Abortion: the Bible does not support a key Pro-Life position.

Discussion in 'Abrahamic Religions' started by Jane-Q, Sep 28, 2014.

  1. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    You'll have to go back to the OP and refute her conclusions one by one.

    Start with the breath eh?
     
  2. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    No, the prior assumption is wrong, that the ancients believed life begins at birth.
    "And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb... " Luke 1:41.

    Job done.
     
  3. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    That is avoiding her discussion, not addressing her points.


    But WHAT??? All that line is saying is that the 6th month old fetus in Elizabeth's womb kicked... When she heard Mary's greeting, the baby in her womb kicked... Leaped in her womb...

    What were you thinking it was saying?
     
  4. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    The fundamental premise is wrong. Don't have to address the points.

    So you think Luke recorded it because ... why?
     
  5. Gordian Knot

    Gordian Knot Being Deviant IS My Art.

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    Thomas said "OK. Anyone got any references where the Bible proposes abortion?"

    Last time I visited this page the topic was that the Bible does not support a pro-life position. How did that morph into the concept that the Bible proposes abortion! Whether one agrees with Jane's position or not, I see nothing in her comments that suggest that the Bible supports abortion.
     
  6. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Whoops! Down to me. Mea culpa.

    Back to the point then:
    OK. Having made this statement, can she provide scriptural evidence of her assertions, or is this just her opinion on the matter?
    My Lucan reference would seem infer she's wrong.
     
  7. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    How about her next line? She makes a statement, then provides her support for the statement.
     
  8. Jane-Q

    Jane-Q ...pain...

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    Hi all.

    The original argument I was making was very narrow:
    (read it)
    One KEY tenet of the Pro-Life movement's theory. Not all positions expounded by Pro-Life.
    Everything I've read within, and about, the Hebrew Bible . . . points to this pervasive theological POV:
    Life begins with the first breath.
    Because it is God which gives that breath.
    It may be bad science, but it is what ancient Israelites believed.
    And it is, thus, what the Hebrew Bible affirms.

    Is there a counter-POV in the Old Testament to this central theological position? Counter to seeing the start of life arriving with the first breath of life which is given by God?
    If so, Thomas (or anyone), please name this alternative POV. And show why it countermands the original/predominant theological POV.
    And regarding the New Testament? Does the New Testament propose a new POV? I don't personally, from my reading of the Gospels or Letters, see this brand-new POV, regarding the start of life. But I admit, I might not be looking in the correct places.
    I am (for instance) unfamiliar with the contemporary Greek position. The beginning of modern medicine is often cited as beginning with Hellenistic medical "physics." Does anyone know (if a general consensus existed amongst these medical philosophers) as to what in fact these practical philosophers' POV was - regarding where life begins? (This may have influenced Christian thinking, in affirmative or condemnatory ways.)

    I actually think that Thomas is correct that the Christian tradition tends toward a worldview which, come the 20th century, would tend (for a majority of Christians) to see abortion as wrong.
    (Thoughts on that in my next post.)

    But, for now, time-travel back to the 1960s:
    The LCA, the largest (and most liberal) denomination of Lutherans in the United States, officially supported the legalization of abortion - long before the famous/infamous Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade. And they were not the only Protestant denomination to do so.
    But the Lutheran Church in America was at the forefront of the Planned Parenthood movement long before abortion became the BIG controversial issue. Planned Parenthood was about condoms and diaphragms and . . . rational "family planning." Getting sexual information to young couples (and, later, to unmarried but sexually-active individuals) so that - since they were going to engage in sex regardless - these individuals would have the information (and tools) available to them to do so in healthy and sane ways.
    Thus, to most Lutherans, Planned Parenthood was entirely consistent with the Christian message.

    The abortion issue tended to muddy the waters, made Planned Parenthood an evil concept in many conservative Christians' eyes. But the Pro-Abortion position (Pro-Choice) is entirely consistent with the tradition of Liberal Christianity which goes back to Germany and America starting circa-1800 CE. This has been a major Christian movement, a major tradition within Christianity (both theologically and in terms of moral social-conscience). So Thomas is incorrect to place Christianity 100% on the anti-abortion (Pro-Life) side of the fence. (Or even 80% on that side.)
    (And I suspect that it is not quite such a simple "either/or" with other religious faiths around the planet, either.)

