On Tuesday of this week Personhood USA, a pro-life christian organization, attempted to amend the Mississippi constitution through a ballot initiative* that would have redefined personhood as a fertilized egg. Abortion (no exceptions for rape or incest) and certain forms of contraception would have been effectively outlawed in the state. Thankfully, the measure was voted down by the people of Mississippi. Personhood USA no doubt was counting on the largely conservative electorate to fall back on their strong religious convictions and vote to protect life. As is frequently the case in politics, the Bible doesn’t exactly back up their position. The God we’ve read about so far does not hold life to the same level of sacredness as Personhood USA. Let’s just look in Numbers to see what we can find.
Let’s get straight to what God thinks of a zygote’s right to life. In Numbers 5 God lays out to Moses a test for determining if one’s wife has been unfaithful. The woman drinks a bitter solution that carries a curse. If she has remained faithful and is wrongly suspected, nothing will happen. But if she is guilty of infidelity she will have a miscarriage (Num. 5:27). God is willing to terminate a pregnancy to reveal that a woman has been unfaithful. It doesn’t specify at what stage she’ll miscarry, but my guess, for these nomads, the woman would have to be far enough along that the morning after pill is no longer effective. As a mode of communication, I’d rate this one between speaking-English-loudly-at-a non-English-speaker and smoke signals for effectiveness.
Not that God has any regard for the sanctity life after birth either. Remember, (yes, I know this happened in Exodus, but God very forcefully reminds us about this incident in Numbers) God passed judgement on the Egyptian godsâ€¦ by killing the firstborn of every Egyptian (Num. 33:3-4).
Also, genocide seems to be alright. He is complacent in the total destruction of the Canaanites (Num. 21:1-3) and (through his prophet Moses) demands the slaughter of all the Midianite women and boys (but not the virgins) after the battle was over and won (Num. 31:9-18).
Using miscarriages as a way to communicate guilt or innocence, slaughtering innocent children as judgement on a bunch of imaginary Egyptian gods, and demanding the total destruction of those who currently live in the promised land are far from anything that could be considered moral. In all three of these examples, God demonstrates that he is anything but pro-life.
*Oddly enough, an initiative seems impossible to bring to a vote in the state. The Mississippi constitution requires that the petition contains no more than 1/5 of the required signatures from any single congressional district. Mississippi currently has four congressional districts. If anyone can explain how this got past the Sectretary of State, please feel free to share in the comments.