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Now, where were we before I had my "little" job-related problem? Oh, yes. We'd established that the true gospel of Jesus Christ, as actually taught in the Bible, is completely incompatible with Republican party values. We've established that the false gospel replaced the true gospel when, a generation ago, the leaders of the evangelical Christian movements and the leaders of the Catholic church simultaneously agreed to substitute a false gospel, one compatible with Republican values, for the true gospel, for fear that only the Republicans could save the church from extinction under a global communist regime. And as my first vivid example, I contrasted what the gospel has to say about homosexuality (and what a trivial issue it is in context of the message of Jesus Christ that human beings are no longer permitted to enforce the Old Testament "holiness code" on God's behalf) with the obsessive attention the ministers of the false gospel give to their anti-Biblical preaching and politicking on the subject -- all to make the Republicans look good by teaching a reactionary culture made uncomfortable by the prominence of gays in post-Stonewall AIDS-aware America that God endorsed their disgust. (See "Christians in the Hand of an Angry God" parts 1, 2, and 3.) So let's hit another example where the contrast between what the Bible says and what the ministers of the false gospel preach is such an unbridgeable gap: abortion.

So what does the Bible say about the intentional termination of a pregnancy? Nothing. That's right, nothing. It never comes up. Even in the holiness code, which takes time out to preach about the evils of mildew, there isn't a single thing about the intentional termination of a pregnancy. Lest you think this is because abortion didn't exist back then, suffice it to say that there's at least some evidence that human beings have known which plants were abortificants since, well, since before there were human beings. Cultures much older than the post-captivity Jews knew how to induce an abortion at will; one must assume that there were Jews who used that knowledge. And yet somehow the Bible never gets around to saying even word one against the practice.

So when the ministers of the false gospel set out to find some way to preach against abortion, they had to go digging. Now, one of the basic fundamental rules of legitimate Biblical exigesis that they teach you in seminary (or even competent pre-seminary religion classes) is that you should be very, very wary of the classic errors of exigesis, traps that Satan will use to lead you astray. Beware of quoting a passage out of context; beware of quoting a passage as saying something other than what it actually says, and don't go looking for tiny little passages that "prove" your point when there are much longer, clearer passages that contradict what you're trying to prove. But the leaders of the fundamentalist and Catholic seminaries threw these principles over the side of the boat so that they could prove the following malformed syllogism: (1) The Bible firmly opposes murder of human beings. (2) The fetus is a human being. Therefore (3) the Bible firmly opposes the murder of a fetus. May I assume that for the moment we all agree, subject to fine tuning and nagging caveats, that point 1 is a given? Fine.

So what slender thread of evidence do they use to prove their point that the fetus in the womb is a human being with a soul? Typically, they quote Psalms 22:9-10, Isaiah 46:3-4, and Jeremiah 1:4-5 in which God says to David, Isaiah, and Jeremiah (in that order) that He knew them while they were still in their mother's womb. Now, let me invite you to take a minute to read those three chapters, and let me ask you two questions about them. First of all, who are we talking about in those chapters: God, or the author? Is the point of the passage how old the author of the chapter is, when his life began, or is God talking about His fore-knowledge? And that leads to the second question: if God is all knowing, was there ever a time from the creation of the world to the present when the Bible says that God didn't know you? And since God knew you from the beginning of all time, why pick the moment when sperm and egg to unite to say when life begins? Maybe the old cynical joke about what Baptists believe is true, if your interpretation is the one to trust; maybe life does begin when the woman's bra is unhooked.

But if you're going to make that argument, you're going to have to explain how it's compatible with what the Bible does say, albeit in the holiness code that Jesus set aside human enforcement of in John 8:1-11. The only time the Bible actually explicitly talks about the termination of a pregnancy is as a complication in a criminal assault case. "If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine." (Exodus 21:22) In plain English (and equally plain Hebrew, I'm told), the Bible says that even in cases where the pregnancy is terminated against the woman's will in a criminal assault, it's treated as a property crime, with the penalty being nothing more than a monetary fine negotated between the assailants and the woman's husband. Compare and contrast that with the penalty for murder (death), and then tell me that the Bible would treat the death of even, to use an unspeakably tired current example, "Connor" Peterson as a murder. If God thinks that killing a fetus is murder, why make the penalty so light and trivial?

