is based on the closest translation we have of the Hebrew, then it should be considered.
Most people can choose how likely they are to get pregnant in the first place. When they cannot choose, such as in the case of rape, perhaps that baby is the only blessing to come out of it. Perhaps they are to bless another family who cannot have a baby with the only good thing to come out of that situation. Perhaps it is selfish for a person to consider first their own rights, choices, and desires.
I found a translation of the Hebrew for Psalms 139:16 which states, “Thine eyes did see mine unformed substance, and in Thy book they were all written even the days that were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.’ If God knows our days while we are yet unformed, it sounds to me like we are pretty important to Him at every stage of our being, even as a fetus. Oh! How much God loves us! If only we could love others like that.
Please take no offense to my ramblings! I do not think I personally will change your mind; however, if God wishes to change any of our minds on this subject, may we be willing to allow Him to do so! It is good to see that you are looking to His Word for truth; may you continue to strive for His understanding as you look to His perfect Word to guide you.