Friday, April 2, 2010

Holy Abortion

We are up to Numbers 5 as we make our way through the Bible. After trading the firstborns for the Levites and organizing the division of labor among the Levites, it is time to relay some more laws.

Holy Abortion
It seems as though many Christians who expound upon the sanctity of human life have not read the Old Testament. They would have a difficult time reconciling all of God's killings, including killings of babies and the unborn, with the idea that He counts each life as sacred. Yes, killings of the unborn. God even ordained an abortion technique.

You will find God's prescription for abortions in Numbers 5:11-31. It starts with a jealous husband, as so many bad things do. If a husband suspects his wife of infidelity but has no witnesses to prove her guilt, he is to take her to the priest, along with a “reminder offering” of barley flour (Numbers 5:11-15).

The priest takes the woman to stand before God (stand in front of the entrance to the Tent of Meeting) with her hair loose and her hands in the barley flour. The priest takes some dust from the tabernacle floor and mixes it with holy water in a clay jar, making the water bitter (Numbers 5:16-18).

The priest then says pronounces that if she has not committed adultery, then the bitter water will do no harm to her. However, if she has committed adultery, then she will be disdained when God causes her “thigh to waste away and [her] abdomen to swell.” (In case you do not speak Bible-ese, that means “to have a miscarrying womb and barrenness” according to an alternate translation.) The woman must then agree to these terms (Numbers 5:19-21).

These are supernatural miscarriages. God Himself is aborting the lives of these children, terminating them before they are born.

The ceremony does not end there. Continuing on in shamanistic fashion, the priest writes these curses down on parchment, but then washes the ink off of the parchment into the bitter water, as if to literally transfer the curse into the water (Numbers 5:23). It sounds as if this comes from a book of voodoo magic, not what you would expect from the Bible.

The priest makes a wave and memorial burnt offering of the barley flour. The woman then drinks the cursed bitter water (Numbers 5:24-26).

Then, time will tell. If she is able to have children, then she is cleared from her guilt. However, if she miscarries or is barren, it is the consequence of her sin, and God has afflicted her as a sign of her guilt (Numbers 5:27-31).

Of course, this is some rather shaky ground for judgement because there are many natural reasons for a woman to miscarry or be barren, yet this process would not provide any true method of discernment between the natural and the supernatural.

If she is guilty of adultery, this passage also seems to put her in a state of judgemental flux. This chapter seems to suggest that her punishment is the inability to have children and the scorn from the community. However, according to Leviticus 20:10, she should be put to death.

Speaking of uncertain status, what would happen to those babies aborted by God? The religious side of the pro-life movement contends that the soul enters to child at the time of conception. With a miscarriage obviously being after conception, it would seem that this child has a soul. So would this soul end up in Heaven or Hell?

It is possible that its destination is Hell. It seems that God is willing to punish the children for the sins of their parents, such as is relayed by Exodus 20:5.

Nearly unanimously, Christian leaders proclaim that children who die before their age of culpability go directly to Heaven. It is certainly the most easy and popular position to take, and there are some Bible verses to support this position. Yet if that is the case, considering babies and the unborn who die, it makes life here on earth essentially unnecessary to enter into Heaven.

If life on earth is unnecessary to enter into Heaven, then why would a loving God instead choose to afflict us with the trials and tribulations which come from living in this imperfect world, especially knowing full well that the majority who live will not enter Heaven? You have to enter in at the Narrow Gate (Matthew 7:13-14).

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