Abortion in the Bible

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Gina B, Aug 22, 2013.

  1. Gina B

    Gina B
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    I'm hoping this thread can remain calm and peaceful.

    I'd like to know more about what the true views of the Bible would be on abortion.

    While it appears to be wrong, does the Bible really equate it with murder?

    I'm asking because of Exodus 21:22. Some people say it only means that a woman gives birth early, but it sure sounds like it means that if he causes a woman to miscarry, there's a fine but if the woman dies, he can be sentenced to death. Combined with the statement in the Bible that life happens when there is breath, this seems to go hand in hand with life not being considered of full human value until birth, which I personally find repugnant as I've always held that life begins at conception.

    Now I'm confused.

    Why does there appear to only be a fine for someone causing the death of a fetus if the unborn are considered full human beings with souls?

    Do the unborn have souls before they take a breath?

    Does that even matter?

    PLEASE do not turn this into a debate on abortion. I am only interested in the interpretation of this passage and such. A civil discussion, please, as I try to work this out.

    I've known about this verse before and it has bothered me, but I either didn't study it out or I forgot that I did. I don't think I did. Maybe I was afraid to.
     
  2. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast
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    22 If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.

    23 And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life,
    vs22...premature birth of a live baby....a fine

    vs 23....premature birth of a dead baby.....capital punishment.
     
  3. Bob Alkire

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    The following is from Graham Spurgeon's book,"Is Abortion Murder":

    Pro-abortion advocates frequently appeal to Exodus 21:22 to support their claim that a fetus is not a person and, therefore, abortion is not murder.
    "In other words, if you cause the death of the fetus, you merely pay a fine; if you cause the death of the woman, you lose your own life. Thus the Bible clearly shows that a fetus is not considered a person. If the fetus were considered to be a person, then the penalty for killing it would be the same as for killing the woman—death. Abortion, then, is not murder."

    Russell Fuller has said,
    "However other Scriptures present the fetus as a person, a real human being (Job 10:8–12; 15:14; Ps. 51:5; 58:3; 139:13–16; Eccles. 11:5; Jer. 1:5; Gal. 1:15). This was the prevailing opinion in the ancient Near East as well.Pro-abortion advocates frequently appeal to Exodus 21:22 to support their claim that a fetus is not a person and, therefore, abortion is not murder."In other words, if you cause the death of the fetus, you merely pay a fine; if you cause the death of the woman, you lose your own life. Thus the Bible clearly shows that a fetus is not considered a person. If the fetus were considered to be a person, then the penalty for killing it would be the same as for killing the woman—death. Abortion, then, is not murder."
    See Sandra Lubarsky, "Judaism and the Justification of Abortion for Non-Medical Reasons," Journal of Reform Judaism 31:4 (Fall 1984):1-13, which contains helpful information on the rabbinic teaching on abortion, though the author’s conclusion, ". . . Judaism not only permits abortions for medical reasons, but also supports abortion for non-medical reasons" (p. 12), contradicts the spirit of Old Testament teaching. Meredith Kline’s statement more accurately reflects this spirit: "The most significant thing about abortion legislation in Biblical law is that there was none. It was so unthinkable that an Israelite woman should desire an abortion that there was no need to mention this offense in the criminal code." "Lex Talionis and the Human Fetus," Simon Greenleaf Law Review 5 (1985–86):75. See also Bruce K. Waltke’s excellent article "Reflections from the Old Testament on Abortion," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 19:1 (Winter 1976):3-13; and Robert N. Congdon, "Exodus 21:22–25 and the Abortion

    For what it is worth, Bob believes abortion is wrong.
     
  4. Van

    Van
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    Hi Gina B,

    The true view of the Bible is abortion is homicide. The taking of a life. Now many believe there is a case for justifiable homicide, i.e to save the life of the mother.

    Is someone causes a woman to have a pre-mature birth, but the mother and baby are fine, then the person causing the hazard is to be fined. However, if the mother or baby dies, then the person causing the death or deaths shall forfeit his or her life.

    And the baby at conception was made a sinner, and thus has a human spirit/soul. Now some (mistaken in my view) folks think the soul and the spirit of separate, but in scripture, they are always together. When the spirit departs the body, the body dies, so where does the supposedly separate soul go? With the Spirit.

