Bob Cargill shared an interesting verse this morning from Genesis 6, which portrays a frustrated god that so regretted his creation (man) that he sent a flood across the world that swallowed all life–all life, except a remnant that could fit on a relatively small ship comparatively (based on the measurements in Genesis, it would translate to roughly 500 feet long; smaller than the Titanic). But I think that Bob’s apt point is that if God is ‘pro-life’ then why would he wipe it clean? It is important to recognize that those who take the genesis account seriously, those who take the biblical narratives literally, must believe that we’re not just talking about grown men and women with exceptional cognitive abilities to choose right from wrong, we’re talking about infants and disabled individuals who can not always make decisions on their own due to their limitations (you know, since babies really can’t decide where they are born or who their parents are, let alone make any sort of vital cognitive decision beyond whether or not to poop themselves). Not to mention the perhaps thousands of women who might have been pregnant at that exact moment god decided to wash away the sins of the world (by quite literally washing away everything that had the potential to sin).
I know some may seek to justify this by making the argument that Jesus’ death had changed everything. His coming signified the change in god’s personality, or so goes the argument. God no longer orders the taking of women and children as war plunder, the dashing of children on rocks, or giant she-bears to go terrorizing and mauling mischievous children who don’t believe in resurrections. It’s like god spent a few months at rehab and emerged a changed deity; he’s a gentler, kinder god on a 12-step plan to happiness. While this is pleasant enough for me (I’m grateful we’re not still stoning people for picking up sticks on the Sabbath, don’t get me wrong), the idea that ‘all life is sacred’ is not really a big part of the biblical narrative. How can it be?
Bob says it best:
People of faith must put their faith – and the claims made about their faith – in a real, modern context. Rather than rushing to regurgitate some worn out apologetic claiming, “God cannot tolerate evil,” or “It’s not genocide if God does it,” people of faith must consider that the one they consider to be the “objective moral foundation” for all things ethical at one point in history killed everyone on earth because he regretted creating them! Imagine this same death sentence on the world’s population today. It is nothing less than genocide.
Taken in broader sweeps, the Hebrew Bible is far from being ‘pro-life’; indeed it is quite the opposite, portraying god as a sort of vengeful, wrathful warlord who demands the ultimate tribulation while single-handedly destroying his enemies. At some points he even permits (and actually participates in) the massacre of a whole family of his loyalist servant (Job), and while he may have given Job back twice what he had, he still killed dozens of people who did not deserve to die (that little fact often gets glossed over in Sunday School). Imagine your wife and children slain before you; don’t worry, you’ll get a whole new wife and more children. Does that make it better? Does that justify it? No sane human being could find any justification in such atrocious (and needless) acts of violence. And I would seek to remind everyone that Matthew is pretty clear that Jesus did not come to bring peace, but a sword (Matt 10.24)–nor did he come to abolish the law (Matt 5.17; that is, the Torah, and not one iota is to be removed). The argument commonly made that none of that matters because he fulfilled the law is a non sequitur; he is specifically portrayed to say he did not come to abolish it, and clearly Matthew believed this was true, as he does all he can to situate Jesus as a priestly Moses figure who makes this very claim!
The fact remains, at the end of the day, that using the Hebrew Bible or the New Testament to justify pro-life positions are doomed to fail. After the bible portrays god as ordering the slaughtering of the first born children of Egypt, any attempt to portray him as someone who cares a great deal about human suffering and human life falls flat on its face. I’m sorry, but there is no ‘human value’ that god holds dear–only subservience matters to him. Those who believe are saved (most of the time) and those who do not god deigns them to misery and destruction and torture and death: whether man, woman, child, or those unborn. It is horrid and obscene.
Anyone who attempts to use the bible to validate their pro-life position is wrong. Simply put, they need to find a different argument. I’m not saying I am all for abortion; I’m pro-choice, but I don’t think abortion would be a decision I would support. But I’m not everyone and I’m not in everyone’s shoes; I’m only in my own. Objectively, pro-life is unjustified for that very reason, at least that is my opinion.