It’s time to confront conception-obsessed Bible-believers on their own terms, with language they understand.
Imagine if anti-abortion protestors found themselves confronted with the Bible and Christianity’s highest values.
At regular intervals throughout the year, the most conception-obsessed members of the Religious Right gather at Evangelical and Catholic churches, load teenagers into busses and cars, and surround Planned Parenthood with protest signs. Some will pray and sing church songs or shout Bible quotes or carry pictures of the Virgin Mary. But most will carry signs that say things like “Abortion Stops a Beating Heart” [So does oyster-eating] or “Aren’t you glad your mother didn’t have an abortion?” [Yes; glad also that she didn’t have a headache that night] or “It’s a baby!” [An acorn is an oak tree?] or “One life ended, One destroyed” [Actually, factually not]. Some may carry “fetal squish” pictures—not images of common early abortions but of the rare fetus that dies or is aborted late in gestation. In other words, they will try to sway the rest of us by speaking our language—the language of science, human rights and secular ethical values; and they will appeal to our moral emotions: compassion, love of life, and disgust.
Those of us who cherish the freedom to choose our own lives and families—and to live by our own moral values—could learn a thing or two from the more sophisticated of these protestors, both what they say and what they want to hide.
- They want us to think that it’s not about religion. Despite the smattering of non-religious opponents, it is. Ignoring this means we constantly fight a defensive battle on our turf, not theirs. Key take-away: Define this as a fight about theology, which is what it is. Use theological terms that are Christianity’s insider jargon and quote the Bible.
- They want us to think that they are on the side of women, that their stance against abortion comes from a deep place of love and concern. It doesn’t. Their conception obsession is deeply rooted in misogyny, and concern for women is a thin veneer. Here is what the anti-abortion movement would look like if it were driven by love. Key take-away: Expose the deep underlying religiously-motivated disdain for women. Quote degrading Bible verses, church fathers and modern pastors.
- By trademarking the term “pro-life,” abortion foes try to stake out the highest of the moral high ground. They don’t have it. Their crass indifference to the lives around them—to the wellbeing of both vulnerable people and even the whole web of life—shows their self-appointed title as defenders of “life” to be total bullshit. Key take-away: Shine a light on self-righteous hypocrisy. Expose the Religious Right’s indifference to Christianity’s own highest values, including compassion and reverence for life.
I said that abortion foes try to speak to us in language we understand, by appealing to our sources of authority, science and conscience. When we appeal to people who are on our side or neutral or secular, we should do the same. We must work to end abortion shame and stigma, to convey that abortion is normal and that family planning as a whole—including abortion until it becomes obsolete (we are headed that direction)—is a positive social good.
But when it comes to confronting and neutralizing abortion protests, we should attack the home turf of the abortion foes, not defend our own turf. We should speak in language of the protesters and convey that their position is a threat to their own core values. (Remember, this is what they do to move us.)
At the same time, they are playing to a broader audience, and we can, too. To outsiders, we can neutralize the tradition of incessant clinic protest by framing it as a theological dispute (most people want to keep theology out of healthcare), that is driven by archaic, ugly gender scripts (no thanks!), and that is being played out by people who have little moral credibility (everyone hates mean-spirited, self-righteous hypocrisy).
Here are a few examples of what the counter-protest signs might look like. *Some may make sense only to Christians and former Christians. **Thank you to all the former Bible-believers who offered suggestions on Facebook. ***If you have ideas of your own as you read the list, please add them in the comment section.
Define this as an insider dispute about theology
- God aborts 60%. Who are you to judge the Almighty?
- Fact checked: The Lord says he’s ok with it
- God prescribes abortion potion —Numbers 5:22-27
- Kill fetus, get fined – Kill woman, get death —Exodus 21:22-23
- Infant becomes person after birth —Leviticus 27:6
- Fetus fetish is idolatry
- This is what bibliolatry does to people →
- Conception obsession is a religious cult
- Don’t say you follow Jesus if stopping abortion trumps love, truth, peacemaking, compassion, feeding the hungry, caring for the poor . . .
- Life begins at ejaculation – Ask Onan
- If the baby goes to heaven And the doctor goes to hell If the woman gets forgiveness What’s the problem pray tell!?
- The Bible doesn’t define when life becomes “a living soul.” Don’t put your words in God’s mouth!
Expose deep underlying misogyny
- Wife is man’s property —Exodus 20:17
- Girl babies twice as unclean as boys —Leviticus 12:1-8
- Women should keep silent —1 Cor. 14:34
- Sell raped daughter to rapist —Deut. 22:28-29
- Female? Cover your head or cut off your hair —I Cor. 11:6 [with picture of hijab]
- Women will be saved through childbearing —1 Tim. 2:15
- Women make men dirty —Rev 14:4
- Woman is a temple built over a sewer —Tertullian
- Woman, you are the gate to hell —Tertullian
- Man alone is the image of God —Saint Augustine
- I fail to see what use woman can be to man, if one excludes the function of bearing children. —Saint Augustine
- Woman has a faulty and defective nature —Saint Albertus Magnus
- The production of woman comes from a defect —Thomas Acquinas
- Women were made to be either wives or prostitutes —Martin Luther
- The second duty of the wife is constant obedience and subjection —John Dod, Puritan
- Women are made to be led, and counseled, and directed —LDS Apostle Heber C. Kimball
- Every single book in your Bible was written by a man —Mark Driscoll
Shine a light on self-righteous (religious) hypocrisy
- Pro-guns, pro-greed, pro-Trump = “pro-life” Hmmm.
