Saturday, February 14, 2009

Today's scripture: Exodus 21:22-25

One Scripture that gets batted back and forth between prolifers and abortion defenders is Exodus 21:22-25.

If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman's husband demands and the court allows. But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise. (NIV)


or

If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart [from her], and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges [determine]. 23. And if [any] mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25. burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. (King James Version)


Some Christians try to use this scripture to defend abortion, saying that it means that causing a miscarriage isn't the same as causing the death of a human being. The person who strikes the pregnant woman, they claim, is only liable if the premature expulsion of the fetus also injures or kills the mother. The death of the fetus, they claim, is a minor offense and only requires restitution, as would be appropriate for damaging a man's property. Which group was interpreting this passage appropriately? I turned to About.com's Christian Humor Guide, Greg Hartman, for help. Here's what he had to say:

The King James renders it "her fruit depart from her"; the NKJV gives it as "gives birth prematurely." What does the term mean? We think of premature birth and miscarriage as two different things; miscarriage being a natural abortion and premature birth being a live baby.

There are several nearly irrefutable arguments against this passage referring to the death of the baby:

1. The word translated "serious injury" (ason in Hebrew) is never used to refer to death in the Bible. Whether the term "serious injury" refers to injury to the mother or the child (or both) can be determined as a consequence of the survival or death of the baby. We can already see from the passage that death of the mother is not an issue here; on the possible death of the baby:

2. This verse is in the section of Assault Laws, not the section of Homicide Laws (v 12-17). Therefore it doesn't refer to death at all, either of the baby or the mother.

3. The statement "eye for eye, tooth for tooth, burn for burn" etc. is a formula statement known the "lex talionis" (i.e., Law of Retribution). It is used in many other places in the Law in the same pattern, and it does not include death.

Notice, for instance, that the lex talionis covers various types of permanent injury -- dismemberment, loss of an eye or tooth, burns, etc. -- but not death. Murder and/or what we call involuntary manslaughter are covered separately. For instance, Leviticus 24:20 includes the lex talionis, but death is covered separately in the next verse (see also Numbers 35:11).

Since the lex talionis appears here with no specific reference to death, death is almost certainly not considered here at all. Therefore, the death of mother or fetus would be judged under the murder or accidental death laws cited above.

4. The phrase translated "premature birth" (yeled yatsa in Hebrew; literally "her children came out") does not favor the idea that the death of the baby is described here. The phrase yeled yatsa is never used in passages referring to miscarriage; the word that is used for miscarriage (Hebrew sakal) is not used here. Sakal is used some 23 times in the Old Testament; sometimes it is rendered as "miscarry" in the NIV but always -- invariably -- it refers
to childlessness.

Bottom line: This phrase refers to a premature birth, caused by the fight, which the baby survives. If there is no other injury beyond the premature birth, the guilty party is fined according the judges' decision based upon the husband's demands. If there is any other injury -- and we have determined that the baby is alive here -- the lex talionis would apply to
the mother and the baby equally, meaning that the guilty party would suffer the same retributive punishment determined by the injury of the victim. And in this case, the victim could be either the baby or the mother.

Therefore the "value status" of the fetus, according to this passage, is equal to that of the mother.


When I looked online for commentaries on this passage, I also found other points being reinforced. One is that this verse underscores is that we are responsible not only for wrongs we deliberately inflict on others, but also even for harm we cause unintentionally, through our carelessness.

Another point was that pregnant women were singled out for particular care. The passage doesn't specify penalties for harming bystanders in general during a conflict, but specifically protects the expectant mother and her unborn child. The miraculous process of gestation, of bringing fruition to a new life, is given special attention.

63 comments:

Kathy said...

This is an interesting piece -- I hadn't thought before about the special attention given to pregnant women being injured, as opposed to other innocent bystanders.

You may be interested in the "Ancient Roots Translation Bible" (the link should go to this passage, but if not, you can click on the left-hand link that says "ARTB Bible Search" and choose the passage). This is an interesting version of the Bible, because it has a 1-to-1 translation -- for every Hebrew word, they always use the same English word, so even if we would sometimes use the word "woman" and other times use the word "wife", they consistently use "woman". I rather like it, because it makes the OT seem truly in a foreign language, translated word-for-word. It's different, so it's interesting. But I'm weird that way. :-)

Here is Ex. 21:22-23 in the version:
Ex 21:22 For men bickering, that plague a pregnant woman: If her boys proceed from her, but there is no tragedy, he's penalized the penalty as the woman's master establishes over him, as the court gives him.
Ex 21:23 If there was a tragedy, give soul for soul...

artfulfrog said...

