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God's Word On Abortion

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Message Harold Novikoff
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The Controversy on abortion - pro-choice or pro-life - stems mainly from Christian interpretations of the Bible. I am not an expert on these matters but I am searching for some clarity on the subject. Frankly, I do not know if there are specific admonitions in the Bible against abortion which true believers would not dare to question. My questioning stems from a more open discussion which allows some flexibility of interpretation.

In my limited familiarity with the Bible, the one striking commandment reported as God's words is: "Be fruitful and multiply." In the early times referred to in the Bible, that certainly would be wise policy to sustain and extend the human race. Life in those times was very hazardous. I suspect there was a very high rate of death in child birth, from tribal warfare, and primitive conditions of life which didn't offer the protections against natural disasters, starvation, disease, etc. that are available today. Every potential addition to the population would be precious. There certainly would be no need for abortions or homosexuality, so they would be inhibited by custom.

I don't know specifically what the Bible says about rape. In other histories or legends of those times, rape was a factor in creating nations. Victorious soldiers would carry off the women of the vanquished tribe. That is the legend of how Rome was created. God of the Bible condemns adultery and coveting the neighbors wife, but not rape specifically, at least in the Ten Commandments.

Conditions today are very different. We have a surplus population. Life is cheap. We don't care or know what to do with large masses of homeless and refugee people. We allow genocides to go unpunished. Many people don't value life, including their own, so they go on shooting sprees or suicide bombings. We sacrifice life indiscriminately in warfare. We can't accommodate a lot of people into a humanly decent manner of living.

Is the caring God of the Bible alive today? If so, I would imagine that God's attitude would have changed towards being fruitful and multiply. In this age, a humane God would advocate remedies to limit the Earth's population so that everyone could share in the benefits of civilization. Abortion and homosexuality may be seen as Nature's or God's humane way of limiting the population.

But, you say abortion is murder, killing a precious human being endowed with a divine spirit. At what point does an embryo become a human being? Does this happen only at conception or at the first heartbeat? Why does the preciousness of life decline as we grow older, so that we can readily be sacrificed in warfare or placed in degrading or destitute conditions? Perhaps the divine spirit doesn't enter at conception. Conceivably, one acquires the divine spirit of humanity by a slow process of maturing as one grows up, through good education and loving care.

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Veteran, retired from several occupations (school teacher, technical writer, energy conservation business, etc.) long-time Sierra Club member

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