Est. May 2008

31 October, 2012

Reinterpretation

In an article written for CNN’s Belief Blog, Jonathan Dudley writes about how the evangelical position on abortion has changed over the last fifty-odd years.

Mark Galli, writing for Christianity Today, takes on the challenge of refuting some of Mr. Dudley’s claims.

But both of them seem in agreement on what I consider the real bone of contention: a statement made back in 1968 in Christianity Today by Professor Bruce Waltke of Dallas Theological Seminary.  According to Mr. Dudley’s article:
“God does not regard the fetus as a soul, no matter how far gestation has progressed. The Law plainly exacts: 'If a man kills any human life he will be put to death' (Lev. 24:17). But according to Exodus 21:22–24, the destruction of the fetus is not a capital offense… Clearly, then, in contrast to the mother, the fetus is not reckoned as a soul.”
And Mr. Galli seems in agreement with Professor Waltke’s statement:
Waltke was writing about Old Testament views on contraception. The Old Testament does, in fact, seem to make a distinction between the life of a child and the life of a fetus (it never extracts a "fetus for a fetus" principle, for example). But as Waltke notes, the Old Testament nonetheless "protects the fetus," And "while the Old Testament does not equate the fetus with a living person, it places great value upon it." He also concludes regarding contraception (quoting another CT author) that "The burden of proof rests, then, on the couple who wish to restrict the size of their family."
Let's look at Exodus 21:22-24 and see if it says what Professor Waltke and Messrs Dudley and Galli say it does.
22 “If men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she gives birth prematurely, yet there is no injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman’s husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide.

23 But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,
I deliberately broke it between verses 22 and 23, and here’s why: in verse 22, it’s noted that if no injury other than premature birth results from the striking of the pregnant woman, a fine is in order; however, ‘ if there is any other injury’, the lex talionis applies.  And notice that the very first penalty mentioned in verse 23 is ‘life for life’.

Now this set of verses is substantially the same across at least five English versions of the Bible, so we're not talking about a versional difference, here.

If, as Professor Waltke wrote (and as Messrs Dudley and Galli seem in agreement with), the baby ‘is not reckoned as a soul’, why would the lex talionis apply, and ‘life for life’ be the very first punishment mentioned?  After all, the lex talionis applied for every other living human being.

Secondly, if the lex talionis applied a case of accidental death or injury to an unborn baby (as verse 23 seems to imply), how much more would it apply to the deliberate death or injury to an unborn baby, as in the case of abortion?

1 comment:

Right Truth said...

Great job. I agree completely with you on this one. Did you send this to the authors Dudley, Galli, Waltke?

Debbie
Right Truth
http://www.righttruth.typepad.com