    Abortion is an uncomfortable concept for people on either side of the debate to deal with, and to do so unemotionally.
    Which is perhaps as it should be.
    But when the Supreme Court forced America to take its ostrich-head out of the sand and face up to one very large and complicated social problem (unwanted pregnancies and the demoralizing effect they have on the quality of life of the individuals involved), I think the Supreme Court did America a big favor. Closing one's eyes in "denial" never solves problems.
    My one big gripe with Pro-Life is that they need to come up with realistic solutions to a very demoralizing social problem. Talk about "sin" or "abstinence" doesn't cut it. The planet has been there, done that, won't work.
    But if Pro-Life can get its collective head out of the sand and come up with genuinely viable solutions, it might find me jumping to their side of the fence. I'm not an ideologue. A good solution is a good solution, no matter where it comes from.

    But the "morality" of the Pro-Life position - if based upon the idea that "life begins at conception" - is not a morality which the ingrained theology of the Bible explicitly supports.
    (This was the entirety of my original point!)
    The Bible conceptualizes the nature of life (its start and its end) differently than the Pro-Life movement does.

    Jane.

     
  9. Jane-Q

    Jane-Q ...pain...

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    Was there abortion (or something like it) in the ancient world?

    Yes.

    The best documented examples are from China and the Greco-Roman world. But it likely existed most everywhere in the ancient world (and lasting, in some places, up into fairly recent history). How did it work?
    An infant is born.
    Parents who cannot not afford the expense of raising one more child (particularly a female child, but male infants also) - these parents would bundle the child and take it down to the local riverbank in the predawn hours. And abandon the infant there.
    The newborn infant's fate is "left to the gods."
    Most died.
    Sometimes, childless couples would haunt the predawn riverbanks. If a foundling caught their fancy, they would take it home ("adopt it") - as a gift from the gods.
    Sometimes parents would make a little boat-basket for their infant. Float their newborn downstream into a classier neighborhood, where well-healed people lived who could afford another child.
    (Think of the birth-story of Sargon the Great or of Moses.)

    This is not parental callousness or selfishness. This is a cultural practice. And must have been emotionally very trying for the parents. But from a practical perspective, it may have been the only viable choice which these parents could envision. Burdened already with several children to raise, they did what they did - abandoned their offspring to its fate - because they felt they had to.
    Life was very hard for 90% of the population in ancient times. And this was the solution to the unwanted-pregnancy issue back then. It is documented often enough in the literature of China and of Rome that the practice was certainly not occasional but pervasive.
    Thinking about it . . . boggles the imagination. It is almost too horrifying to contemplate.

    The only peoples (whom scholars are certain of) who actually repudiated this form of birth-control . . .
    Are the ancient Egyptians
    (they later - during Greco-Roman times - culturally reversed themselves and also began to practice "riverbank abortions").
    And the ancient Israelites . . . who similarly repudiated this form of birth-control (but with no later reversals).

    Like male-circumcision and the ban on eating pork, repudiating the riverside abandonment of newborn infants is likely a practice the early Israelites picked up from the Egyptians. But the Israelites later developed their own peculiar rationale for doing so. It fit into a general vision of care for all members of the community: those who are sick, disabled, out-of-work, widowed, orphaned, etc.

    These kinds of social services did not exist in ancient China nor in the Roman world. Thus the popularity of Judaism in the Eastern Mediterranean and in Mesopotamia. The religion attracted many Gentile "God-fearers" - maybe half the attendees of synagogue services during the time of St. Paul. It is the core group of St. Paul's converts to the Jesus sect of Judaism. And these social services were a major reason for the early appeal of Christianity.
    And if unwanted infants were born to Christians, these infants were not taken to the riverside in the predawn. A home within the local Christian community was found, and financial aid is given to that family if needed.

