The ‘biblical view’ that’s younger than the Happy Meal

In 1979, McDonald’s introduced the Happy Meal.

Sometime after that, it was decided that the Bible teaches that human life begins at conception.

Ask any American evangelical, today, what the Bible says about abortion and they will insist that this is what it says. (Many don’t actually believe this, but they know it is the only answer that won’t get them in trouble.) They’ll be a little fuzzy on where, exactly, the Bible says this, but they’ll insist that it does.

That’s new. If you had asked American evangelicals that same question the year I was born you would not have gotten the same answer.

That year, Christianity Today — edited by Harold Lindsell, champion of “inerrancy” and author of The Battle for the Bible — published a special issue devoted to the topics of contraception and abortion. That issue included many articles that today would get their authors, editors — probably even their readers — fired from almost any evangelical institution. For example, one article by a professor from Dallas Theological Seminary criticized the Roman Catholic position on abortion as unbiblical. Jonathan Dudley quotes from the article in his book Broken Words: The Abuse of Science and Faith in American Politics. Keep in mind that this is from a conservative evangelical seminary professor, writing in Billy Graham’s magazine for editor Harold Lindsell:

God does not regard the fetus as a soul, no matter how far gestation has progressed. The Law plainly exacts: “If a man kills any human life he will be put to death” (Lev. 24:17). But according to Exodus 21:22-24, the destruction of the fetus is not a capital offense. … Clearly, then, in contrast to the mother, the fetus is not reckoned as a soul.

Christianity Today would not publish that article in 2012. They might not even let you write that in comments on their website. If you applied for a job in 2012 with Christianity Today or Dallas Theological Seminary and they found out that you had written something like that, ever, you would not be hired.

At some point between 1968 and 2012, the Bible began to say something different. That’s interesting.

Even more interesting is how thoroughly the record has been rewritten. We have always been at war with Eastasia.

Click over to Dr. Norman L. Geisler’s website and you’ll find all the hallmarks of a respected figure in the evangelical establishment. You’ll see that Geisler has taught at Trinity Evangelical Seminary, Dallas Seminary and Southern Evangelical Seminary. You’ll see a promotion for his newest book, Defending Inerrancy, with recommendations from such evangelical stalwarts as Al Mohler and J.I. Packer, as well as a link to an online store offering some of the other dozens of books written by Geisler. And you’ll see a big promo for the anti-abortion movie October Baby, because Geisler is, of course, anti-abortion, just like Mohler and Packer and every other respected figure in the evangelical establishment is and, of course, must be.

But back in the day, Dudley notes, Geisler “argued for the permissibility of abortion in a 1971 book, stating ‘The embryo is not fully human — it is an undeveloped person.'” That was in Ethics: Alternatives and Issues, published by Zondervan. It’s still in print, kind of, as Christian Ethics: Contemporary Issues and Options. And now it says something different. Now it’s unambiguously anti-abortion.

I don’t mean to pick on Geisler. He’s no different from Packer or Graham or any other leading evangelical figure who’s been around as long as those guys have. They all now believe that the Bible teaches that life begins at conception. They believe this absolutely, unambiguously, firmly, resolutely and loudly. That’s what they believed 10 years ago, and that’s what they believed 20 years ago.

But it wasn’t what they believed 30 years ago. Thirty years ago they all believed quite the opposite.

Again, that’s interesting.

I heartily recommend Dudley’s book for his discussion of this switch and the main figures who brought it about — Francis Schaeffer, Jerry Falwell, Richard Viguerie, etc. But here I just want to quote one section about the strangeness of this 180-degree turn, and how it caught many evangelicals off-guard:

By the mid-1980s, the evangelical right was so successful with this strategy that the popular evangelical community would no longer tolerate any alternative position. Hence, the outrage over a book titled Brave New People published by InterVarsity Press in 1984. In addition to discussing a number of new biotechnologies, including genetic engineering and in vitro fertilization, the author, an evangelical professor living in New Zealand, also devoted a chapter to abortion. His position was similar to that of most evangelicals 15 years prior. Although he did not believe the fetus was a full-fledged person from conception, he did believe that because it was a potential person, it should be treated with respect. Abortion was only permissible to protect the health and well-being of the mother, to preclude a severely deformed child, and in a few other hard cases, such as rape and incest.

Although this would have been an unremarkable book in 1970, the popular evangelical community was outraged. Evangelical magazines and popular leaders across the country decried the book and its author, and evangelicals picketed outside the publisher’s office and urged booksellers to boycott the publisher. One writer called it a “monstrous book.” … The popular response to the book — despite its endorsements from Carl F.H. Henry, the first editor of Christianity Today, and Lew Smedes, an evangelical professor of ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary — was so overwhelmingly hostile that the book became the first ever withdrawn by InterVarsity Press over the course of nearly half a century in business.

The book was republished a year later by Eerdmans Press. In a preface, the author noted, “The heresy of which I appear to be guilty is that I cannot state categorically that human/personal life commences at day one of gestation. This, it seems, is being made a basic affirmation of evangelicalism, from which there can be no deviation. … No longer is it sufficient to hold classic evangelical affirmations on the nature of biblical revelation, the person and work of Christ, or justification by faith alone. In order to be labeled an evangelical, it is now essential to hold a particular view of the status of the embryo and fetus.”

The poor folks at InterVarsity Press, Carl Henry, Lewis Smedes and everyone else who was surprised by the totality of this reversal, by its suddenness and the vehemence with which it came to be an “essential” and “basic affirmation of evangelicalism” quickly got on board with the new rules.

By the time of the 1988 elections, no one any longer spoke sarcastically of “the heresy” of failing to “state categorically that human/personal life commences at day one of gestation.” By that time, it was simply viewed as an actual heresy. By the time of the 1988 elections, no one was aghast that a strict anti-abortion position was viewed as of equal — or greater — importance than one’s views of biblical revelation or the work of Christ. That was just a given.

By the time of the 1988 elections, everyone in American evangelicalism was wholly opposed to legal abortion and everyone in American evangelicalism was pretending that this had always been the case.

We have always been at war with Eastasia. Everyone knows that.

 

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  • Sue

    Growing up as a Catholic kid in the fifties and sixties, I was always puzzled by why our moms added a year onto our age all the time; at someone’s sixth birthday they’d say, “Happy seventh birthday.” Only later did I realize that they were counting our birthdays from the moment of conception (give or take three months!). So although I appreciate this historical lens here very much, I can say it’s certainly not the case that no one, pre-79, was arguing that life began at conception.

  • P J Evans

    But the way your mother and her friends did it was not the way everyone else did it, and they probably weren’t trying to force it on others.

  • Amaryllis

     I grew up in that era too, in an almost entirely Catholic neighborhood. And I never heard of that custom. That is, I’ve heard of it in other countries, cultures, and religions, but not at the Eastern U.S. Catholic birthday parties of my youth.

    And no one is denying that the Catholic Church, pre-1979, was against abortion. But Catholics, as several people have noted already, don’t rely solely on the Bible for doctrine, as some groups of Protestants claim to do.

    So when, post-1979, conservative Evangelicals formed a political alliance with conservative Catholics, abortion served nicely as a focus issue, uniting two groups which had historically been at odds and serving as as rallying point in their combined push-back against social change. It thus became important for sola Scriptura Evangelicals, bound up in the idea of “Biblical inerrancy,” to find Biblical justification for taking a side on a issue which had previously been considered debatable. And they’re using the same verses which were previously seen to indicate that a fetus is not equivalent to an actual human being, and interpreting them to mean that a fetus is more important than an actual human being. That is, if you concede that women are human. Which, in this year of grace, is apparently also considered debatable.

    As an Evangelical himself, this kind of intellectual dishonesty and blatant historical revisionism gets up Fred’s nose. And who could blame him: lies by definition are a bad witness.

  • http://ellenpainterdollar.com/ Ellen Painter Dollar

    Thank you for this post, which was emailed to me by a whole bunch of people who know that I was fired from a blogging position with Christianity Today for being pro-choice (views that I never explicitly wrote about for CT, but that I wrote about elsewhere). I’m writing about your post and pointing readers toward it on my own Patheos blog on Monday. Thanks.

  • Amaryllis

    Lunch Meat, if you’re still reading:
    I haven’t been paying attention to this thread for the last several days; I’ve been sick and it was too depressing to deal with. But I got drawn in again this morning.

    And I only logged in so that I could belatedly “Like” all your comments.

     

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    *offers tea* Feel better, Amaryllis!

  • Amaryllis

     Thank you!

    * sips tea *

    In fact, I feel much better. But it’s been a sickly winter around here. I’m more than ready for Spring.

  • Rami Kuttaineh

    The question is, how can any society be remade so that individuals: mothers, fathers and all potential parents can feel it is safe enough to have children without life for themselves ending?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Basically, it literally does take a village to raise a child. The informal social-support networks that functioned like a big babysitting club doesn’t exist anymore, and we need to replace this with broad-based pre-kindergarten child care with a high carer to child ratio, coupled with easy access to good food for children at reasonable prices. That’s just for starters. There’s so much more – better schooling, better doctors, better health care, and on and on.

    Basically reinstating the old-style village-level support network with a modern social safety net type system that puts children first in action and deed instead of just in words and bafflegabs of anti-choice politicians.

  • Sarah Sponda

    I think about the fact that abortion has been going on for thousands of years (obviously not in a medical sense, but through the use of many other methods), yet neither the Law or the prophets or Jesus himself felt it was important to mention that those practices should be stopped.

  • David Feuer

    I find it rather interesting that Jewish law has, literally for centuries, made fine distinctions between the different phases of pregnancy and different situations where abortion might be desirable or necessary in determining whether one should be performed. Jewish authorities universally agree that it is not only permitted but required if necessary to save the mother’s life.

  • NotYou

    It’s an interesting perspective to consider the more than half of conceptions that end in miscarriage as “God’s abortions.”

