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I think abortion is an important political topic. The current standard of outlawing abortion, in most cases where the fetus has reached the stage of development at which it would be likely to live outside the womb, is the type of compromise that democracies generate.

Those who claim that the moment of conception creates a separate human life entitled to all the rights of a citizen cite the authority of God. How so?

The Romans were very concerned about increasing their population given the low proportion of Romans compared to the slave and conquered populations. Abortion and gay sex were condemned as failing in one's duty to the state to make more Romans. It is not surprising then that for most of its life the Roman Catholic Church opposed abortion. The RCC after all held the Bible as only one of three sources of God's truth. The fact that the Bible is silent on abortion needn't trouble them.

With the cry of Sola Sanctura! Protestants claimed that the Bible was the only source of knowing God's will. Thus it was that in the 1970's Protestants had not yet received word that abortion was God's number one, or even a serious concern. That change in the 80's was largely due to the influence of Francis Schaeffer.

When pressed for the Biblical support for their belief that opposing abortion is God's greatest priority, evangelicals and other "conservative" Christians generally cite "Thou shalt not kill" because they have nothing else to hang their hat on. The fact that the law was given on Mt. Sinai during a journey that began with the murder of every first born child in Egypt and ended with the ordered massacre of every child in Canaan would give some context to any objective reader; as would the many commands to kill in the Mosaic law itself.

What most people don't realize however is that the Bible, in the Mosaic law, does specifically speak to the value of the fetus in God's eyes.

Exodus 21:22  And if men strive together, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart, and yet no harm follow; he shall be surely fined, according as the woman's husband shall lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.

So we see that, according to God's law given to Moses, a permanent injury to a woman is a harm but causing the miscarriage of a fetus is not a harm, even against the will of the mother. It's not nothing, as the lost investment and risk of the aborted pregnancy has a monetary value.

There are many reasons to read the Bible. It is a crucial key to western history. I find much to inspire me in the New Testament, especially the Beatitudes and James.

As a serious reader, my most shocking  epiphany during my 20 years in a fundamentalist Christian church was that my church friends had no intention of seeking truth in the Bible. They spent most of their "religious" efforts in reading popular books that told them what the Bible said and listening to preachers that told them what the Bible said. When "reading" the Bibles they went from safe verse to safe verse, ignoring everything in between. My signature says it best:

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (34+ / 0-)

    Our reason is quite satisfied ... if we can find a few arguments that will do to recite in case our credulity is criticized... Our faith is faith in someone else's faith, and in the greatest matters this is most the case. - William James

    by radical empiricist on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 10:01:18 AM PST

  •  Good post. (10+ / 0-)

    I'm glad Barack Obama is our President.

    by TomP on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 10:06:11 AM PST

  •  My belief on the bible and abortion is that (7+ / 0-)

    the bible is open to interpretation.  It is not so much that one person would interpret the bible to allow or disallow abortion.  It is more that they would try to rule the will of others with that interpretation of Scripture.

    This is the essence of the word "choice".  

    Howard Dean will always be my president.

    by 4democracy on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 10:06:56 AM PST

    •  Just recently read that in the 60's (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      4democracy

      Protestant churches did not see abortion as a sin. Instead, they said that the human soul had not developed and therefore the fetus wasn't considered a human life. If I find the article I'll send it.

      By extension, Mike Huckabee was extolling the virtues of science as the reason why anti choice advocates promote  that life begins at conception. Whoda thunk it?

      "I feel like I'm still waiting to meet my true self. I'm assuming it's gonna be in a dark alley and there's gonna be a fight." ---Rachel Maddow

      by never forget 2000 on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 12:39:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I grew up in a Bible thumping church (9+ / 0-)

    and I have to say this part of your experience is spot on

    [T]hat my church friends had no intention of seeking truth in the Bible. They spent most of their "religious" efforts in reading popular books that told them what the Bible said and listening to preachers that told them what the Bible said. When "reading" the Bibles they went from safe verse to safe verse, ignoring everything in between.
    They "believe" they know the Bible. To them that's all that's important. I'd point out, time and again, oddities and contradictions (Ned Flanders' plea to God "I've done everything -- even the parts that contradict each other.") and they glossed it over with "If you believed you'd understand".

    To me progress is not so much a goal as it is a process and I believe it will not follow a straight course. Remember, the drops of water that form the river may not take the shortest path but they will still reach the ocean.

    by ontheleftcoast on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 10:10:05 AM PST

  •  In other words (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wee Mama, zashvil, ExStr8, wader, martini, gfv6800

    the Bible would be fine with the husband saying "buy me a beer and we'll call it even".

    These capitalists generally act harmoniously and in concert, to fleece the people... -Abraham Lincoln

    by HugoDog on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 10:12:44 AM PST

  •  Sadly (5+ / 0-)

    The Anti's have redone the translation of that passage so it is literally anti-abortion now. The text you're using looks like KJV or older RSV. Try a post-1973 New International Version. It's depressing, because the Hebrew text doesn't support it.