- ”Pro-life” Trump Hypocrites =“False prophets, ravening wolves” —Jesus
- Woe to you Pharisees, hypocrites! —Jesus
- Pharisees →
- Take the log out of your own eye —Jesus
- Judge not that ye be not judged —Jesus
- [picture of immigrant child] – Let the children come unto me —Jesus
- Jesus focused on real people
- Pro-fetus, against Child Protection
- Pro-fetus, oppose rights for children
- Pro-fetus, defend parent right to hit kids
- Pro-fetus, against UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
- I was hungry and you did not feed me —Jesus
- If a man says ‘I love God’ and hateth his brother, he is a liar —1 John 4:20
- Jesus supported healthcare for women
- Jesus cared for women, no matter what [echoes Planned Parenthood motto]
- The screwed-up priorities of “pro-life” Christians kill real children
- Trump Voter? Don’t talk to me about choosing life
- Voted for Trump? Maybe that’s not the voice of God you are hearing
Planned Parenthood doesn’t organize counter-protests, because they don’t want to escalate conflict and because they have a job to do providing contraceptives, cancer screenings, STI tests, abortions and other basic healthcare for their patients. They have no desire to get involved in theological disputes. But I think it’s time for the rest of America, meaning religious moderates and non-religious Americans, to go on the offense against the Religious Right. For decades now—really, ever since Roe v Wade—we’ve been playing way too nice.
At some point in the future, pregnancy almost always will happen by mutual consent of two people who want to co-create a child. But we’re not there yet, in large part because patriarchal religious conservatives have opposed sexual health literacy and better birth control every step of the way. Simply by improving prevention, we could make elective abortion virtually obsolete within a decade if the Religious Right had any interest in doing so. They don’t. That means, for now, the only way that young men and women can live the lives of their choosing and form the families of their choosing and stack the odds in favor of flourishing children—is to have access to abortion so they can end ill-conceived pregnancies.
The Left has been squishy and apologetic about abortion care—leaving providers unprotected, and allowing brave, prudent young women to be shamed for making the best decisions they could under difficult circumstances. We’ve let the Religious Right bully all of us, including moderate Christians, into doubting our own moral convictions.
Sometimes, the only way to stop a bully is to hit back. In the spirit of courageous, unflinching, nonviolent resistance, we need to figure out together what that means. So, don’t forget to share your thoughts.
Oh, and if you decide to counter-protest, remember that while you are taking a stand on behalf of women and families, Planned Parenthood employees will be serving them. Don’t interfere with traffic, stay away from the entry, keep off private property, and silently let your sign do the talking for you. Don’t distract from the ugly behavior of the Religious Right by engaging in ugly behavior of your own. You are a role model for any children and teens who have been dragged along; be the change that fundamentalist parents don’t want their kids to see in the world.
Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington. She is the author of Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light and Deas and Other Imaginings, and the founder of www.WisdomCommons.org. Her articles about religion, reproductive health, and the role of women in society have been featured at sites including AlterNet, Salon, the Huffington Post, Grist, and Jezebel. Subscribe at ValerieTarico.com.
Great article as always. I just finished preparing a presentation for the local chapter of the Americans United for Separation of Church and State on this issue. I’m impressed that the NIV has finally got the translation of that passage in Numbers right. As you rightly point out, the hypocrisy in being anti-abortion and against Planned Parenthood, Food stamps, welfare, etc. is mind-boggling.
I really like the idea of being an alternative role model for teens and young adults who are dragged to these protests. I have debated JWs on my porch simply because they brought their young, impressionable teen/adult with them to “witness”.
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“God entrusted women with pregnancy. Why don’t you?”
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Exodus 21 very clearly lays out pentalties for murder. Mostly death. Verse 22 clearly states that if a woman is struck during a fight and loses the child she is carrying, the penalty is a fine. Abducting someone and selling them into slavery earns a penalty of death. Revile your parents–death. Fetal death is punishable only by a fine IN THE BIBLE (if the husband presses charges). That should settle if for bibliolators, but somehow it does not!
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Actually that is not true.
Let’s quote verse 22-23:
22 “If people are fighting and hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. 23 But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.”
So if it’s just a premature birth, it’s a fine.
But when there is serious injury (for example, if the child dies) then it’s an eye for an eye, etc…
I understand your desire to reconcile the Bible with current sensibilities within your denomination, as I certainly used to feel that way myself. But if you look back through Christian history you will find that until a few years ago this verse was pretty much universally taken to mean miscarriage. “Premature birth” is a recent modification of the verse to accommodate the fact that it is incongruous to biblical literalists who have become focused on abortion. This pattern of modifying scripture to accommodate current concerns goes way back–as when early Christians modified Isaiah’s verse from “a young woman shall conceive” to “a virgin shall conceive” in order to accommodate the Greek and Roman tradition of important men being fathered by Gods.
* In reply to Valerie’s reply below (there was no reply button, so I post it here)
So ‘premature birth’ is a RECENT modification to the Bible?
Let’s have a look at the 1611 King James Version:
“22 If men striue, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischiefe follow, he shalbe surely punished, according as the womans husband will lay upon him, and hee shall pay as the Iudges determine.
23 And if any mischiefe follow, then thou shalt giue life for life”
In plain English:
If a woman’s fruit departs (if she gives birth) and NO mischiefe (no disaster or catastrophe) happens, a fine must be paid.
If mischiefe (disaster or catastrophe) happens THEN it’s a life for a life (death penalty).