  • Anonymous

    As a 19 year old student in California I worked over the summer in the office of an oby/gyn in the Valley (a relative was the office manager). A few weeks after starting, Reagan signed the legislation making abortion legal in that state. The very next day we had our first patient seeking an abortion — a 12 year old girl who had been impregnated by a 20 year old neighbor (who, as her father, with deep pain and anger would relate, the authorities refused to charge with rape). The doctor asked me to sit in while he interviewed the girl and her parents (mostly her parents). At that point, raised a Catholic, I was ambivalent about the abortion issue. That experience, still vididly impressed on my mind after all these years, changed that. I will never forget this little girl, swallowed up in a large wing chair, her feet not touching the floor, playing with a small plastic toy she had brought with her, as the adults talked. Her parents spoke about their pain and their faith — they were devout “born again” Christians. They talked about how they had prayed over their decision for weeks, together, alone, AND WITH THEIR PASTOR. They felt that they had received an answer directly from God. As a Catholic, I didn’t believe in such direct intercession — but as an American, I thought my personal religious beliefs could not trump the religious freedom of others, especially in a decision so personal and important. I still think abortion is an issue of religious freedom — even if many Evangelicals no longer do.  

  • Dave

    As the early Christian writer Tertullian pointed out, the law of Moses ordered strict penalties for causing an abortion. We read, “If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely [Hebrew: “so that her child comes out”], but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot” (Ex. 21:22–24). 

    This applies the lex talionis or “law of retribution” to abortion. The lex talionis establishes the just punishment for an injury (eye for eye, tooth for tooth, life for life, compared to the much greater retributions that had been common before, such as life for eye, life for tooth, lives of the offender’s family for one life). 

    The lex talionis would already have been applied to a woman who was injured in a fight. The distinguishing point in this passage is that a pregnant woman is hurt “so that her child comes out”; the child is the focus of the lex talionis in this passage. Aborted babies must have justice, too.
    Carpal Tunnel  Registered: 07/14/08 Posts: 2973 Loc: I’m in a blue state.http://www.catholic.com/tracts/abortion

  • Anonymous

    So all those Jews who say the Law of Moses (which they’re probably more familiar with than you are, given the Jewish emphasis on Torah study) not only permits abortion but in some cases mandates it, they’re wrong?

  • P J Evans

     I believe this was brought up and discussed to death about six pages back in the comments.

  • HenryOrientJnr

    It is odd that the author uses Exodus 21 as an authority, but doesn’t quote it:

    22 ¶ 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.23 And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life,24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, Lev. 24.19, 20 · Deut. 19.21 · Mt. 5.38 hand for hand, foot for foot

    This seems to me to say that if the woman gives birth prematurely, but the baby lives, then the man should still be punished, but if the the woman or baby dies, he should be put to death.  Is the author advocating the death penalty?

    Of course, I am not biblical scholar…just a pro-life atheist, so what do I know.

  • Lori

     

    pro-life atheist, 

    Is this just a clever way of saying misogynist?

  • HenryOrientJnr

    Well, since abortion was legalized, there are some 100 million fewer girls in the world so I would say the answer to your question is no. 

  • P J Evans

     If there are 100 million fewer girls, shouldn’t the answer be yes?

  • Lori

    Well, since abortion was legalized, there are some 100 million fewer girls in the world so I would say the answer to your question is no. 

    So you’re actually trying to claim that you’re anti-choice out of concern for women? Speaking as a woman I say, thanks, but no thanks.

  • Lori

    Well, since abortion was legalized, there are some 100 million fewer girls in the world so I would say the answer to your question is no. 

    Beyond the fact that women don’t in any way need the kind of concern you’re supposedly offering you’re going to need to do a lot more than throw out a number.

    The legalization of abortion has very little effect on the number of abortions performed. It’s real effect is on the safety of abortions, which saves women’s lives. Abortion for sex-selection doesn’t happen because abortion is legal, it happens for economic and cultural reasons. The fact that you don’t seem to know these leads me to suspect that the problem of global “missing girls” is not your real concern. If you really do want to see the issue addressed then making abortion illegal is most definitely not the way to do it.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2RAPF5V3YPOUWAZGAJ2VCQM76Q Alicia

    Aw, I think it’s a pretty neat attempt at an argument. He doesn’t bother to link abortion being legalized (where? in the United States? China? India?) and sex selection worldwide.

    I’m going to be fair and assume that he wouldn’t try to blame sex selection and female infanticide in China on a certain US court case. After all, only a moron would do that, and they don’t post here. So why speak in such generalities?

  • HenryOrientJnr

    Do you have any statistics to support this claim?  I would guess not.  It would surprise me if a procedure that was universally condemned by society only a few decades ago would have been performed with the same frequency that it is done now, when it is legal.  However, your argument is without merit in any case.  If something is morally wrong it remains so even if the laws against it are flouted.

  • Lori

     

    Do you have any statistics to support this claim?  I would guess not.
     It would surprise me if a procedure that was universally condemned by
    society only a few decades ago would have been performed with the same
    frequency that it is done now, when it is legal.

    Your degree of surprise does not determine what is and is not true.

     However, your argument is without merit in any case.

     

    If you’re not open to facts then I see no reason to waste my time doing
    your work for you. If you decide that facts actually matter then Google
    is your friend.

    If something is
    morally wrong it remains so even if the laws against it are flouted.

    On what basis are you declaring abortion morally wrong?

  • P J Evans

     You seem to believe that everyone has the same standards of morality that you do. This is not a safe assumption to make.

  • hf

    So, you think the authors of that passage were morons?

    See, the Hebrew does say “depart from” or come out, and I’ve seen people argue that it would have used the word for miscarriage if it meant miscarriage. This interpretation ignores the fact that it doesn’t use the word which definitely means “birth” either. So which meaning makes sense medically, and which would have made sense to the original readers?

    As a layman, I find it hard to picture a beating for the mother resulting in anything “coming out” of her womb except a dead fetus. But I’m not a doctor, so let’s say it lives for a while. “Around 25 percent of babies in the first century AD did not survive
    their first year and up to half of all children would die before the age
    of 10.”
    That refers to mostly normal births. As for ordinary premature birth, Google tells me that as of 2009 “[t]he average cost of medical care for a premature or low birth-weight baby for its first year of life is about $49000”. Do you really believe any fetus that “came out” prematurely as a result of a beating would have survived, in the world of the book’s first readers? If the line really means harm to the “fruit” rather than the mother, then why say “if”? Why does the previous sentence treat the lack of harm as a real possibility for these people?This shows why Jews who had to live by (their understanding of) these rules took the Bible to mean that the fetus is not yet a person — that aborting a pregnancy by violence, against the woman’s wishes, was worth but a fine.

  • HenryOrientJnr

    Let me get this straight.  You are saying that you believe you can walk up to a woman who is 8 months pregnant and hit her in the stomach with a baseball bat and expect no more than a fine?  What an odd conception of morality.  Thank God I’m an atheist.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    That was a purposeful misinterpretation of hf’s statement and you know it. That is dishonest, and you should be ashamed of yourself.

    Signed,
    Another atheist.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Well, since abortion was legalized, there are some 100 million fewer girls in the world so I would say the answer to your question is no.

    *stunned*

    http://apocalypsereview.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/nathan-fillion-reaction-gif.gif

  • Lori

    Yup, that about covers it.

  • Andrew McKenzie

    A fetus is not a child.  Even if one day it will be.  Just as a child is not an adult. 

    It is true that we can sometimes treat fetuses like children in homicide cases, to put criminals away longer.  But we also treat children like adults in homicide cases, also to put criminals away longer.   Both are cases of legal fictions— little tricks in the law that allow us to extend it without having to re-write whole swathes of the code.  Other notable legal fictions are corporate personhood and age of consent laws. 

    Charging a 14-year-old as an adult for criminal proceedings does not make them one— they don’t get to vote, drive, or buy porn.  Likewise, treating a fetus as a child for criminal proceedings does not make it one. 

    It’s important not to confuse legal fiction with reality.  Conservatives seem to have a hard time with that notion, and then they cry when reality-based people scorn them.

  • Blueyedsoul

    Indeed an interesting article which I read entirely, including the links. For complete disclosure I must say that I am an evangelical, pro-life Christian, so obviously I read with interest. The author makes some interesting points about respected evangelicals seeming to make shifts in their views over the past 30 years. Does it beg the question to say, “So what?”. Many pro-slavery people switched their views to anti-slavery before, during and after the Civil War. Does this somehow undermine the anti-slavery view?  I could certainly be wrong, but isn’t this a rather weak attempt to somehow discredit pro-lifers and evangelicals in particular?  Because what… some actually modified their views? One criticism of we ‘narrow-minded’ evangelicals is that we are never open to changing our views. Perhaps we’re only narrow minded if we don’t change them to what liberals want us to (?). :)
    I mean if you’re going to begin your article with the title, “The Biblical View…” wouldn’t you have at least a little credibility if you actually referenced the Bible?   Even once?

    This isn’t even a very good smoke screen.  Evangelicals do not base their beliefs upon what other evangelicals believe.  We base them on Solo Scriptura.  Did they have Happy Meals when these were written:Genesis 25:22 But the two children struggled with each other in her womb.

    Job 1:5 I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”

    Ecclesiastes 11:5 Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things.

    Psalm 139:13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.

    Isaiah 44:24 This is what the LORD says— your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the LORD,

    Luke 1:15 He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth

    Luke 1:41-45 At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. 43Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? 44When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. 45You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.”

  • Lori

    You should probably have read the other 10 pages of this thread before you commented. We’ve already discussed most, if not all of the scriptures you cite and none of them prove what you’re claiming that they prove.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    This isn’t even a very good smoke screen.  Evangelicals do not base their beliefs upon what other evangelicals believe.  We base them on Solo Scriptura.  

    Sure, and peer pressure and other social approval mechanisms never ever enter into the picture.

    Let’s face it; if it became politically advantageous to take a less philosophically advanced stance in some social sphere, some people will gladly abandon their notions.

    It’s like people who aren’t normally racist adopting the code words and dog whistles in order to capture a segment of voters.

    In a similar way, access to abortion has become a way to gain political advantage and for some politicians and their evangelical brothers in arms the advantage lies in claiming that abortion is morally wrong.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     Okay. One more time:

    Job 1:5 I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you
    were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the
    nations.”

