Like many people of mine and previous generations, I was taught that in no uncertain terms, abortion is murder in God’s eyes. Life is precious from the moment of conception onwards. Unlike many other ‘Christians’, I was also taught it is not my place to judge other people or condemn them for their actions. I was taught, and still believe, people should act out of love and charity toward other persons.
These teachings caused me to be Anti-Abortion but Pro-Choice.
When SCOTUS saw fit to impose a small group of religious fundamentalists’ opinion on the structure of American society, I had conflicting emotions. On one hand, in my mind, abortions were bad, so less of them would be a good thing, but I wondered what about a woman’s health? That is just as important. On the other hand, imposing a ‘christian’ religious decision on a population that is clearly not majority Christian is dangerous and wrong, and is a slap in the face of precedent.
When several religious leaders, Jewish, Muslim and Christian filed various lawsuits (see florida-clergy-lawsuits-say-abortion-ban-violates-religious-freedom-2022-08-02/) claiming that denying the right to abortion was a violation of their religious liberties, I was perplexed. How could that be, I wondered? I know the Bible. I’m ordained. I spent five years in a Theocratic Ministry School. I spent several years as a full-time domestic missionary. I’m the author of a series of Bible study guides (see Knowing God.) What have I missed, I wondered?
I went back to research and studying and had an epiphany – what I was taught was a lie. Allow me to explain.
When Jesus was alive, the termination of a fetus was legal and common in the Roman Empire. Abortions were performed for numerous reasons: for family limitation, in cases of adultery, and out of a concern for health (see https://oxfordre.com/ for more detail.) Therefore, it would seem obvious that Jesus and his Apostles would speak out against the practice if it was proscribed in God’s law, but they never mentioned it once.
What about the myriad of laws written in the ‘Old Testament’, or Hebrew Scriptures? There the Bible must teach that abortion is a sin, or so I thought.
In the book of Numbers, 5: 11-31, God directs that if a woman is suspected of adultery, she is made to drink a concoction that will cause her womb to swell and her hips, groin, and lower abdomen to waste away. Obviously had she been pregnant, she would no longer be and will no longer be able to have any children. Is this a case of aborting a fetus? (See https://biblehub.com/lexicon/numbers/5 for the Hebrew - English translation.) It would seem to be.
There is also a law in Exodus 21 that states if a pregnant woman is accidentally injured during a fight, and the fetus is then mis-carried the offender must pay a fine. If the woman is killed also, then the offender must pay with his life. Here a clear difference is made in the status between the fetus and the life of a woman (see https://www.biblegateway.com/.)
During the creation of Adam ritual, Adam’s life began when God blew the breath of life into him, when Adam took his first breath. This seems to indicate that, for the Bible, life begins when a child is born and starts breathing, not at conception as so many of us have been taught.
I know this journey of mine to the belief that abortion is not against God’s law was a heavy one to follow, and I’ve written of it only to show that many of us were mis-taught the Bible’s actual teachings, and to show my own path to my belief, not to change yours.
There is one last thought I would like to leave you with from the Bible that would seem to say that a birth isn’t all that important: “The day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth,” Ecclesiastes 7:1.