Abortion in the Bible

Often people deny that abortion is in the Bible. Actually it is if you know what you are reading. The Bible has a high view of life; especially human life. The Bible begins with the premise that mankind is created in the image of God. While sin has distorted that image, all people—no matter how flawed and sinful—are bearers of God’s image. When a child is aborted, a human being created in the image of God has been destroyed. For some this reasoning is sufficient to believe that abortion is wrong. However, where is abortion in the Bible?

First, you need to know how abortions were performed in the ancient world. They were not “surgical” as is often done today but chemical in nature. Various elixirs were mixed to kill the baby. Often they were introduced via a “pessary.” Pessary is Greek for “small stone” and “is an instrument placed in the vagina … as a contraceptive device” http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/pessary

As proof I would like to call the Greek physician Hippocrates as my primary witness.

“The earliest medical guild appeared on the Aegean island of Cos, just off the coast of Asia Minor. Around the time that Nehemiah was organizing the post-exilic Jews in Jerusalem to rebuild the walls, another refugee from Babylonian occupation, Aesculapius, was organizing the post-exilic Jews on Cos into medical specialists—for the first time in history, moving medical healing beyond folk remedies and occult rituals. It was not long before this elite guild had become the wonder of the Mediterranean world under the leadership of Hippocrates, the son of Panacea, the son of Hygeia, the son of Aesculapius, the son of Hashabia the Hebrew, an exile of fallen Jerusalem.

In other words, the great Greek school of healing that gave us the Hippocratic oath, that gave us the scientific standards for hygiene, diagnosis, and systematic treatment that form the basis for modern medicine wasn’t Greek at all. It was Hebrew, the fruit of Biblical faith.” —George Grant Grand Illusions: The Legacy of Planned Parenthood, page 82.

The money quote from the famous Hippocratic Oath is, “I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I advise such a plan; and similarly I will not give a woman a pessary to cause an abortion.”

Once it has been established that abortions are the result of potions mixed for that purpose then you may ask what the Greeks called such folks. The answer is pharmacist. The pharmacist of the ancient world was a purveyor of folk healing remedies. References to pharmacists are found in the Bible.

The following is from Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. James Strong went thru the entire Bible and recorded the occurrence of each word and then sorted them by spelling and created a comprehensive book about all the words in “The Book.” In the era before computers, it took him 35 years to complete the project! Not only is this a good source to quote because of the thoroughness of the scholarship but because it was completed many decades before abortion became a political and social issue.

I would like to focus on Strong’s Numbers: 5331-5333. Three variations of the root word where we get “pharmacist” appear in the Bible. Of the five instances, all but one are from the book of Revelation.

5331 is farmakeiva. It is translated Pharmakeia (pronounced far-mak-i’-ah). This word appears three times in the New Testament. Strong defines this word as: “medication (“pharmacy”), i.e. (by extens.) magic (lit. or fig.):—sorcery, witchcraft.”

5332 is farmakeuv. It is translated Pharmakeus (pronounced far-mak-yoos’).  This word appears once in the New Testament. It is the root word for 5331 and 5333. Strong defines the word as from: “pharmakon (a drug, i.e. spell-giving potion); a druggist (“pharmacist”) or poisoner, i.e. (by extens.) a magician:-sorcerer.”

5333 is favrmako.  It is translated Pharmakos (pronounced far-mak-os’).  This word appears once in the New Testament. Strong defines this word “same as 5332:-sorcerer.”

Galatians 5: 19 – 21
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,  envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before , as I have also told you in time past , that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Revelation 9: 21
Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.

Revelation 18: 23
And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.

But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

Revelation 22: 15
For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

Clearly both the Apostles Paul and John are unified in their opposition to sorcery and witchcraft. Under the Old Covenant these practices are worthy of capital punishment and in the New Covenant they are declared as justly punished by the second death. Clearly those that perform abortion are under God’s wrath both now and in the coming judgment.

I will concede that abortion was not as common in ancient times as it is now but a more common practice in the ancient Greco-Roman world was abortion after the fact. Child abandonment was common. People would take their children outside the gates of the city and leave their newborn infants to die.

While this practice would be viewed as barbaric by many; have we really changed that much in our post-Christian society? If we kill a child in the womb, we dismiss this as “choice.” If we don’t want a baby after birth, we can dump the infant at the local fire-station.

Our leaders in science have advocated going even further.
James D. Watson who won the Nobel Prize for discovering the double helix of DNA has stated “If a child were not declared alive until three days after birth, then all parents could be allowed the choice only a few are given under the present system. The doctor could allow the child to die if the parents so choose and save a lot of misery and suffering. I believe this view is the only rational, compassionate attitude to have.”  Time, 1973.

” . . . no newborn infant should be declared human until it has passed certain tests regarding its genetic endowment and that if it fails these tests it forfeits the right to live”  Francis Crick, Nobel Prize winner, 1978.

I could cite many others in our society that don’t believe that even being born gives a baby a right to live. Some leaders of bioethics advocate allowing two years before declaring a baby “human” and acknowledging their right to live.

This is quite a contrast to members of the early Church that would go outside the city walls to redeem the abandoned children and take them home and raise them as their own; even when the Christians knew this was against the law. These unwanted children became an integral part of the witness of the early Church.

Abortion is wrong and both the Scriptures and the witness of the Church agree. Human life has value and can only be taken in rare circumstances such as self-defense, war and capital punishment without violating God’s Law. The practice of sorcery and witchcraft are both condemned. These crimes include the known methods of abortion at the time the Bible was written. Clearly life belongs to God and it is not ours to snuff-out in the name Moloch, choice or convenience.