What do the scriptures teach about abortion?
The following letter was submitted in the Spring of 1991, as a response to contributing editor Mike Wade’s series on pro-life activism:
Dear Mike Wade:
I hate to blow your heroic, “persecuted” pro-life Christian bit here, but if your “pro-life” efforts are being opposed by people, it is only because those efforts are fear-motivated, and work against women, the Jews, the Bible, millions of pro-choice Christians and the Constitutional guarantee of religious freedom (see the 1st amendment).
For example, Jewish tradition considers the fetus a person (a nephesh, i.e., “a breathing creature,” translated as “soul” in Genesis 2:7, “life for life” in Exodus 21:23 and “man” in Lev. 24:17 – #5315 in the Hebrew dictionary in Strong’s Concordance) only at birth.
Just check your Bible. The Bible’s definition of “living” is breathing (Ps. 150:6, Ez. 37:10, 1 Kings 17 and similar passages. Try looking up breathing and breath in your Strong’s Concordance). The Bible’s definition of a human being is nephesh. It is translated 30 times as person in the King James Version, and also as “life,” “man” and “soul.”
Why, in Ex. 21:22-25, is only a fine paid for a miscarriage, and execution (life for life; nephesh for nephesh) required if the woman dies? It is because the unborn has not yet received the “breath of life” (through its nostrils – see Genesis 2:7). So biblically, (I’m not talking science here) it is not “alive.” Therefore, abortion is not murder. Ask a rabbi or two, or three. Contact a few pro-choice Christians and look at the evidence. Kick the fear habit.
Just to confirm this, see page 139 of Operation Rescue. Randall Terry cuts off verses 23, 24 & 25 of Exodus 21, takes the passage out of the context of nephesh and “breathing,” adds the idea of “accidental” (see Deuteronomy 25:11 on that idea), and tries to use Jewish scripture against the predominantly pro-choice Jews.
See George Grant’s book Grand Illusions page 193 – Exodus 21 is buried under a lot of irrelevant passages, or see Grant’s Third Time Around – no relevant material here. No attempt here to convince you of anything, just to give you the information that many cover up, so you can make an “informed decision.” There are always people around who will use your good intentions for their purposes. – Good luck on this.
1492 Ribbet Ave.
A response from Mike Wade:
I thank Mr. Frogg for responding and providing this topic for discussion. He seems to have done considerable research on the subject, and I regret that his thoughts are not better organized so as to show full exegesis.
I’m afraid it takes more than ownership of a Strong’s Concordance to arrive at logical conclusions about the Bible. As Mr. Frogg points out, God requires a penalty for the accidental death of an unborn baby boy or girl. How might God then feel about the intentional death of an unborn baby boy or girl? How might He feel about those who quote this scripture to PROMOTE such intentional killing?
Exodus 21 is in complete agreement with the rest of the Old Testament Law regarding the distinction between accidental manslaughter and intentional murder. Those who killed as the result of an accident were allowed to flee to another city (Deut. 19:5). To spell this out as clearly as possible, the penalty afforded in Exodus 21:22 was to be determined by the recklessness with which the killers were guilty. Two men struggling with each other could quite possibly strike a woman who interfered to such a degree that she miscarried. To strike her so hard that she died would take much more, and is very correctly described as manslaughter.
That Mr. Frogg tries to invoke Deut. 25:11 as an argument for his position either testifies of his faulty logic or further exemplifies his hit and run tactics of using an idea in his own defense long enough to hide behind but running to another idea before the logical conclusions of tat idea can be used to disprove his original thesis.
As to the matter of breath, the Bible refers to spirits in a number of different metaphors such as fire, water, oil, and yes, breath. The key to understanding these metaphors is a sincere effort to respect context. The Old Testament clearly states that “the life is in the blood” (Lev. 17:11). This is no metaphor. Moses did not indicate that the breath of an animal be offered as a sacrifice and, for the Christian, the physical reality of Christ’s shed blood on the cross is an essential tenet.
In Genesis, man is the only creature into which God “breathed” life. The imagery here is that of God taking one of his creatures and making man more than an animal: “and he became a living soul.” We can’t take “breath” to mean biological life anymore than we can fire or oil. Hearts can be said to “burn” and no one takes it to mean a Maalox moment God “breathed” life into Adam that he later lost as a result of sin.
The Messiah Jesus Christ provided this spiritual life to be born anew within us as a result of sin. Jesus provided this spiritual life to be born anew within us, wonderfully portrayed in John 20: 22: “He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’”
The reader has chided me for having some sort of problem with fear. If this were true, as a former supporter of abortion-as-a-means-of-birth-control, I can tell you that I would not now be radically pro-life. It takes virtually no courage to agree with militant feminists. When, I trust, the reader has discovered the person who is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, he will then be able to quote Psalm 139 with the same enthusiasm with which he has written of Exodus 21. I don’t fear man, but I do fear God. It is the beginning of wisdom.