Okay, so let’s get the obvious stuff out of the way. This article is going to be controversial. The intention here is not to stir the pot, so to speak, but rather to shine some light on a widely held misconception. Lots of people aren’t going to like what it says. But for many years a lot of misinformation has been floating around in regards to God’s perspective on the beginning of life and whether or not the parent has the right to perform an abortion. The common Christian position, almost universally held in fact, is pro-life. Many of these advocates say that life begins at conception; as soon as the sperm meets the egg a human being is made. But what does God say?
When Does Life Begin?
There are a wide variety of scientific, and unscientific, opinions as to when life begins. But for this article the only one that matters is God’s opinion. Fortunately, God has provided us with scriptures which outline exactly when he believes life begins, or at least is valid enough to be granted “human rights.” The first indication comes in the census that was performed in the book of Numbers. In Numbers 3:15-16 we read the following:
Number the children of Levi after the house of their fathers, by their families: every male from a month old and upward shalt thou number them. And Moses numbered them according to the word of the LORD.
Here we get our first indication that God does not consider life to be valid until a child reaches one month old. Foetuses and infants less than one month old are not considered persons. Additionally however God also sometimes approves of killing infants:
And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive? … Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. Numbers 31:15-17
In this instance it is also reasonable to suggest that some of these non-virgin women were pregnant. So God is also implicitly commanding the killing of foetuses here. If you’re uncertain about this read Hosea 9:16.
Yea, though they bring forth, yet will I slay even the beloved fruit of their womb.
To show that he is compassionate and reasonable God sometimes kills new-born babies to punish their parents:
Because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die. 2 Samuel 12:14
Everybody likes to keep warm, and God is no exception, so sometimes God’s law requires the execution of pregnant women by burning them to death:
Tamar thy daughter in law hath played the harlot; and also, behold, she is with child by whoredom. And Judah said, Bring her forth, and let her be burnt. Genesis 38:24
God also reveals his views on the value of human life when he undertakes his insurance estimates in the book of Leviticus:
And if it be from a month old even unto five years old, then thy estimation shall be of the male five shekels of silver, and for the female thy estimation shall be three shekels of silver. Leviticus 27:6
Not only does this reveal the sexist disparity of God’s viewpoint, it also reveals that he places no value on foetuses or infants less than one month old. You will notice that no financial values are provided for this group. So if you are a Christian and you believe that life begins at conception I’ve got news for you. According to the Bible life begins at one month of age. How does that fit with your orthodox viewpoint? Probably not very well, but what it does fit extremely well with is the ancient view on life. Christians will sometimes talk about ancient Greek and Roman culture and how barbaric it was in allowing infants to be exposed if the parents chose to do so. But the Bible is no different. It’s almost as if the writers of the Bible borrowed these same barbaric themes from the other religious writings of the time.
What is the Value of an Unborn Child?
The Bible also directly tells us what value God places upon an unborn child. For this passage I’m going to use the CJB translation as it most unambiguously tells us what is going on:
If people are fighting with each other and happen to hurt a pregnant woman so badly that her unborn child dies, then, even if no other harm follows, he must be fined. He must pay the amount set by the woman’s husband and confirmed by judges. But if any harm follows, then you are to give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound and bruise for bruise. Exodus 21:22-25
This passage is fairly easy to understand. If someone attacks a pregnant woman and kills her child they will be fined in a court of law. It is only if they rape her afterwards that they are to be punished more severely. So we can see from this passage that rape is considered a serious crime but killing an unborn child is more of a misdemeanour.
The Bible’s Guide to Abortion
It may come as some surprise to you but the Bible has an instructional guide to abortion. This is the abortion method that has God’s seal of approval. It is a method that is not only approved by God, it was invented by him. He describes it himself in the book of Numbers (5:11-31). The description is quite long and complicated so I will break it into pieces and explain each section:
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘If a man’s wife goes astray and is unfaithful to him so that another man has sexual relations with her, and this is hidden from her husband and her impurity is undetected (since there is no witness against her and she has not been caught in the act), Numbers 5:11-13
The first thing to notice is the context. This procedure is only intended for married couples, specifically for any man that suspects that his wife has been fooling around. No proof is necessary; suspicion alone is sufficient for God.