    So much for the "immutable" and "divinely inspired" Word of YHWH.

    Radarlady

    •  I use the American Standard Version (7+ / 0-)

      because it is public domain.

      I took your advice and see that "her fruit depart" is now interpreted as a safe live birth.

      What is so gob smacking about this is the fundamentalist position that God knows all things, created us, created language, gave us the Bible as His word... but is just not a very good writer so we have to help him out when He doesn't express himself clearly.

      Our reason is quite satisfied ... if we can find a few arguments that will do to recite in case our credulity is criticized... Our faith is faith in someone else's faith, and in the greatest matters this is most the case. - William James

      by radical empiricist on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 10:26:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Can't believe this... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      radarlady

      I checked it out and there are so many new versions that have changed it to "premature birth".  I wanted to check the Catholic version.  The New American Bible on The Vatican website explicitly says "miscarriage".

      These are two very different things and not a "translation" thing.  I have a hard time believing the duplicity needed to change an "inconvenient" bible verse.  I'm sure some will call me Naive for being shocked by this.

      Our Dime: Understanding the Federal Budget

      by Dustin Mineau on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 10:41:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  There's also the emphasis that "breath" is life (5+ / 0-)

    and that there is no life before breath.

    You might want to fix the reference to the Reformation protestants who believed in "sola scriptura."

    If you want to make a biblical sort pop their eyes, ask them why Abraham married his half-sister. Yep, he didn't just pass Sarah as his sister; they were half-siblings. It makes perfect sense in a polygamous nomadic culture but few people stop to think.



    Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

    by Wee Mama on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 10:18:36 AM PST

  •  "Fruit depart"?(!) So they are (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TomP, ExStr8, slapshoe

    "pro-fruit".

  •  Sola Scriptura, not sanctura. nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TomP

    nt

    •  Thanks. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RightLeaningMod

      I don't know what I was thinking except that I was concentrating on the "tura" part which I got wrong the last time I referred to Sola Scriptura.

      Our reason is quite satisfied ... if we can find a few arguments that will do to recite in case our credulity is criticized... Our faith is faith in someone else's faith, and in the greatest matters this is most the case. - William James

      by radical empiricist on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 11:35:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  an atheist BUT prefer/like Jewish views on (6+ / 0-)

    1-Life of the mother is paramount, not even a question to not allow in such a case.  

    Life of the mother (period)

    2- from my understanding, a fetus is  not considered "HUMAN" till 1st breath due to G breathing life into adam via the nostrils......and if anyone is going to "interpret" the Torah/ "old testament" it is Jews as vs the new kids on the block comparatively as well as being the original writers of said "holy books/words"

    I could be wrong in my understanding, since not a torah scholar ,so any corrections would be appreciated

  •  Oh, There is So Much More (5+ / 0-)

    Genesis 2 clearly states that got breathed his breath into Adams nostrils and gave him a soul, thus until God breathes his breath into a baby, upon birth, there is no soul and therefore, no person.

    Look at the dry bones passages later on in the old testament.

    There are also other things that the righties rely upon.  For instance, the passage about about God having known you since before you were born is often used.

    The point being, there is nothing clear cut in the Bible one way or another.  For Protestants, It should be up to everyone's own individual conscience as to what God meant.  Not so much for Catholics who believe that the Pope in inerant (well except for the 98% of American Catholics who haven't followed church teachings on birth control and are going to hell).  Then of course there is the new non-denominational "cult of personality" churches who also believe that their current pastor is inerant and whatever he says goes, and I do mean he.

    As you can tell, I'm a Protestant pro-choicer and always have been.

  •  As implied in your quote, men determine the (0+ / 0-)

    value of harm done to a woman's pregnant condition.

    At many points similar to that in the Bible, everything blurs for me and I find the rest of its notions uninteresting to even attempt interpreting for the modern day.  It becomes and exercise in mapping one set of abstractions to real needs and fair consideration, which essentially becomes a subjective affair quite quickly.

    There is no word from God in this case, just many people who whose beliefs were cobbled together in a political fashion at some point, then edited, added-to, becoming inspiration for so many slash fiction branches, etc.

    The entire notion of God(s) is fanciful musing and hoping for some permanence in our particular existence, anyway.  I think that's a great emotional and philosophical endeavour to travel . . . but, taking the words of various believers and calling it God's/Goddess' "word' becomes so arbitrary that I really cannot be arsed to care about considering that mapping exercise seriously.

    Yes, it's fun to find all the contradictions and outright hypocrisies of extreme believers and the actual passages - this is an articulate and well-considered diary, after all - but, such arguments rarely make a dent in the worldview of mean and/or entrenched minds, I have found: they allow for any justification to support their groupthink and usually won't take competing or contrasting words into serious consideration.

    "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

    by wader on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 11:07:34 AM PST

  •  How Do You Argue With Mythology? (0+ / 0-)

    The abortion arguement would have been so much been so much simpler if we had all been born from dust (Genesis 2:7) and rib bones (Genesis 2:22).

