Religion and Abortion

The following, reproduced upon request, was published in an online debate about the abortion issue. This is a reply to a message that stated that the Bible shows God to be pro-choice.

Your interpretation of the Bible is incorrect, and you ignore several areas where the Bible discusses the unborn. Let’s start at the beginning. You claim that Psa. 139 is discussing someone who is not a human being, not a soul, “unformed”. You assume the “breath of life” had not yet been given to David, without proof. The scripture’s use of personal pronouns (“I” and “me”) certainly suggests that it was David, and not a mass of tissue, whom God was intimately involved with. But Psa. 139 is not the only scripture dealing with the unborn, there are many that give us an idea of how God would feel about abortion. One of the most important scriptures concerning the unborn is Psa. 51:5 — “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” David is relating his sinfullness to the very beginning of his existence and development, showing his “history” began in the womb, not at birth. Even as an embryo, morality and spirituality applied to David.

The next verse further clarifies matters:. 51:6 — “Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me know wisdom.” Scholars interpret the Hebrew words for “inward parts” (tehoth) and “hidden part” (satem) as meaning the womb, not David’s body. They interpret this way because of the close connection between verses 6 and 5, which clearly refers to conception and by comparing verse 6 with Psa. 139:15, where similar poetic language refers to God’s activities in the womb. All of these verses indicate that David felt his relationship to God began at conception.

There is more. Luke 1:44 provides us with some of the strongest New Testament evidence of the personality of the fetus. The unborn John “leaped for joy” when Mary and the unborn Jesus entered the room. Clearly, the unborn John was capable of feeling emotion (joy) and acting on that feeling. Since Elizabeth was speaking under the influence of God’s holy spirit (Luke 1:41), this incident cannot be dismissed as hyperbole. Scientifically, there is no evidence for precluding human emotion in the unborn John, since unborn children can respond to human voices and feel pain and discomfort as early as 25 weeks. The verse also provides more clues. The unborn John is here called “brephos”, a term also used freely to describe infants and the newly born (neonates) at Luke 18:15, 1 Pet. 2:2, and Acts 17:19, then goes on to discuss the “breath of life”, which you claim MUST be given to man by God at some point after conception, and then “ensoulment” occurs.

But the Bible does not agree, in fact, the Bible does not state that God himself gives the “breath of life” to every man directly, scripture indicates that the “breath of life” originally given to Adam passes from man to man. For example, lets take a look at Eve. The Bible does not say God gave the “breath of life” to Eve. No, the Bible says God took the rib from Adam and formed Eve. Likewise, all of us are formed by God at conception, nothing is added to the unborn after conception, what he has is just developed further. There is more evidence that “the breath of life” is a continuum, that it passes from man to man. At Genesis 5:3, the Bible says Adam “begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth”. In verse 1, there is a reference to man’s creation in the likeness of God. Verse 3 makes it quite evident that the “likeness” is passed down from man to man, not individually given by God to each and every person. A personal continuity between father and son is here linked to the bodily existence of Seth, his sexuality (which concurs with the biological fact that the father determines the sex) and his prenatal life.

You might think it blasphemous to suggest that what God began is passed on by man, but the Bible clearly shows otherwise. Job 3:3, Job uses the term “man-child” (Hebrew-geber) in connection with conception. Job, like David, does not trace his personal history back to birth, but to conception, showing that the same person who refused to curse God existed in the womb, there is a continuity. Birth is not a breaking point, conception is where the line is drawn. The Hebrew word used by Job also shines a light on this matter. Job does not refer to himself in abstract terms like “product of conception”, he refers to himself in the concrete language we use when referring to humans. “Geber” is generally used postnatally, and is translated “man, husband, or male” (Ps. 34:9; 52:9; 94:12; Prov. 6:34), yet Job applies this “human” term from the moment of conception.. 25:22 provides us with clear evidence of the fact that even the unborn can be called by God. Jacob and Esau’s struggle, which began according to this scripture in the womb, continues postnatally. And God here elects Jacob, before his birth.

We see this again at Jer. 1:5, where God says he appointed Jeremiah prophet before he was born, in the womb. In Judges 13:2-7 we see God consecrating Samson before birth, at Isa. 49:1,5 we see the same applies to Jesus (also Gal. 1:15), and at Luke 1:13-17 we see it applies to John as well. You equate the experience of Ezekiel with that of the average man, but there is no parallel. Here, we see Ezekiel LOST the breath of life (he died), so it had to be put back into his body. This is a different circumstance than the one the unborn finds himself in. The unborn is like Seth, before his birth, where the “image of God” was passed on.

You move onto Exo. 21:22-25, often misunderstood because of mistranslation. “When men strive together, and hurt a woman with child, so that there is a miscarriage, and yet no harm follows, the one who hurt her shall be fined, according as the woman’s husband shall lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.” This is how the KJV and the NIV render this verse:”If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follows, he shall surely be punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. 23) And if any mischief follows, then thou shalt give life for life. . . .” The “miscarriage” translation is an inaccurate one, the scripture refers to an early birth, not a miscarriage. The verb translated “depart” or “come out” (yatsa)usually refers to live birth (and in one place, to a stillbirth, but a birth nonetheless), not miscarriage (see Gen. 25:25-26; 35:11; 38:28-30; Exod. 1:5; Deut. 28:57; 2 Sam. 16:11; 1 Chron. 1:12; Job 1:21; 3:11; Eccles. 5:15; Jer. 20:18).

In verse 22, the child is born alive and uninjured (albeit prematurely), but the woman is fatally injured. In such case the husband must be monetarily compensated. Verse 23 refers to injuries to the child, not the mother, and in this case monetary compensation can substitute for the forfeiture of life, as this is negligent manslaughter (see, for example, the case of the goring ox of Exo. 21:29,30).see, the Hebrew word for “hurt” or “smite” (nagaph) can refer to fatal divine judgements (1 Sam. 25:38; 26:10) or to slaughter in battle (Judg. 20:35, 1 Sam. 4:3). In Exo. 21:35, the term is used to describe the fatal attack of one ox by another, goring ox. Thus, we have good reason to believe the injury suffered by the mother is a fatal one, whereas the child born is not fatally injured (as the scripture says). This is why I said that verse 22 referred to a fatal accident suffered by the mother. But verse 23 cannot also be referring to a fatal accident suffered by the mother (that makes no sense), so it is obviously referring to a fatal injury to the child. Scripture shows exactly the opposite of what you said. The unborn child had equal status in the law with the mother.

In response to Hosea 9:14,16, the Bible has quite a few instances of God killing born children. Does this justify our committing infanticide or even killing adolescent children? No, but it does show that God gives life, and only he can determine if it is to be taken away. We are not to take the place of God, as we do with abortions. That is the true blasphemy as far as the Bible in concerned, the soul and the flesh are complementary aspects of a unified being, they are not separate. Accordingly, the bible says Adam “BECAME a living soul”, not “WAS GIVEN a living soul”. Man does not have a body, he is a body. Man does not have a soul, he is a soul. The unborn child is a body, and a soul, which has a personal relationship with God, as evidenced by scripture.

Danielle Petty