(I would call a miscarriage a disaster or catastrophe, wouldn’t you?)
So this is NOT a recent Bible modification, NOR is it a change in Bible interpretation.
Then what is it? It could be a lack of teaching skills in your former church, it could be a reading comprehension problem on your side, it could be anything… But not a recent Bible modification or a change in Bible interpretation.
You also said: “…if you look back through Christian history you will find that until a few years ago this verse was pretty much universally taken to mean miscarriage”
Where can I find sources for that? Was that the opinion of Christians in the United States? Because US is not universal… Anyway, I never heard of it, and please forgive me, but there’s more to Christianity than the Christianity in the United States…
PS: Some of these ‘difficult’ verses might only be difficult to understand for English speaking people, but may cause no confusion in other languages (and vice versa).
For example the verse you mentioned about ‘a virgin shall conceive’.
You mistakenly assume it was modified because of Greek and Roman tradition. The real reason is less exciting: Most English speaking Christians read the KJV or the NIV translation, which both were taken from the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament (so it is a translation of a translation).
Christians who speak other languages than English (and use Bibles with the OT translated from the original Hebrew) don’t have this problem:
Both in Isiah and in Matthew they will read: ‘The maiden shall conceive’
Fun fact: A maiden was usually a virgin! Because married women were not allowed to enter another man’s home unaccompanied.
Hmm. The King James is poorly regarded as a translation, and this verse is ambiguous with regard to our question. Here is a source that looks at the Hebrew and related Arabic, and a variety of translations through the ages: http://tmcdaniel.palmerseminary.edu/LXX_EXO_%2021_22-23.pdf
In the Targum, cited above, the MT!Asa’ hy was translated as atA’m yhey >al’w’> “and there is no death” [of the woman]. A similar interpretation appears in the Vulgate and DRA, which read: Si rixati fuerint viri et percusserit quis mulierem praegnantem et abortivum quidem fecerit sed ipsa vixerit subiacebit damno quantum expetierit maritus mulieris et arbitri iudicarint. Sin autem mors eius fuerit subsecuta reddet animam pro anima.. “If men quarrel, and one strike a woman with child and she miscarry indeed, but live herself he shall be answerable for so much damage as the woman’s husband shall require, and as arbiters shall award. But if her death ensue thereupon, he shall render life for life.” Josephus (37 A.D. to 101 A.D.), in Antiquities 4: 278,7 also made the MT !Asa ‘hyh apply to the mother, stating: “He that kicks a pregnant woman, if the woman miscarry, shall be fined by the judges for having, by the destruction of the fruit of her womb, diminished the population, and a further sum shall be presented by him to the woman’s husband. If she die by the blow, he shall also die, the law claiming sacrifice of life for life.8
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When considering this argument (that the verse “really” refers to “premature birth” as opposed to miscarriage) we need to look at the language used, which Valerie has done, and its context in Jewish scripture, discussed in detail here: http://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/the-fetus-in-jewish-law/
We should also consider the medical reality of the time. In those days even babies born full-term had a high likelihood of dying soon after birth. Perhaps this is why the Jewish census counted as “persons” only [male] babies older than one month – because neonatal survival was iffy at best. A baby surviving a traumatic premature birth would have been an extreme rarity in those days.
Using modern apologetics and false translations do not aid your case
Great piece Valerie.
Here are some more references for people to use , for it is clear that the god of the old testament is an evil, misogynistic, celestial dictator. As i mentioned in a previous post here is hard evidence that Christianity, Judaism and Islam (all use variants of the Old Testament) follow mysoginistic anti-life texts. There is no escaping for the Fungelical (Fundamentalist/Evangelical) who takes a literal interpretation of the text believing it to be the divine revelation of the will of God. Yes I am a Theologian.
God murdered countless pregnant women along with their unborn children and babes in arms during the flood myth. (Genesis 6 and 7)
God murdered the first born children in Egypt. (Exodus 12: 29)
God threatened the people of Israel that if they didn’t listen to him, then he would kill their children. (Leviticus 26:22)
God caused the earth to open and swallow up rebellious men, their wives and children. (Numbers 16:27-33)
God provided a test for a wife suspected of being unfaithful by telling the Israelites that the suspicious or jealous husband had to take her to the priest who shall make the woman drink “bitter water with a curse put on it” (poison) under oath. If she was guilty “her womb will miscarry” her unborn child when she drinks the “bitter water”. (Numbers 5:11-31)
God gave the Canaanites over to Israel, who “completely destroyed them and their towns.” (Numbers 21:3)
God approved of the Israelites going into the city of Og and slaughtering everyone (leaving no survivors) and taking over the land. (Numbers 21:35)
God commanded Moses during the conquest of Canaan, to kill all of the male Midianite children and “kill every woman who has slept with a man (which would include pregnant women), but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.” Numbers 31:17-18
God lead the Israelites who utterly destroyed the men, women and children of Sihon. “…we left no survivors.” (Deuteronomy 2:33-34)
God lead the Israelites against Og who “completely destroyed them, as we had done with Sihon king of Heshbon, destroying every city — men, women and children.” (Deuteronomy 3:6)
God dictated the rules of engagement regarding the enemies of the Israelites, to “destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy.” (Deuteronomy 7:2)
God commanded the Israelites “…in the cities of the nations the Lord your god is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes.” (Deuteronomy 20:16)
God’s punishment for disobedience included eating “the fruit of the womb, the flesh of the sons and daughters the Lord your God has given you.” (Deuteronomy 28:53)
The book of Joshua (6:21-11:20) is a long litany of God commanding the Israelites to leave no survivors in the numerous towns they attacked,. Today we recognise this evil atrocity as GENOCIDE and such a person would be condemned to a death sentence for crimes against humanity and war crimes!
