Did God Order an Abortion? Part 2

If you have not yet read Did God Order an Abortion? Part I – please go there and read it now.  It is more important than Part II.  Here is the original blog post that I am addressing in this series.

In my first post I began to address the problematic nature of the question posed in the original post, “God ordered an abortion?”  Well, no He didn’t.  And here’s why.

Previously I discussed the cultural connotation we have of what an abortion is, so I’m not going to revisit that in detail here.  Suffice it to say that in the text being discussed the translation used by the author clearly says “miscarry” not abortion.  Let’s take a look at the text again (taken from the original post):

Numbers 5:21 “here the priest is to put the woman under this curse—“may the LORD cause you to become a curse[d] among your people when he makes your womb miscarry and your abdomen swell.”

In our world, a miscarriage and an abortion are two very different things.  What is different about them?  When we say a woman had a miscarriage we mean that natural causes terminated the pregnancy and caused the child to die.  When we say a woman had an abortion we mean that a person used artificial methods to kill and/or remove the child from the mother’s womb.

In our text the woman does not have an abortion, she miscarries.  It is not the drink itself that kills the child, but the curse of her sin brought upon her by God.  Regardless of the scientific subtleties here, the most important phrase to note is this: “when he makes your womb miscarry”.  He, meaning God, makes the woman miscarry.  God is taking the life, not the woman.

Regardless of whether or not a miscarriage was a result of the curse, (and it does well to note here that this is the only translation that uses that specific word) this was not an abortion in the strict sense of the term, because it’s not a human choosing to take the life of the child – it’s God. This is a miscarriage. Just as when David’s infant son was taken from him after his infidelity with Bathsheeba, God’s discipline was placed on these women in Israel when they were unfaithful.

When reading the Old Testament we must always remember the difference between God taking a life and us taking a life.  God DOES take human life.   The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.   Not only does God take away our life, but he takes the life of each and every person who dies.  That is who He is. Only the Author and Creator of life has the authority to take life; none of us can make that decision.  And so, when we murder or abort our children or commit suicide – we are putting ourselves in the place of God. We are claiming that which belongs solely to Him. This is the sin.

God can kill without sin, because that is His place to do so. But God does not work in the same ways that He used to. He promised never again to destroy the world with a flood, and he no longer commands war to be waged against a people group or for a priest to give to a woman what might be a curse on her or her child.

We are working in a different time, under the New Covenant in Christ.  And so, we cannot take into our own hands what God has not given us – namely the life of another human being.  This is the sin, taking the life of another and putting it into our own hands – putting ourselves in the place of God.

So, in the case of our text, God is choosing to take the life of the child, not the priest.  Therefore, it is not an abortion, because not one of those people involved is choosing to murder that unborn child.  This brings me to the next clarification that needs to be made.  The original questions asks, if God “ordered” an abortion.  Above I explained why this is not an abortion, and now I am going to explain why God did not “order” the death of the child.

God’s instructions here are to the priest, explaining to him what to do if a husband comes to him and says that his wife’s child is the result of an infidelity.  The priest is to perform the ceremony, not to punish the adultery, but to bring to light the truth of what happened.  The woman is a willing participant here.  If she is telling the truth, it is a benign ceremony that will bring no harm on anyone and will restore her marriage.  If she is lying and covering up her sin, she has the option to confess it to her husband before he takes the drastic measure of bringing her to the priest.

In drinking the cup, she is testifying to her innocence.  If, however, she drinks the cup knowing her guilt and the death it will bring to her child – this is on her conscience.  No one forces her to drink; she brings the curse upon herself and on her child for her own foolish pride.  God does not command her to do this – she does it as a rejection of God’s will and as a refusal to turn from her sin.

Is this an abortion?  In a way… yes, if the woman knowingly curses her child to death – she is choosing to kill that child and it can be called an abortion in a stricter sense of the term.  But it is not an abortion commanded by God; it is an abortion resulting from the woman’s sin – her second sin.  Not the sin of adultery, but her sin of deceit and her refusal to go to her husband and receive mercy.  Her pride and reputation are more important to her than the life of her child.  Not unlike, I would wager, the case in many abortions performed today.