Answer: because the Bible says when human life begins, when a person first obtains a soul, when that person has rights that must be respected. It doesn't say this out-right, but the implication is pretty plain, and it's the only interpretation that's compatible with the rest of the Biblical legal code. Consider the creation of mankind in Genesis chapter 2, and let me specifically call your attention to Genesis chapter 2, verse 7: "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." Pay attention to the sequence there. When God made Adam from the dust of the ground, Adam was no six-week fetus. He wasn't even a newborn. Adam was a full-grown adult human being, and yet he had no soul until he drew his first breath. And that is why, until abortion became a political issue again around a hundred years ago and people went digging in the scriptures to try to find a reason to hate it, it was an assumed fact of religious law that the soul enters the body at birth. Indeed, it was long assumed on this same Biblical basis that the "death rattle," the rattling sound in the throat of many dying people as they exhale for the last time, was the sound of the soul leaving the body, and it was for this very reason that many Christian theologians were deeply disturbed when mouth-to-mouth rescusitation was invented.

So when the 1973 Supreme Court ruling Roe v Wade confered some limited rights on the fetus six months before birth, and grants it almost any right other than the right to kill the mother starting at approximately earliest possible viability outside the womb around three months before birth, Roe v Wade grants the fetus more rights and more recognition as a person than the Bible does.

So if that's the case, why would the ministers of the false gospel lie about it? Because the abortion debate was never about the fetus. It's about sex. In particular, it's about a school of thought that says that illicit sex must have horrifying consequences if it is to be prevented. As the famous limmerick says:
A modest young maiden called Wilde
Sought to keep herself undefiled
   By thinking of Jesus
   Contagious diseases,
And the bother of having a child.

And that's why the abortion debate was a matter of argument long, long before abortion was legalized. You see ... or perhaps some of you don't see, so let me explain ... Roe v Wade doesn't exist in a Constitutional vaccuum. Roe rests on the foundation of Griswold v Connecticut. Roe can't be overturned without overturning Griswold. And nothing would make the Pharisees, the false ministers who chose to teach the Satanic gospel of the Republican party over the simple words of Christ, happier than to see Griswold overturned. What's Griswold? It's the Supreme Court case that legalized contraceptive use by married people, overturning the Comstock Act. From 1873 to 1965 it was not only illegal in America to manufacture or sell contraceptives, but even to talk or write about them in print, and not only legally "obscene" to discuss them, but a crime for even married people to use them during sex.

Why? Well, for a significant percentage of the population, sex is supposed to be scary, supposed to involve risk of unwanted consequences; that's how they want to scare people into as having as little of it as possible, so they channel their energy into more "productive" activities, like economics or militarism. (Think I'm making this up? For more on the link between militarist dictatorship and sexual repression even within marriage, see Wilhelm Reich, The Mass Psychology of Fascism and if you don't want to trust Reich then the single most famous expert on fascist movements in history, Eric Hoffer, in his book The True Believer.)

But Comstockery became the law when fascism wasn't even a glimmer in anybody's eye. No, as much as anything Comstockery was just another Republican "return to normalcy" campaign. To a significant percentage of the American population in the 1870s, this rush to the cities to work in the (Republicans') factories was a terrible threat to the social controls implicit in small-town village life, a threat of immanent rampaging immorality on the order of what happened in Bohemian Paris. (Seigel's book is very good. Bruce Sterling's classic review of it is even better.) And the before they even thought to subvert organized Christianity, the Republicans were portraying anything that made sex less scary as a threat to public order. Democrats, being comfortable in the cities and knowing full well that Americans who live in cities are no scarier than Americans who live anywhere else, never bought into this. So when the ministers of the false gospel went looking for a way to make it seem that Jesus was endorsing their evil anti-Christian masters in the anti-communist crusade, they eagerly turned to demonically false exigesis to find anything they could to make contraception, birth control, abortion, public health campaigns against sexually transmitted diseases, or any other thing that might make romantic sex safer or healthier, seem to be antithetical to God's word, even though they clearly aren't.

They clearly all need to be reminded of the very passage in the Christian Bible, this from Revelations 22, verses 11-21 (emphasis added):

He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
So I ask you, if you claim to believe the Bible and yet you support the political party that lays heavy burdens on the poor and lifts not a finger to help them (Matt 23:1-4), what if you're right and the Bible is not just any book but the word of actual God? When the Son of Man comes in His glory, how shall you escape His judgement for the sin of adding to the words of the Bible, for the sin of creating obstacles to Christ for those who don't meet your personal un-Biblical moral code, for the gravest of sins of lying about what the gospel actually says about how the saved shall be divided from the damned? If you're right (and I, as a non-Christian, am wrong), how shall you escape being cast into the fiery pit of Hell, where the flame burns forever and quenches not?