That makes me sad to think that the pro-aborts use Bible to "reason" why abortion is okay?! They are truly miss guided.

John said...

Excellent exegesis, Christina! I've know the truth of this passage since my days of taking Hebrew in grad school. You are spot on about this being a premature birth. It's sad that many still think it refers to a miscarriage. God's view of human life is clear. Thanks for pointing out this passage.

Kathy said...

This isn't really related to this particular post, but I wanted to share this video with you that I thought you would enjoy -- a 12-year-old's speech for her 7th grade class.

GrannyGrump said...

Thanx everybody for the comments, and Kathy for the link.

BTW, did you know that the first word in the Bible, usually translated "in the beginning" can also be translated, "First of all" or "Most importantly"? Cool!

SteveL said...

It seems to me that the meaning of this passage is ambiguous at best. There are numerous interpretations on all sides about what the meaning really is. Many on both sides of the issue go into in depth analyses of the meaning of the Hebrew text. The one common thread that appears in all of the dozens of interpretations I have read is that each of them appears to align closely with the interpreter's own particular view on the matter of abortion.

It is unfortunate that the Bible isn't as explicit and unambiguous about abortion as it is about, say, adultery. I have never heard anyone attempt to justify adultery by arguing that the Bible approves of it.

GrannyGrump said...

Steve, it's amazing the contortions people will go through to assert that the Bible either approves of abortion or gives no guidance whatsoever. One thread we see again and again and again is to step up in defense of the weak, the abandoned, the poor, the helpless, etc. Yet people will turn all that on its head in the case of abortion. Suddenly there's this small, weak, defenseless person that God's cool with you just choosing to kill because it suits you.

You can't pick any one Scripture and run with it. You have to look at the totality. And there's no way you can biblically justify abortion.

SteveL said...

I do not think it is amazing at all. Consider a relatively small document like the Constitution and the wide divergences of opinion that exist about what it truly means. Then take the Bible and which was written thousands of years ago in ancient Hebrew and is many times longer than the Constitution. Add to this that fact that it has been translated from the ancient Hebrew into dozens of other ancient, medieval, and modern languages and even more versions within the same language. Is it any wonder that people interpret the Bible differently?

A further illustration about what I mean when I say that the Bible is open to interpretation, concerns the matter of contraception. The Roman Catholic church has steadfastly maintained, almost since the time of Jesus, that contraception is a sin against God and that the Bible clearly informs us about this. Indeed virtually all Protestant denominations adhered to this viewpoint until the modern sexual revolution changed peoples perspectives on this subject. Many Christians now take a different view on what the Bible, in its totality, has to say about contraception.

Now contrast the Bible's pronouncements on abortion and contraception with, say, adultery.
The Bible is clear, unambiguous, and emphatic that adultery is wrong. There are conceivably more people who have committed adultery than had an abortion, but I have never heard anyone argue that the Bible approves of adultery or is in any way vague or open to interpretation on this subject.

SteveL said...

On the matter of "this small, weak, defenseless person that God's cool with you just choosing to kill", the crux of the debate concerns whether or not the fetus is in fact a person. Many of those who would not hesitate to have an abortion would be aghast if someone attempted to harm a one month old child and some would risk their lives trying to defend it. Ditto for those who oppose abortion rights. Those who support the right to abortion do so on the basis that they do not consider a fetus to be a person, at least not in the earlier stages of pregnancy. Those who oppose abortion usually do so based on a conviction that human life begins at conception. There are even those who believe that human life begins before conception.

Kathy said...

the crux of the debate concerns whether or not the fetus is in fact a person...

Actually, if you're basing your argument for anything on the Bible, then there is really no argument needed for whether or not the fetus is a person.

The Bible clearly states that for one human to kill another human is wrong (capital punishment aside). The reason given for this is that man was created in the image of God. Animals weren't. Man is the lord of the creation, so they can dispose of animals as they see fit (within reason, of course -- cruelty is forbidden; but killing animals because they are dangerous, or for food would be allowable). However, man does not have that same right towards other men, because each man is still "in the likeness of God." So, to kill man is to kill God in effigy, which is probably the main reason murder is outlawed in the Bible.