    I knew she was the gal for me as soon as she laid her eyes on me. Right on me shoulder, she did. Popped the buggers right out her head, and laid em on me shoulder. She's a sweet heart, that gal.

    by glb3 on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 11:12:53 AM PST

  •  Well, this approach is misleading. (0+ / 0-)

    Now, of course, we could do a whole inquiry on the role of scripture in determining Christian practice and doctrine. (Short answer: very limited).

    But this is actually a misleading approach to this issue.

    Fact is that abortion AND lethal exposure of children--usually girls!--to the elements was common practice in ancient Greek and Roman society.

    At one point, the Roman government actually passed a law trying to motivate men to sire and raise children. Population was dropping fast among citizens.

    In this context, Jewish practice contrasted sharply. Jews honored children and, within limits, women much more than Greeks and Romans did.

    And this was a key source of the developing popularity of Christianity. Rodney Starks has a good book on the spread of Christianity and he makes 2 key points on this:

    1. For 200+ years, Christians were almost exclusively Jews, forming a branch of the Jewish faith.

    2. Christianity was particularly attractive to women, in large part because it respected them comparatively and provided a safe environment for children--all children, including girls. This was a key factor as the faith spread to non-Jews ... especially wealthy women.

    So, saying that abortion is not forbidden by Scripture is misleading. The contrast of the Christian community's refusal to abort with the practices of other dimensions of society was a key and distinguishing mark.

    "I'm a dweller on the threshold ..."

    by thresholder on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 11:15:07 AM PST

    •  I disagree. (0+ / 0-)

      "So, saying that abortion is not forbidden by Scripture is misleading."

      Most Christians today who oppose all abortion believe that the Bible directly supports their position. They don't know or care about why the position was originally adopted.

      Many Pro-Choice folks haven't studied the Bible enough to know that the Pro-Lifers are mistaken.

      I'm making a very simple point. They is much else to say that is valuable but beside the point.

      Our reason is quite satisfied ... if we can find a few arguments that will do to recite in case our credulity is criticized... Our faith is faith in someone else's faith, and in the greatest matters this is most the case. - William James

      by radical empiricist on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 11:46:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  By the way ... (0+ / 0-)

    The heavy patriarchal subordination of women and the development of an ideal of chastity came later ... more influenced by Greco-Roman gender models than by Jewish tradition.

    That's a huge topic.

    "I'm a dweller on the threshold ..."

    by thresholder on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 11:17:50 AM PST

  •  No. Fruit depart, yase, does NOT mean stillborn. (0+ / 0-)

    w˚yase û ye ladêhâ in the Hebrew means the emergence of a living being, to bring forth, bring out, come forth from. Obviously, the passage is about what happens when there is a premature delivery of a living baby proximately caused by the actions injuring the women.

    "If the past sits in judgment on the present, the future will be lost." Winston Churchill

    by Kvetchnrelease on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 11:52:37 AM PST

    •  Makes no sense (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Radical Faith

      I have not looked into the Hebrew meaning but:

      1) Why pay a fine for causing the birth if everything turned out fine?

      2) If causing a premature birth is a minor crime, why is causing a miscarriage no crime at all?

      3) Given the very high infant mortality rates at the time the likelihood of an injury induced premature birth having a happy outcome must be very low.

      Again, in context miscarriage is what is being described regardless of later spin. No one with half a brain would make a law for the 5%?? chance of an injury induced premature healthy live birth and not cover the 95% of cases where an injury induces miscarriage or the baby dies right after birth.

      Our reason is quite satisfied ... if we can find a few arguments that will do to recite in case our credulity is criticized... Our faith is faith in someone else's faith, and in the greatest matters this is most the case. - William James

      by radical empiricist on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 12:24:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  This is not how the rabbis read that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Radical Faith

      I've read the passage in the original Hebrew many times, and reread it a couple of minutes ago.  The language of the passage is very lucid and clear.

      The full context on the passage makes it fairly clear that we are talking about feticide.  The passage in question appears with a group of laws dealing with property related crimes which are compensated for.  If  it was a live birth, the passage makes no sense.

      The rabbis therefore concluded that the passage treats feticide as a property crime.  The diarist did not quote the rest of the passage, but while the loss of the fetus (literally yaldeihah, "her child") is treated very casually, injury to the woman, even minor injury, is treated in this same passage as far more serious, giving a list that starts that injury to her will be punished "life for life" and ending "bruise for bruise".

      The rabbis were familiar with abortion and hated it.  But there's no reading this passage that makes the fetus and mother remotely equal.  Unlike the passages the Evangelicals like to quote, this one is explicitly relevant to harm to the fetus.  So the halachah here makes the welfare of the mother the core concept correct action should center on.

      [I]t is totally not true that Mitt Romney strapped Paul Ryan to the top of a car and drove him to Canada. Stop spreading rumors! -- Gail Collins

      by mbayrob on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 12:44:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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