(Next, the conclusion: if I don't believe these things, why am I personally so angry about the lie?)



( 30 comments — Leave a comment )
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Dec. 5th, 2004 12:24 am (UTC)
So a note on the passage from Exodus: (grabbing a copy with Rashi's annotations) This passage doesn't seem to refer to abortion at all. It says that if men (in the sense of "people," not in the sense of "masculine") struggle and strike a woman by accident, "and her child shall leave" (translation a bit unclear; it may well mean that she drops a child that she's carrying in her arms, since there's no explicit mention of pregnancy) and there is no catastrophe (not "mischief" - the word is "ason," and it definitely means - Rashi's footnotes back this - that neither the woman nor the child dies) the man shall be punished "ce'asher yashit eilav ba'al haisha" ("by that the husband of the woman shall reach out to him" - the clearest interpretation of this that I could think of is "her husband may kick his ass") and by the judgement of the court. Then the next sentence: "and if there is a catastrophe, then you shall give a soul for a soul; an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,... (etc)"

Anyway, I'm with you that this is very definitely not anything to do with abortion, certainly not in the current interpretation of the text, but this is definitely not the law of a property crime. It specifies that if no lasting harm is done, that it shall be punished by the common law and the courts, but if their accidental blow against a civilian should kill or maim someone, they shall be punished likewise. This is a rule about innocent bystanders in fights.
Dec. 5th, 2004 01:20 pm (UTC)
According to the NIV Bible, Exodus 21:22-25 reads:

"If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely [or "she has a miscarriage"] but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman's husband demands and the court allows. But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise."


And of course, giving birth prematurely was pretty much a death sentence for the baby 6000 years ago (or whenever the Torah was written).
an eye for an eye - (Anonymous) - Dec. 15th, 2004 07:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 5th, 2004 12:29 am (UTC)
And another note, this one with regards to the Comstock Act, etc.; you may find Rereading Sex, by Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz, an interesting read. It's a history text discussing the religious and political shifts in the discussion of sex in 19th-century America, and is a rather interesting window onto the origins of several of these things. The book traces the essential issue to the transformations associated with urbanization and mass literacy, and the associated decline in the power of local elites like preachers; I'm not 100% certain I agree with the full thesis, but it's quite interesting, and the historical material is well worth a look.
Dec. 5th, 2004 02:20 am (UTC)
I can't speak for the rest of your analysis, but the part about abortion, fundamentalism, and sexuality in America is spot-on-target. I have read that Jewish scholars and rabbis consider the Exodus passage to directly concern the loss of a pregnancy, and that the Jewish position on abortion is influenced by this reading.

I also agree that those who fling around hellfire had best wear asbestos trousers.
Dec. 5th, 2004 09:18 am (UTC)
Thank you for highlighting Comstock. I've been very amused as of late by the reaction of people to the "evil christian pharmacist won't dispense birth control pills" story. People seem to have forgotten (or given their ages, never learned) that the anti-abortionists are largely anti-birth control of any kind.
Dec. 7th, 2004 08:09 pm (UTC)
Thank the lord for Planned Parenthood. I get all my birth control through them, and once I have health insurance if at all possible I'll still use their services, and have the insurance pay them. Right now I'm a charity case. The state of Oregon in their benevolence says I can get free birth control from them--but not testing for STD's, or treatment for them. Because they'd rather pay for birth control and keep me from having kids that need public assistance, than worry about whether I live or die. *grumble* Well, economically I suppose it makes sense.
Dec. 5th, 2004 09:50 am (UTC)
I thought this was interesting. Exodus 21:22-25, which many pro-choicers use to point out the GOD is okay with abortion, was borrowed from the Code of Hammurabi. I found this and more goodies at http://religioustolerance.org/ Tommorrow I am going to learn that neat text-link thing. I promise.

Hammurabi 209-210
If a man strike a free-born woman so that she lose her unborn child, he shall pay ten shekels for her loss.
If the woman die, his daughter shall be put to death.
Dec. 5th, 2004 10:35 am (UTC)
My dear sir, you have gone to great lengths to enumerate things that I, a former Catholic, have been trying to come to grips with since I left the church. Only you have provided the actual backgroud and research that focused these feelings. When you say that the fundamentalists have adopted the same thinking as the Pharasees of biblical times, that's precisely the conclusion I came to decades ago.

