Friday, May 25, 2012

What the Bible Says about Abortion

From Daily Mull, courtesy of a friend on facebook:

God tells Moses what procedure to follow if a husband suspects that his wife is pregnant by another man.

There's an elaborate ritual involved, which the curious can puruse at length without finding any loopholes. (It might be a worthwhile spiritual experience nonetheless. At some point during the purusal, it might just occur to you that all you're doing is looking for loopholes, and is that any way to read a book which you've taken as your life guide?)

For the rest of you, I'll cut to the chase. God has the woman go to a priest, who performs a sacrifice and then concocts a specific drink for her to drink.

God then tells Moses that if the baby does not belong to the husband, she will abort the baby.

As an unbeliever, I doubt very much that the chemical properties of the drink would produce these wonderfully discriminating results—if it ever worked, it was probably due to the stress put on the woman's body as her guilt was magnified by this elaborate and public ceremony.

But it doesn't matter how, or even whether, it worked.

What matters is that if you are a serious Bible-believer, you have here, in inspired black and white, God not only approving of an abortion, but giving instructions on how to perform it.

More here.

Of course, the fundamentalists have always been on shaky ground, theologically speaking, as far as the Bible and abortion go, with Scriptural support such as the kind you find in Jeremiah 1:5, asserting that "Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee." You know, stuff that doesn't really say anything at all about abortion, but, depending on how you squint your eyes, might imply that God doesn't like abortion. That is, there are no money shots about this in the Bible, no specific verses that make abortion a sin in the way that coveting your neighbor's wife is a sin.

And that's just a wee bit weird because, you know, the ancients knew about abortion just as surely as they knew about homosexuality. But, apparently, there is, in fact, an abortion money shot in the Bible. It's just that it is a few verses that seemingly approve of abortion, indeed, mandating it when a man's wife has been impregnated by another man.

Of course, I was skeptical, so I checked it out. The King James Version, my favorite, of the passage from Numbers cited in the excerpt above wasn't entirely clear, talking about making "thy thigh to rot," something that could mean anything for all I know. But the New International Version is completely clear: "...may the Lord cause you to become a curse among your people when he makes your womb miscarry and your abdomen swell." Crystal clear. The intention of the above described ritual is to cause a miscarriage, or, more simply, an abortion.

I just love it when everything I thought I knew is wrong. I wonder if such a passage would even matter to the pro-life faithful. Probably not. I mean, even though fundamentalists supposedly never interpret the Bible, they, in fact, always interpret the Bible, picking and choosing which sections to emphasize and which sections to ignore, you know, like all that shit about menstruation.

One thing's for sure: next time I'm in a dog fight on abortion with a looney fundamentalist, I fully plan to drop this passage from Numbers like the A-bomb on Nagasaki. What fun it will be.