Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Biblical Family Values - Five Uncomfortable Facts (Part 2)

In the next topic of my controversial series, I want to cover the issues of abortion and its close relative infanticide.

My summary: God has no problem with pregnancies being involuntarily terminated, and even if a pregnancy hasn't been terminated, God otherwise has no problem killing young children if it suits his purposes.

This is an uncomfortable fact.

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I have no problems per se with Christians being opposed to abortion. If you don't like or agree with something, you don't like or agree with that something.
The bigger problem I have is when Christians are opposed to abortion because they say "the Bible shows God is opposed to abortion", or that "the Bible shows God treasures little children", or when Christians deliberately inflict psychological or physical harm on those seeking abortions, or when Christians kill abortion doctors.

[Personal opinion: I am neither for nor against abortion - my mind is yet to be made up, though I was stridently anti-abortion when I was a theist. In my estimation, there are salient points on both sides of the equation. However, I do believe that a woman has the right to do with her body what she wishes, provided she is not breaking any laws, and I also advocate for the position that if you don't like abortions, then don't get one]

But here, I want to take you through the Bible to see what it has to say about those topics.

(All Bible passages below have been taken from the NIV translation, from BibleGateway.com, with paraphrasing and emphasis added)

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Part 1: God is not anti-abortion.

I recently had a chat with a person who is clearly on the anti-abortion side of the fence. But imagine the surprise on his face when I told him that God actually advocates abortion.
He told me he didn't believe me, so I got my internet machine out and showed him Numbers 5:11-29 (paraphrased and emphasis added) -
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), and if feelings of jealousy come over her husband and he suspects his wife and she is impure—or if he is jealous and suspects her even though she is not impure— then he is to take his wife to the priest...
“‘The priest shall bring her and have her stand before the Lord...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. 
“‘The priest is...to have the woman drink the water. 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. 

I read through the passage with him and he was genuinely surprised. So it seems that even anti-abortionist Christians aren't fully aware of what their own scripture says.

But now for some hard questions from the above passage:

According to the above passage, under what conditions does a woman fail this test? By being pregnant.

How would the husband suspect his wife has been unfaithful

In a culture that was so focused on when a woman was on her period, to the point that a woman who is menstruating is considered unclean (as per Leviticus 15:19-30), any object she touches while she is on her period makes that object unclean, and even touching a woman who is menstruating makes that man unclean, there's really only one way a husband can suspect his wife has been unfaithful - his wife is pregnant. And if she became pregnant without her husband's involvement, then it's grounds to strongly suspect infidelity.

According to the above passage, what indicates that the woman has failed the test? By having her womb miscarry - you can't miscarry if there is no womb to miscarry.

What is another word for an involuntary or forced miscarriage? Abortion.


And remember, the verse I quoted above was not some obscure law that the Israelites made for themselves, it was God speaking directly to Moses!

So abortion as punishment for personal transgression is not off the cards.

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What about abortion as punishment for national transgression? You know, punishment for national-level crimes? It seems God has no problem with that as well. In fact, God obviously considers it just recompense when pregnant women are forcibly mutilated and their foetuses removed (abortion by another method) because the people who it happens to deserve what is coming to them - they are bearing their guilt, after all!

Don't believe me? Hosea 13:16 (emphasis added) -

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.

So as well as approving little children being murdered by blunt force trauma (for what else does 'dashed to the ground' mean?), it seems God is also OK with abortion, his prophets are OK with abortion (otherwise they wouldn't have passed the message on), and the people who compiled and canonised the Bible were OK with abortion as well - otherwise someone would have tampered with the manuscripts to remove that passage (and believe me, Christians had no problem doing this exact thing).

So why are modern-day Christians against abortion if their God has no problem with it?

Or, the harder question: On what scriptural ground can Christians stand on to claim abortion is against God's plan?

