With the age of political polarization spreading like wildfire through our country, the church has jumped squarely back into the abortion discussion, using it as the signifier of the truly devout verses the heathen. For this Christian, this is subject lined with traps, fueled by anger, and argued to me in a surprisingly nebulous way when using the Bible as the reason for outlawing it. People in the church tend to be genuinely surprised that I believe this is a subject best dealt with by a woman, her doctor, and her God. Here are some of my thoughts about this subject, and why I feel that this is a red herring for the church, designed to cause us all to stumble, ignore in ourselves the sense of self-righteousness we feel by being heroes to millions of unborn babies, and most importantly, to get our eyes off of God and improving ourselves rather than being caught up in a wave of anger and indignation.
I feel like I can speak to this subject because as a child, I grew up in the non-denominational church, and picketing abortion clinics was a weekly thing. I remember the tiny feet pins we wore, the disgust we felt seeing doctors and nurses in scrubs dodge into the back doors, and the feeling of rage and horror as young women moved past us, ignoring our yelled questions, each designed to trigger a mother’s conscience. Everything felt so life and death, good versus evil, and we were on the side of the good.
It wasn’t until I was older that I started to take a step back and really look at what we were doing. I began to see the people organizing these righteous outings as the same kind of people that were talked about in the bible, dragging a woman caught in adultery to Jesus’s feet, demanding He follow the law, as the woman was clearly sinning. Their motivations were to trap Him, make him a hypocrite in the eyes of the people following him.
His reaction wasn’t to picket them, or try to rationalize her sin into something not so bad. He simply acknowledged her sin, pointed out that only those without sin should be allowed to stone her, then wrote something in the dirt that must have reminded those people that they too, were worthy of death. When He was alone with her, He forgave her, then sent her away down a new path.
I am a real, card-carrying Christian. I pay attention to what is going on around me, and I know we have this eternal fight between evil and good. So, I had to ask myself, are we right? Does God want me deciding a decision like this for someone I don’t know, when He Himself didn’t seem to find it such an important decision that He even bothers to mention it in the Bible?
Despite what people will tell you, abortion is not mentioned in the Bible. I find it interesting that God seems to have no problems whatsoever giving us firm, clear directions about the things that He hates, but about this subject, He does not. For instance, lying. Several words are used throughout the text. Sheqer as a noun (usually, e.g. Isa 9:15; Zec 13:3), or kazabh as a verb (Job 34:6; Mic 2:11); In the New Testament, pseudos (Jn 8:44; Rev 21:27), “to speak falsely,” “to fabricate,” “to make a false statement”; pseudomai, in Acts 5:3,1)
These words are used about 100 times, not including other phrases that are used to imply lying. But everywhere, it is always said that lies are wrong. He was very clear, lying is a sin. Fornication is talked about at least 25 times in the New Testament, and that’s only using the actual word “fornication”. Prostitution, adultery, sexual impurity, etc., aren’t included in that number. And again, we are firmly, without question, instructed to remain sexually pure, and if we don’t, that is a sin. You can do this with a ton of sins – pride, deceit, self-righteousness, legalism, hatred, murder, blasphemy, rebellion… It goes on and on. Why did God not mention specifically abortion? My belief is, when something is a sin to one person, but not another, He wants the conscience to be the defining word.
After the birth of my son, which had some serious health issues for me, I quickly became pregnant again. The doctor strongly encouraged me to end the pregnancy. I was putting my own life at risk, and I had two toddlers at home already. The question that faced me was, what happens to my other children if I’m gone? In the end, I decided for me, it wouldn’t be right. I chose to have the baby and that matter, in my heart, was settled. I do not envy any woman who has to take a step back to make a decision like this.
God is the Author of the Bible, and He didn’t need to be vague or nebulous about the points that He wanted made. What are we achieving being so polarized about this issue, and is it a good thing, or a bad one? After all, if something brings us closer to the Lord, it is a good thing; further away, it is a bad one. So, I wondered, if you have to interpret a verse to make your point, doesn’t that just weaken it?
When I took a step back, what I saw was an impotent rage for faceless people who required nothing from us but our own righteous anger. They don’t really require us to spend our own money, and they never complain. They don’t require that we forgive them or try to empathize with their choices. They require none of our time, and even less of our attention. They are the perfect group of people to champion when you want the cost to you to be nothing. We didn’t even have to worry about when we failed to change someone’s mind; after all, that innocent baby went straight to heaven anyways. There’s nothing like having a cause that even in failure, the outcome is heavenly.
Back in my picketing days, we got to stand in pseudo-righteousness, screaming out judgements at people walking into or out of a building. I saw justifications for attacking doctors or nurses, excusing their own violence in service to stopping violence. I saw people silently judging women, without knowing their hearts, their journeys, or fears, strictly violating our commandment that God, not us, be their judge. I saw us ignoring the sins in our own lives that disqualified us from being seated in judgement over someone else’s choices. If Satan could whip up so much anguish over faceless, nameless, unseen babies being killed by coldhearted, promiscuous women who deserved to have to be saddled with the consequences of a child, he could cause us to ignore the pastor addicted to pornography, or the gossip sweeping through a congregation, or the sexual impurity, adultery, or the lying, or the pride, or the greed…. Because hey, at least we aren’t killing babies.
