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Is the God of the Bible Pro-Life?
An Atheist's Bible Study on the Pro-Life stance
The argument over abortion, the right to choose and pro-life rhetoric has existed for decades, and it doesn't show any sign of letting up soon. The religious right claims their anti-abortion, "pro-life" stance stems from their religious beliefs, but are these beliefs grounded on biblical teachings? Is the god of the bible pro-life, or is he indifferent about the lives of unborn children? What does the bible teach on the sanctity of life, and whether it is ever justified for an innocent life to be taken? The religious right clings to the concept of the sanctity of life (while simultaneously a large number of them also support the death penalty, and some even bomb abortion clinics or assassinate physicians that perform abortion procedures). While it's clear that the bible has nothing to say about abortion, what does it say about the value of human life - particularly innocent life that has not yet been born into the world? As a young person growing up in the church, I was pushed forcibly into pro-life rallies, and our youth group actively participated in protests staged in front of planned parenthood clinics. I saw the look on the young women's faces as they approached, and felt heartbroken that an already difficult position was being made even more difficult when confronted with those protesting their right to choose. As a lot of christians continually push for anti-abortion laws or restrict the availability of legal abortions in many states, they neglect the high cost that their actions ultimately have. They oppose complete sex education in schools, and actively oppose teaching condom use or birth control methods. When they successfully restrict abortion, they do not have any plan of action as to caring for the child when it is brought into the world. That's ultimately the mother's problem. Once the child is born, they feel no sense of responsibility for it. While it remains in the womb, however, they believe that they have the ultimate authority to decide that it stays there - whether the woman wants it there or not.
First, let it be said upfront that being "pro-choice" does not make anyone pro-abortion. I'm an atheist, and I support a woman's right to choose, but I am not fond of the concept of abortion. I do not believe that abortion should be a last-ditch effort at birth control once conception has ever taken place, but I realize that I do not have the right to force that belief on others who are often faced with no other choice. In no other circumstance does the government interfere in medical procedures of this magnitude. They do not force parents to donate blood, organ or tissue to a child - even if refusal will cost the child its life. They do not practice obligatory blood donations in order to save lives. The concept of forcing a woman to carry a baby to term even in extreme cases is absurd to me on a fundamental level, but I digress. This hub explores the biblical evidence for a pro-life god, and that's what it will demonstrate from this point forward.
Are These Passages Familiar to You?
This passage is a prophet calling out to god, begging god to trigger miscarriages within the womb. He pleads repeatedly for the lord to not let their children be born, that the entire tribe perish due to disobedience. Should children be born, he entreats the lord to allow the children to be murdered. He also begs the lord to stop loving this tribe and ensure that, again, they shall have no surviving children due to a plague of god-induced miscarriages among the women so that the line of the tribe eventually ceases to exist.
This passage continues upon the previous passages curse, this time the rage is focused on Samaria. The "prophecy" commands that infants should be thrown onto the rocks, and goes a step further - mandating that the pregnant women among them should be "ripped up" and the unborn child literally ripped from the womb by the sword.
Numbers 5:11-21 -
this passage sounds more like a pagan spell than a passage out of the bible. If a man is jealous of his wife and even suspects that she has been unfaithful to him, he is to drag her to the priest - who then performs a strange and disturbing ritual. First the man brings a jealousy offering for the priest. The priest then mixes a bunch of bitter herbs (and at the time this was written there were known herbs that induced a miscarriage so that a child would not be brought to term) and puts dirt from the temple floor into a glass of water and forces the poor woman to drink it. If she miscarried as a result of this potion - there is really nothing else to call it - then it was a sign that she was guilty of cheating on her husband, and she would surely be put to death. The note-worthy parts of this passage is that is not reserved to husbands that KNOW that their wife has been unfaithful. This passage speaks directly to the fact that the husband has no proof, the woman was not caught in the act. He merely suspects her, and because of that suspicion, she is forced to go through this bizarre ritual that harkens my memory back to the medieval days of "trial by ordeal". If nothing happens, then the person must be innocent. If the natural spell does its work correctly, however, they are surely guilty and must be put to death. I wonder how many truly innocent women were forced to drink this priestly concoction only to have it do what it was supposed to do - and were therefore put to death over nothing more than a simple suspicion.
In other words, kill everything that is male or not a virgin. The virgins can live - but only to survive in sexual slavery forever. That sounds like a great deal to me. These verses are direct commands from god to the Israelite people. God allows them to "keep for themselves" all o the virgins - but everyone else from infants to adults is to be put to death.
1 Kings 15:16This is a king that was angry that cities would not submit to him, so he slaughtered everyone inside the city - guilty, innocent or otherwise and ripped open the bellies of all of the pregnant women he found inside.
1 Samuel 15:3
"Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass"
This chapter goes on to say that Saul did NOT do as the lord commanded. He spared some of the animals from the prescribed slaughter, and because of that god removed him from his post as king, for "Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams" vs 22 I've left the verse intact because it is an edict from god himself. Not only are all the people to be slaughtered (including the infants) but even the animals are not to be spared.
This is a god-prescribed death sentence for anyone of any age who curses his mother and/or father - and their own blood will be upon their heads - not the people who did the killing.
God's soul will abhor them - and he will force them to do despicable things - like eating the flesh of their own children.
Judges 11:30-40, Jepthah bargains with god to offer the first thing to great him upon his return home as a burnt offering in exchange for god giving him victory in battle. What comes to great him but his only daughter - and after morning her virginity for a brief period of time, Jepthah offers her as a burnt offering to the lord, in accordance with his promise.
2 Kings 2:23-24
The prophet was leaving and going from one place to another place. Along the way, 42 children (the translation in the KJV is very specific) decided to taunt the prophet. They called him "bald-headed". Due to their taunting, the prophet cursed them in the name of the lord (my, wasn't he sensitive). The lord then turned around and sent 2 she-bears out of the woods, and all 42 children were slaughtered and mauled. What does the next verse say? Nothing about the rampant slaughter or injustice of killing children over name-calling. The prophet left - and went somewhere else.
If two parents have a child who is disobedient and rebellious and they do not listen to them sufficiently (and obey them, is the inference) then they are to go to the elders of the city, relay the story - and then every person in the city is to drag the child to the edge of town - and stone them to death.
God kills the firstborn of all of Egypt - from the firstborn son of Pharaoh himself to the firstborn of the prisoner inside of the prison - unless you have slaughtered a lamb and smeared its blood all over your door frame first.
This passage consists of a prophet making a predication about people. They are about to be conquered by a foreign power, and the prophet states explicitly that silver and gold are not the motivation for the attack. They will go into the fight wishing to "ravish" the women, slaughter all of the adults by the sword and have their children thrown upon the rocks to their death. The prophet also mentions that the attackers will have no pity for the young or innocent ones - the children will be subject to the same ill treatment of the adults - death, due to the will of a vengeful and angry god.
This is the lord himself supposedly speaking through the voice (or the pen) of the prophet Jeremiah. Every year, the lord will bring evil upon them and punish them for their misdeeds. He will cause famine, attack and brutality on an epic scale.
Here, the lord wishes to bring condemnation upon an entire city because of their disobedience and ingratitude. He's going to rain plagues upon the city so great that it will be talked about by everyone who has the misfortune of passing by. The dead bodies will be left to rot, and all of the various animals will pick through the bones and eat the remnants. The lord will force the people into such desperation that they will have no other choice but to eat the flesh of their own children or their friends or family members.
So is the god of the bible pro-life? It's quite clear from these passages (and many others) that the biblical ideal of god has no regard for life - not the lives of adults, or the lives of children - even children still in the womb. He has no problem ordering the slaughter of children and has no problem with bringing force nature (like bears) or famine to wipe entire peoples out. He orders slaughter on massive scales and when his orders are not obeyed, disaster is the end result. He is a merciless and unjust tyrant who revels in the blood of the victims that disobeyed him.