Gods killed the baby (2 Samuel 12:14-15, 18) resulting from the adulterous relationship between King David and the wife of Uriah The Hittite. (2 Samuel 11:1-12:24)
God inspired Isaiah to boast about enemies being made to watch as “Their infants will be dashed to pieces before their eyes”. (Isaiah 13:15)
God inspired Isaiah to boast about divine punishment that “Their bows will strike down the young men; they will have no mercy on infants, nor will they look with compassion on children.” (Isaiah 13:18)
God punishes Israel’s rebellion – “I let them become defiled through their gifts- the sacrifice of every first born – that I might fill them with horror so they would know that I am the Lord.” (Ezekiel 20:26)
God inspired Hosea to boast about divine punishment for disobedience and delight in slitting pregnant women open and watching their unborn babies fall out. They “will fall by the sword; their little ones will be dashed to the ground, and their pregnant women ripped open.” (Hosea 13:16)
This is just a fraction of the atrocities commanded by god against women, children and the unborn. Most Christians will be unaware of these evil verses, because it contradicts their man-made philosophical ‘concept of God’ that it is an all-perfect male deity, omnibenevolent, omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient.
Be prepared for a ‘Jesian Construct’, where the Christian tries to belittle these texts claiming that they are from the old covenant, that does not apply to Christians who are under the new covenant, except for churcches adopting ‘the principle’ of tithing and re-introducing the temple/priest v laity system that Jesus allegedly died to abolish. They may also combine this approach to counter you with another Jesian Construct, namely that the bible is a gradual revelation of God’s perfect will, so early on, god was meeting people where they were at, presuming humans were all violent, blood thirsty, murderous, evil doers. They try to get God off the hook by stating that God was ‘just going along with things’, which is a blatant lie! God did the commanding and the Israelites went along with what their sick God wanted. There is a problem with God’s character here for the actions clearly contradict his alleged goodness and perfection. Let’s face it these are hardly the sort of commands, actions and character traits that belong on the resume of a supreme being.
Also be prepared for Christians to try and justify these actions, e.g the people were evil and were only getting their just rewards from a ‘just’ God. They remind me of the people in the Monty Python Sketch about London Gangsters the Piranha Brothers, Doug and Dinsdale, who nailed people’s heads to the floor or table but still the victims said what a great chap Dinsdale Piranha was … “He was a cruel man but fair” justifying the gangster’s actions. Evil is Evil regardless of who does it!
You may find that you are wasting your time when the Fungelical states that God is God, can do what he pleases, but is always good however we are mere ants compared with God, so cannot see the bigger picture. WALK AWAY! Do not waste your time with someone who is so wrapped up in their religion, using the bible as if it is a self-referencing book.
What a fantastic litany of the anti-life actions recorded in the Bible as being recommended by God. The reality is that there is no God out there separate from us and everything else. God is a human thought that represents nothing. Thus this litany is covering recommendations coming from human beings to other human beings and we make many errors as is quite clear from hindsight.
God is a human thought — Love this! Best description I’ve read so far.
Aristotle sums up how I view religion:
“Men create gods after their own image, not only with regard to their form but with regard to their mode of life.”
That said I do like your simpler “God is a human thought!”
Nice list, but it’s a list of God killing people.
Do you mean to say: ‘If God did it, we should be allowed do it too’?
The whole point of the Bible is that men CANNOT act as God and kill people (even if they’re unborn).
God is the maker and taker of life. If He knows that by taking 10.000 lifes, He can save 10.000.000 then He has every right to do it, because He is God.
And yes, in the old testamant He sometimes commanded His people to destroy entire cities, because He knew the future.
In the new testament Jesus teaches us to turn the other cheek.
You’re kidding, right? The Bible is full of God commanding people to kill other people as threatening people with torture and death, as well as inflicting it himself. Petje, you are being disingenuous here, and I suspect that deep down you know this. Why are you trying so hard to defend the indefensible?
Not quite Petje,
However if you read any of many the questionable translations of the bible then you soon realise that God is the biggest cause of death. However if we take the texts of the Old Testament at face value, then the Israelites did their fair share of killing, often claiming that God commanded Moses and later Joshua to slaughter entire communities, a confession of holocausts in the Ancient Near East if you prefer.
I will concede that religion was human kind’s first attempts to explain the natural world around us, but we have come a very long way since then, in our understanding of the cosmos and our place within it. At the end of the day Religion is man made. The primitive, superstitiious men who wrote the Old (and New) Testament allegedly under divine inspsiration, The evidence is overwhelming that gods did not create the human race in their own image, but rather that our primitive ancestors created gods and religions to control primitive and superstitious people and justify themselves and their actions.
So your petty godling is evil and is not the source of morality?
Yup, you’re in denial
Thank you. I, too, have heard all of those excuses/justifications for the horrible stuff in the Old Testament. It’s helpful to have this ugly list in one place.
Your comment about “Women should keep silent – 1 Cor. 14:34” needs a special mention. Firstly this single verse interrupts the natural flow f the subject matter, skip over it when reading and you will see what I mean.
It contradicts the previous section 1 Cor 11:1-16 that talks of women praying and prophesying in church, which is impossible to do via silence.