    Not in any way shape or form an indication of when life begins, only a statement that God knew him *BEFORE* conception. Could be taken to indicate the pre-existence of souls (Which I don;t think is an orthodox view).

    Ecclesiastes 11:5 Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or
    the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot
    understand the activity of God, who does all things.

    Leaving aside that I consider that trnaslation dubious (“how bones form in the womb” seems closer to the original than “the mystery of a tiny baby growing inside its mother’s womb”), nothing here indicates when life begins.

    Psalm 139:13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.

    Isaiah 44:24 This is what the LORD says— your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the LORD,

    Again, nothing here indicates when life begins. Like most of the quotes you’ve presented, there is nothing here more clear than the remarkably uncontroversial statement that a fetus develops into a human body inside a uterus. I am not aware of any adult woman personhood arguments which deny that.

    Luke 1:15 He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth

    Seems to indicate nothing more than that the capacity to be filled by holy spirit  develops at some point prior to birth.  Maybe it happens when the water breaks.

    But also, one could make a compelling argument that because Luke 1:15 points this out specifically as something notable, being filled with the Holy Spirit even before birth is contrary to the usual case

    Luke 1:41-45 At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped
    within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42Elizabeth
    gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all
    women, and your child is blessed. 43Why am I so honored, that the mother
    of my Lord should visit me? 44When I heard your greeting, the baby in
    my womb jumped for joy. 45You are blessed because you believed that the
    Lord would do what he said.”

    Okay, you got me there. THis seems to very clearly assume that life begins when the fetus is sufficiently developed that it is able to jump for joy. So, probably at the point of viability. So, some time during the third trimester.

    If you’re looking for scripture ti indicate that human life begins before the moment of birth, you can probably pull it off. Hell, I think the view that a fetus isn’t alive until the moment of birth is a minority view among people who believe in personhood for women (As the requirement for being pro choice isn’t “I believe some fetuses are living people” but rather “I believe that a woman is a person and therefore ought not to be compelled to give up bodily soverignty, even to save the life of someone else”)

    If you’re looking for the notion that life begins at conception, you’re not going to find that, because *the notion of conception* didn’t have the meaning for them that it does for us. Many cultures believed that once a woman had been “primed” by a man, she could spontaneously become pregnant with his child at any time for the rest of her fertile years. Few believed the woman had any role in conception other than to provide a suitable envirionment for the man’s seed to germinate.

    Things just werent like that back then.

  • Blueyedsoul

    Ross you must have missed my second post.  I covered the idea of the implications of these verses even though they do not ‘explicitly’ state that life begins at conception.  They do not need to state that in order to support they idea that willfully taking a life after conception is wrong…. based on those verses that prove the fetus, at some point, is fully human and a person.

  • Lori

    Blueyedsoul you missed Ross’ point. Can not prove that life begins at conception, especially not using a book written when people had even less idea when conception actually takes place than anti-choice folks do now. The one thing that we absolutely know for sure is that the pregnant woman is a person. She is a person before she gets pregnant and she remains a person after she becomes pregnant.

  • Blueyedsoul

    And yes, of course I realize that none of these verses “explicitly” state that life begins at conception.  But (whether your believe the verses or not) they unequivocally teach that what is in the womb before birth is a “child”, “baby”, “formed by God” and was clearly a human person who could be filled with the Holy Spirit “before his birth.”  Now, for those who cannot make the logical deduction, let me point out the obvious question:  At what point did the lifeless blob change from being soul-less and non-human into being a “child” and “baby”, “formed by God” and capable of being filled with God’s Spirit?  And who are you to say when that change took place?  

    Those who simply reject the Bible are to be respected far more than those who stupidly play games with the clear implication of these texts.  The fetus is fully human whose life was given by God and should be taken by none but Him.

  • Lori

    And yes, of course I realize that none of these verses “explicitly” state that life begins at conception. 

    The verses do not merely fail to “explicitly” say that live begins at conception, they also fail to imply it. You are not making logical deductions based on the verses. You made up your mind based on anti-choice propaganda and then back-filled the verse interpretation to supposedly back you up. The verses do not say what you’re claiming that they say.

    And who are you to say when that change took place?  

    This is a question that is far better asked of you. I do not wish in any way to interfere with your beliefs or force you to do anything counter to them. It’s you that wants to force your beliefs on others. That means you’re the one who has to justify yourself.

  • Blueyedsoul

    Lori, thank you for your comments.  However, all you’ve done, in effect, is to say “You’re wrong and I don’t agree”.  But you just use a few more words.  In discussion, it’s good to back up what you say with references and logic.  For instance, upon what basis do you interpret the verses the way you do as opposed to me?  Simply disagreeing with me proves nothing.  In fact, assuming that my views come from “anti-choice propoganda” is actually prejudiced and ignorant since you know nothing of me.  What do the verses say to you?  What does it mean when the Bible calls those in the womb “children” and “babies”?  

  • Lori

    As I noted in my first response to you, we have already discussed this. I really don’t have the energy to go through it all again because you don’t want to read the comments made before you got here. Ross however did do a pretty good job laying it out. The verses you quoted to not prove what you claim they prove. Logical inference from the verses you quoted does not prove what you claim it proves. That means that your argument can also be reduced to “I’m right, your wrong”. So, where does that leave us?

    I do not in any way want to interfere with your right to make decisions about your life and your body. You do want to limit my right to full personhood based on your opinion. That distinction matters. When you want to take away legal personhood from women, who we all know and agree are persons, you need a lot more than your opinion. You don’t have it and the verses you’ve quoited don’t change that.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Only two of the verses you cited  refered to a fetus in the womb as a child or baby. One of them is a translation which is radically different from any of the other translations I have ever seen. Of 20 translations I looked at, 12 said something to the effect of “how the bones form in a woman when she is pregnant” (Young’s Literal Translation doesn’t even say a pregnant woman, but rather uses the phrase “the full one”) — a phrase so vague that on it’s own it woudln’t even be clear that it’s even talking about the fetus, as opposed to the changes that take place in the mother’s body. Two more say “how the body is formed”. Only three explicitly refer to a “baby” and one says “child” (A number of them use the phrase “with child” as a synonym for “pregnant”, but that’s hardly evidence), another two are even more vague and only refer to “new life”

    And while you were looking for prooftexts, did it occur to you to actually read what the passage says? Because the one thing ALL the translations have in common is that they are quite explicit on the fact that YOU DO NOT KNOW the details of how this new life comes to happen. You’re using a passage that explicitly DENIES human knowledge of the beginnings of life to make a claim that you know the exact details of the beginnings of human life.

    If irony were strawberries, we’d be sipping on smoothies.

  • Blueyedsoul

    Well instead of trying to explain away the trees Ross, back up and look at the forest:  The Bible describes the unborn in personal terms-nothing like the impersonal terms of abortion-choice, contents of the uterus, products of conception, a blob of tissue, pregnancy mass and the like.  (Renaming, slurring or reclassifying humans precedes oppression and is necessary to quiet our guilt).
    The infancy narratives about the birth of Jesus show that his cousin John the Baptist had a personality in utero.  While still a baby in the womb, he leapt for joy.  The same New Testament Greek word brephos is used to describe John’s inter-uterine joy (Luke 1.41), the baby Jesus (Luke 2.12, 16) and the children approaching Jesus during his ministry (Luke 18.15). 
    Genesis 25.22 uses the ordinary word in Hebrew for children to describe the fraternal skirmish in Rebekah’s womb.
                This tells us that the preborn child is not becoming a human.  The child is growing in the humanity he or she already possesses.  He or she is not a potential person, but a person with great potential.  Psalm 139 says God creates us in the womb.  Because God gives humanity, calling a child a choice dehumanizes the humanity God has given.  To abort a child destroys the humanity God has given.  Humanity is not earned, it is given.
                So again I ask, what gives you, or anyone else, the right to destroy a person in the womb?  Especially since you hold that no one knows when personhood begins?

  • Lori

     

    So again I ask, what gives you, or anyone else, the right to destroy a
    person in the womb?  Especially since you hold that no one knows when
    personhood begins? 

    The known, absolute, unquestioned personhood of the person with the womb.

    Until the day when you are willing to make it legally compulsory for men and non-pregnant women to give up their bodily integrity to preserve the life of others, via things like mandatory blood & organ donation, this argument is not even worth discussing.

    I really, really wish that people would stop quoting and requoting verses that do not say or imply that life begins at conception and then saying that they leave us with no choice but to assume that it does.

    I really, really wish people would stop making the same misogynist arguments that we’ve all heard a thousand times and acting like it’s some clever  “gotcha” that no one has ever heard before and can’t possibly counter. (I’ll give HenryOrientJnr this much, his misogyny is at least unusual and not the same old, same old.)

    I really, really wish that people could understand that their religious beliefs are not an acceptable basis for secular law.

  • Anonymous

    Reading the comments from Lori and her various correspondents, in which everyone seems to be talking past each other, reminded me of this Woody Allen piece:

    http://maxxwolf.tripod.com/woody.html

  • BluEyedSoul

    “When you have no basis for an argument, abuse the plaintiff.”
    Marcus Tullius Cicero

  • Lori

    I suspect that if he were alive today Cicero would modify his statement to “When you have no basis for an argument, claim that you’re being abused.”

    Of course, I could be misunderstanding you. Are you claiming to be the abused plaintiff or are you just claiming to speak on behalf of the abused plaintiff? 

    If the former, then you have incredibly thin skin because you aren’t being abused. You’re being disagreed with and that’s not at all the same thing.

    If the latter, then you still need to explain why you think a maybe, possibly might be, can’t prove it, probably isn’t “person” is more deserving of plaintiff status than the absolutely, definitely person who you want to abuse on behalf of said plaintiff.

  • P J Evans

     When you have no argument, pound the table.

    You’re giving the rest of us headaches with all your pounding of that table.

