There is a debate going on in Ireland again at the moment about abortion. This is not something I’m going to get into here. However, there is something about the debate that has caught my attention. We all know that the Catholic Church does not agree with abortion. And while there is nothing in the Bible directly referencing abortion, Christians tend to point to the Sixth Commandment “Thou shall not kill” as proof that the Bible condemns abortion. And this is the thing that has caught my attention.
Now, I will be the first person to admit it has been many years since I was a regular churchgoer. But I have been to church for weddings and christenings etc. in recent years and, as far as I can tell, little has changed when it comes to the liturgy since I was a child. The attention of the Christian church is focused on Christ. Most of the reading’s – gospel and otherwise – are taken from the New Testament. Most of the time the church is not interested in promoting the ideals of the Old Testament – with its archaic tribal customs and violence – and instead is more interested in promoting the values of Christ and the New Testament. And this is admirable. However, it would seem that when debates about issues such as abortion or homosexuality arise, suddenly the Church invokes the Old Testament.
This is the Old Testament of Leviticus that allows the owning of slaves:
“Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves … You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.” Leviticus 25:44-46
and quarantines a woman when she has her period:
“And if a woman have an issue, and her issue in her flesh be blood, she shall be put apart seven days: and whosoever toucheth her shall be unclean until the even.” Leviticus 15:19-24
or Exodus that prescribes death for working on a Sabbath and allows the selling of daughters:
“Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the Lord: whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death.” Exodus 35:2
“If a man sells his daughter as a servant, she is not to go free as male servants do.” Exodus 21:7-11
or Deuteronomy that calls for the stoning to death of anyone who believes in any other gods:
“If a man or woman living among you … has worshiped other gods … take the man or woman who has done this evil deed to your city gate and stone that person to death.” Deuteronomy 17:2-7
Now, there are many Christians who will say that this is too easy, that Leviticus and Deuteronomy are easy targets. And they would be right. But the reason they are easy targets is because they are there. There is no denying them: these stories and rules are there and they cannot be changed. And if we are going to invoke certain rules and moral codes of the Old Testament and use these to further an argument, then – it would seem to me – we must abide by ALL of the rules and the moral codes of the Old Testament. And if this is not the case, then why not?
And I am not being facetious here. If we are to accept that certain laws contained in this book have a moral certainty (and this is certainly how they are portrayed by Christians) then surely all the laws contained therein must have equal moral certainty? Otherwise, the entire house of cards collapses.
(Image: Click on pic for credits)
If you enjoyed this post, you can subscribe to the blog by entering your email address in the box on the left hand sidebar. Thanks!