Now for some manuscript evidence. The verse appears in slightly different places in some groups of manuscripts. Some have it a verse earlier, others a few verses later, which indicates that this was a deliberate later insertion made by a scribe. This insertion reflects a late second century church, when churches began to meet in public buildings led by a self appointed, male dominant clergy.
Here is some damning evidence that this verse is a later addition inserted into the text to promote a male dominant church hierarchy and to subjugate the role of women in churches. Epistle 96 between Pliny and Emperor Trajan dating from approx 112 AD, regarding 2 slave women who lead a church:
I then thought it the more needful to get at the facts behind their statements. Therefore I placed two women, called “deaconesses,” under torture, but I found only a debased superstition carried to great lengths, so I postponed my examination, and immediately consulted you.
In other words, this verse was not original to the text. Paul did not write this, a scribe/forger added it pretending that Paul had said this, in order to promote a male dominant hierarchy.
Also very valuable information. Thank you!
I have to ask a few questions then….. what do you think your purpose is here on earth? What determines right from wrong? Is that just up to each persons own judgement? Are we only here to live and then die to never be thought of again? Is this life just meaningless? Why do we strive to overcome obstacles and rise above? Where else in the world do you see order come from chaos and creation come without a creator? We argue these facts while missing the bigger picture. Without God…. what is life? Why are we here?
Here’s a phrase I thought of recently. Maybe you can use it in an article.
Abortion is mommies sending their babies straight to heaven because they can’t care for them on earth.
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excellent! This also is consistent w/ the scriptures which state, “it would be better for a man never to have been born” or “- to have an untimely birth [miscarriage]…”
They aren’t really pro-life, much as they love the name. Forced birth is a lot more accurate. Because concern for sacred life stops once the child is born, then “lol! Not my problem whore!”
The misogynistic angle to this argument, whilst repugnant to any decent human being, probably won’t be a good talking point. Pretty sure they agree with all the quotes you brought up-it wouldn’t be a negative to them.
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That’s possibly true. The quotes may be horrifying though to those who are driving past. I think it is wise to expose the dark underbelly of the “pro-life” movement.
Regarding the term “forced birth” I think it is close, but semantically problematic. Birth focuses on the child, but the person being forced is the woman. Perhaps an even better term would be “forced labor,” which has a double meaning but also includes the labor of gestating a fetus and the labor of raising the child afterwards.
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Too many people want to be a fundamentalist when it is convenient. All arguments people are presenting here are backed up by writings in the Bible. Some are against abortion some might support women’s choice. Your blog seems to be against fundamentalism. With that in mind, the title of this article of “how to use the bible against” concerns me.
Personally, I don’t think we are supposed to read the Bible to find answers on how to live life. But rather how we can become one with God.
By using the Bible to point out things to justify ones opinion or action is wrong. A lot of people have been killed, enslaved, and tortured because they found evidence to fit their needs in the Bible.
I will not tell you my idea if abortion is wrong or just. Only because no two people have ever changed their minds arguing about it. But rather both have always walked away feeling stronger about their original position.
I hear you.
False. Though it’s probably rare.
However, there are more than two people here, and it is commonly discussed here. I personally did change my mind and position upon listening to a debate. (Context: I had deconverted from Christianity, and listened to two atheists debate on the subject.)
No obligation for you to engage/disclose, but such discussion is not always fruitless as you suggested here.
Terrific! I find the most powerful argument to be the one in your “What a Serious Anti-Abortion Movement Would Actually Look Like” article. Maybe a sign that said something like, “No, you don’t care about abortions. If you did, you’d focus on stopping unwanted pregnancies.” or “A true campaign against abortion would be FOR accurate sex ed + convenient access to contraception”
Thanks. I’m very pro on abortion access, but i would prefer to see the need for abortion go away.
The approach would probably be more effective if Christians were actually familiar with their Bible (they are not). You left out “Women should be silent in church … and shut up everywhere else.”
I too am pro-abortion and would rather it became unnecessary. Ironically, the Trumpish Troglodytes are also opposed to contraception, the tool that could reduce the number of abortions needed.
can you spell “control” and “Stifle yourself!” boys and girls?
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Valerie, thanks for another great article. All the theological points you raised are accurate. Unfortunately, however, in my experience as a minister (Third-Order Sister, Episcopal), theological arguments are ineffective with fundies. I have presented every argument in your first list without any success. Fundies have been trained to parrot back answers to each of those (I could go through the list but want to keep this brief), saying their pastor told them that’s not what the verse means, you are not a real Christian because your church has gay weddings, and anyway women cannot teach the bible, etc.
The only approach that has been even mildly successful for me is to apply the universal principle which all Christians supposedly believe: “Treat others as you would want to be treated,” applied to the fetus, NOT the woman (they don’t really care about the woman because if the slut didn’t want to get pregnant she should not have spread her legs). And since they believe the embryo is a “baby,” an actual person with feelings, go with that. Say: “Put yourself in the baby’s booties: Would YOU use a woman’s body against her will? Would YOU want to stay inside of her for 9 months if she was depressed, terrified, impoverished or even suicidal, if she was praying for a miscarriage and would do anything, even punch herself in the stomach, drink poison or use a coat hanger to get rid of you? Would YOU force her to endure the agony of childbirth against her will? Would you really want to be put in the position of doing that to another person just so you could be born UNWANTED?”
