This is the second article in a series of five on The Bible and Abortion. All five respond to claims one writer Curtis F. argues, in which he asserts that the Bible does not condemn abortion outright. In his first of five points, Mr. F pointed to Exodus 21:22-25, to suggest that the God of the Bible places no human value on unborn life. This assertion was disproved.
Mr. F’s second argument is, “Unfulfilled Life Not Worth Living,” is based on Ecclesiastes 6:3-5, which is also equally misguided, but has implications for those still living. In his second point he claims that God does not care if a mother has a miscarriage or “untimely birth.” He writes:
“If a man beget a hundred children, and live many years, so that the days of his years be many, and his soul be not filled with good, and also that he have no burial; I say, that an untimely birth is better than he. For he cometh in with vanity, and departeth in darkness, and his name shall be covered with darkness. Moreover he hath not seen the sun, nor known any thing: this hath more rest than the other.”
This text states that it is better for a person to suffer an “untimely birth,” meaning to die from miscarriage, than to live an unhappy life. That’s right: the Bible literally says it’s better to die in the womb than live an unhappy life. This flies directly into the face of all anti-choice believers.
Well, Mr. F might have a point. It is better for those whose souls are not filled with good if they were never born. However, to understand the text’s context, one must look at its author, King Solomon of Israel who did not support infanticide. But in certain instances he opines that a miscarriage would be better than an unhappy life.
So, what does that mean, exactly? The NASB renders this phrase as, “his soul is not satisfied with good things.” It could be understood in two ways. Those who have “no good things” could fall in this category. This would include the poor and undeveloped, whose souls may not be filled or satisfied with good things.
The other option is those who are not content with what they have. They are not pleased with the providential provisions God has given them through no merit of their own. These will never be satisfied with what they have because they will always compare themselves to others they believe have more than they do. Solomon is suggesting that in these cases, it would be better that they were never born, because they will know few happy days.
It’s highly unlikely that Mr. F is advocating the sterilization and infanticide of all the poor and underdeveloped in the world. And surely he does not think that there are those who can know for certain that the infants being murdered every day at these slaughterhouses are never going to find satisfaction in the things God gives them.
But, more than that, Mr. F. has made the same error that many make who have no real familiarity with Hermeneutics (the science of interpretation.) Mr. F. has made no accounting for the genre that his passage is written in and, therefore, has no real hope of understanding what the writer intended to say.
He’s referring to Hebrew poetry that was never meant to be taken as literal instructions, but anecdotal ones. In modern day epistemology, for example, a person who is “hungry as a horse” is not a horse. Nor is one a pig who “sweats like a pig” (although pigs don’t sweat). Nor is one a kite, who is “high as a kite.”
What Solomon was clearly teaching was that those who shun the good gifts of God, no matter their lot in life, will never be happy.
He is suggesting something similar to the modern-day phrase, “It would be better if they were never born.” But the people who say such things about themselves or others are in no way saying that they or anyone should be murdered in the womb.
Lastly, it’s critical to realize that miscarriage does not equal abortion.
Curtis’ understanding of human life has led to the murder of roughly 60 million American children. He reasons that these children were doomed like those who will not have a good or happy life. But by his reasoning, then any person deemed likely to not have a good life could be targeted for death as well.