  • Brian Ramirez

    hey that exodus text isn’t saying the woman miscarried its saying she went into labor prematurely. 
    Exodus 2122 “When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out[she gives birth], but there is no harm[to either the woman OR the child], the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman’s husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. 23 But if there is harm[miscarriage or injury to the woman],then you shall pay life for life, 24  eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,” emphasis added She and the baby are NOT hurt in verse 22. In verse 23 it is clear that causing a miscarriage is a capital offense; life for life. You have to read the text. As for the passage in Numbers 5, God causes miscarriages and he is the only person who can. I don’t think it is not our place to kill unborn children even if it is our own. A parent can be arrested for neglecting their child because that child has a claim on the parent for life support. It’s the same for unborn children. We just refuse to recognize “fetuses” for what they are, people. 

    Also just because some christian wrote in a magazine 30 years ago does not make the Bible contradicting in anyway. That person is just failing to interpret the text but he’s not perfect neither are you. Even Christians are going to have their differences and thats ok as long as we can agree on who Jesus is and what he’s done.
     If your dog meows does that mean its not a dog anymore? If you change a quarter for two dimes and a nickel does that mean you don’t have twenty-five cents anymore? People mess up stop holding it over their head and forgive them lest you be found in their place, roles reversed. 

  • Guest1

    Human life begins at conception.  This is a medical truth rather than a spiritual one.  A genetically distinct being or beings are formed when sperm and egg unite. That this unique cell may or may not grow to viability is beside the point.  If we were to find the exact same cell growing deep in outer space the headlines and twitter feeds would trumpet how human life is found on other planets.  That cell is alive and its literal essence is human.  I suspect that the change in thinking about when life begins – or more specifically the receptivity to the idea – has  something to do with the mainstreamed understanding of DNA.

     I think this article would have been a lot stronger had the author sought commentary from those who used to espouse X and now espouse Y.  I don’t buy that the ONLY reason for this shift was that the evangelical perception on abortion was co-opted by a few extremists.  Investigation into the social and medical paradigms that facilitated this change would have been a lot more compelling.

  • P J Evans

    You’re dropping a critical word: potentially human. Which should be understood to be effective in all stages before a successful live birth (and yes, it’s possible to have a baby die during labor).

    If you go through the previous ten pages of comments, you’ll find that you aren’t the first to bring this up.

    Possibly as many as 50 percent of all fertilized eggs never implant, never become embryos or fetuses.

    Therefore, your argument fails right at the beginning: possibly as many as 50 percent of all fertilized eggs never even become potential human beings.

  • Guest1

    PJ. We are disagreeing about our understanding of human.  I say that medically our humaness is evident by our genetic code which is present at the point of conception.  Human DNA is different than any other DNA.   There is no confusion about the humaness of that cell when you drill down to the double helix.  That is all I meant. Nothing more, nothing less. 

    I believe (and I understand I am extrapolating from your words – correct me if I am wrong) you would call the point of becoming human as the moment of being – to use the vernacular of the thread – ensouled; that to call this cell human requires more than just an artfully arranged sequence of proteins. Your definition requires that the metaphysical quality that we recognize as human be present.  Under your definition the cell probably is potentially human.  Or maybe not, we just don’t know, which is one of the problems of using a subjective dividing line.

    As I stated above, it’s beside the point whether this human cell is viable to the point of maturation.  Why do people keep bringing this up?  Spontaneous abortion, miscarriage, failure to implant really has nothing to do with the question of when does our physical life begin.  That these cells often naturally die before viability is really neither here nor there about whether they were alive in the first place. 

     What protection we owe to this little bit of life is open for debate and really can’t be answered by medicine or science.  But I do think advances in medical and scientific understanding should cause us to reexamine our beliefs.   We understand now in a way that we didn’t in 1961 just how human the newly conceived cell is.  We also understand that this cell is unique and separate, unlike any other in the mother’s body.  Or the father’s for that matter.

  • Anonymous

     Human DNA is different than any other DNA.

    Yeah, except for the minor detail that we share 99% of our genome with a banana. More’n that with a chimpanzee.

    Legally protectable life begins with birth. I’ll allow some fuzziness for ‘if the fetus was born now it’d survive’, more for ‘if the fetus was born now it’d survive without the hospital going to great expense to save its life’, but legally protectable life begins with birth.

  • Guest1

    I guess I don’t understand why the fact that we share so much of our genome with a banana matters.  If it was only one strand of protein that distinguished us from a banana we are still distinct.  

  • Anonymous

    If it was only one strand of protein that distinguished us from a banana we are still distinct.

    So you’re arguing against cancer treatments because cancers have their own unique human DNA?

    Legally protectable life begins at birth.

  • Guest1

    So you’re arguing against cancer treatments because cancers have their own unique human DNA?
    I merely stated that the cell formed at conception is undeniably a distinct human.  

    I think we both can tell the difference between a woman who is pregnant and a woman with cancer.

  • Anonymous

    So…a woman who has something growing in her uterus that she does not want, that is affecting other areas of her health and life, that might just kill her if not removed, and that she cannot be rid of without medical treatment, is that a woman with an unwanted pregnancy or a woman with uterine cancer?

  • Anonymous

    Cancer has human DNA that is distinct from its host. If you honestly believed that distinct human DNA was what made a person you’d be protesting cancer treatments, not abortions. You’d also believe that killing one identical twin didn’t count as murder because the “person” would still be alive. Since that is a transparently moronic set of beliefs you are clearly wrong about what makes a person.

  • Guest1

    I didn’t say distinct DNA made us a person. I said that unique human DNA was present from the very moment of conception.

    And as far as the cancer, I’m not genetic scientist but I believe the differences between a person’s cells and their cancer cells is caused by mutation.  The uniqueness is not indicative of a distinct human but rather an abnormality within the host.  From the little I’ve read, I don’t believe a scientist would confuse a cancer cell with a newly conceived human cell when both cells are compared to healthy cells in the host/mother.  

  • Anonymous

     Unique human DNA is present in cancer cells too, was my point. You say that doesn’t make cancer a person; yay, we agree. The trouble is, unwanted pregnancy is exactly like cancer.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I think what you’re trying to say here is “I started with the conclusion I wanted and am working backwards, so obviously anything that would undermine my conclusions are Just Different Because Shut Up”

  • Anonymous

    I didn’t say distinct DNA made us a person. I said that unique human DNA was present from the very moment of conception.

    Let me juxtapose this with another statement you make immediately afterwards:

    I’m not genetic scientist
    Damn right you’re not.
    And, again:From the little I’ve readUnique human DNA is present all over the place, including in things we usually don’t consider living. (Like dead bodies, for example. It’s not like all that DNA degrades instantly upon brain death or heart cessation or something.)
    I’m seriously beginning to think that biochemistry — like evolutionary psychology and economics — is a field that’s easily co-opted by nonspecialists for the purposes of justifying their personal opinions. [1] “Life” is really easy to talk about when you’re not a chemist. But, at the end of the day, “life” is kind of meaningless. Glamorizing “unique human DNA” as if it’s something that is valuable isn’t about medicine: it’s about your definition of ensoulment. And that, ultimately, is what Fred is talking about.
    “Life begins at conception” is theology disguised as biochemistry. It’s downright meaningless.
    On a related note, why is this thread still going on?[1] Though I will point out that biochemistry, unlike economics and evolutionary psychology, is ultimately innocent. Both economics and evolutionary psychology are being peddled by ‘experts’ who believe the ideologies they’re inflicting on the public. Most biochemists and molecular biologists? Would love to perform stem cell research, thank you.

  • P J Evans

     What about lab animals genetically engineered to contain (and, obviously produce) human DNA? Using your argument, that makes them human life, too.

    Biology fail!

  • Guest1 aka Anne Lewis

    I think all of you assume that I am advocating for absolutely no abortion from the moment of conception.   Which I haven’t.  The original post was about the change in understanding how the evangelical world came to the understanding life begins at conception.

    Throughout my participation in this thread I pointed out that the cell that is formed at the moment of conception is human.  The layered meaning that’s been added to it is a bit on the ridiculous side. 

    So. To summarize.   Is the cell formed at the moment of conception human? Although I am not a PhD in biogenetics, the answer is yes. Is the cell a person? That’s a different question and I have never stated otherwise.  Is it a banana? No.  Is it cancer?  Well, Ellie would say that the determing factor is whether or not the pregnancy was wanted but I believe most medical professionals would say no.

    I mean, is the embryo NOT human?  Is it some other species or matter?  I am not asking you to change your abortion stance but I wonder why can’t those in favor of abortion admit the embryo is human.  Not potentially human but human.  Even using the word “human” as an adjective rather than a noun is way too threatening for some people I guess.

     So, in the interest of full disclosue, I will go on record saying that I believe first trimester abortions should be allowable in certain conditions – probably very much the evangelical position in the 1970’s even of human cells.

    Bet you didn’t see that coming.

  • Anonymous

    I mean, is the embryo NOT human?  Is it some other species or matter?  I am not asking you to change your abortion stance but I wonder why can’t those in favor of abortion admit the embryo is human.  Not potentially human but human.  Even using the word “human” as an adjective rather than a noun is way too threatening for some people I guess.

    So you’ve been trolling us. Lovely.

    To respond: “Human” as a noun is very different from “human” as an adjective. Unless you’re reading _Dune_, “human” is typically used as synonymous to “person”. So, no, the cell is not a human. Is it a human cell — i.e. of the species Homo sapiens? Yes. But the cell is not “human life”. (As I said above, “life” is about theology, not about science.)

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    > why can’t those in favor of abortion admit the embryo is human. [..] Even using the word “human” as an adjective rather than a noun is way too threatening for some people I guess.

    (shrug) Sure, it’s a human embryo, rather than a cat embryo or a mollusk embryo. And, as you imply, it’s not a human.

    Glad we can agree on that.

    Next question?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CEY2XQNQHJD6QBSYKGYYQYDCKQ S

     Really.  I’ve never met any pro-choice person who had a problem with the word “human”.  What, does this person think we’re referring to starfish embryos?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

     So, in the interest of full disclosue, I will go on record saying that I believe first trimester abortions should be allowable in certain conditions – probably very much the evangelical position in the 1970’s even of human cells.

    *GASP*

    Such a revolutionary, brave stance.

    I believe in as broad access to abortion as possible; do you really think women who are ~30 weeks pregnant get abortions just because they got bored one day?

