Civil Discourse Now

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Evangelicals and word play on abortion

Christians’ lines between “us” and “them” have been many and varied over centuries. Romans saw believers as a sect of Judaism until their Emperor converted. Rendering unto Caesar became kosher. The Reformation was 100 years of bloody war, Rome vs Protestants.

In the 1970s and ‘80s a belief that became more widely spread was fundamentalism, a belief the bible is the literal word of god. Evangelicals hold that belief, perhaps because simplicity holds so much appeal. A “strict interpretation” sounds certain.

God, however, did not write any part of the bible; neither testament mentions “abortion.” Word play is a resort for these religious zealots. After all, in the beginning was the word. As I’ve noted, Exodus addresses injuries to a pregnant woman.

If a pregnant woman miscarries as the result of two men fighting, there should be a fine. If the woman dies, punishment is death. Exodus, 21: 22-25. A reasonable inference is that the woman is a person, but the fetus is not. Matters are not so simple, of course.

Evangelicals use nuances (they don’t say “nuances”) of the (ancient) Greek and Hebrew tongues to say the simple, bottom line is that god (not an author) forbids abortion (a word not used) in the final product assembled by committee. Self-made complexity makes them feel smart.

Reality: reproductive choices are complex as they involve biology, millennia of evolution and ways societies either have seen abortion as legal or as not subject to criminal penalties. Choices are simple because men cannot get pregnant and do not have that choice.

Many opposed to abortion on religious grounds also object to contraception. On a continuum of trauma, contraception seems to be at the end of “less.” Sex education is even less traumatic. In combination they mean fewer abortions than belief in a committee-written book.

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