I had already planned on writing this article as the last in the Pro-Life Apologetic series. And then, on the weekend that I wrote this article, the Supreme Court decision of Dobbs vs Jackson Women’s Health Organization came out decisively proclaiming that Roe vs Wade has been overturned.
It was simultaneously a day of rejoicing for many who have prayed and worked for the protection of the unborn, and also a day of fear, anger, and worry for those that disagree with the pro-life movement. The reality is that the situation is far from over, as the decision rightfully now comes down to the state level. Here begins the tough road of personal conversations and the work of turning the conscience of a nation.
There is certainly reason to celebrate and praise God for this incredible outcome as thousands of human lives will be saved. This was an amazing victory for conservative principles, and even more so, a strong Constitutional stand that “the State [cannot] deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” Furthermore, it was an important affirmation of a robust ethic rooted in the Imago Dei.
But it would be naïve to expect that Molech caves so easily. In the past few days, I have heard story after story, and argument after argument about bodily autonomy, women’s rights, and the oppression that this ruling will cause. Although many of the arguments fail under logical analysis, what actually comes out when I hear these conversations is the fear, worry, and anxiety that people live under. Satan is pulling out his biggest weapons to keep generations under his thumb. The only thing that will set individuals free is the message of Christ.
Yet one of the weirdest things I started to notice in the past year was the prevalence of one sort of argument for abortion. I saw it written on signs of counter-protesters at every event I went to, and even read it on a website article right before I wrote this piece.
The argument is that the Bible condones and even supports abortion, primarily through two ways. First, they argue that the Bible defines life as equivalent to “breath”. This argument draws on how God breathed into Adam the “breath of life”, and throughout Scripture, there is a general usage of breath to be synonymous with life. For example, the Gospels record that Jesus on the cross, “breathed his last”. The Hebrew word for breath is “Ruach”, and in the Greek, it is “Pneuma”. This word means “Spirit, breath, or wind.” That same description of Jesus on the cross is given in two other gospels as “he gave up His Spirit.”
Similarly, the breath given to Adam in the garden of Eden was not just oxygen filling his lungs. God, in that divine act of creation, literally breathed Adam’s spirit into him and made this inanimate formation of dirt become human. Also, it is important to take context into account, as the Bible in multiple places treats the unborn as equivalent to living beings, and treats them fully as such. For example, the Psalmist talks of how God “knit [him] together in his mother’s womb”, and in Luke, the angel tells Zechariah that John the Baptist will be “filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.” These are only a few instances that strongly indicate the Biblical position that life does not begin just at first breath.
The second most common Biblical argument that I’ve seen pop up is an argument from Numbers 5. You may have seen signs or people commenting that abortion is present in the Bible and condoned by God. Taking context into account, this passage falls in the middle of God’s commands to the Israelites about civil laws and moral purity. God’s laws to the Israelites were specific and intentional, as God sought to set his people apart both to keep them holy, and so they could be an example to the nations around them.
Although the laws sometimes seem harsh, they are intended to both show the complete and total holiness of God, to protect the Israelites, and keep them separated from the nations surrounding them. One such example is present in Numbers 5, which deals with the issue of marital affairs and the jealousy of a husband.
To summarize the chapter, if a married woman sleeps with another man, and her affair is not discovered, but the husband is suspicious and jealous, God gives a specific procedure to the priests to sort out the situation. The couple is commanded to go before the priests with a specific offering, and the priests bring them into the tabernacle. Then, the priest takes the holy water in the tabernacle, mixes it with the dirt on the ground, and after the sacrifice is completed, gives the water to the woman to drink. If she had committed adultery, then the drink will cause her “womb [to] swell and her thigh [to] fall away.” But if she was innocent, and the husband was wrongfully jealous, she would be unscathed.
This passage is a confusing pericope, and most individuals using this argument likely have not thought through what is occurring. First, the law is an important protection for the safety and wellbeing of the woman, as well as the health of the marriage. Many cultures and nations would execute women the second there was a hint of infidelity. This criterion gives the woman safety, as if she is innocent, nothing will happen to her.
It preserves her marriage and protects her reputation. But if she is guilty, it takes the punishment out of the hands of her husband and instead into God’s hands. Second, there is still a question if this section is specifically referencing abortion. The passage seems to indicate that if the woman is pregnant, she will miscarry, and suffer physical deformity resulting in barrenness for the rest of her life. But if the woman is not pregnant, barrenness is still the primary curse, and this will cause her to likely suffer disgrace for the rest of her life. The consensus is however that this passage could be referencing a punishment that includes abortion. Yet it would be a non-sequitur to say that the Bible condones or commands abortion in the modern-day context.
This passage in Scripture is a detailed scenario, and the consequences of an induced miscarriage and barrenness are only applicable to this scenario. For example, this punishment would not be used for other sins; it was specific to this issue. The next important reality is that the punishment is inherently miraculous as it is a condemnation handed down from God. The woman’s purity or guilt is determined by God, and the punishment is only given by God, not anyone around her. Therefore, if a miscarriage occurs, it is God who causes this death. God is the author of life and death, and this is his purview. This passage does not in any way give mankind the ability to simply cause abortions by their own whims or by their own justifications. It is both theologically inappropriate and contextually inaccurate to then take this chapter to justify all abortions.
When taken in context, the Bible is consistent regarding abortion and treats human beings in the womb as distinct, living beings made in the image of God. The sad reality though is that many Christians are unaware of the very Word they ascribe to. Biblical literacy is at all-time lows, and very few Christians can defend their beliefs with a strong Biblical-foundation. It is not surprising how quickly the Church has regressed and adopted a syncretic worldview that often contradicts Biblical commands. In my first IYC article, I mentioned a quote from A.W. Tozer where he states “What comes into our minds when we think of God is the most important thing about us.” Even more than any political affiliation, or the groups that we consider ourselves a part of, our primary loyalty of whether we belong to Christ ought to hold supremacy. This is the issue that is at the heart of every division, whether it is the abortion debate or any other pressing moral issue of our time. As we go out in the world, this question of our primary loyalty should always be our concern. Every individual is unconditionally loved by God, whether they know it or not. Every individual is seeking something to fill a deep void, one that can only be filled by God’s love. We try to fill our emptiness and loneliness with so many things that vie for our loyalties, yet they are all ultimately “broken cisterns that will never hold water.” When you have conversations with others in this post-Roe world, try to reach deeper than the superficial arguments and division. Get to the root of the issue, and address what they are looking for. Share the gospel and share God’s love with a lost and dying world.