    The way anti-abortion people talk they seem to think pregnant women are excessively cavalier about their pregnancies when a wide body of evidence would seem to indicate they take them very seriously, by and large.

    It’s like how the anti-single-payer folks carry through to the absurd conclusion that since health care is effectively free to the user, that Canadians must perforce go around breaking their legs all the time, or that sick people will get sick just because it’s free to see a doctor.

  • Dan Audy

    So. To summarize.   Is the cell formed at the moment of conception
    human? Although I am not a PhD in biogenetics, the answer is yes. Is the
    cell a person? That’s a different question and I have never stated
    otherwise.  Is it a banana? No.  Is it cancer?  Well, Ellie would say
    that the determing factor is whether or not the pregnancy was wanted but
    I believe most medical professionals would say no.

    I mean, is the embryo NOT human?  Is it some other species or
    matter?  I am not asking you to change your abortion stance but I wonder
    why can’t those in favor of abortion admit the embryo is human.  Not
    potentially human but human.  Even using the word “human” as an
    adjective rather than a noun is way too threatening for some people I
    guess.

    That is simply nonsense.  You are making semantic arguments by using words with generally accepted meanings to describe an alternate meaning then, without bothering to mention it, switch back to the general meaning and use that as justification for your argument.  It is simply dishonest to conflate words that way.

    A unique genetic sequence is not the hallmark of humanity nor even relevant to the question of whether abortion should be legal let alone the discussion of whether it is moral.  Personhood, autonomy, and (if religiously inclined) ensoulment are the relevant topics.  Talking about genetics makes you sound like you recognize your argument is weak and you think that by throwing around a bunch of sciency words (without understanding what they mean) we will have to treat you seriously.

    Potential is not actualization – an acorn is not an oak, a stem cell is not an arm, a cloud is not a summer rain, an embryo is not a human.

  • Jennifer A. Nolan

    Too bad! I still think anti-abortionists are entitled to their position — but think of the Christian moral ammunition they might have saved, and the suffering they might have averted, if they hadn’t gone all fanatical about it. To be precise they might have brought something to bear on the overpopulation, ecological destruction, systematic disempowerment, and corporate piracy and fleecing that have done so much more to degrade and cheapen human life than some foolish teenagers looking for abortions. And they might have developed and exercised more respect for the positions many of these girls find themselves in.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CEY2XQNQHJD6QBSYKGYYQYDCKQ S

    When confronted by a guy who, frothing over some offense or other, had yelled, “I’m entitled to my opinion!”, Harlan Ellison retorted, “NO, sir.  You’re entitled to an INFORMED opinion.” 

    Just because someone believes an erroneous, unsubstantiated idea doesn’t make their opinion valid. 

  • Chris

    “Unique human DNA is present all over the place, including in things we usually don’t consider living. (Like dead bodies, for example. It’s not like all that DNA degrades instantly upon brain death or heart cessation or something.)”
    Which is why I’m all about the protection of hotel bedspreads.  Do you know how much human DNA those things have on (and in) them?  If that’s the standard, they’re at least as human as a fetus. : )

  • Brett Glass

    No vandalism was committed in the making of this image: http://www.brettglass.com/churchsign.jpg

  • Trey

    I’m not quite sure what Bible you are quoting from, but Exodus 21:22-24 reads: “If people are fighting and hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.” I’m a Christian who is for limited choice. I don’t think abortion should be used as birth control. But your quote of the Bible is false and borderline propaganda.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Ahem.
    Bible in Basic English

    If men, while fighting, do damage to a woman with child, causing the loss of the child, but no other evil comes to her, the man will have to make payment up to the amount fixed by her husband, in agreement with the decision of the judges.

    Complete Jewish Bible

    “If people are fighting with each other and happen to hurt a pregnant woman so badly that her unborn child dies, then, even if no other harm follows, he must be fined. He must pay the amount set by the woman’s husband and confirmed by judges.

    Douay-Rheims

    If men quarrel, and one strike a woman with child and she miscarry indeed, but live herself: he shall be answerable for so much damage as the woman’s husband shall require, and as arbiters shall award.

    Good News Translation

    “If some men are fighting and hurt a pregnant woman so that she loses her child, but she is not injured in any other way, the one who hurt her is to be fined whatever amount the woman’s husband demands, subject to the approval of the judges.

    New Revised Standard

    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.

    Revised Standard Version

    “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.

    The Message

    “When there’s a fight and in the fight a pregnant woman is hit so that she miscarries but is not otherwise hurt, the one responsible has to pay whatever the husband demands in compensation.

    World English Bible

    “If men fight and hurt a pregnant woman so that she gives birth prematurely, and yet no harm follows, he shall be surely fined as much as the woman’s husband demands and the judges allow.

    Wycliffe

    If men chide, and a man smiteth a woman with child, and soothly he maketh the child dead-born, but the woman liveth over that smiting, he shall be subject to the harm (he shall be subject to a fine), as much as the woman’s husband asketh (for), and as the judges deem (appropriate).

    The American Standard Version, King James Version, New Century Version, The Webster Bible, Third Millennium Bible and Young’s Literal Translation all use ambiguous language, usually “her fruit depart”. Darby uses “so that she be delivered”

    The text you quote is from Today’s New International Version, which was first published in 2005. Kudos for choosing a translation which uses ungendered language, but (a) the compilers have already acknowledged shortcomings in this translation and plan to discontinue it in favor of a new translation started in 2009, and (b) In choosing a translation to prove the primacy  of your interpretation, you’ve cited a bible that’s younger than the movie “Super-Size Me”.

    There are, of course, plenty of translations that specifically say “give birth prematurely”. Of the ten I found, the average date of first publication was 1992 and the median was 1996. That makes them more recent than the McDonalds Coffee Case and the Arch Deluxe, respectively.

    The median publication date of the examples which unambiguously describe miscarriage is 1976 — older than the Happy Meal; a bit younger than the drive-through. The average publication date of those bibles is 1873.  For the record, the McDonald family immigrated to the United States in 1877.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CEY2XQNQHJD6QBSYKGYYQYDCKQ S

    It is interesting that by and large, the newer the translation, the closer it heaves to modern right-wing thinking, isn’t it?

  • Joseph O Polanco

    Here’s the passage in question. Tell me, where do you see כְנֵ֣פֶל (nephel – miscarriage) mentioned anywhere?

    וְכִֽי־ יִנָּצ֣וּ אֲנָשִׁ֗ים וְנָ֨גְפ֜וּ אִשָּׁ֤ה הָרָה֙ וְיָצְא֣וּ יְלָדֶ֔יהָ וְלֹ֥א יִהְיֶ֖ה אָסֹ֑ון עָנֹ֣ושׁ יֵעָנֵ֗שׁ כַּֽאֲשֶׁ֨ר יָשִׁ֤ית עָלָיו֙ בַּ֣עַל הָֽאִשָּׁ֔ה וְנָתַ֖ן בִּפְלִלִֽים׃ – Exodus 21:22

  • http://www.facebook.com/ncoughran Naomi Wayne Coughran

    The Scripture mentioned in the article, Exodus 21:22 says “If men fight and hit a pregnant woman and her child is born prematurely, but there is no serious injury, he will surely be punished in accordance with what the woman’s husband demands of him, and he will pay what the court decides.” 

    About this passage, the New English Translation footnote states: “This line has occasioned a good deal of discussion. It may indicate that the child was killed, as in a miscarriage; or it may mean that there was a premature birth. The latter view is taken here because of the way the whole section is written: (1) “her children come out” reflects a birth and not the loss of children, (2) there is no serious damage, and (3) payment is to be set for any remuneration. The word אָסוֹן (’ason) is translated “serious damage.” The word was taken in Mekilta to mean “death.” U. Cassuto says the point of the phrase is that neither the woman or the children that are born die (Exodus, 275).”

    And regarding Exodus 21:23-24 which states “But if there is serious injury, then you will give a life for a life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,  burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise,” there is an additional footnote: “The text now introduces the Lex Talionis with cases that were not likely to have applied to the situation of the pregnant woman.”

    So it seems as though this passage likely does not speak of the “destruction of the fetus” as was stated in the article, but more likely of premature birth.  Therefore, it is no surprise that capital punishment is not mentioned in this passage because death is not the issue.  

    This so-called pre-Happy Meal interpretation is based on poor hermeneutics and does not accurately represent the biblical text.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Jesus fucking Christ do you people never read the comment threads or related posts?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CEY2XQNQHJD6QBSYKGYYQYDCKQ S

    I’m wondering why hardly anyone here seems to know how to use the reply button.  These threads are almost impossible to figure out.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CEY2XQNQHJD6QBSYKGYYQYDCKQ S

    Yeah, because god knows you can’t have a biblical text that actually contradicts your ingrained insistence that your view is RIGHT and everyone else’s is WRONG, even other Christians.  No, not possible.  There is only ONE way to interpret the bible and that is YOUR way.  Nobody else can possibly know what they’re talking about, even people who’ve spent their whole lives studying that book.  Nope, YOU are the authority and YOUR WORD goes. 

    I’m sure  Jesus would be happy to know his mantle of divine authority has landed on such massively capable shoulders.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ncoughran Naomi Wayne Coughran

    You’re not angry, are you?

  • None

    You are missing the scientific side of the story here – it was in the 1950s-60s that many biologists started writing about life beginning at conception or implantation. You can read all about that on Wikipedia – not all scientists believe that, but a significant number do still (“Many members of the medical community accept fertilization as the point at which life begins.”). Those publications and studies began working their way into the church in the late 1960-1970s.  Many Christians get the source of this information wrong – they attribute it to the Bible instead of Science. But its not like they are making up some random belief to follow out of thin air.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    “Many members of the medical community accept fertilization as the point at which life begins.”

    Pace wikipedia, I would be very surprised indeed if any members of the medical  community believed that an unfertilized egg was any less alive than a fertilized egg.

    The point at which life began was a very, very long time ago. Ever since then, we’ve just been embroidering the details.