If the "second coming" were real, if Jesus was going to come back and orchestrate the end of the world, then this bunch would be the first ones beating feet to the local lumber yards for hammers, nails and wood to put him right back where he came from...
Dec. 5th, 2004 11:59 am (UTC)
this is some good shit. after my recent mental crisis about the possibility of one day living in your fine land its good to know theres a backlash i could join. my bloke lived in springfield before not getting the plane back, has shared with me tales of the assemblies of god church and other local christian craziness. before that i didn't even know you could go to college to study being a missionary (which still makes me think of studying missionary position sex for 4 years and thus giggle).

as for the abortion stuff... our protesters are in no way as extreme as yours but apparantly theyre picking up hints and tips. maybe if the church spent more time worrying about all the kids theyve forced into the world ( aee any poor super atholic country), rather than just trying to produce yet more mouths to feed maybe the planet would be a nicer place.
Dec. 5th, 2004 04:23 pm (UTC)
Sent here by cargoweasel to read this (so far) 4-part series.

I've got to commend you on what I've seen so far, looking forward to the conclusion.
Dec. 5th, 2004 07:15 pm (UTC)
Hell, I'm not Christian, and I hate the lie and those who endorse it.

Twisting that which is good and right into utter filth and evil...
Dec. 5th, 2004 09:20 pm (UTC)
I'm curious as to how the logic you outline as regards abortion may relate to the possibilities of cloning and stem-cell research.
Dec. 6th, 2004 12:49 am (UTC)
I suspect that, as with Roe, human beings will once again turn out to be more squeamish than the God of the Bible is. But if the Christian scriptures don't treat, say, an 8-month fetus as a person whose destruction is murder or manslaughter, I don't see how anybody could argue from the Scripture that those rights extend to a fertilized egg that hasn't even implanted in the uterine wall.

Min, religion aside, even the human body doesn't treat a fertilized egg as a human being. According to fertility specialists, depending on the woman's overall health somewhere between one in three and two in three of the eggs that fertilize in her entire life fail to implant in the uterine wall and vanish with her next period. And how anybody can grieve that as a human death is completely beyond me.
(no subject) - desahra - Dec. 8th, 2004 09:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
Splitting some hairs here - dakiwiboid - Dec. 6th, 2004 12:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 5th, 2004 11:11 pm (UTC)
The Infamous Brad states:
"Lest you think this is because abortion didn't exist back then, suffice it to say that there's at least some evidence that human beings have known which plants were abortificants since, well, since before there were human beings. Cultures much older than the post-captivity Jews knew how to induce an abortion at will; one must assume that there were Jews who used that knowledge."

They knew. If the subject interests, I recommend the following:
Riddle, John M., Contraception and Abortion from the Ancient World to the Renaissance. Cambridge, Mass./London: Harvard University Press 1992. Pp. x, 245. ISBN 0-674-16875-5.

Incidentally, I very much liked your use of Bible verse juxtaposed with mention of gay-bashers and anti-abortionists to suggest to them: "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone...." If only they read articles like this.
Dec. 7th, 2004 08:19 pm (UTC)
How do I add this entry to my memories?
Dec. 7th, 2004 10:06 pm (UTC)
I don't use the feature myself, but try this. Click on the name of the post in your table of contents, or the words "(19 comments)" (or however many it is), or anything else that brings up a single post with all of its comments. There should now be a link to add it to memories. It'll either be an icon with some kind of a plus sign on it I think, or it'll be a text link somewhere on the page that says "Add to Memories." (I can't tell you where, because it can vary with your LiveJournal preferences. If you're viewing it using my defaults, it's in the left-side "Navigation" sidebar.)
Dec. 7th, 2004 08:25 pm (UTC)
Very well put. The only thing I hadn't heard before was this: many Christian theologians were deeply disturbed when mouth-to-mouth rescusitation was invented -- fascinating. Do you have a reference?

Dec. 7th, 2004 09:14 pm (UTC)
Nothing handy, I'm afraid. If memory serves, it came up in a literary history of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, which the book said was in part inspired by the issues surrounding the group that invented and promoted the life-saving technique, who called themselves the Resurrectionists. Some Anglican clergy were described as being disturbed with the idea that once the soul had left the body (the person had stopped breathing) that they could be brought back to life.
Dec. 8th, 2004 09:48 pm (UTC)
Thank You
That was a very fun and informative read. It took me a little while, but I found it fascinating.
Dec. 11th, 2004 06:53 am (UTC)
I've been using the passage about the soul's entrance into the body to annoy fundys for years, and most people just look at me like I'm nuts, lol... nice to see someone else mention it.

Yeah, the links to this series are going into my LJ... this is too well written to not pass on...
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