Now, you might say, that’s ridiculous!  If she told her husband the truth he would have her killed and the baby would die anyway.  She’s protecting herself.  You would, of course, be referring to the Old Testament law that adulterers be put to death.  And you might be right.  Perhaps, she and the baby would die anyway… but is this a good reason to kill your child?  Many women feel that a baby would ruin their life, and so they have an abortion.  Others believe that they will be bad mothers, perhaps abusive or impoverished, and so they have abortions to “protect” the baby from that life.  Again, none of these are good reasons to kill your baby.  None of these give us the right to take another human’s life into our own hands.  We are not God!  We don’t know what this child’s life will be or do, and so we cannot determine when it should end.  It is not our place.

And so, when you pull out the harsh law of death in the Old Testament, which is really only in accord with God’s spiritual law – that the wages of sin is death – I will say, yes!  That is a possibility, but there is another.  Remember reading the nativity story in the New Testament?

Joseph knew the law, and when Mary turned up pregnant he knew that he could bring her to public shame and have her killed for infidelity.  But that was not what he was going to do.  The Bible says that Joseph was a “righteous man” and that he had a mind to “divorce her quietly”.  What does this mean?  It means that he was going to show mercy on his wife to be, that he was not going to sentence her to death, but that he was going to be gracious.

Again we find ourselves in the midst of earthly situations that mirror God’s great love and mercy on us.  Even while we were still enemies of God, sinners, God died for us.  He has forgiven our sin; He is righteous and does not wish that anyone should perish.  And so our Lord has mercy on us, just as the husband could choose to have mercy on his wife.  If she repented of her infidelity to him, he could choose to spare her the public shame and certain death – he could be merciful.

Did it always happen that way, or even often?  Maybe not.  But this is where our vision becomes fuzzy, where the falleness of our world and our humanity no longer perfectly reflect God’s perfect love.  Now we see in a glass darkly… but this darkness does not reflect inconsistencies on the part of God, rather it is our inconsistencies that cause death – both in the case of the woman and her child in the Numbers text and in the case of death in all the world.  For, just as it was not God’s will for that baby to die, it is not God’s will that anyone should perish eternally.

After having answered the initial question, I still feel compelled to address the issues brought forth in the remainder of the original post.  I will be adding one last post to finish up my response in which I will address some of the other concerns of our first author.

Read Part III

Did God Order an Abortion? Part 1

***If you have suffered an abortion please read this post first.***

If a flagrant misuse of God’s Word doesn’t motivate me to blog again… I don’t know what will.

W e need to talk.  Not just you and me, Bloggy friends, but anyone who might fall prey to the confusing language and false pretenses of the post I am about to show you.  And, if you happen to be the author of this post, I also would like to have this conversation with you, because I fear you are being led far astray from the great blessings that are found in the Scripture.  I do not mean any disrespect toward you personally.

My righteous anger is turned not toward you but toward the Evil One who has led you astray, to the lies this world propagates as it turns hearts away from God.  “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 6:12)  So please, bear with me, hear what I have to say and feel free to enter into a discourse of Christian brotherly love.  Truly, if I did not care – I would not write.

This is the blog post I will be discussing here:
Wait. What? God Ordered an Abortion? 

Before I ask my first question, I will answer it.  All of my translations come from the English Standard Version.  When reading this post, I could not find the translation of the Biblical text that you (dear author) were using.  Although, it appears to be from the new NIV translation.  In any case, it is a confusing translation as v. 21 says “swell and miscarry”, whereas v. 22 reads “swell or miscarry”.  But, without a reference available, I will go from the text you have presented and encourage my readers to follow along in their Bibles or check out this page for a helpful multi-translation comparison.

From the original post, Numbers 5, verse 21: “here the priest is to put the woman under this curse—“may the LORD cause you to become a curse[d] among your people when he makes your womb miscarry and your abdomen swell.”

There is very little discussion within the post, mostly drawn conclusions without any clear argument.  So, let’s look at the conclusions that are being made.  The title of the blog post asks the question “God ordered an abortion?”  This text from Numbers is given as an apparent proof prompting the reader to answer for himself in the affirmative.  Before I lay out my case as to why the answer is no, let me begin by saying – this is a loaded question.