Answer: Not much. The best anti-abortion Christians can do are to find oblique verses like "I am fearfully and wonderfully made", and then try to claim God's plan is for people to live long and happy lives, when scripture clearly shows God has no problem killing people to suit his purposes.

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Further to these Bible passages are little-known passages from the Jewish scriptures:

According to Yevamot 69b:
"And if she is pregnant, until forty days from conception the foetus is merely water"
So even in the first six weeks of pregnancy, the foetus is considered merely water - no rights or protections are inferred or granted.

This brings up a contradiction: according to anti-abortion Christians, a foetus already has a heartbeat at six weeks. Yet God's chosen people say that a foetus is merely water.

How does water have a heartbeat? Something doesn't add up here.


Then, according to mOholot 7:8:
If a woman is in hard travail, one cuts up the offspring in her womb and brings it forth member by member, because her life comes before the life of her foetus. But if the greater part has proceeded forth, one may not set aside one person for the sake of saving another.
What this means that if the mother's life is in danger and the baby is not greater than halfway out of the birth canal, then a late-term abortion (by dismemberment, no less) is permitted.
However, if the baby has emerged more than halfway out of the birth canal, then it is recognised as a person with a right to life.

And according to Mishnah Arakhin 1:4 -
If a woman is about to be executed, they do not wait for her until she gives birth. But if she had already sat on the birthstool, they wait for her until she gives birth.
In short - if a woman is sentenced to death and she is pregnant, the execution goes ahead. Both the mother and unborn baby die.
If a woman is sentenced to death and she is about to give birth, she is required to give birth then be executed.

It would seems from these passages that according to the pre-Christian scriptures, a person is not considered a person (conferring full rights and protections) until they are at least halfway out of the womb.


So not even Judaism, from which Christianity originated and shares a large number of scriptures with, has a problem with abortion or the death of the pre-born (though with caveats).

I think it is blatantly hypocritical for Christians to use Jewish scriptures and concepts when it suits them (such as the 10 Commandments), but then baulk when the same Jewish scriptures and concepts they would otherwise revere (like when it says something wise or profound) says something that is contrary to their opinions.

But the long and the short of all this is either:

1. God changed his mind on abortion so that he was OK with abortion pre-New Testament, but now all of a sudden abortion is evil and from the pits of hell. However, this then clashes with the notion that God is unchanging, is not deceptive and never changes his mind. Or;

2. The Jews had it right when their scriptures (which is claimed to be as divinely inspired as what Christians claim the whole Bible is) sanctioned abortion (under some conditions), thus, Christians do not have the right theology when it comes to abortion.

Which one is it?

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But all of this looks past one very large and looming inconvenient fact:

Anywhere between 15% and 31% of all pregnancies (depending on classification criteria) end in miscarriage - the pregnancy ends through no fault or intentional action of anyone involved.

Since fundamentalist Christians are (very strongly) of the opinion that life begins at conception, then given the incredibly high number of pregnancies that fail, we have no other option but to conclude that God is the most prolific abortionist of them all.

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Part 2: God does not treasure little children.

One: Hard question - how many children does God have to either personally kill, decree to be killed, or oversee and approve their killing, before you start saying God has no problem killing children? One? Two? Forty? Hundreds? Thousands? Millions?

There surely is a line somewhere where you, the Christian who worships the everlasting and eternal God, start to think that your concept of God is wrong.

Let's go through the answers, and prepare to be challenged.

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One child? 2 Samuel 12:15-18 (paraphrased, NIV, emphasis added)
 ...the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife had borne to David, and he became ill. David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and spent the nights lying in sackcloth on the ground...on the seventh day the child died.

In this passage, God kills a child because its parents sinned. That seems completely fair and righteous.

