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Abortion and the Bible

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Abortion, the intentional termination of a pregnancy, is opposed by virtually all conservatives and devout Christians. There are numerous references in the Bible to an unborn child in the womb as a unique person.[1]

Direct references to the life of the unborn child include Genesis 25:22; Psalm 51:5, 119:73 and 139:13-16; Jeremiah 1:5; Job 10:8-12 and 31:13-15; Ruth 1:11; Hosea 12:2-3; Matthew 1:18-20; Luke 1:39-44; John 1:14. Indirect references include Judges 13:3-5; Rom. 9:11; Gal. 1:15. Jesus even violated customary rules of the Sabbath in order to perform pro-life work on that day.[2] Here are additional examples of specific pro-life references in the Bible:

  • Genesis 25:21-22 ("... and Rebekah his [Isaac's] wife conceived. And the children struggled together within her ....")
  • Job 10:8, 11 ("Your hands shaped me and made me." ... Did you not ... clothe me with skin and flesh and knit me together with bones and sinews?")
  • Psalms 139:13-16 ("For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.")
  • Jeremiah 1:5: ("Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.")

Other Passages

Ending a pregnancy accidentally and prematurely is mentioned in Exodus 21:22-23. Some pro-abortion advocates claim that a fine for this type of termination of pregnancy someone justifies abortion, because the penalty of a fine (here unlimited in amount) is presumably lighter than the penalty for the murder of another human being (as in Exodus 21:12). Here is Exodus 21:22 (NASB):

If men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she gives birth prematurely, yet there is no injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman's husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide. But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, ....

Pro-life Christians point out that premature live birth does not mean death of the child. The King James Version (which preceded the abortion debate) translates the verse more clearly to contemplate live birth: "If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow ...." It has been pointed out that the "further injury" or "mischief" actually refers to any injury to the child. Note also that the proscribed punishment is for accidentally causing a miscarriage; deliberately performing an abortion would be even more abhorrent to God.[3]

Numbers 5, where the Lord appears to give a curse that causes abortions in unfaithful wives. According to this passage, the Lord instructed Moses that a husband who suspected his wife of sleeping with another man could take her to the priest for a test that would either confirm or deny his suspicions. The test involved his wife drinking a cup of "bitter water," which consisted of holy water mixed with the dust of the tabernacle floor. If the woman were innocent, then no harm would come to her by drinking it. But if she were guilty, then she would be cursed with "bitter suffering;" namely, "she will have barrenness and a miscarrying womb."

In the King James Version, verse 27 is translated as "her belly shall swell, and her thigh shall rot." What this means, unfortunately, is open to interpretation. However, newer translations of the Bible, which are based on improved scholarship, give less ambiguous translations. The New International Version gives "her abdomen will swell and her thigh waste away," but adds in the footnotes that an alternate translation is "she will have barrenness and a miscarrying womb." The New Revised Standard Version gives "her womb shall discharge, her uterus drop ...," which seems to be an attempt by liberal translators to imply abortion.

In Genesis 38, Judah mistakes Tamar as a prostitute, and orders her to be burned to death, despite the fact she is three months pregnant. The execution order was later lifted because Judah learned Tamar's true identity.

Denominational stances on abortion

The Roman Catholic Church has always opposed all abortion.[4]

Evangelical churches are virtually unanimous in opposing all abortion.

As of 2006, the liberal General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) is officially pro-choice, though maintains "grave moral concern" in regard to late-term abortion.[5]

External links


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