The bounds of "murder" are the bounds of human-kind. It is not "murder" to kill an animal, no matter how big, small, dangerous, friendly, etc. It is murder to kill another human (capital punishment aside). Is a fetus human? Of course! The creation account is very clear -- God made man in His image; and man (and animals) produce "after their kind." Horses don't give birth to cows; people don't give birth to kittens. The fetus of the creature is of the same "kind" as the creature. The human fetus is just as human as a baby, child, adult, or senior citizen. Personhood has no argument here -- the only argument for whether it is murder is, is the thing being killed human? If it is a human, then it's murder; if it's not, then it isn't. (And don't go talking about body parts -- I can cut off your hand, and your hand will die, but it won't be murder, because I didn't kill you. I can have an appendectomy, and my appendix will be killed, but that's not murder, because I did not die. A fetus is not a body part, but is a separate and distinct human -- that is a genetic and biological fact. To remove the fetus from the womb prior to viability [and sometimes even after viability] is to kill it. If it's a human, it's murder.)

So, the only leg you have to stand on is not Biblical but philosophical. Because, Biblically, if you kill a human, it's murder; human fetuses are human; therefore, to kill a fetus by abortion is murder.

SteveL said...

So, the only leg you have to stand on is not Biblical but philosophical. Because, Biblically,if you kill a human, it's murder; human fetuses are human; therefore, to kill a fetus by abortion is murder.

It is in your opinion based on your own interpretation of the Bible that the only leg I have to stand on is philosophical. I think otherwise. The truth is that well meaning people on both sides interpret the intent of the Bible differently on the matter of abortion. As is so often the case, there are gray areas in spite of the human desire to classify everything absolutely and make everything black and white. If the Bible was as clear and ambiguous is you claim that it is, there would be no debate about abortion, just as there is no debate with respect to the Bible’s position on adultery.

For the record, I agree with you completely that a fetus and fertilized egg is human. However, it is equally true that the human egg and human sperm are 100% alive and 100% human. They are not donkeys, tadpoles, or amoebas. The response to a claim such as this is that a fertilized egg and human sperm may be alive, but they are not a “person” because they have not combined into one. My response to that is that they a person in two parts and just as human as the one fertilized egg. If you "let nature take its course", the unfertilized egg and sperm, both of which are living, would turn into a newborn baby just as sure as it does in the case of a fertilized egg. Moreover, there are many instances, probably billions, where a child in the form of an egg and a sperm would most definitely been born except for the fact that the parents used contraception to kill them. There is even a quote from the Bible that is linked to this web page that is consistent with this view of human life that reads: Jeremiah 1:5 - "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart".

The criteria we used to pronounce people “dead” also raises interesting questions about what we consider to be a living person. Typically, a person is pronounced dead when their heart stops, they stop breathing, and brain function stops even though millions of cells remain alive for a considerable time after these functions cease. This begs the question if we consider a human being to be dead when it no longer has a functioning heart, brain, and respiratory system even though it has millions of living cells, isn’t this inconsistent with the notion that an embryo that lacks these same functions is alive?

The fact that there are gray areas at the boundaries of human life is reflected in many human practices. When a person dies, they are typically accorded a funeral attended by friends and family. It is not uncommon to post an obituary. How common has it been since the time of Christ for Christians to have a formal funeral or post obituaries when they miscarry at the early stages of pregnancy? Not often, I think even though miscarriages are commonplace.

From my perspective, you interpret the Bible through your own philosophical lens even though you are in no way omniscient with respect to its true meaning.

SteveL said...

The word "ambiguous" in the fifth sentence of the first paragraph should read "unambiguous". My apologies.

Kathy said...

If the Bible was as clear and unambiguous as you claim that it is, there would be no debate about abortion, just as there is no debate with respect to the Bible’s position on adultery.

Um, is there a portion of the Bible that is not debated? On my blog, I've had several long discussions with people who claim to believe the Bible, yet believe that the universe and the earth are billions of years old, rather than the 6000 or so that the plain Genesis account teaches. Then they get a bit squiffy when others imply that they don't believe what the Bible literally says. There are homosexuals who call themselves Christians, who argue with the Bible's stance on homosexual behavior, saying that those passages aren't in the original, but were added in later; or that it only applied in the first century or under the Law of Moses; or that it was talking only about homosexual rape and not loving homosexual relations, etc. Just like you're doing with the abortion question. And, yes, I've seen people try to justify even their adultery.

In none of what you have written above have you showed me any error or fault of logic in what I have written. Murder is killing an innocent human. God said "don't murder." Plants, animals, and humans all reproduce "after their kind." When humans mate, the offspring is, obviously, of the same kind -- namely, human. To kill the offspring of humans is to kill a human. Therefore, to kill the offspring of humans (before or after birth) is murder, even if it goes by the name "abortion."