    So there is a strong tradition at the very core of both Judaism and Christianity to not leave unwanted infants to their fate (to probable death) on the predawn riverbank. It is in the spirit of Christianity to resist even the appearance of callous unconcern. And it is out of this tradition which Pro-Life Christians tailor their anti-abortion appeal. It appears to be consistent with long-time/core Christian values. (But is it?)

    Yes, Christianity (over time) ended a hideous ancient practice in Europe and (with the help of Islam) in the Near East. And western and Islamic colonialism eventually ended it across the rest of the world.
    (Though some cultures - or the religions which proselytized them - may have brought the practice to an end prior to colonialism's cultural interference in a locale's traditional way of doing things. Or some cultures - like the ancient Egyptians and Israelites - may never have practiced, or never widely practiced, riverbank newborn-abandonment. It's not a subject that any nation's historians would happily research about their own cultural heritage.)
    But . . . is today's "abortion" cognate with "riverside newborn abandonment"?

    Are Pro-Life Christians ready to step-up and be like the first century Christians . . . and volunteer to raise the result of every unwanted pregnancy in (Christian) America, if every pregnant woman can be convinced to bring their fetus to full term?

    I doubt it. Too great a strain on family budget. Congenital health of infant too unknown. Two or three extra kids for every Pro-Life family in America?
    No way. Even Pro-Life families are doing their own "planned parenthood," even if they repudiate calling it that.
    (It is not hypocrisy. Pro-Life Christians are just being practical, too. Practicality, in the end, will always trump what in an ideal world "feels morally right.")
    Old Christian solutions are not going to work, in this day and age. It's going to take a new kind of Christian thinking to genuinely solve the unwanted pregnancy problem in America.

    In the end, the solution has to be practical. The way the Judeo-Christian solution to riverbank abortions was practical for the ancient world. It worked.
    However, this once-inspired solution to the unwanted-pregnancy problem is unworkable - no longer practical today - regarding our much more populous, tumultuous, and complicated modern social environment.
    When the solution is found, this will be a solution . . . not which emotionally feels "moral." But a solution which works.

    (And when it does start working, it will - ex post facto - begin to feel "moral.")

    Jane.

     
  10. Gordian Knot

    Gordian Knot Being Deviant IS My Art.

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    Are Pro-Life Christians ready to step-up and be like the first century Christians . . . and volunteer to raise the result of every unwanted pregnancy in (Christian) America, if every pregnant woman can be convinced to bring their fetus to full term?

    If they were genuinely concerned about being pro-life, that is exactly what they would do. But conservatives are not in any way truly pro-life. They are pro-birth. The fetus must be born. Once it is, conservatives wash their hands of any responsibility, or even human compassion for these children. It is the most cynical, hypocritical (and I believe sinful) attitude.

    Tea if you view that as a negative statement that is your perception problem. I state the reality the way it is. This is how conservatives think and how they act. To make up some other 'feel good' way of stating the truth would be dishonest.
     
  11. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea Well-Known Member

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    Good science if I ever saw it!
    (let's not make this thread about me, Jane hasn't given up yet and I don't want to be the one who brings it down)
     
  12. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Ah, I see ...
    I think you're basing your thesis on a too literal reading of 'breath'. You've missed the point about the soul altogether.

    Genesis 2:7 says "and breathed (naphach) into his nostrils the breath (neshamah) of life (chay); and man became a living soul (chay nephesh).

    The breath you're talking about – the physical act of breathing – is naphach.

    The 'breath of life' is the animation of the living, another reading of neshamah is 'spirit' and even 'mind', and refers to the soul, and multitudinous Biblical references will show.

    In that sense, God breathes (ruach) the the spirit of life, the soul (neshamah) into the body.

    In the Abrahamic Traditions, at what point the soul enters the embryo, the point at which the embryo becomes a living being, was again a matter of speculation in the absence of biological data. It was generally assumed that this happened when the child began to move. Movement was a principle sign of life.

    But it certainly, to their mind, happened in the womb.

    Does the child breathe in the womb? They would think yes. They, like we, certainly sensed that it was alive.

