I recently had a bit of interaction on facebook with a conservative Christian–regarding abortion. I know, I shouldn’t. It proceeded predictably with me talking about women’s rights and how the path of pregnancy is this long gray line and my opponent talking in black and white terms of “America’s modern genocide.”
But the discussion made me think: based on what conservative Christians already believe about God and the Bible, how can they express outrage at this? Even if you view early-term abortions as the equivalent of murder (which is at least a coherent position we could dialog about), aren’t there much more pressing matters to be outraged over in your own belief system?
Granted, nobody is completely consistent in this way. It’s difficult to set our moral priorities in a complex world where smaller issues sometimes seem more imminent and larger ones fade into background noise. But most conservative Christians would claim that the Bible and its complete message are absolutely central to their lives; its content should be difficult to ignore. If your house is burning down, are you going to set aside time to be outraged that your husband didn’t load the dishwasher properly, or are you going to run out as fast as you can?
And yet that’s exactly what it looks like to me when Bible-believing Christians complain about abortion–even granting their initial claim about the “murder” of unborn children. The God of the Bible is a monster who has absolutely no respect for human life. How can you adore this god and simultaneously be outraged about abortion? Almost off the top of my head:
- Genesis 6:7: “So the LORD said, ‘I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.’” Pretty straightforward. This is God wiping everybody out. Don’t forget all the unborn children who were killed in this event.
- Genesis 19:24-25: “The LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the LORD out of the heavens. Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land.” Again, this is just God annihilating a group of cities. Don’t forget all the unborn children who were killed in this event.
- Exodus 12:29-30: “At midnight the LORD struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn of the prisoner, who was in the dungeon, and the firstborn of all the livestock as well. Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Egyptians got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead.” This is God killing the firstborn of every Egyptian family. Can anyone even try to justify this?
- Numbers 31:15,17-18: “Have you allowed all the women to live? …Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.” The context of this passage is that God commanded Israel to completely destroy the Midianites, but the soldiers left the woman and children alive. Hopefully I don’t need to spell out the irony that average people are more moral than God.
- 1 Samuel 15:2-3: “This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’” Nothing new or unusual by God’s standards. Just wipe everyone out, women and children, you know the drill.
- Deuteronomy 20:16-17: “However, in the cities of the nations the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. Completely destroy them—the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—as the LORD your God has commanded you.” This is in the context of Israel’s conquest of Caanan, a bloody extermination of several different cultures and the brainchild of Jesus (who is the same as God, right?). Don’t forget all the unborn children who were killed in this event.
Really, there are too many examples to quote here of God directly commanding the Caananite genocide (killing every living thing, every mother, every child). Read the book of Joshua; for example: 10:40, 11:10-12, 11:14-15.
Also, when it comes to crimes against humanity, it doesn’t matter to me who does it or for what reason. Genocide is genocide–I don’t care if it was committed by Ghandi or Gaddafi or God. And it doesn’t matter to me that God is supposedly really powerful, or a supreme being. This line of reasoning is: might makes right.
- Numbers 5:20-22: “‘But if you have gone astray while married to your husband and you have made yourself impure by having sexual relations with a man other than your husband’—here the priest is to put the woman under this curse—’may the LORD cause you to become a curse among your people when he makes your womb miscarry and your abdomen swell. May this water that brings a curse enter your body so that your abdomen swells or your womb miscarries.’” In context, this passage is describing an ancient practice (and also one of God’s direct laws) called “trial by ordeal” where a woman’s guilt was determined by surviving some sort of poison or test. In this case, God is directly aborting children conceived outside of a biblical-style marriage. There are serious gender-related issues to discuss here as well, but we’re just sticking to the abortion issue for now.
- 2 Kings 2:23-24: “From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some boys came out of the town and jeered at him. ‘Get out of here, baldy!’ they said. ‘Get out of here, baldy!’ He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the LORD. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys.” In this case, God calls out bears to kill 42 kids. There is no conceivable justification for this bloody display of power.
- Hosea 13:16: “The people of Samaria must bear their guilt, because they have rebelled against their God. They will fall by the sword; their little ones will be dashed to the ground, their pregnant women ripped open.” This is infanticide. And God is in favor of it, because these people don’t love him.
These gruesome stories, and others, show what God is capable of–if the biblical accounts are to be believed. But to me, the most appalling doctrine is the concept of hell–the idea that anyone could do anything so bad during a finite lifetime that they would be worthy of eternal punishment–the idea that we are all (by proxy, apparently, via Adam) so awful and sinful that without the undeserved grace of Jesus, we would be guilty of a crime that could only be handled fairly with permanent damnation.
To me, this is the nail in the coffin of God’s morality and respect for human life. It is this doctrine that comes to my mind when I hear a conservative Christian talk about the horrors of abortion.
Hey, your house is on fire. Stop yelling about the dishwasher.