When the reader hears the word “abortion” what does he immediately think?  The connotation of an abortion is the voluntary or forced death and/or removal of a fetus in a woman’s womb.  (By voluntary I am referring to the woman’s participation in the abortion; obviously a fetus is never a voluntary participant.)  And it is this connotation of the word that strikes our minds when it is suggested that God commands an abortion – that God told a woman to kill her child.  This is not the case at all.

Even in the original translation the word “miscarry” is used rather than “abort”.  A fetus or the mother’s body can, through natural processes, cause a termination of pregnancy, and technically you can call that an abortion of the pregnancy.  But the word abortion is loaded, and it is used to confuse rather than clarify.  So, let’s clarify.  God did not tell a woman to kill her baby.

The text clearly states “when he makes your womb miscarry” (Emphasis mine).  God is the one who is here taking a life.  What is important to understand is that, the woman is not required to drink this curse upon herself.  The point of the ceremony is that the husband believes she is lying about her infidelity; if she truly did commit adultery resulting in this unborn child, she could have willingly confessed her sin to her husband, thrown herself on his mercy and perhaps saved the baby’s life.*  But that is not what she does.  She lies about her sin, covers it up and forfeits that grace, mercy and forgiveness.  She is bringing this curse willingly upon herself and her child, not because God commanded her to, but because she refused to confess her sin.

It is her sin – her lie, not God’s command, that ultimately results in the death of the child.  The ceremony is not addressing adultery, but rather it is addressing the truth.  If the woman is living in truth already, either she has nothing to fear of such a ceremony or no ceremony would need take place.

This is a good point to pause because, like I mentioned earlier, it is so easy for us to miss the blessings in God’s Word when we turn it into a political game.  The ceremonies and traditions in the Old Testament, yes even the Old Testament text itself, all share one purpose – to point us to Christ.  This is the reason for the entire Bible!  And here, in this passage, we see a beautiful portrayal of our relationship to God in Christ Jesus.

When we hide our sin, and bear its terrible burden, what we receive from God is wrath.  God cannot abide with our sin.  The wages of sin is death, after all.  BUT if we confess our sin, if we bring our sins into the light of the truth, and we repent of them – turn away from them and renounce them then… then we are given life.  We are granted forgiveness because of the blood shed for us by Jesus on the cross.

God does not want any of us to drink the cursed cup of death, just as God did not desire for the woman in the ceremony to drink of it.  And so He Himself drank God’s cup of wrath for us. He ripped it from our hands and drank every last drop until there was none left to harm us; and He died in our place.

Don’t you see?  This is not about politics, abortion, war, famine or any of that.  The Bible is so much more than what you’ve made it out to be – it is God’s promises to us, His salvation that He freely gives to us.  How dare we make any less of it!  Satan loves for us to focus on these minute details, to get so caught up in God’s words that we miss His WORD, that we miss His Life, the Life that He gave to us.

I beg of you, my dear readers, and the author of the original post, do not miss God’s Word!  Don’t miss what He’s offering in favor of that which is in the world.  This world’s interpretations and speculations of God’s voice have nothing on God’s true promises for us.  Read the Bible, not to prove your point – but rather to receive life and salvation and the forgiveness of your sins.

And to all of those reading this – if you have a sin that is bothering your conscience, even one that brings torture to your soul, do not keep it hidden!  Bring it out into the light, tell a Christian brother or sister, or better yet go to your pastor.  Confess the sin, tell him what it is that you have done that has destroyed your relationship with God, and hear the forgiveness God has to offer you.  Nothing is more freeing than bringing your sin into the light and watching it be washed away forever in the blood of Christ.

Now, with this in mind, I will move forward in a follow-up post discussing the conclusions made in more detail.  This is an important step to take, as the assertions made by the original poster can bring confusion to some and be a roadblock to faith for others.  I address these to remove such obstacles, so that we can view this passage in the light of Christ and His love for us.  But it is important that we first looked at that love so that we can keep it in mind as we move forward.

Read Part II
Read Part III

*This does not address the possible punishment for adultery that might be enforced in Old Testament Israel.  I will briefly address this in Part II, along with the rest of the original blogger’s post.

%d bloggers like this: