Should Jesus Have Been Aborted?

There’s a command in the Bible that Christian anti-abortionists really hate — or at least they’d hate it if they knew about it. It’s a command to abort children when a husband suspects his wife was unfaithful:

If feelings of jealousy come over her husband and he suspects his wife and she is impure—or if he is jealous and suspects her even though she is not impure—then he is to take his wife to the priest…. After the priest has had the woman stand before the LORD, he shall loosen her hair and place in her hands the reminder offering, the grain offering for jealousy, while he himself holds the bitter water that brings a curse

Here the priest is to put the woman under this curse of the oath—”may the LORD cause your people to curse and denounce you when he causes your thigh to waste away and your abdomen to swell.” He shall have the woman drink the bitter water that brings a curse, and this water will enter her and cause bitter suffering. (Numbers 5:14, 18, 24)

So if a husband suspects his wife of infidelity, he is to bring her to a priest. The priest makes the woman drink poison that would normally cause an abortion. If she is guilty, the child dies. If she is not guilty, the poison has no effect and the child lives.

Now think back to the story of Jesus’ birth. Mary becomes pregnant when she is betrothed to Joseph, and he knows he wasn’t rolling around in the hay with her. According to Jewish law, Joseph should have taken Mary to a priest and had her drink poison.

So according to the Bible, Jesus have been brought to a priest for an attempted abortion.

Now of course there are endless hermeneutic hoops Christians can jump through to reconcile this. God warned Joseph through a dream so he wouldn’t do it, or maybe they did go to a priest but Jesus survived.

My main point is that the Bible commands abortion in certain cases, yet fundamentalists — who claim to believe in the literal “Word of God” and base their life on it — ignore this passage and insist abortion is wrong in all circumstances and is the same as murder.

I don’t normally recommend this, but perhaps this time there is a seed of an answer in their holy book. Don’t get me wrong — the practice described here is barbaric and despicable. Any suspicious or paranoid husband can take his wife to a priest to drink poison — an act that is just as likely to hurt the mother as the child. Not exactly what I call an enlightened morality.

But that passage should at least make anti-choice Christians think a little harder about whether the abortion issue is really so black and white.

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You Can't Keep a Bad Man Down
Atheists in the Evangelical Mind