  • None

    Wikipedia even points out that some Christians in the early Church did believe that life began at conception. Also the ancient Greeks and Hindus among others. So this is not a new belief – it is just not universal for everyone (
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beginning_of_human_life#Philosophical_and_religious_perspectives)

  • Simon Hall

     

    This is a fascinating conversation – you can blame Brian McLaren for bringing new traffic to it. But it’s a shame to see everyone returning to their bunkers instead of discussing the topic. Comparing a fertilized human egg to a seed stuck in my teeth doesn’t feel right. It feels as if what we are engaged with here is talking down the fetus so we can dispose of it without guilt.

    A (very) few (brave) feminist writers have commented that the language that pro-choicers use to describe the fetus bares comparison with traditional patriarchal descriptions of women: sub-human, of less value, the possession of another to be disposed of as the owner sees fit. It’s not just religious conservatives that back themselves into corners and take on illogical fundamentalist positions: ask a feminist about sex-selective abortions and you soon discover what a ‘fundamental’ the ‘right’ to abortion is. Were feminists always so rigid? Probably not.

    It’s the weirdest thing that conservatives love killing all sorts of people, but not babies, and that liberals lean the other way, but can’t we make our own rules? Surely every Christian is ‘pro-life’? Which should probably make us vegetarian and at the least very reluctant to use lethal force – in war, medical intervention or the penal system.Can we not agree that an abortion is never good in itself? Some of us may think that it is the least bad thing in a given situation, but that’s not saying it’s good.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Can we not agree that an abortion is never good in itself?

    When the baby’s gonna be born without a brain, abortion is a good thing. Can we not agree that unwanted pregnancy is never a good thing, and therefore contraception, sex ed, etc?

  • mark

    Just would like to point out, that the ex 21:12-14 shows that a person who killed someone else accidentally was not to be put to death.  Only premeditated MURDER was punished capitally. You took 2 verses and came up with a view point that doesn’t line up with the whole Bible

  • Mattflannagan

    Serious question to the author, do you maintain there that Mc Donalds happy meals existed when Calvin wrote his commentary on the Pentateuch?  I simple yes or no answer will do. Also do you maintain the septuagint was translated around the same time as Mc Donalds came out with happy meals? 

  • P J Evans

     those aren’t serious questions.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Have spambots actually begun passing Turing Tests? O.o

  • Mattflannagan

    P J actually they are serious questions.   If the author wants to maintain that the “biblical position” he mentions is younger than the happy meal, he has to face those questions.  

    I repeat my question, is it the authors position that the LXX  and Calvins commentaries are younger than happy meals at Mc Donalds? 

    Or does the author want to retract his statement about the recentness of the interpretation in question.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Given that the septuagint says that causing an abortion is not murder, I don;’t see how his claim about the recency of  the view that abortion is murder implies that the happy meal is older than the LXX.  

    You should have a look at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2012/03/22/mischief-follows-in-partisan-bible-translations/ wherein Fred addresses exactly the claim you’re trying to make. Sorry, but you’re barking up the wrong tree. 

  • Mattflannagan

    Actually
    the LXX does translate the passage as referring to abortion:

     

    “If two men fight and strike a
    pregnant woman, and her unformed embryo departs, he shall be fined; according
    as the woman’s husband lays upon (him) he shall give according to what is
    thought fit. But if it be formed, he shall give a life for a life.  Exodus 21:22-25 LXX.

     

    According to what we know from the period a formed embryo was
    an embryo from 40 days onwards. So you are quite mistaken.

     

    Similarly Philo of Alexandria
    interpreted the passage this way in the 1st century

     

    In The Special Laws, Philo writes:

     

    “But if any one has a contest with a
    woman who is pregnant, and strike her a blow on her belly, and she miscarry, if
    the child which was conceived within her is still unfashioned and unformed, he
    shall be punished by a fine, both for the assault which he committed and also
    because he has prevented nature, who was fashioning and preparing that most
    excellent of all creatures, a human being, from bringing him into existence.
    But if the child which was conceived had assumed a distinct shape … in all
    its parts, having received all its proper connective and distinctive qualities,
    he shall die; … for such a creature as that is a man, whom he has slain while
    still in the workshop of nature, who had not thought it as yet a proper time to
    produce him to the light, but had kept him like a statue lying in a sculptor’s
    workshop, requiring nothing more than to be released and sent out into the
    world.”

    Philo represents mainstream opinion of Alexandrian Judaism, Jews of the diaspora who lived outside of Palestine

     

    This was pretty much the consensus
    way of interpreting Exodus 21:25-26 for the church fathers and the medieval
    period. I can provide numerous other primary source citations if you wish.  

     

    Moreover, I note you ignored my
    reference to Calvin here is his commentary on the Hebrew version of the text

     

    This passage at first sight is
    ambiguous, for if the word death only applies to the pregnant woman, it would
    not have been a capital crime to put an end to the foetus, which would be a
    great absurdity; for the foetus, though enclosed in the womb of its mother, is
    already a human being, (homo,) and it is almost a monstrous crime to rob it of
    the life which it has not yet begun to enjoy. If it seems more horrible to kill
    a man in his own house than in a field, because a man’s house is his place of
    most secure refuge, it ought surely to be deemed more atrocious to destroy a
    foetus in the womb before it has come to light. On these grounds I am led to
    conclude, without hesitation, that the words, “if death should
    follow,” must be applied to the foetus as well as to the mother. Besides,
    it would be by no means reasonable that a father should sell for a set sum the
    life of his son or daughter. Wherefore this, in my opinion, is the meaning of
    the law, that it would be a crime punishable with death, not only when the
    mother died from the effects of the abortion, but also if the infant should be
    killed; whether it should die from the wound abortively, or soon after its
    birth. ( John Calvin, Harmony of the Law, Vol. 3
    http://www.ccel.org/c/calvin/comment3/comm_vol05/htm/TOC.htm.)

     

    So I take
    it your position was that the LXX translators, Philo, and Calvin ate happy
    meals? 

    Sorry I am not barking up the wrong tree. You are.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Um. Except that by your own admission

    1. The passage refers to misscarriage, not premature birth
    2. Since it definately refers to miscariage, and the PENALTY FOR IT IS EXPLICITLY DIFFERENT FROM THE PENALTY FOR MURDER, then abortion CANNOT BE MURDER.
    3. Forcing a woman to have an abortion against her will is counted as a crime against the man to whom the woman “belongs”. Therefore the aborted fetus IS NOT A PERSON.

    Which is the position that Fred says is the OLDER, PRE-HAPPY MEAL position.

    You’re terribly confused. You seem tothink that proof of exactly what Fred says is the older version (abortion is not murder and a fetus is not a person) implies that the newer version (abortion is murder and a fetus is a person) is actually old.

  • Mattflannagan

    Sorry
    the confusion is yours

    First,
    you ignore the citation from Calvin where he interprets the passage in the 16th
    century the way the author says has only been adopted since Mcdonalds
    began. 

    This passage at first sight is
    ambiguous, for if the word death only applies to the pregnant woman, it would
    not have been a capital crime to put an end to the foetus, which would be a great absurdity; for the foetus, though enclosed
    in the womb of its mother, is already a human being, (homo,) and it is
    almost a monstrous crime to rob it of the life which it has not yet
    begun to enjoy. If it seems more horrible to kill a man in his own house
    than in a field, because a man’s house is his place of most secure
    refuge, it ought surely to be deemed more atrocious to destroy a foetus
    in the womb before it has come to light. On these grounds I am led to conclude,
    without hesitation, that the words, “if death should follow,”
    must be applied to the foetus as well as to the mother. Besides, it
    would be by no means reasonable that a father should sell for a set sum the
    life of his son or daughter. Wherefore this, in my opinion, is the meaning of
    the law, that it would be a crime punishable with death, not only when the mother died from the effects of the abortion, but
    also if the infant should be killed; whether it should die from the
    wound abortively, or soon after its birth. ( John Calvin, Harmony of the Law, Vol. 3)

    Calvin explicitly interprets the passage to
    refer to a premature birth and explicitly interprets it so that the penalty is
    the same for both death of the mother and the child. So
    the the interpretation Frank refers to was defended by one of the leading
    commentators over 400 years ago. This is quite conclusive evidence that Fred’s
    claim is wrong.

    Second,
    you seem to have not read my post at all lets look at what the Septuagint a
    translation from several hundred years before Christ said.

    “If two men fight and strike a
    pregnant woman, and her unformed embryo departs, he shall be fined; according
    as the woman’s husband lays upon (him) he shall give according to what is
    thought fit. But if it be formed, he shall give a life for a life.”
     Exodus 21:22-25 LXX

    You write

     

     

    “1. The passage refers to misscarriage, not
    premature birth”         
            

    Yes in the Septuagint it does, but seeing abortion
    is causing miscarriage that’s hardly a compelling point.

    “2. Since it definately refers to miscariage, and the PENALTY FOR IT IS
    EXPLICITLY DIFFERENT FROM THE PENALTY FOR MURDER, then abortion CANNOT BE
    MURDER.”

    Wrong, in the Septuagint the penalty for causing a
    miscarriage that results in the death of a formed fetus is the penalty for
    murder, read it again. It states But if it be formed, he shall give a life for a
    life.”  Exodus 21:22-25 LXX.

    A formed fetus at the time the Septuagint was
    translated refered to an embryo at 40 days or latter. So the penalty for abortion after 40 days is the same as for a human being. 

    “3. Forcing a woman to have an abortion against her
    will is counted as a crime against the man to whom the woman
    “belongs”. Therefore the aborted fetus IS NOT A PERSON.”

    There is no evidence the text says abortion is a
    crime against the man whom the women belongs. The Septuagint
    says that with an “unformed” embryo  he
    shall be fined “he shall be fined; according as the woman’s husband
    lays upon (him)” the fact the husband demands the fine does not mean its
    compensation for the husbands loss of property. This clause is limited to
    unformed embryos not foetuses from 40 days onwards. Moreover, the fact the
    husband lays the amount upon him does not entail its compensation for the
    husband. In Hittite law the same phraseology is used in cases where the husband
    demands compensation for the loss  of the
    fetus and the amount demanded is based on its status. So your quite wrong here.