    The whole silly idea of delayed ensoulment, at the first breath, i.e. after birth, is to allow murdering the baby before she takes her first breath. Did the pre-born John the Baptist jump with joy when he realized spiritually he was near the preborn Jesus? Yes. So his spirit had attributes and attitudes, i.e. a soul, before he took his first breath.
     
  5. Gina B

    Gina B
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    Van, I'd forgotten about John jumping in his mother's womb. Beautiful!

    Now, my next questions.

    When I read the commentaries and the older theologians, they all seem to interpret the verse in Exodus as meaning a fine if the woman miscarries. Why was that the interpretation? It does make sense, as a premature baby had little chance at life prior to the medical intervention we have today. Almost any premature birth would result in death until recent times and considering the trauma that would result in giving an untimely birth, the odds of survival drop even more.

    That, and saying that it takes breath to have life. I can make sense of the breath thing, as the fetus exchanges oxygen through the placenta, but pro-abortionists want to use the verses about breathing through the nose and I'm not sure how to approach that one. They also use the creation verse about breathing life into Adam but that one is rather silly, as it's easy to see that it's simply the completion of life and it has to happen at some point, so that one doesn't phase me, but "everything that has breath" combined with the Exodus verse, and not being able to point to anyone in the past or any historical interpretation of it being anything but a miscarriage followed by a fine is not helpful. (though at least it's easy enough to point out that it doesn't condone abortion at all, at the least it was still considered a crime)

    Is there something in history that I'm missing?

    I was wondering if perhaps this is one of those things where this was man made rules for Israel and not meant to be a direct interpretation of "this is what is required of all believers as a matter of doctrine and belief." Kind of like the scriptures where you have a mother giving advice to a son. It's wise advice, but they aren't commandments and not things we build church doctrines and beliefs on, know what I mean?
     
  6. Van

    Van
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    The text simply says the child comes out. It does not address whether the child is alive or dead. Thus to translate it as miscarriage, which means the child dies, is to add to the text. In no other place in scripture is this Hebrew word translated as miscarry. Other Hebrew words are translated correctly as miscarry. So a loose and liberal translation led to mistaken commentary.

    Moses addressed the contingency that a premature birth might or probably would result in injury. A life for a life.

    When the Spirit departs, the body dies. Thus when the spirit is formed within the conceptus (Zechariah 12:1), then the baby is alive scripturally.

    I think the verse that says everything that has breath should praise the Lord, Psalm 150:6. Not sure how that could be used to support that a baby is not alive.

    All you need to do is look at a KJV, which reads "her fruit depart her" rather than miscarriage. Ditto for the 1599 Geneva Bible. So there are lots of historical interpretations of a baby coming out which may or may not die.

    There is absolutely no support whatsoever for thinking Exodus 21:22 does anything other than say if you kill a preborn baby you shall pay with your life. None, zip, nada.
     
  7. Jerome

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    But Ligon Duncan over at monergism.com says:

    http://www.monergism.com/directory/link_category/Sermons-By-Book/Exodus/

    "Some appeal to verse 22 to show that Moses doesn’t believe a fetus in utero is a real person because he doesn’t demand the death penalty. Now let me say that is an utterly irrelevant interpretation of this passage because the passage is designed to show what is to be done when a woman who is caring a child is injured. The focus is not upon the miscarriage itself. The focus of the passage is on the other injuries that are done to the woman. Secondly, abortion was a crime and the taking of a child in utero was a crime so horrific in the Hebrew mind that Moses didn’t even need to write a law about it."
     
  8. Gina B

    Gina B
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    Actually Van, it was the KJV (actually just the English, because I tried a number of translations) that was confusing me. I saw where you posted about it in Hebrew, so I looked it up in Hebrew instead and now it makes sense. I think just the way the words were placed was confusing in light of the arguments that people have made, and I figured the people who wrote commentaries and stuff have studied a lot and should know what they're talking about. Argh.

    But it's right there in the Hebrew, with no real need to study it a ton as the same word is still in use today. Go out. Depart. It's not used in the sense of death. I should have just tried that in the first place.

    I'm now going to go bang my head on the wall...but I am very relieved that this isn't a verse that can be in any way demeaning of the value of human life as fully human life prior to birth.

    Thank you so much for helping out, people, and I'm really glad people were calm and helpful. :flower:
     

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