On this day that is set aside for the Christian faith to both celebrate and lament one of the three biggest landmark events of our faith, the torture, humiliation and eventual death of our savior Christ (the other two would be his resurrection and ascension into heaven) it is interested to see some of the conversations that are out there in the blogosphere (it is always interested to see these conversations, but there is a special context to this one).
Via an avid atheist that is a prolific poster on Twitter (@AlisonFreed) I came across a post on a blog that I have visited before that makes the fantastic claim that “The Bible Encourages Abortion.”
Wow – that is a truly fascinating claim and one that made me laugh outload when I read his arguments. Based on a piece of scripture from Ecclesiastes (4:1-3) the author is extrapolating a claim that the Bible condones abortion. Here is the passage:
“Again I saw all the oppressions that are practiced under the sun. Look, the tears of the oppressed—with no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power—with no one to comfort them.
And I thought the dead, who have already died, more fortunate than the living, who are still alive; but better than both is the one who has not yet been, and has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 4:1-3)
From this passage the author argues that if you take the Bible literally then you have to take at face value the words in it. His argument goes like this:
The dead are better off than the living
Those that have been aborted are dead
Therefore they are better off than the living.
Beyond the simple fact that he is assuming that since an aborted child had not passed through the vaginal canal or been extracted via a c-section that that child is not alive (most pro-choice advocates conveniently choose to make the point of life the actual time of birth – but then they can explain premature births, etc. etc. etc.), he is also forgetting to actually look at what most cogent Bible scholars and theologians do when they look at scripture from a rational perspective – look at history and context.
This passage, even if takken literally (as the author of the blog claims must be done) needs to be viewed based on two facts. First, the author was speaking to the state of the world in his time, which from his estimation was pretty bad (full of sin and debauchery).
The second mistake the author makes is the contextuality of the verse. The author of this passage of scripture is not talking about people that have not yet been born, but rather about those that have already passed. That is, when saying the dead are better than those alive, he is not saying that fetises should be aborted to avoid the state of the world (as from the Christian worldview as soon as conception happens life begins – and there fore vaginal birth – the ONLY form of birth at this time – was not a prerequisite for life) – he is saying that those who had lived and already gone to pass are better of for not seeing the world in the state it was at the time of the passage.
This claim goes far beyond the topic of abortion – how would the poster of that blog deal with a woman who had been pregnant and lost her baby through a miscarraige? Through an act of violence? At what point is a fetis alive? What is the bright line? There are legal standards for abortion, how does he reconcile those? The abortion question aside (as to me that is more of a political/procedural argument than one that belongs in the moral arena ).
Read the original blog and comment there – or comment here – I want to hear your thoughts…