Regarding the second paragraph -- I had anticipated you would say this, which is why in my previous comment I said that to kill a part of the body is not to murder. An unfertilized egg and sperm carry the potential of creating another life, but until conception happens, it is only *potential*. The rest of the paragraph is ludicrous. Eph. 1:4 & several passages in Revelation speak of God knowing and choosing people prior to the creation of the first man ("before the world began") -- it's part of God's omniscience which allows him (Isa 46:10 & Rom. 4:17) to speak of things which are not as though they were, and to predict and control the future.

As far as the criteria for pronouncing people dead -- it has nothing to do with the Bible, so is really pointless for this discussion. However, because you seem to think it important, I will answer it. Death is a pronouncement which may be faulty (numerous people have been declared brain dead and have recovered). Biology has several criteria for declaring something to be alive. Some 15 years ago when I was in college, I was taught them in Biology 101, but they're a bit fuzzy now -- there are something like 5 or 7 different things that biologists use to decide if something is alive or dead. Brain function and beating heart have nothing to do with that -- bacteria are considered alive, and they have neither brain nor heart.

Kathy said...

I had to break this up into two comments, since I'm too wordy for the character limit. :-)


A little history is appropriate for your next-to-last paragraph, even though, again, it has nothing to do with the Biblical question about whether killing an unborn child is murder. Up until about 50 years ago, there were no pregnancy tests, so a woman would not know for sure she was pregnant until she felt the baby move, or perhaps when she started to gain weight. She may have thought she was pregnant, or wondered if she was pregnant, but she might not have *known* she was pregnant until she was in the late stages of the first trimester or even partway through the second trimester. One can only guess how many women thought that a miscarriage was merely them starting their periods "late", even though they were at 6 weeks or more. Perhaps they thought they "skipped a period" when they had a miscarriage at 8 weeks. Some women are very regular; others are not. Stress, hormones, herbs, body fat percentage (too high or too low), and other factors can cause problems with both fertility and amenorrhea, and up until recent times, there hasn't been much that could be done if a woman had problems -- no ultrasounds, no X-rays, few or no medications, etc. Also, because of the false teaching the doctors had, a baby was not thought to be alive until the time of "quickening" -- that is, the first time the mother felt the baby move (usually about 16-20 weeks of gestation). It is now known that the baby moves much prior that, but the uterus can't feel the light movements. So there are great societal reasons why funerals may not be commonplace for miscarriages -- although numerous people I know who have suffered miscarriages have had funerals, typically small, private affairs, with just the closest of family and friends in attendance.

But again, all this is just science and history lessons. The real question is what the Bible teaches, and that is clear: murder is forbidden. Killing an innocent human is murder. Humans reproduce after their kind. Therefore the product of human reproduction is also a human. Therefore, killing that human, though unborn, is still murder.

SteveL said...

An unfertilized egg and sperm carry the potential of creating another life, but until conception happens, it is only *potential*.

This is your own personal philosophy. There is nothing in the Bible that says that human life only begins when the sperms and egg are united because the truth is human life begins before conception.

SteveL said...

And, yes, I've seen people try to justify even their adultery.

The point we are discussing has nothing whatever to do with whether or not adulterers seek to justify their adultery. Instead, the question is whether it is common for people who commit adultery to justify it based on the contention that the Bible takes no clear pronouncement on this subject. You can find some people who would argue almost anything, but there really isn't much of a debate on this subject. It is apparent to almost everyone that the Bible is very clear on the subject of adultery.

SteveL said...

As far as the criteria for pronouncing people dead -- it has nothing to do with the Bible, so is really pointless for this discussion. However, because you seem to think it important, I will answer it. Death is a pronouncement which may be faulty (numerous people have been declared brain dead and have recovered).

People are in almost unanimous agreement that a person who is brain dead AND has no heart beat
AND is not breathing is no longer alive. It is almost universal that believers in the Bible treat such individuals as if they are no longer existed. In essence, they claim that such individuals are no longer living people. However, the truth is that when those three functions cease, a person is definitely alive in the sense that they still have millions of living cells. Nevertheless when a person's brain, heart, and respiratory functions cease we give them a funeral, bury them, speak of them in the past tense, and sometimes say "they are with God now". In essence, we separate ourselves from them even though they are just as alive as a newly fertilized egg. My point in bringing this up was not to address the morality of abortion per se. Instead, it was to illustrate another point that I made that there are gray areas at the margins of life.

SteveL said...
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SteveL said...

The rest of the paragraph is ludicrous.

Says you. To my mind the rest of the paragraph is both logical and factual.

SteveL said...
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SteveL said...