    The facts
    are there for anyone to examine, the so called post happy meal interpretation
    was adopted by Calvin and variants of it were around 200 years before
    Christ.  This is documented in any
    historical study of the history of moral theology on abortion.Fred needs
    to come clean and tell us if he thinks Happy meals existed in the time of
    Calvin or the Septuagint. Clearly they did not. 

    Tell Fred posts are more effective when they are demonstrably inaccurate, and repeating his mantras after primary sources have been provided refuting them is hardly compelling or honest.

  • Mattflannagan

    I can provide similar citations from most of the church fathers, Thomas Aquinas, Canon law and so on. Get your facts straight in future.

  • P J Evans

     A few pages up from this there’s a comment with about a dozen different translations of the passage you’re arguing about. IIRC none of them say what you’re claiming – and the ‘church fathers’ are much more recent than that passage, so if modern doesn’t count, neither should they.

  • Mattflannagan

    P J I saw that page, it cites a series of english translations.  The bible was 1st translated into english some 400 years ago. 

    The church fathers predate this by over a thousand years. 

    Moreover even if they didn’t , my point is substantiated, because it shows the view that Fred claims originates post McDonalds was actually widely held thousands of years earlier.Moreover, if you look at what I wrote I provided the example of the septuagint which is one of the oldest translations of the old testament in existence it was translated 300 years before Christ and it interprets the passage as refering to harm to the fetus. There are very few translations of the bible older than this. Nor is the septuagint alone in this the Samaritan Targums translate the passage in a similar way. You might think that 300 BC there was Mc D’s and the Samaritans muched happy meals, but I think history will suggest otherwise.

  • http://wbmoore.wordpress.com/ wbmoore

    i guess the author of this article has never actually done research on abortion in church history. I did a simple search and found many places which discuss the history of what the church has taught about abortion over the centuries. Here is one such sample:
    http://www.bible.ca/H-Abortion.htm

  • Lori

    You know what would be super? If  folks would actually read the post and the comments before they get their righteous undies all in a bunch and commit thread necromancy in order to share their superior wisdom.

    Our latest visitor is a perfect example. It’s rather difficult to take Mattflannagan’s reading of the scriptures and commentaries on them seriously when he can’t even read Fred’s post.
    Look again Matt. Fred did not claim that no one ever believed abortion was murder prior to 1979. Obviolusly people did. Fred is aware of that and so are most of the people who read this blog. What Fred said is that prior to the 1980s believing that abortion is murder was not considered a core belief of Christians with orthodoxy demanded. People disagreed and that disagreement was not treated as tantamount to a rejection of Christianity. Nothing that you’ve written has anything to do with that. This is now at least the 3rd time this has been covered in this thread.

  • Mattflannagan

    ” What Fred said is that prior to the 1980s believing that abortion is murder was not considered a core belief of Christians with orthodoxy demanded. ” 

    Actually in this post here http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2012/03/22/mischief-follows-in-partisan-bible-translations/

    He claims this translation of the bible is younger than Mcdonalds. 

    But to your specific claim.Actually, one the earliest existing Christian Catechism the Didache does consider it to be a core orthodox belief.

    The writings of the early church and the early church canons, and medieval canon law also take a similar stance.

    In fact between the time of Christ and the 19th century you’d be lucky to find 

    But why let facts get in the way of a lefty rant right? 

  • EllieMurasaki

    Citation needed. In particular you need citations for the idea that “abortion is murder” was Biblically based before the 1980s when translations started to say that destruction of the fetus was a capital offense, and for the belief that “restoring menstruation” (that is, an abortion in the embryonic stage or before the fetus has started to move) was considered murder.

  • Mattflannagan

    If you read my posts you’ll see I provided three citations. One from Philo of Alexnadra ( 1st century) one from Calvin ( 16th century) and the septuagint ( a 3rd century BC translation of the Old testament. 

    The didache a 1st century catechism is here: http://ancienthistory.about.com/library/bl/bl_text_didache.htm

    Read 2:2

  • EllieMurasaki

     Okay, awesome, you’ve provided citation for the idea that abortion has always been considered murder after quickening. Provide citation for the idea that abortion has always been considered murder between conception and quickening. (hint: it wasn’t) Provide citation for the idea that abortion has always been considered murder by the Bible between conception and quickening. (hint: it wasn’t)

  • Mattflannagan

     

    Okay,
    awesome, you’ve provided citation for the idea that abortion has always been
    considered murder after
    quickening. Provide citation for the idea that abortion has
    always been considered murder between
    conception and quickening. (hint: it wasn’t) Provide citation for the idea
    that abortion has always been considered murder by the Bible between conception and quickening.
    (hint: it wasn’t)

    Actually,
    Quickening is not mentioned in any of my sources.  Quickening comes from English common law and
    in later forms  precedents  referred to the time a women felt the fetus
    move around 16 weeks after conception. What’s mentioned is formation, which was
    around 40 days after conception.  Seeing
    formation is between quickening and conception, my argument applies there as
    well. That abortion was homicide at least from formation on, has been by an
    large the consensus view amougst theologians for most of Church history years. 

    Its
    worth noting also that even those theologians who held that  it  was  not homicide, prior to 40 days still
    considered it a serious sin to  kill  the  embryo
    up until this point.   The first to
    suggest  it was acceptable  to  kill
    an embryo prior to formation was  John of
    Naples  in the 13th century
    and he argued this was permissible only in cases where there was a severe
    danger to a womens life. Moreover many sources from the early church do not
    draw a distinction between  a pre formed
    and unformed fetus. The Didache does not, nor does Tertullian, nor does Basil,
    nor do many early canons and canon law, nor does Calvin, thats off the top of my head I could provide others if you want. 

    But second
    note how  you have changed the goal
    posts.  Here you ask me to dispute the
    claim that abortion was “always”  considered
     homicide  “right  up to conception”.

    That
    however is not what Fred said, Fred suggested that  the interpretation of Exodus 21:22-25  as referring to harm to the fetus as opposed
    the women  as something as young as Mc
    Donalds happy meals, and that is clearly and unequivocally false. The  Septuagint clearly interprets the passage
    as  talking about the fetus. Note again
    my citation from Calvin who interpreted the passage precisely  the way 
    these “modern” translations do. 
    Aquinas also interpreted the Masoretic text this way  in the 
    13th century . As did 19th century commentators
    like Dillman, Gieger ,  and others.

    Sorry but
    you don’t get to  defend a false claim on
    the part of  Fred by suddenly changing
    the question.

    The facts
    are

    1.        Until fairly recently,Christian orthodoxy has
    pretty much universally condemned 
    feticide from 40 days onwards as homicide.

    2.     
    Until
    fairly recently Christian orthodoxy has pretty much universally condemned abortion at any stage in pregnancy.

    3.      Interpreting
    Exodus 21:22-25 as condemning the killing of the fetus as opposed to just the
    mother, is in fact a very old, and probably the dominant, interpretation of
    this passage  in Christian history.

    4.      Interpreting
    Exodus this way has also been a major tradition within Judaism as seen by the Septuagint,
    and the Samitarn Targum.

     

    Finally seeing, Fred omits to mention it, even Judaism
    understands Exodus 21:22-25 as condemning abortion, the discussions about  a fetus not being human in this passage are
    cited in discussions where the question is wether abortion is acceptable to
    save the womens life,  its in that
    context its licit, outside this context its considered a sin.

     

    Fred also fails to note that in other areas of Jewish law a
    fetus is considered a human being from early on, and he neglects to note that  Judaism contended that the Noahide law, the
    law binding on Gentiles,  condemned  abortion as homicide.

     

    Facts are annoying things for pro choice propagandists.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Question’s the same damn thing it’s always been; you just like misreading. Forty days into pregnancy is often not even enough time for the woman to know she’s pregnant, let alone anyone else. Since you can’t be bothered providing actual citations, just names that it might be interesting to look into, I’m going to do some research before replying to you again. And what the hell interpretation of Judaism are you using? Because the ones I’m familiar with, abortion is not just permissible, it is (in cases of threat to the woman) mandatory. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judaism_and_abortion and citations there.

  • Mattflannagan

    I agree 40 days is very early,
    that’s my point, the dominant interpretation in Christian history is that
    feticide is homicide from very early on in the pregnancy.

     

    And I did provide citations,  I have provided several now. Pretending they
    don’t exist doesn’t change that.

     

    Sorry but the person not reading
    is you, you cite Wikipedia, normally I would use that as an authoritative
    source. But in this case if you read it you’ll see it actually agrees with me.
    Let’s look at the source you cite.

     

    Here is the beginning of the
    article you linked to, just so readers can see what it actually says

     

    In Judaism,
    views on abortion draw primarily upon the legal and ethical teachings of the
    Hebrew Bible, the Talmud, the case-by-case decisions of responsa, and other
    rabbinic literature. In the modern period, moreover, Jewish thinking on abortion
    has responded both to liberal understandings of personal autonomy as well as
    much Christian opposition to abortion.[1] Contemporarily speaking, observant
    Jews firmly oppose abortion, with few health-related exceptions, and liberal
    Jews tend to allow greater latitude for abortion.”

     

    Note what the summary says ‘
    observant jews generally “oppose” abortion. Not permit, oppose.

     

    If one reads on it states

     

    “In mainstream
    rabbinic Judaism, the Biblical verse is one of several key texts that
    substantiate the later rabbinic prohibition on abortion, albeit not as murder.
    Owing partly to this verse, rabbinic law orhalakhah sanctions abortion under
    some circumstances, namely for medical reason.”

     

    Note what is said here, mainstream
    rabbinic Judaism  appealed to this verse
    to

    So the source you cite agrees with what I said which was that “even
    Judaism understands Exodus 21:22-25 as condemning abortion, the discussions
    about  a fetus not being human in this
    passage are cited in discussions where the question is whether abortion is
    acceptable to save the womens life,  its
    in that context its licit, outside this context its considered a sin.”

     

    Try reading sources before citing them.

