I don’t turn to the Bible in order to determine what is right, moral, good, just, or ethical. But a lot of Christians do. They talk about a biblical worldview this, a Bible-based decision that. Typically, in America, Biblical means right-wing; you stand for “traditional” marriages and against abortions.
But what if I told you that the Bible not only condones abortion, it gives a recipe for how to perform one? Would you be surprised?
Well, some of you wouldn’t. I’m sure you’re aware of the story from Numbers 5. For those who aren’t, here’s verses 19 through 22:
Then the priest shall make her take an oath, saying, “If no man has lain with you, if you have not turned aside to uncleanness while under your husband’s authority, be immune to this water of bitterness that brings the curse. But if you have gone astray while under your husband’s authority, if you have defiled yourself and some man other than your husband has had intercourse with you,” —let the priest make the woman take the oath of the curse and say to the woman—“the Lord make you an execration and an oath among your people, when the Lord makes your uterus drop, your womb discharge; now may this water that brings the curse enter your bowels and make your womb discharge, your uterus drop!” And the woman shall say, “Amen. Amen.”
That’s a lengthy way to say that if a woman cheats on her husband and gets pregnant, the priest is to perform an abortion by having her drink “bitter water.”
But again, because I don’t turn to the Bible to determine what is right and good, I’m not suggesting this is the best way to go about performing abortions. It’s a highly patriarchal and sexist practice, if taken at face value. The point, then, is simply this: If you have a literalist approach to the Bible, you can’t avoid this passage. You have to take it head on. If you’re anti-abortion and pro-“Word of God,” then you can’t skirt this issue forever.
Now, obviously that’s exactly what most Christians will do; they will avoid this passage at all costs. You won’t hear many sermons on Numbers 5, not many sermons entitled “Here’s How The Word of God Says We Should Abort Fetuses.” But that’s the thing about so many Christians in America; they have a pick-and-choose approach to the Bible. To put it this way: They cherry-pick the Bible when it’s suitable for them.
Of course, cherry-picking is fine. I admit that much in many places. The question, then, is this: HOW are we going to cherry-pick? Are we going to pick the cherries that point us toward love, inclusion, acceptance, mercy, tolerance, patience, kindness, and social justice? Or, are we going to do what the fundamentalists do and pick the rotten cherries of violence, bigotry, homophobia, exclusion, wrath, and vengeance?
That’s what is so fascinating about the Bible. You can make it say basically whatever you want it to say. And that’s exactly why it’s not my rulebook for life, and never will be. It’s too dangerous, and has caused too much harm over the millennia.
Maybe you see things differently, and if you do, put something in the comments. Just be kind, or I’ll make you drink some bitter water.
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