An unfertilized egg and sperm carry the potential of creating another life, but until conception happens, it is only *potential*.

They are not only, potential. They are human life itself and no more or less "potential" than the fertilized egg itself. Where in the Bible does it say that the egg and sperm are merely "potential" human life? That may be your own personal "philosophy" just as some people subscribe to the view that the fertilized egg is mere "potential", but there is nothing Biblical about either position. The sperm and egg are alive and human.

Kathy said...

the truth is human life begins before conception.

No, our *souls* exist prior to conception. As C.S. Lewis said, "We are not bodies who have souls; we are souls who have bodies." The soul exists before conception, but the body does not. Man cannot kill the soul, only the body; killing the human body is murder. If you really think that killing a sperm is like killing a man, how do you live with yourself every time you ejaculate, knowing that millions of tiny humans are dying since only one sperm at the most will succeed in making it into a baby?

Nevertheless when a person's brain, heart, and respiratory functions cease we give them a funeral, bury them, speak of them in the past tense, and sometimes say "they are with God now". In essence, we separate ourselves from them even though they are just as alive as a newly fertilized egg.
Usually, we wait until several days have passed before giving the deceased a funeral. Also, they are not just as alive as the newly fertilized egg -- they are dead and all their functions are ceasing or have already ceased, whereas a newly fertilized egg is alive and is increasing in function.

Where in the Bible does it say that the egg and sperm are merely "potential" human life?
When the Bible says that a woman is pregnant she is "with child"; when a woman is not pregnant, she is not "with child," no matter how many eggs may be in her at the time. Every month one egg (I assume only one, since twins don't run in my family) matures in my ovary, and has since I was about 12. I didn't get married until 26, so for 14 years, I committed murder every month by refusing to have unmarried sex, so that the egg died unfertilized. Wow, I feel awful about all the murders I've committed; I should've fornicated to avoid being a murderess. Gimme a break.

SteveL said...

The soul exists before conception, but the body does not. .

I understand that this is your own personal philosophy, but where does it say this in the Bible?

SteveL said...

Usually, we wait until several days have passed before giving the deceased a funeral. Also, they are not just as alive as the newly fertilized egg -- they are dead and all their functions are ceasing or have already ceased, whereas a newly fertilized egg is alive and is increasing in function.

So having "increasing function" is your dividing line between the living and non-living? You are entitled to your opinion, but I do not agree. In my view an older person whose "functions" are decreasing and ceasing is just as much alive as a newborn baby.

SteveL said...

Usually, we wait until several days have passed before giving the deceased a funeral.

If I understand you correctly, we wait several days before having a funeral in order to be sure that the "deceased" person is in fact dead. Is that your point? If so, could you tell me precisely how many days you should wait so that you can be sure that the "deceased" is in fact dead. How does the Bible inform us on this matter? If that is not your point, what are you trying to say about the significance of waiting a few days after someone is "deceased" before having a funeral?

Kathy said...

"The soul exists before conception, but the body does not. ."
I understand that this is your own personal philosophy, but where does it say this in the Bible?


As previously cited, passages that speak of the foreknowledge of God say that God chose a people and loved a people before the world began. So, the person exists in some form, if only in the mind of God. Are you actually suggesting that the body exists prior to conception?

So having "increasing function" is your dividing line between the living and non-living? You are entitled to your opinion, but I do not agree. In my view an older person whose "functions" are decreasing and ceasing is just as much alive as a newborn baby.
Good grief, this is frustrating! No, "increasing function" is not the dividing line -- it is merely the evidence of life I chose to present, as contrasted to the evidence of death. After a person dies every one of his cells eventually die, but I was responding to your point about "millions of cells still living" after the person is clinically dead -- showing that after death (however that is defined), the cells gradually stop functioning and die, whether that is a few minutes, hours, or days after the body itself is dead. The point is not how many of his cells continue to live (as I said above, tissue and organs may be harvested and kept alive), but that most assuredly after some point the person is dead, and whatever cells may yet be alive at that point will also assuredly die. The absence of function is the proof of that.

If I understand you correctly, we wait several days before having a funeral in order to be sure that the "deceased" person is in fact dead. Is that your point?
No, that was *not* my point. You seemed to indicate in a previous point that a funeral took place soon after death was declared, with the possibility that someone may yet be alive. Since we're dissecting posts here, what was your point in saying that?

SteveL said...
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SteveL said...

Every month one egg (I assume only one, since twins don't run in my family) matures in my ovary, and has since I was about 12. I didn't get married until 26, so for 14 years, I committed murder every month by refusing to have unmarried sex, so that the egg died unfertilized.

