What the bible actually says about birth control and abortion: You can’t argue religious freedom without knowing your religion

The religious right’s case against birth control worldwide comes directly from the Book of Genesis. In chapter 38 we meet Onan, whose brother Er pissed off god and was thus smote. Therefore, their father, Judah, tells Onan that it is his duty according to rabbinical law to have sex with Er’s wife, Tamar, so that Er can have an heir. But when Onan is about to finish, he pulled out, “spilling his seed” on the ground. God was angry at this and smote Onan too. This is the story that Christians cite when they argue against birth control (or even covering birth control in insurance plans [which is another discussion — why do the courts allow bosses to have say over private health decisions??? But I digress]).

This is all that the bible says about birth control. Some may argue that the three verses in Genesis that say “Be fruitful, and multiply” imply an unfavorable view on birth control, but that’s stretching it. As I’m writing this I am not having sex. And I have no plans to go out and knock a girl up tonight. If the Genesis verses saying “Be fruitful, and multiply” are to be taken seriously, I would be condemned. And I’m sure the vast majority of my readers would be too. Anyway, there is nothing else in the bible about birth control.

On the other hand, the bible says a lot about abortion. And surprisingly, it’s all pro-abortion. There is not a single verse in the bible that condemns abortion. But god actually tells some people to force women to have abortions (and god also admits that he loves giving women abortions too). Let’s examine these verses.

Exodus 21:22-23 states:

When people who are fighting injure a pregnant woman so that there is a miscarriage, and yet no further harm follows, the one responsible shall be fined what the woman’s husband demands, paying as much as the judges determine. If any harm follows, then you shall give life for life,

In other words, if I get into a fight with some guy and accidentally hit his wife in the stomach, causing her to miscarry but not causing her to die, I’m guilty of no crime but must pay a civil fine to the husband (the woman doesn’t get any money). If the woman dies, I too die. Note here that the woman’s life is more valuable than her dead baby’s life.

Numbers 3:15-16:

Enroll the Levites by ancestral houses and by clans. You shall enroll every male from a month old and upward. So Moses enrolled them according to the word of the Lord, as he was commanded.

In other words, people less than one month old are not even considered people. Logically, this should apply to fetuses.

Hosea 9:14:

Give them, O Lord—
what will you give?
Give them a miscarrying womb
and dry breasts.

Here we can see that god gives women forced abortions. There are many other verses like this in Hosea.

And finally Numbers 5:21-21, 27-28:

—let the priest make the woman take the oath of the curse and say to the woman—“the Lord make you an execration and an oath among your people, when the Lord makes your uterus drop, your womb discharge;

When he has made her drink the water, then, if she has defiled herself and has been unfaithful to her husband, the water that brings the curse shall enter into her and cause bitter pain, and her womb shall discharge, her uterus drop, and the woman shall become an execration among her people. But if the woman has not defiled herself and is clean, then she shall be immune and be able to conceive children.

In the above verses, we see that god causes miscarriages (I.e. god is the abortion doctor). God probably only does things he enjoys, so I’m certain he enjoys giving women forced abortions.

So what does this all mean, Rayan? Well, I’ll tell you.

In the first example I showed, the man is punished for pulling out. (It should cause concern for religious people that no one has ever been struck down by god for pulling out. If he did that, porn films would end horribly.) But women in the bible are never punished for having a period. In fact, many fertilized eggs fail to implant in the uterus and are flushed from the body once a month without the woman being the wiser. Surely, apologists would argue here that the man willfully pulled out while the woman miscarried beyond her will. This is true, and it gets precisely to my point.

The rest of the bible shows men killing fetuses and infants countless times. God (as the father) even gets in on the action. It’s all about the actions of men. Women never have any say in any biblical verse whether or not they will be impregnated (except for Lot’s daughters, who rape their father) or have abortions.

If religious people are going to start flinging claims about their religious freedoms, they should learn what the bible actually says about those things. The only argument that religious people can make, according to their bible, is that women have no choice over birth control and abortion — that it’s the men who make those decisions. I would imagine this wouldn’t go over very well in our relatively enlightened time.

In closing, the bible is rather pro-abortion (but not pro-choice), and birth control is only mentioned once, when a man decides to ejaculate on the ground instead of inside his dead brother’s wife. If we are going to have an intelligent debate about the religious ethics of abortion and birth control, then we should probably understand exactly what the bible says about these things. But that doesn’t really matter; anyone who forces their religious beliefs on people is an asshole.

About Rayan Zehn

I'm a political and social activist.
This entry was posted in Atheism and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to What the bible actually says about birth control and abortion: You can’t argue religious freedom without knowing your religion

  1. mmadchild says:

    There was a time, not that long ago, when the Genesis account of the flood and the family nonsense thereafter was used to justify slavery in the United States antebellum south. The sons of Ham (africans) were cursed to servitude. Since we are letting corporations force beliefs on people with respect to supposed abortions, I wonder how long before slavery is made legal again, as some corporate owner has a strong religious conviction as to its usefulness. Go ‘Merica!!!

  2. Pingback: What the bible actually says about birth control and abortion: You can't argue religious freedom without knowing your religion | Christians Anonymous

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