    I would imagine the Ancients thought about it in much the same way as we do today, that the parent feels the movement and identifies that with a living child being carried. I remember feeling my daughters (as it turned out, we never wanted to know the gender of the child) moving. Indeed, I remember talking to them, although, heaven forgive me, I used to do my best Darth Vader impression: "This is the voice of your father." Thankfully, none of them seem to have been traumatised by the event.

    On a more personal note, we lost a son at six months in. Cessation of movement was the first sign, and our dread was, tragically, confirmed. I held him after he was delivered stillborn. Thomas was, and will always be, our first child.

    I really don't think anyone thinks they deliver an inanimate, lifeless body, which only becomes alive with the first breath it takes outside the womb. Certainly no-one I know does. And medical science affirms that the child in the womb is alive, and actually that its inchoate consciousness is capable of far more than we had previously assumed. We've proved the child responds to certain stimuli as a living thing, even learns whilst in the womb.

    To understand the use of the word 'breath' in Scripture requires an understanding not only of naphach, to breathe or blow, but also, as in Genesis 2:7, an understanding of the inter-relation between ruach, 'wind', neshamah, 'breathe' and nephesh, 'rest'.

    In the Christian Tradition:
    nephesh = anima (Latin) = psyche (Greek) : The animic soul.
    ruach = spiritus = pheuma : The mental soul.
    neshamah = spiritus/spiraculum/habitus = pneuma/pnoe : The spiritual soul.
     
  13. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Hi Jane –

    May I suggest you review the following? To be frank, your words fill me with dread.

    So ends justify the means?

    Sorry, but Christianity is not about what suits America.

    Then maybe it's the values of that environment which need looking at? I mean, global consumerism seems to be killing the world. Certainly contemporary American values are going to have to change if the world is going to survive.

    So are ours. The profligate consumerism of the west, and now we've got most of the rest of the world on board too, is unsustainable.

    At which point my blood runs cold. Final Solution, anyone?

    Not the Jews, obviously. But the unwanted pregnancy. The disabled and dispossessed – they're a massive drain on resources, far outweighing their contribution – the old and infirm.

    Look at Ebola. Do we wait until it proves to be a deadly pandemic, or should we nuke Africa now, and nip it in the bud?

    Or, 'when you've got them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow'? Or do you mean the glut of luxury goods once the drain on resources is sorted will assuage their troubled consciences?

    (And, on the same line, if some complain it's not moral, then we can deal with them, too.)

    I'm sure this is not what you mean, but it looks that way, on the face of it.
     
  14. Gordian Knot

    Gordian Knot Being Deviant IS My Art.

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    Thomas, from my perspective you are reading into Jane's comments a great deal that is not there. I hardly think her comments suggest a Final Solution scenario. Hopefully Jane will consider responding to you and we will have a better idea of where she is coming from.

    From my personal pov, Jane is attempting to be practical about issues that are very conflicting in modern society. It is refreshing to me to see someone making an attempt at real solutions. Whether they are good solutions or bad ones, nothing she has said is any worse than the solution of inaction that currently holds sway.
     
  15. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea Well-Known Member

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    But we must also consider where practical solutions my lead. And considering where Thomas is coming from, I think it is somewhat provoking relegating morality to social trendiness.
     
  16. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Hi both –

    I may well be over-stating the case for effect.

    But if moral values are put aside in favour of a workable solution, then what prevents a 'Final Solution' from being tabled?
     
  17. Gordian Knot

    Gordian Knot Being Deviant IS My Art.

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    I understand. And agree.

    Guess my statement is that moral values are not being put aside. Rather they are being used to justify the disastrously unworkable situation that exists right now.
     
  18. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea Well-Known Member

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    I think we all really agree on these points, we just put emphasise on different aspects as a result of the social trends we observe in our society from our perspective.
     
  19. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    What is the 'final solution'?
     
  20. Gordian Knot

    Gordian Knot Being Deviant IS My Art.

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    The Final Solution is genocide of a particular group. It first came into popular use in World War II when it was called The Final Solution to the Jewish Question. Nazi Germany's answer was to exterminate all the Jews.
     

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