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Two children? We take the one child from above and add 1 Kings 14:10-12 (paraphrased, emphasis added, NIV text) -
Because of this, I am going to bring disaster on the house of Jeroboam. I will cut off from Jeroboam every last male in Israel...The Lord has spoken!’“As for you, go back home. When you set foot in your city, the boy will die"

So God orders a divine hit on Jeroboam's son...to save Jeroboam's son from dying later on, when God executed Jeroboam's family (via divine hit).

This omnipotent and loving God loved this innocent child so much that he killed the child immediately to stop him being killed later when he kills other people! That makes perfect sense

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How about forty children? Would the killing of forty children help you think God is evil. Then read 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.
These children wouldn't have died unless God agreed with the prophet and caused the bears to miraculously appear to maul them.

But this passage raises two questions - one, if God can do anything, why did God need to resort to violence to solve this problem, and two, how would you be being the parent of one of these children and seeing the body of your precious loved one mutilated because God's man on earth had his feelings hurt? Pretty crummy, I think.

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How about hundreds of children? Would killing hundreds of children make you change your mind about God?

Now, with this passage I am being conservative with the numbers, but let's look at God either approving or ordering the deaths of children of the Midianite nation (which would have numbered thousands, thus incorporating at least hundreds of children) in Numbers 31 (paraphrased, emphasis added).
The Lord said to Moses, “Take vengeance on the Midianites for the Israelites. After that, you will be gathered to your people. 
So Moses said to the people, “Arm some of your men to go to war against the Midianites so that they may carry out the Lord’s vengeance on them...They fought against Midian, as the Lord commanded Moses, and killed every man... 
The Israelites captured the Midianite women and children and took all the Midianite herds, flocks and goods as plunder. They burned all the towns where the Midianites had settled, as well as all their camps.
Moses was angry with the officers of the army..."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."

Let's consider what this text describes - God tells Moses to carry out vengeance on the Midianites, and in God's economy, vengeance is shorthand for mass murder - because when God gets angry, people die.
The Israelites kill all the men, they capture all the women and children and then they literally burn their towns to the ground.

However Moses, who is God's own man on the scene, is not pleased - he not only wants the women killed (maybe Midianite woman are irresistible, and sex with foreign women is bad in God's eyes), but he also wants all the boys killed. What the young boys have ever done to deserve being slaughtered, the scripture doesn't make clear, but then the next part is nothing short of human rights violation (if it wasn't already):

Moses commands the Israelite leaders to capture all the young women who have never had sex with a man (because, again, sex must be bad), with the specific wording 'save for yourselves' (which means take as a possession to keep), but the question is, how do the Israelites tell who has ever had sex?

[Some cultural context, first: In Jewish culture, a girl is not considered a woman until she is twelve years and one day old. So we're talking about pre-teen girls here]

By forcibly inspecting the genitals of the young girls. Yes, it's that crude.

This is what should horrify not only Christians, but people who have any sense of decency and morality:

Young girls have just had their mothers, their fathers and their brothers killed by God's chosen people. This was assured. 
Any older sisters who had married and started their own families were also killed by God's chosen people
Their towns and possessions have been burnt to the ground, so even if they were to survive and escape, they now have no home to go back to and nothing of their former life to keep.

The only way these little girls can stay alive is by either submitting willingly to having their vaginas opened and peered in to by the same people who had no problem murdering your family, or by having their clothes ripped off, their legs forced apart and then having a group of lecherous militia men force their vaginas open for crude inspection.

And the end result of this is that those girls who the Israelites who have ever had sex, they die. If they're lucky, they die by the sword. If they're unlucky, they get stoned. If they're really unlucky, they get set alight and left to die in burning agony.

And the ones who don't die, they become sex slaves.

There is no way to white-wash or sugarcoat this. This was a crime against humanity. And Christians worship a God who oversaw and commanded crimes against humanity.

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Now, let's consider the intentional killing of thousands of children. Would the intentional killing of thousands of children, including infants, persuade you that God does not care if children die?

