Fundamentalist: Abortion is wrong.
Me: Is it wrong all the time?
Fundamentalist: Well…if a woman’s life is in danger, then it is ok. (77% of White evangelicals think abortion should be legal in some cases)
Me: Why is that?
There is no clear answer in the Bible that could inform the pro-lifer’s opinion as to why abortion would be ok to save a mother’s life. The conclusion must arrive from the individual’s internal thought process. But let’s apply the fundamentalist’s interpretation of the Bible for a pro-life stance to their stance on why abortion is ok in this particular case.
Exodus 20:13 says killing is a sin. In the case of a medically necessary abortion, the fetus is still being “killed.”
Jeremiah 1:5 tells us that God knows us before He forms us in the womb. If the pregnancy is putting the mother’s life in danger, does God now suddenly not know about the person being formed in her womb?
Psalm 139:13–16 speaks of God’s active role in our creation and formation in the womb. Is this invalidated if the mother’s life is in danger? The mother’s life is also valuable, according to this verse. But now we are posed with a dilemma: whose life is more valuable, and are we playing God by interfering with a life-saving medical procedure?
Exodus 21:22–25 says that a person should be charged by the law for assaulting another person physically. This verse is always misinterpreted by fundamentalists to equate the unintentional death of an unborn child to be equal to the murder of adult, which I disagree with. (See a good argument for this here) But let’s say, for argument’s sake, that their interpretation is correct. That makes it pretty clear that there is no excuse to abort, not even to save the mother’s life.
Genesis 1:27 God made people in his image. Is the baby no longer in God’s image if the mother’s life is in danger?
If fundamentalists were consistent with their interpretation of scripture, they would have to take the stance that women should choose to die rather than have an abortion that would save their life. But that’s the thing—Christian fundamentalists are notorious for being illogical and inconsistent. The biggest part of why I had to separate myself from the fundamentalist church is because of how often I was told to turn off my brain.
God prizes logic. True, a huge part of being a Christian is having faith — believing in something that we cannot explain with our understanding of the natural world. And this informs the internal transformation that God imparts to those who have a personal relationship with him through Jesus. But when it comes to matters of society and how we deal with non-believers, God clearly encourages the use of logic.
Jesus never said, “I’m right, you’re wrong, deal with it,” as so many fundamentalists do today. He reasoned with people in logical debate.
So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there.Acts 17:17 ESV
When he performed miracles, it wasn’t like being in the front row at a David Blaine show. He always explained what he did and why he did it with logic.
5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
6 Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7 “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
8 Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? 9 Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, 11 “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12 He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”
Mark 2:5–12 NIV
Believers are encouraged to “be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.” Titus 2:7–8 ESV
On logical behavior when it comes to decision making and discourse:
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;James 1:19 ESV
But wait! There’s more!
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.2 Timothy 2:15 ESV
This sounds like a lot of work. Like a lot of thinking and stuff. Do I have to?
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.Romans 12:2 ESV
Fundamentalists love to think that conforming to the world in this verse means things like accepting liberal social policies or participating in secular culture. Au contraire mon frere. It refers to being lazy. Humans excel at this, and I’m not talking about the traditional concept of laziness vs. productivity, which measures positive output in gains in wealth and movement up the corporate ladder. There are two ways in which we tend to be lazy: with learning and with our morals. As far as learning goes, the lazy way looks like taking things told to you at face value and adopting them, unquestioned, into your catalog of beliefs. Being lazy with morals looks like believing people should act in a certain way and then never practicing those things yourself. In this instance, being lazy with learning is the issue I am focused on. God wants us to question, discuss, debate, research, and test in order to discern what is right. How did I come to this conclusion? By living for 30 years thinking the fundamentalist way and seeing that it did not deepen my faith or increase the power my testimony.
We all have different talents and God calls us to work together so that we can rely on others in areas we are weak in. Churches have always specialized — there are teachers, leaders, singers, prayer warriors, administrators. But many churches seem to have no use for those with a talent for logic. James 1:17 says Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
So now that we have proven the illogical nature of the fundamentalist view on abortion, as well as established the value God places on logic, pro-lifers have two choices:
- Go all in on abortion is wrong, 100% of the time, no exceptions, or
- I have no business telling anyone else what to do here because it is a difficult and messy issue and there is not enough proof in the Bible to inform what society should put into the rule of law.
I know it won’t be the latter, but it is my optimistic hope that future generations of Christians will learn to embrace logic.