I would not call it murder at all. Where does it say in the Bible that taking a human life is murder in every circumstance? I would take this one step further and say that if a 9-10 year old child is raped by their father, it is OK for them to take a morning after pill precisely because of the possibility that might become pregnant. I believe that it would be cruel and inhuman punishment to deny them access to this pill if they and their families chose to use it and to, instead, force the child to go through with a possible pregnancy. I do not think it would be cruel and inhuman punishment to kill the fertilized egg for the same reason that I do not think it is cruel and inhuman punishment to use spermicide to kill living human sperm cells. The fact that the use of this killing agent (spermicides) has undoubtedly killed thousands if not millions human beings who would otherwise have been born does not rise to the level of murder.

SteveL said...

Good grief, this is frustrating! No, "increasing function" is not the dividing line -- it is merely the evidence of life I chose to present, as contrasted to the evidence of death. After a person dies every one of his cells eventually die, but I was responding to your point about "millions of cells still living" after the person is clinically dead -- showing that after death (however that is defined), the cells gradually stop functioning and die, whether that is a few minutes, hours, or days after the body itself is dead.

If increasing function vs decreasing function is not a criteria for distinguishing the living from the non-living, how is it that you can say a human being is clinically dead at the point when brain, heart, and respiratory function all cease and at the same time maintain that a fertilized egg that has no brain, heart, or respiratory function is clinically alive?

SteveL said...

Are you actually suggesting that the body exists prior to conception?

I am saying that human life exists before conception and also that an unfertilized human egg is no more or less human and no more or less alive then a fertilized human egg. There is nothing in the Bible that is inconsistent with this view.

Kathy said...

This discussion is futile. You're twisting yourself into knots. And twisting what I say into something incomprehensible. Have a good life.

SteveL said...

This discussion is futile. You're twisting yourself into knots. And twisting what I say into something incomprehensible.

Actually, the knots are of your own making. You claim that it is the word of God that life begins precisely at conception and not before, but are unable to cite any passages that specifically support this claim. In reality human life begins before conception.

Kathy said...

Jesus did not become human until His incarnation.

SteveL said...

Jesus did not become human until His incarnation.

Yes and Adam did not become human until God formed him from the dust and breathed the breath of life in him at which point he became a living soul. God later used a rib from Adam to create Eve which is another instance where human life was created through processes that differ from the norm. Offhand I cannot think of any others. Can you?

Kathy said...

Thank you for understanding my point, agreeing with it, and even expounding upon it.

SteveL said...

The thing I agree with is that, in the case of these three particular human beings, their lives began in a manner that is fundamentally different from the way that yours, mine and everyone else's did.

Kathy said...

How so? It began when soul and body joined.

SteveL said...
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SteveL said...

Well, Adam's life began roughly at the time he took his first breath according to Genesis. God breathed the breath of life into Adam's nostrils. That isn't exactly the way life began for most of us.

Kathy said...

"And man became a living soul." Soul and body joined = human life.

SteveL said...

Adam's soul and body joined when he started breathing.

Kathy said...

No, God "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul" -- he continued to breathe in response to being alive; he didn't become alive when he started breathing.

SteveL said...

Adam certainly was alive shortly before he started breathing, but he undoubtedly started breathing within seconds of when he first became alive. Brain and heart functioning undoubtedly occurred almost simultaneously with the emergence of life within Adam. I would not say that this applies to most people

Kathy said...

So?

SteveL said...

The fact remains that the Bible offers no specifics that identify precisely where life begins or for that matter where life ends. There are no passages in the Bible that say specifically that life begins when a human sperm fertilizes a human egg, though it seems apparent to me that human life begins before conception.

Kathy said...

Actually, the Bible is quite clear where life ends -- how many times is it stated, "...he gave up the ghost, and died"? Death, therefore, seems to be defined as when the "ghost" departs the body.

Why do you say that human life begins before conception?

SteveL said...

Actually, the Bible is quite clear where life ends -- how many times is it stated, "...he gave up the ghost, and died"? Death, therefore, seems to be defined as when the "ghost" departs the body.

While this is undoubtedly true, it is a little like saying someone is dead when they are dead. It begs the question, how do we know when a person's ghost has left their body? How do we know when someone is dead? The Bible does not tell us. We are left to our own devices to identify the specific threshold when someone passes from the living to the dead.

Kathy said...

Why does that matter? The question I asked last time was "why do you say that human life begins before conception?"

SteveL said...