If the person answers “yes” then they are in the awkward situation of basically saying, if they were the fetus, they would want to force themselves on a woman and use her body against her will, the moral equivalent of rape. This argument will often at least make them pause and think for a moment. I’ve discussed it further in my blog: http://metalnun.blogspot.com/2016/09/putting-yourself-in-their-shoes.html
Somebody who believes in the existence of a God out there separate from us and everything else is deluded. If you share the delusion you cannot have a rational argument with them about anything.
First of all, I never said, “I believe in the existence of a God out there separate from us and everything else.” That is an assumption on your part. I have addressed my personal “beliefs,” or lack thereof, at some length elsewhere in my blog, http://metalnun.blogspot.com/2015/05/why-i-dont-call-myself-believer.html. Your second sentence is true regardless, because whether one shares their delusion or not, it is virtually impossible to have a rational argument with fundie evangelicals under any circumstances, as others besides myself have previously affirmed.
usto turn the other cheek. He also teaches to love one another. Yet both of these “commands” are regularly ignored by those who say they follow him. And it’s often no more obvious than in the abortion marches.
You raise an interesting point regarding “turning the other cheek”, since this and many orther verses are taken out of context, especially their historical context. Most scholars conclude that the man doing the slapping is a Roman citizen/official, as everyone living in Judeah was living under Roman occupation, and yet you will often hear this verse being used to suggest Christians should become door mats, all meek and mild, and not cause a fuss when challenged by people for being Christians.
The texts are snapshots that have been redacted, edited and altered over the centuries during the copying processes. All we have now are fragments of information about early Christianity, and unfortunately the full historical and social contexts that would be needed to make sense of the text have long been lost. We are separated by our culture, language, geography and 19 to 20 centuries of time from the culture of the people who originally wrote the texts. This uncertainty alone ought to deter most rational human beings from placing too much reliance on any texts from the Ancient Near East or late antiquity and trying to apply them to 21st century life.
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This uncertainty alone ought to deter most rational human beings from placing too much reliance on any texts from the Ancient Near East or late antiquity and trying to apply them to 21st century life. Agree … but rationality seems to be cast to the wind by many (most?) believers.
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Won’t change the minds of any “pro life” folks, but should be fun to torment them with this stuff.
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This is a great way to be able to respond to pro-life advocates but I do take objection to your stance that “abortion is normal and that family planning as a whole—including abortion until it becomes obsolete (we are headed in that direction)—is a positive social good.” Abortion is medical procedure and is, and should always be, legal in this country. I think the argument about late term abortions is more tricky but that’s not my point. Terminating an early pregnancy is a women’s right but it weakens the argument to defend it by positioning it as normal. It’s not a form of birth control and shouldn’t be a highlight of any conversation on family planning. Most women take the decision to have an abortion seriously and they should given the physical risks of any medical procedure and the emotional, philosophical and religious implications of that decision. As we continue to protect abortion from becoming obsolete, we should also focus on the real problem: unwanted pregnancy. Helping women and girls to avoid that position in the first place should be the larger conversation rather than defending abortion as normal. It’s not. It’s horrible. And it shouldn’t be anybody else’s business.
Hi Fiona – when i talk about abortion becoming obsolete, i don’t mean simply unavailable. I mean having better options. Right now we could make over 90% of abortion need simply go away by making long acting IUDs and Implants universally available with no barriers. I agree that abortion is an expensive, invasive medical procedure and that simply preventing unwanted pregnancy is a much better option. That said, today accidental pregnancy and abortion are quite common. Over a million American women will have an abortion this year, and many others will wish they could. These are normal women having a common experience–that’s what I was trying to say.
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Is Abortion A Sin Against God?
February 12, 2017 feministsatire
We are losing the Pro-Choice argument. And why? Because we’re not citing religious liberty. Wake up activist women! Use the Bible to argue our God-given right to abortion: A loss of a fetus is not considered a loss of life; only the loss of the wife is a loss of life (Ex 21.22, 23). In the event our right to choice is denied, this argument can be tested by a woman who wants to carry to term since the arguments will necessitate a lengthy trial.
No, the fetus is not a viable life, according to the Bible, but if a wife grabs by the balls a man who’s beating the crap out of her husband, her hand must be cut off (Dt 25.12). So as to which has more value-the fetus or the testicles–we know which side God’s on: God’s on the side of abortion, favoring this to, say, vasectomy. So here’s another tactic we should deploy: if those with wombs can’t have abortions, then those with testicles can’t have vasectomies because clearly God holds testicles to be inviolable.
A man who suspects his wife is cheating on him can strong-arm his wife into submitting to the law of jealousy during which rite the priest forces the woman to swallow bitter water, which is holy water tainted with the dust from the floor of the tabernacle–a deadly mix of e-coli bacteria from all the slaughtering of animals done there. “And this water that causes the curse shall go into thy bowels, to make thy belly to swell, and thy thigh to rot: And the woman shall say, Amen, amen.” If the woman doesn’t become sick, she’s innocent; but if her womb rots, she’s guilty of adultery. To make the anti-choice people happy, we should propose a compromise: We’ve got to take all the abortion clinics and move them into the temples to have the rabbis perform the abortions because that’s God’s law (Nm 5.14-19). Of course if we interpret this literally, only jealous husbands are entitled to force a woman to have an abortion. Our uteruses are always about the men.
All that the anti-choice fanatics know about the Bible is the commandment: Thou shalt not kill. This is their whole argument for why the gender with a womb should be denied the right of privacy under the law to choose whether or not to abort the snail. David, the man most like God in his heart (1 Sm 13.14), compared a miscarried fetus to a snail (Ps 58.8). If David could say it, we can too.