Sin is defined as:
An immoral act considered to be a transgression of divine law in word, deed, or desire; or as scripture states, “sin is the transgression of the law.” The law is resoundingly silent on this topic.
As Jesus clearly demonstrated with the woman caught in adultery, we as fallen human beings aren’t eligible to be judges until we have taken the logs out of our own eyes. This included in our thoughts, motivations, and desires, not just our actions.
When there is a question about whether a sin is a sin and the Bible is unclear, we are instructed to consult our conscience. Romans 14 makes clear that what is going on in our own consciences is directly tied to whether something is a sin for us or not. By applying what you believe about a subject not visited in the Bible using your own conscience as your guide, you have judged another person by your conscience, and that is not in line with what the Bible instructs us to do. It in fact, makes you the one with the weaker faith that Paul talks about.
There are very real people being impacted by this clever attempt of the devil to get us off point in our relationships with God. Politicians stand in front of cameras, promising life for the unborn if they are elected, while they boldly lie, worship money and power, cheat on their wives or husbands, take bribes, and any number of other sins we all have become so used to, they hardly make any sort of impression. Where’s the outrage and judgements for them? Where are the new laws against knowingly lying? Adultery? Fornication? Greed? We aren’t supposed to put leaders in office that lie, or cheat, or worship money, or any of the other very real, very clear sins listed in the Bible. Why aren’t those illegal? Why do we not litigate the other better-defined sins?
As a woman, I feel like decisions that impact my life, like having a child, should be between me and God and my doctor. They are subject to my conscience, having not been specifically expanded upon in the bible, and men should have no say in it. It’s been infuriating to hear men demand that they not have to wear a mask, or get vaccinated, because “my body, my choice” but then flippantly decide that a woman should have to carry a baby to term no matter what that decision should do to her, her family, her well-being in general. Isn’t that like being a priest who demands that Jesus judge the woman for her sins, conveniently forgetting that for adultery to happen, there are two people guilty? Jesus knew our life choices were more complicated than just making one bad choice. We knew nothing about how this woman ended up in prostitution. Jesus did, and He chose to not judge her. If your snap judgement is to dismiss all the many decisions made by various people to cause someone to end up where they are, and just decide a person gets what they deserve, I’d be wary. We are judged by God according to the mercy we ourselves show others here on earth.
I was molested by my stepfather from 12 through 17. The experience was devastating to me as a woman, tainting my ability to trust, to have a healthy sexual relationship with my husband, and launching a myriad of unintended consequences affecting every part of who I am, and that is without the added burden of having to carry a baby for a person who did vile things to you. I can imagine it would make many a woman go insane, having everything about something that should be good, be directly connected in your mind to the absolute worst thing that has ever happened to you. The kid born to that woman is not a lucky child. Wasn’t it Jeremiah (20:17) who said it would have been better for him had he died in his mother’s womb?
The bible is not pro-life. The word “pro-life” insinuates that anything made in God’s image is sacred and should be protected at all costs. God ordered whole civilizations to be wiped – man, woman, and child. One must assume, there were some pregnant women killed then too. Passages in the Bible condone a test that may produce an abortion. In Numbers 5:11-31, there is the jealousy test that a man can use to determine if his wife has been faithful. If he thinks his wife has been “defiled” by another man, he will bring her to the priest who will apply a test whereby she will be required to drink water mixed with dust from the floor of the tabernacle. If she is guilty, “her belly shall swell, and her thigh shall rot (she will abort the fetus).”
In Leviticus 27:6, no value is assigned to a baby before they are a month old. “A boy between the ages of one month and five years is valued at five shekels of silver; a girl of that age is valued at three shekels of silver.”
I’m always wary of statements or opinions that are designed specifically to outrage. Our society is in a moment of extreme anger, and there seems to be something even more devious in allowing that anger to morph into something that causes us to take our eyes off the Lord, ourselves, and become invested in purifying our neighbor at all costs.
In summary, I think we should not be so quick to get riled up by deceitful politicians who have a vested interest in making us look at other poor people and blame them for our lack of blessings. America isn’t being blessed because she worships money and power. She has piped pornography into every home under the guise of “free speech”. She has rewarded the greedy with more and taken away from the laborer, the orphan, the refugee, and the widow. She has elevated hypocrisy to unbelievable heights, demanding people to live to a higher standard than those in leadership. She insists we live by “Christian” values while simultaneously calling that same values socialism and insisting that people continue to live in poverty in order to make others rich. She whips up anger between the political parties, and while we aren’t looking, pockets more for herself. America is not built on a foundation of Christianity; she’s built on greed, perversion, and a love of money. She promotes division, knowing it is easier to attain power and money by climbing a ladder of chaos and discontent.
We should spend more time identifying the logs in our own eyes and less time trying to litigate selective morality – but only for women, or minorities, or people that our society considers not as special as the Christians.