I think it does matter when you determine that a person is dead rather than alive. I suspect most people think it matters. My point was that since people do not know with any certainty when the "ghost" departs from the body and since the Bible does not provide us with ways of specifically determining that this event has occurred, we are are forced to decisions without being absolutely certain.

SteveL said...

Human life begins before conception because an unfertilized egg is alive and human.

Kathy said...

Obviously, the determination of "dead" is important in a practical sense -- no one wants to accidentally bury someone alive! Yet that has no bearing on when life begins.

An unfertilized egg is alive and human, but then so is a red blood cell. In fact, it may be considered to be more completely human, since an unfertilized egg has only half the woman's genetic material.

Yet I thought you were going to give some Scriptural answer as to the beginning of human life. Do you have anything to support your argument other than "an egg is alive and human"? -- As stated above, the fact that an egg is alive and human does not prove that a new human life begins before conception, nor that it is murder to prevent conception from occurring.

SteveL said...


An unfertilized egg is alive and human, but then so is a red blood cell. In fact, it may be considered to be more completely human, since an unfertilized egg has only half the woman's genetic material.

Yet I thought you were going to give some Scriptural answer as to the beginning of human life. Do you have anything to support your argument other than "an egg is alive and human"?


There is nothing scriptural that precisely identifies either when life begins or when it ends. Saying that a human blood cell is "more human" than an unfertilized egg is rather like saying that a newborn baby is "more" human than a fertilized egg because it has a heart, brain, and circulatory system while the fertilized egg does not. The truth is these are all simply different stages in the life of a human being.

Kathy said...

No, it's not. An egg is not a stage in the life of a human being -- it is the last stage before a new and genetically unique human is created, biologically speaking. An egg is half a potential human, genetically and biologically speaking. It is not "a human life," though it is living and it is a human cell.

As previously mentioned, Jesus did not become human until Mary conceived Him, which is a pretty clear Biblical indication that human life starts at conception. His conception was unique only in that He had no human father -- His Father was God. All other conceptions are the result of human fathers, so it would be easy to extrapolate Jesus' human beginning at conception with all other conceptions. At Jesus' conception, the Divine mixed with the human, just as the man's sperm combine with the female's egg to create a new human.

Here's an analogy so that we can better understand each other. First, let me restate your position to make sure I understand you correctly: you say that because IF an egg and sperm combine they will create a baby, then to prevent that combination is to kill the baby. [I will insert here that I know of numerous examples of people who have tried to conceive and/or who have not tried to prevent conception, having normal marital sex, yet not conceiving children, so your statement is not wholly accurate.] Now the analogy: If I combine flour and water, I will make a tortilla; if I drink the water instead or throw away the flour, I may destroy the water or the flour, but I do not destroy a tortilla.

Out of curiosity, do you have any examples of any non-conceived humans, to bolster your opinion? Anything akin to facts or Scripture?

SteveL said...

No, it's not. An egg is not a stage in the life of a human being -- it is the last stage before a new and genetically unique human is created, biologically speaking. An egg is half a potential human, genetically and biologically speaking. It is not "a human life," though it is living and it is a human cell.

Yes it is. The human egg is a stage in the life of a human being and it is just as human as the fertilized egg. Your argument is analogous to that of someone who claims that a fertilized egg is not a human life but because it lacks a heart, brain, and respiratory function -- criteria that are used for concluding that someone is no longer alive.

What do you mean by "half a potential human" life? Is there such a thing as a "whole potential human life." life? What is it?

As previously mentioned, Jesus did not become human until Mary conceived Him, which is a pretty clear Biblical indication that human life starts at conception. His conception was unique only in that He had no human father -- His Father was God. All other conceptions are the result of human fathers, so it would be easy to extrapolate Jesus' human beginning at conception with all other conceptions. At Jesus' conception, the Divine mixed with the human, just as the man's sperm combine with the female's egg to create a new human.

There is nothing in the Bible that specifically says that Jesus became a human being at the precise moment he was conceived. We don't even know what "conceived" means in this context because the Bible provides no details biologically, anatomically or in any other ways of precisely what happened within Mary. Your statement that Jesus's conception was just like ours is pure conjecture because the Bible says nothing of the kind. Adam and Eve's weren't even conceived in the sense that we normally use this term but they became human nonetheless.

First, let me restate your position to make sure I understand you correctly: you say that because IF an egg and sperm combine they will create a baby, then to prevent that combination is to kill the baby.

I would state it differently. If you do not use contraception, there is no guarantee that the human egg would get fertilized and therefore survive. It may not get fertilized even if you use unprotected sex. However, if you use an effective form of contraception, there is a much higher probability that that the human egg will die. People who use contraception do so to ensure that the human egg will die and a child will not be born.