God threatened that his people would eat the flesh of their sons and daughters if they didn’t obey him (Dt 2.33, 34). God threatened to impale nursing children on the sword if his people betrayed him (Dt 32.35). God commanded the slaughter of children and nursing babies (1 Sm 15.3). God threatened that pregnant wombs and children would not be spared the bow (Is 13.18). And then there’s Hosea who prays, “Give them, O Lord, what will you give? Give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts” (Hos 9.13). He speaks for God: “Though they bring forth, I will slay even the beloved fruit of their womb” (Hos 9.6). There are brutal images in Hosea: the dashing of children in pieces and the ripping open the bellies of pregnant women (Hos 13.16). Of course our right to abortion doesn’t mean some crazed violent man is entitled to a religious liberty defense after he’s charged with gashing open a pregnant belly. There are limits to religious liberty, or at least there are at present.
Some anti-choice zealots believe abortion is a Hitler-like holocaust of sorts. Yes, there was a horrific holocaust under Hitler’s pogrom, but there was also a holocaust under God’s pogrom, for God commanded his people to sacrifice their firstborn children to him, which he admits through his prophet Ezekiel (Ez 20.26) after having three times denied that he proscribed the immolations (Jer 7.31; 9.5; 32.35).
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More posters to combat the Christian zealots
Good birth control and education = fewer/no abortions!
Preventing abortion and promoting poverty = penalizing children
Let God do the judging! Keep your laws out of the womb!
Misogynist religions have no place telling women how to live
“Be fruitful and multiply” does not mean populate yourself off the planet!
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The main problem seems to be that we generally cannot debate with a Fungelicostal (Fundamentalist, Evangelical, Pentacostal) because we encounter a mindset that sincerely believes that they have a special book that can trump any argument or challenge we might make.
They regard their texts so highly, that our appeals to science, reason, humanism or simple empathy for our fellow humans are often in vain, because they see these as ‘agents of the devil’, sent to deceive them. You come up against the baptismal promise to “Fight valiantly under the banner of Christ against sin, the world and the devil”. I think we can guess who they think is ultimately responsible for abortion … the devil!
Fundamentalist, Evangelical and Pentacostal churches around the world actually go well beyond the basis of faith orignally defined in the Creed of Nicea 325 AD that is used by most major Christian denominations. As an example, I’ll quote points from the Doctrinal Basis used by the UCCF (Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship) in the UK:
2. God is sovereign in creation, revelation, redemption and final judgement.
3. The Bible, as originally given, is the inspired and infallible Word of God. It is the supreme authority in all matters of belief and behaviour.
4. Since the fall, the whole of humankind is sinful and guilty, so that everyone is subject to God’s wrath and condemnation.
11. The Lord Jesus Christ will return in person, to judge everyone, to execute God’s just condemnation on those who have not repented and to receive the redeemed to eternal glory.
And this folks is at the very heart of the Fungelicostal mindset we are challenging. Fungelicostal Christianities are based upon the erroneous claims that their text is infallible and the Word of God. How often do we hear a preacher say something along the lines of “The bible has a verse for every human situation”? To give you some context, when the Nicean Creed was published in 325 AD, the New Testament as we have it today was still in flux and had not been set even though a general consensus was emerging.
Point 11 of the UCCF Doctrinal Basis is even more important, imho, for there is the sincere belief amongst Fungelicostals that they are living in the “End Times” right now. Many of these followers are convinced that they will personally see the second coming of Christ in their own lifetimes! Abortion is seen as one of the ‘signs’ (rise of evil – a modern form of worshipping Moleck by sacrificing children) that the Second Coming is imminent (any day now!), followed by the rapture (Christians are taken out of the world), tribulations (torment for those of us that are left behind) and final judgement (Gold Stars for believers, Celestial BBQ for me and 7/8 ths of the world population). They are desperate to be seen ‘making a stand for Christ’, picketing Abortion Clinics being one such stand, so that God will recognise them as His own and reward them accordingly.
We are therefore left with little option but to appeal to their own religious texts, as many are oblivious about the painful history and development of Christianities (yes note the plural).
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Excellent comment/observations about the “Fungelicostal mindset.” (Love the acronym.)
Do you ever wonder if you are wrong about this? I know you don’t think you are (but go with me here). Not sure if you thought of it like this before, but If you are right, then no big deal if someone has an abortion or not. But if you are wrong then you just told women it is okay to murder their children. I do hope this is helpful.
That sounds very like the Pascal’s Wager argument for religious belief. The reality, though, is that–religious ideas like “ensoulment” aside–we do know what is gained and lost on both sides of this equation, and I might argue that both are quite a big deal. If person has one precious life and intends to have a limited number of children, then choosing to terminate a surprise pregnancy and wait or else choosing to carry it forward is one of the more momentous, life-changing decisions a person can make. I value the ability to halt an ill-conceived pregnancy precisely because I value life and parenthood so deeply.
Just to make sure that my stand is clear before God and men, I firmly believe life begins at conception…anything after that is murder according to the Bible. I also believe that one proof of this is born out by babies who have survived abortions. Melissa Ohden has an interesting story. Correct me if I am wrong, but my understanding of the story is that her mother tried to abort her, but only days after that her mother delivered a live baby. Here is where I believe the hypocrisy is…a mother can abort her baby in the womb, but if it delivers the baby and then kills it, the woman is guilty of murder.
There’s a world of difference between conception (I myself believe that life begins before conception and personhood begins after) — and a viable infant. Here is what I find disingenuous: The speed with which religious abortion opponents pivot from one to the other.