     

    But if you want citations, here is a good one from Josephus
    explaining what he understood the Jewish law to teach in the first century  “The law, moreover, enjoins us to bring up
    all our offspring, and forbids women to cause abortion of what is begotten, or
    to destroy it afterward; and if any woman appears to have so done, she will be
    a murderer of her child, by destroying a living creature, and diminishing human
    kind” Contra Apion bk ii 25

     

    The  Wikipedia article you
    cite goes on to talk about Judaism in the medieval period

     

     

    “Another reason to prohibit abortion is found in
    the Talmudic commentaries known as the Tosafot. “The Tosafot argued that
    abortion is forbidden to Jews because it is forbidden to non-Jews under the
    Noahide laws. “A gentile is culpable for the death of a fetus, while a Jew
    is forbidden to cause its death but is not culpable.”[11] Here the Tosafot
    follow the logic that Jews are not permitted actions that are forbidden to
    gentiles, though the (theoretical) punishment for violations would apply only
    to gentiles.[12] Relying on such reciprocal logic, the Tosafot also hold that,
    since Jews are permitted therapeutic abortions for the sake of maternal life,
    then Noahide law likewise allows non-Jews to undergo therapeutic abortion.
    Given this near parity, rabbinic law prohibits Jews from assisting gentiles
    with forbidden abortions, for which the gentiles would be culpable of murder.”

     

    The agrees with what I said above, note what I said that Fred
    “neglects to note that  Judaism contended
    that the Noahide law, the law binding on Gentiles,  condemned 
    abortion as homicide.”

     

    What did you say about, not reading?  Do you stick by your comment that  which I will repeat just so readers can see
    what you said.

     

    And what the hell interpretation of Judaism are
    you using? Because the ones I’m familiar with, abortion is not just
    permissible, it is (in cases of threat to the woman) mandatory..

     

     Its pretty clear that  the article you cited does not state that all
    forms or Judaism or even most forms of Judaism consider abortion to be
    permissible. You had read this article and so are familiar with these forms.

     

    Like I said fact s are an annoying thing to pro choice
    propagandists aren’t they.  

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    When people like Mattflanagan waltz in here, I always end up imagining some snotty jerk talking down his nose, and basically not discussing in good faith, but rather just to bludgeon some point home even if it seems like goalpost-moving to do it.

    The corollary of that is when I imagine some snotty asshole coming on here and then when called on it, acting like they’re actually litterally jumping up and down with their eyes squeezed shut.

  • P J Evans

    I guess someone at one of the ‘Bible-based’ locations noticed this, so now we’re getting another influx of people who are going to tell us all How Wrong We Are – without bothering to read the post itself or any of the previous arguments that were exactly the same as theirs.

    I get the impression that ‘Bible-based’ anything requires turning off all higher brain functions and becoming a robot for Jeebus.

  • Mattflannagan

    So are you saying in previous posts you, made false claims about history, when provided with citations responded by asking, where are citations, and when they were provided again, changed the subject  and then finally linked to a wikipedia article that said that rabbinic judaism used the passage to oppose abortion allowing it only in rare circumstances when the womens life was in danger and pretended it said the opposite. 

    Sorry I don’t know what you mean by turning off higher brain functions.  

  • Mattflannagan

    “The woman who has deliberately destroyed [her fetus] is subject to the penalty for murder. And among us there is no fine distinction between a completely formed and unformed [embryo]. For here justice is not only to be procured for the woman, who conspired [to kill] herself, because the women who attempt such things often die afterwards. Moreover, added to this is the destruction of the embryo, another murder, at least according to the intention of those who dare such things. Yet, it is not necessary to extend this penitence until their death, but one should accept a period of ten years’ [penitence]. Moreover, their restoration (therapeian) should be determined not by time, but by the manner of their repentance ”
    Basil of Ceaseria letter 188:2, explaining the practise of the early church regarding abortion  as laid down in the council of Ancyra in 374 AD ( no doubt Fred thinks he was eating at McDonalds at the time). 

  • Lori

     

    Basil of Ceaseria letter 188:2,

    One problem with this is that Basil of Ceaseria didn’t have the same understanding of the concept of fetus that you do.

    Aside from that, the fact that a man is trotting out a long parade of men telling women what they may and may not do with their own bodies is less than convincing.

  • Mattflannagan

    Lori,  that again changes the subject to wether Basil ünderstood the fetus the way I did or whether he is a man or whether certain pro choice slogans are acccurate.  

    That however was not the question was it?  what you said was that

    “that prior to the 1980s believing that abortion is murder was not considered a core belief of Christians with orthodoxy demanded” 

    Similary, Fred said the idea that abortion was condemned as murder was a new view younger than happy meal. 

    Care to admit that this was total twaddle or do you want to change the subject again?

    You don’t get to make stuff up just because it furthers a cause you think is pro women. 

  • P J Evans

    Matt, please take your prooftexting somewhere else. it isn’t impressive here, it merely annoys people. So do your assumptions that the modern Christian church has always said X, even when there’s proof that it hasn’t, and that the ‘church fathers’  (in quotes because that’s not how they thought of themselves) were always right and would approve of what Benny-the-Pope is doing to the modern Catholic church.

  • Mattflannagan

     

    PJ

    I think it’s a little dishonest to misrpesent the issues and
    change the subject when the accuracy of a post has been called.

    First, you try and suggest I am “proof texting”, this however
    is false. I am providing primary source citations which is what a previous
    commentor asked I do. If people find something unwelcome they should not
    request I do it.

      Second you state my
    assumptions are  “the modern Christian
    church has always said X, even when there’s proof that it hasn’t, and that the
    ‘church fathers’  (in quotes because that’s not how they thought of
    themselves) were always right” 

    But I never said any of these things at all. Did I?

    The original claim was, not that the “modern church” had
    changed its view, nor was that the church fathers sometimes got it wrong. It
    was  that a particular interpretation of
    the bible was younger than happy meal. That claim has been shown to be false.

    Several defenders then made other false claims to back this
    up;Ross stated that the Septuagint does not condemn feticide as homicide. I
    cited the Septuagint to say that was false.

    Lori: then said that . “that prior to the 1980s believing
    that abortion is murder was not considered a core belief of Christians with
    orthodoxy demanded”

    That claim is also false, I noted that the earliest Christian
    catechism considered it a core Christian belief. Moreover, Basil shows it was
    an offence that required church discipline. Canon law made it an
    excommunicatable offence.

    EllieMurasaki  then claimed I had provided no citations. That
    also was false I had provided several, including Philo, the didache, the Septuagint
    and Calvin.

    EllieMurasaki
    then claimed the
    bible was never considered to be homicide between quickening and conception.

    That
    was also false, the postion of the Septuagint, canon law and pretty much the
    consensus amoungst theologians for most of church history was that it was
    homicide at least by formation which is between conception and quickening.

    EllieMurasaki  then claimed I had not provided “actual
    citations, just names” this was also false I had already provided
    several citations as suggested above

    EllieMurasak:  then stated that all the forms of Judaism he
    is familiar with   abortion is
    permissible and cited a Wikipedia source.

    This was also false the very source he provided said quite
    clearly that abortion was condemned by Judaism historically and was permitted
    only in rare cases where the mothers life was at risk.

    This is a repeated pattern of demonstrably false claims to
    support another demonstrably false claim.

    At the point you suggested the problem was that people of my
    persuasion were  “turning off all
    higher brain functions and becoming a robot for Jeebus. This of course
    is simply offering an insult when the facts have proved other than what was
    attested

    Now apparently the claim is that no one ever intended talking
    about the past  but about the “modern
    church”  and merely the claim that church
    fathers were not always correct.  The
    problem is this also is false isn’t it PJ.

     

     All the above examples
    show they were making claims about the past. Claims were made about the Septuagint,
    what was considered a core belief, what Judaism taught and so on.

    Sorry PJ but Fred has been shown to be making false claims so
    have you and the other interloctuors in here.

    Why not just concede you were mistaken, the evangelical
    church in saying abortion is homicide from early in the pregnancy are
    reflecting a millennia old tradition, which dates back to the first century and
    even earlier in the LXX. There interpretations of Exodus reflect the way the
    passages were interpreted by Calvin Aquinas and many others. You might think
    this tradition is wrong, but pretending its novel is just not accurate.

    And engaging in the kind of tactics I mention above
    demonstrates not just that you are ignorant of the history here but you will
    engage in dishonesty to further that ignorance rather than just admit you were
    wrong.

  • Cncharrison

    “When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman’s husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. (Exodus 21:22-25 ESV)

    Seems clear. Maybe why the verse wqs referenced yet not written out.

  • Glennwilliamspdx

    Yes, in the Bible, life and breath have always been connected. God breathed into Adam the breath of life. There seems to be a correlation between viability and individual personhood.

  • MagentaLizard

    What Fred doesn’t mention is that this occurred as part of Karl Rove’s agenda under Reagan to bring Catholics and Evangelicals into the Republican fold (along with the anti-gay ‘pro-family’ rhetoric). Thus, I believe this is largely a political tool driving the religious shift.

  • http://twitter.com/RKahendi Rose Kahendi

    I only just came across this. It’s a well-written piece. Kudos.

  • bearzee

    The abortion issue makes a handy lure for the bait-and-switch in order to lead “Christians” to Ayn Rand greed and anti-Christian work.

    Right-winger Paul Weyrich of the Committee for the Survival of a Free Congress.

    Weyrich said:

    “What galvanised the Christian community was not abortion, school prayer, or the ERA. I am living witness to that because I was trying to get those people interested in those issues and I utterly failed. What changed their mind was Jimmy Carter’s intervention against the Christian schools, trying to deny them tax-exempt status on the basis of so-called de-facto segregation.”

  • Tim

    Fascinating. The article does
    not speak about the cultural context from which the theologies emerged.
    Developing a theology of soul in preabortive times is certainly
    different than when preborn babies are systematically destroyed with the
    safety of technological advances and on a large-scale. Moving abortion
    from deviant and relatively rare behavior to legal and commonplace will
    change theological discourse. In much the same way I expect theological
    discourse will change and evolve as the ethical questions of genetic engineering
    continue to progress and grow in scale and scope. Theological development is not new nor should it surprise us whether it is evangelical theology or any other kind.

  • SBNoel

    Proverbs 6:16-17King James Version (KJV)
    16 These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    And this is in aid of… what?


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