Out of curiosity, do you have any examples of any non-conceived humans, to bolster your opinion? Anything akin to facts or Scripture?

No, I do not have examples of non-conceived humans. I also do not have examples of conceived humans that failed to implant. Do you have examples of any of the above?

By the way, I am sorry but I don't understand why your discussion of the flour, water, and tortilla is an analogy. Please explain.

Incidentally, I will be away for the next 10 days and without Internet access. I could resume the discussion when I return.

Kathy said...

This argument is getting tedious, and is pointless. You have nothing on which to base your claims -- not science, medicine, nor the Bible. I do. Enjoy your trip.

SteveL said...

My argument is 100% consistent with both Medicine and Science. Moreover, there is nothing in the Bible that says that human life only begins at the specific time when a sperm fertilizes the egg. There is absolutely nothing in the Bible that says this.

Kathy said...

Which doctor of either science or medicine says that a new life begins prior to conception?

SteveL said...

Try a few Google searches. You should have no trouble finding them. One of the more famous of these was Carl Sagan. Another who I took a course from is Dr. Paul Z. Meyers, currently Professor of Biology at the University of Minnesota.

As for your assertion that the Bible clearly states that life begins precisely at the point where the sperm and egg fuse, where does it specifically say that? My impression is that you believe the Bible should be understood literally (e.g. the Earth is no more than 6,000 years old). Where in the Bible does it say, LITERALLY, that human life begins at the point of fertilization?

Kathy said...

I'm not talking about the origins of life from an evolutionary perspective; nor even from a creation perspective -- as in, when did the first life on earth appear. I'm talking about each individual life. Certainly, "life begets life" -- it requires living cells to create living cells -- I've never said anything counter to that. I think you're a troll. You're twisting my words into what they do not mean.

There is enough support in the Bible for my position, as well as in science and medicine. Scientifically and medically, a new life begins at conception, with the fusing of sperm and egg. Biblically speaking, it takes the union of man and woman to create a new life. Biblically speaking, Jesus did not become human until conception, when He was conceived in the womb of Mary by the Holy Ghost.

SteveL said...

There is nothing in the Bible that says, in the case of Adam, Jesus, or Eve, that “conception” refers to the fertilization of a human egg by a human sperm inside of a womb. The process by which those three became human is a mystery and a miracle and the Bible leaves it at that. Suffice it to say that “conceive” in the case of those three means something very different than it does in the case of the rest of us. For the rest of us, conception is a stage in human development where a human egg and human egg fuse. We have no idea whether an egg and sperm were involved in any way in the conception of Adam, Jesus, or Eve. The Bible does not tell us.

There is simply nothing in the Bible that states that human life begins at the precise point where a human egg and sperm fuse. The Bible is completely clear and unambiguous about many things, but not so with respect to the point where human life either starts or ends. There is nothing in any Biblical account that clearly associates either the beginning or ending of life with specific biological events.

Scientists are hardly in agreement on this subject either. You can read opinions from Scientists that are all over the map from them on this subject. Of course there is nothing surprising about this since Scientists are unable to clearly and unambiguously identify what life itself is. There are grey arrays at the margins of life in spite of the human desire to place everything into rigid categories. .

Kathy said...

Nope.

Nope.

Nope.

Have a nice life.

SteveL said...

There is absolutely nothing in the Bible that SPECIFICALLY says that life begins when "a human egg and a human egg unite". There is also nothing in the Bible that says, in the case of Jesus, that a HUMAN EGG and HUMAN SPERM united as a part of his development. The precise anatomical processes that gave rise to Jesus in his human form is a mystery. Did God use a human egg from Mary? Did he create a human sperm and have that fuse with an egg from Mary? Did he place Jesus in Mary in an embryonic state? The Bible offers NO details on what happened anatomically in the early stages of Jesus's human development.

You are also free to to claim that the Bible defines the beginning of Jesus's life and Adam's life and every other human life as occurring when a HUMAN EGG and HUMAN sperm unite, but the Bible does associate the beginning of human life with anatomical details such as this anywhere. There is simply nothing in the Bible that LITERALLY supports your claim, but you are free to read things into the Bible that are not actually there in print. Many people do this.

shaun lopes said...

Then you are jackass. There is no drugs, nuclear weapons, porn, smoking. Therefore it is 100% legal to do it because bible never talk about it.

Bible literally said blood is life and shred the blood is murder. Killing unborn babies will sent to hell.