If it does, I have just the scripture for you. Exodus 12. Or if you don't remember the Bible chapter-and-verse, it's the part of the Bible that retells the last plague on Egypt before the exodus.
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.(Exodus 12:29-30)

There was not a house without someone dead. Literally every family in Egypt had a child die, regardless of their status or rank.
And the Bible proudly says that it was the Lord (i.e. God himself) who did the killing.

However, not only does this passage confirm God has no problem killing children if he thinks it serves a higher purpose (God is the ultimate pragmatist), but the intended effect, Pharaoh letting the Israelites go, was reversed barely two chapters later.

Exodus 12:30 - 

During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the Lord as you have requested

Exodus 14:5 -
When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his officials changed their minds about them and said, “What have we done? We have let the Israelites go and have lost their services!”
And who changed Pharaoh's mind? It was God himself!

Exodus 14:4 -

And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them..
So God kills a nation's worth of children to convince the emperor to let his chosen people leave the country, then deliberately manipulates the emotions of that emperor to try get the people that he just let go to come back, but all this is just a ruse so that God can create a natural disaster to kill that emperor's army.

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However, now for the big one - would God killing millions upon millions of children convince you that God does not care about children?

If you're not convinced by now, then you have already sacrificed your humanity to skirt around the cognitive possibility that God could be evil. If facts and logic won't convince you, then there is nothing more I can say, except get a new religion.

But if you have any semblance of decency and humanity left, then read on...

The flood of Noah was a divinely-manufactured natural disaster that was created for the express purpose of killing the entire world.

So, how many people died during the flood? The answer I'm happiest accepting is that of 20 million, given how primitive agricultural practices would have been. 

However, Answers In Genesis give numbers of between 750 million and 4 billion people pre-Noachian flood, and Lambert Dolphin's website gives an approximation of between 5 billion and 17 billion people. To me, these are unbelievable numbers which actually make the problem worse - much, much worse.

Question: How many children would have been drowned in the flood of Noah?

If we go by a figure given the Australian Law Reform Commission, children make up 28% of the population of Australia, a first-world country with a very high quality of life, so I'm happy to use the quoted figure the purposes of this exercise.

Keep in mind, however, that in agrarian societies the percentage of children with regards to the overall population would have been higher given the higher mortality rates - but I'm happy to be conservative and stick with the 28% figure.

Let's run some numbers -

At 28% of the population, and given that virtually everyone in the world at the time of Noah's flood died, we can then work out how many children died.

28% of 20 million is 5.6 million.

28% of 750 million is 210 million.

28% of 4 billion is 1.12 billion.

28% of 5 billion is 1.14 billion.

28% of 17 billion 4.76 billion.

For the flood of Noah, we can reasonably conclude God killed anywhere between 5.6 million and 4.76 billion children.

This is simply horrifying.

But this all overlooks something - if you or I came up with a plan that involved killing even one child, be it deliberately or as collateral damage, we would rightly be called a felon, a psychopath, a monster, or even a war criminal.

But God can seemingly kill upwards of 5.6 million children (by a very conservative estimate) and this is considered the height of wisdom and love.

Give me a break.

Two: God is happy when babies are thrown off of cliffs.

Why else would God inspire someone to write, in his chosen book:
Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rock!
- Psalm 137:9 (ESV text)
Yes, this psalm was written as a lament and a rant against Babylon, but still, either God wanted this in his chosen book, or the people who edited the Bible had no problem with this verse being in the part of the Bible that supposedly is the most worshipful.

But think about it - a baby has been removed from its mother (probably after the mother has been chopped up with a sword), and someone stands over the side of a cliff and drops that baby down.

Or, even more horrifying, the mother has to watch, in sheer terror and heartache, as her baby is dropped over a cliff.


And God's chosen book says blessed is the man who does this.

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Thank you for reading all the way through, and if I have offended you, I'm not sorry. Go get a better set of morals to live your life by.

Stay cool, stay healthy, stay rational.

-Damien

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