Then he is to take his wife to the priest. He must also take an offering of a tenth of an ephah of barley flour on her behalf… The priest shall…take some holy water in a clay jar and put some dust from the tabernacle floor into the water. After the priest has had the woman stand before the LORD, he shall loosen her hair and place in her hands the reminder-offering, the grain offering for jealousy, while he himself holds the bitter water that brings a curse. (5:15-18)
Although this might look like a somewhat odd cooking recipe the key part here is the concoction known as “bitter water.” This is effectively a chemically induced abortion. I’ve skipped over some of the details which are superfluous to our point so if you’re going to try this at home, make sure to follow God’s instructions exactly. There’s no guarantee any of this will work otherwise.
Then the priest shall put the woman under oath and say to her, “If no other man has had sexual relations with you and you have not gone astray and become impure while married to your husband, may this bitter water that brings a curse not harm you. 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.” “ ‘Then the woman is to say, “Amen. So be it.” (5:19-22)
This is the key part of the passage in which the underlying implication becomes clear. Just for some context the King James version of the Bible uses this terminology: “to make thy belly to swell, and thy thigh to rot.” The word “thigh” is often used in the Bible as a euphemism for various reproductive organs, in this case it may mean the uterus, the placenta or an embryo. Fortunately the NIV reveals what is really going on, and an NIV footnote clears it up once and for all. It means “cause you to be barren and have a miscarrying womb.” So if the woman is guilty (had sex with someone besides her husband), then the bitter water will make her unable to have children in the future. And if she is pregnant at the time, it will abort the pregnancy. Given the nature of this primitive abortion by poison it has also been suggested that the ordeal will result in a prolapsed uterus. Of key importance here, this procedure is referred to as a curse, suggesting that it is God who will personally kill the baby in the womb.  How does that gel with your current theology?
If she has made herself impure and been unfaithful to her husband, this will be the result: When she is made to drink the water that brings a curse and causes bitter suffering, it will enter her, her abdomen will swell and her womb will miscarry, and she will become a curse. If, however, the woman has not made herself impure, but is clean, she will be cleared of guilt and will be able to have children. “ ‘This, then, is the law of jealousy when a woman goes astray and makes herself impure while married to her husband, or when feelings of jealousy come over a man because he suspects his wife. The priest is to have her stand before the LORD and is to apply this entire law to her. The husband will be innocent of any wrongdoing, but the woman will bear the consequences of her sin.’ ” (5:27-31)
The first thing that strikes me about this verse is how much it sounds like the tests for witchcraft which were undertaken in the Salem witch trials. I mean this in the sense that, if I may be allowed to paraphrase “we will poison you and if the poison doesn’t work you are innocent, but if it does work you were guilty,” but, I digress. The second thing that jumps out to me comes when reading the King James translation. It refers to a “spirit of jealousy.” Something with that name sounds like a demonic spirit, the kind that Christians would suggest is caused by Satan, not God. But this all seems to be operating within God’s legal framework. God has condoned this “spirit of jealousy” and created a way for the husband to exercise it. Lastly, the husband, who ordered the abortion, is declared guiltless by God while the woman is the one having committed a sin. But don’t worry, it’s all part of God’s wondrous Law of Jealousies, his magical abortion procedure; a priest, some bitter water, and a wife that you think might have been unfaithful… priceless! So if God has his own abortion procedure, abortion can’t be wrong, right?
This article was not written to offend people, but rather to point out an obvious contradiction in Christian thinking. There is a world of inconsistency between what modern Christians believe and what the Bible says. This is yet another example of where the orthodox Christian position is completely at odds with the Biblical text. The fact is that what the Bible actually says about the value of human life is far too barbaric for our modern age. Therefore, Christians have to invent a new set of ethics that is only loosely based upon biblical principles. But if you really want to be a biblically sound Christian you should support the right for parents to kill their children right up to the age of one month old.
 Not that God is particularly big on human rights.
 Exposure is the practice of placing an infant unprotected outside so that they can be killed by wild animals or the elements.
 Tikva Frymer-Kensky, in “Women in the Hebrew Bible”, ed. Bach (1999, Routledge, New York and London, pages 463-474).
 Nahmanides points out that of all the 613 commandments, it is only this law that requires God’s specific co-operation to make it work. The bitter waters can only be effective miraculously.