That’s because once the baby is BORN, it becomes a human being. Before that it is still a fetus. And just in case you’re unaware, there is a difference.
Hmmm, but the Bible says it’s all right for *men* to murder their children — at any age — if the kids are “disobedient” and don’t worship the way daddy does.
You I and everyone else will stand before God. Personally, I am looking forward to Him coming back. If I were you all I would be terrified.
Why do so many conservative Christians so quickly pivot from conversation to threats?
And there folks you see the points I made about core Fungelicostal beliefs that go above and beyond the Creed of Nicea that was drafted during the First Ecumenical Council in 325 AD. David has kindly confirmed the special status of his religious book and end times beliefs. We either worship David’s god … OR ELSE!! Thus confirming points 2 and 4 of the UCCF Doctrinal Basis that mention Final Judgement and just condemantion if we don’t accept his special book.
How is this any different from the threats of Allah in the Koran?
Last post for me. It is from the Bible, “For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. ” Luke 1:44 You be the judge if that “babe” who “leaped…for joy” was a human being or not at that time.
This is what was under your seemingly thoughtful initial question? Words in a story written by an anonymous Iron Age writer are not persuasive to people who see the Bible as an imperfect human document. I myself think that treating a written text like Bible as if it were the word of God is a form of idolatry.
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That text you quote from Luke 1:44 is sadly a later tradition added to make Jesus fit the typical Demi-god/god mould of the Greek and Roman religions, by having the hero ‘born of a virgin’, to make Christianity more acceptable to a Hellenistic culture. A virgin birth is completely alien to Judaisms both then and now.
The author of Luke was unaware that a human ovum and sperm are both required to generate a human embryo, consisting of 23 chromosomes from the female and 23 from the male. So now we have a huge problem. A virgin birth is physically impossible without a male donor and female ovum. Mary would have been aged 12-13, on the verge of womanhood, which is repulsive to most people reading this, except paedophiles.
The author of Luke followed the ancient thinking in Aristotelian biology, that a woman was merely an empty vessel waiting for the male to provide all the generating/conception, which is completely wrong biologically. If the bible is the infallible word of God, how come the deity whom Christians allege created us, gets it so wrong about how human conception works when telling the author of Luke what to write? Strange how the god’s worshipped in the days of any religious writings, always appear to have the same knowledge limitations and make the same factual errors as the authors whom they inspire to write’.
Had the early church been aware of the existence of the ovum and its role in conception, then the later church council that drafted the Creed of Nicea in 325 AD would have read …
“For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by 50% contribution of the Holy Spirit and 50% contribution from Mary, he was made man.
I’m a transgender… and I don’t like it when people try to put words in “God’s” mouth (N.B.: I’m an atheist) when they knew me as the male version of me… then come out as Alexa, who I am and never will shame from it… and then they try to distort Deuteronomy 18:20 about “male lying with male as a female” or something like it, intending to state “God didn’t make mistakes when he made you… [male identity], he sure didn’t make you a female, so don’t play this Alexa game…”
So this is also a good reason why I follow you, Valerie… You tell it like it is and don’t back down.
I just saw your comment from March. Thank you for your kind words.
This wanna-be Berean (Acts 17:11) finds the verses (Exodus 21:22-25) to be somewhat ambiguous. Could an alternate interpretation be something like:
* * If the unborn child is born prematurely before full term, but survives, would a fine be involved?
* * Especially if handicapped with “special needs”?
** If the prematurely born child dies, does “life for life” apply?
Regarding the admittedly bizarre verses for the test of infidelity:
Numbers 5:12b … If any man’s wife goes astray and breaks faith with him,
13 if a man lies with her sexually, and it is hidden from the eyes of her husband, and she is undetected though she has defiled herself, and there is no witness against her, since she was not taken in the act,
* * A reasonable reading would seem to be that she didn’t get pregnant from the adultery.
I’m a Christian because I’ve sinned and need Jesus. Period. He has gotten me through some pretty horrific things in this life that few have experienced, not that that makes me an expert on anyone else’s pain. I just personally need Him. As a women, I want to see rights for women and children and homeless alike. All of the shaming and judging on both sides punch a hole through my heart. All people should be loved. I agree that there is a divide in our country. I vote independently because both sides have caused so much divide and hurt. We need to do what we can to help those and love those who are already living, legal citizen or not. We need to be wise about it, too. I have a dream that the good on the left and the good on the right will join together. We need to stand up for the unborn because there is too much scientific evidence these days that unborn children are living and feel pain. But we also need to stand up for the homeless and women and the poor and those struggling with mental health… The dem’s have some parts right and the so do the republicans. There are hypocrites on both “sides.” Love and justice. My dream… love and justice. I noticed that people are using the Bible to paint God as a monster but don’t KNOW him personally. Let me ask you this. If you witnessed someone enter your home and kill your child. You got video footage, called the cops who caught the person red handed, got the fingerprints, and even your neighbor saw the act through his window and testified, but the judge said, “I’m a loving judge so I’m going to let this murderer go.” Would that really be a loving judge? God sees the bigger picture. We don’t. So to say, well God murdered people is like saying the judge murdered someone. A just and loving God is hard for our human minds to understand, but like it or not, he’s God. My mission in life is to love God and love my neighbor as myself. You don’t have to understand or agree with someone to love (love is a choice not a feeling) them, but a girl can dream.
Liars are always most disposed to swear.-Vittorio Alfieri