Several Christians reacted with disgust over an article published by the Washington Post. The authors claim that the pro-life movement was based on an incorrect interpretation of a passage in the Bible.
As reported by Fox News, these Christians cited several scriptural passages that refute the claims in the article written by Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg and pro-abortion Baptist minister Katey Zeh.
Ruttenberg and Zeh point out that a mistranslated word from the Bible passage Exodus 21: 22-23 generated the Jewish and Christian opposition to abortion.
As quoted in the article, the Book of Exodus reads, “When men fight, and one of them pushes a pregnant woman and a miscarriage results, but no other harm ensues, the one responsible shall be fined when the woman’s husband demands compensation; the payment will be determined by judges. But if other harm ensues, the penalty shall be life for life.”
Ruttenberg and Zeh credit a mistranslation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, in what became known as the Septuagint, and the misinterpretation of two Christian thinkers, St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, as the beginning of what caused abortion to be later banned.
The new translation is changed to: “When men fight, and one of them pushes a pregnant woman and a miscarriage results, but it is not in the form, the one responsible shall be fined when the woman’s husband demands compensation; the payment will be determined by judges. But if it is in the form, the penalty shall be life for life.”
They wrote that St. Augustine developed his theory of the existence of a soul from interpreting that “a fetus early in formation, or in the early stages of gestation, did not have a soul, and thus it was not considered manslaughter to cause its accidental miscarriage. A fetus that was more “formed” did have a soul, so a person who caused its miscarriage would be, indeed, liable as though they had killed a fully formed person.”
And the article goes on to say, “St. Thomas Aquinas, too, pointed to the moment of “quickening”—the moment at which fetal movement could be detected by the pregnant person—as the point of ensoulment.”
But one of those who raised his voice in disagreement with the article published by the Washington Post was Franklin Graham, president of the Billy Evangelistic Association, who told Fox News:
“Our beliefs about the sanctity of life aren’t just tied to a single verse that some may try and find fault with—they are wrapped up in the entirety of Scripture.” He added, “The inescapable and unmistakable theme that God created us and loves us is repeated throughout the Bible.”
And after quoting several paragraphs from the Bible, which reference life from conception, Graham said, “I would encourage anyone who suggests the Scriptures don’t make a clear case for the sanctity of life to spend more time reading God’s Word,” Graham added.
Meanwhile, Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, responded to the Post article by saying that “It’s silly to originate Christian prolife views of 2,000 years in a single Bible verse.”
“Such a perspective assumes a narrow and brittle fundamentalism that can be collapsed by yanking a single card from the fragile house of cards. The Christian pro-life teaching is organic to the whole of Scripture and was refined across millennia,” noting that such teaching “originates in the assumption that all are created by God and sacred to Him, and that we do not belong to ourselves but to Him.”
Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS), also voiced criticism. He said that “The early church understood abortion to be a horrifying sin, demanding the strongest Christian response.”
“The Washington Post article alleging a mistranslation of Exodus 21 is a desperate attempt to divert attention from the moral horror of abortion,” Mohler ruled.
Finally, Fox News quoted Alveda King, a pro-life leader, and niece of Martin Luther King Jr., who said that “the pro-life movement traces back very easily to Deuteronomy 30:28.” It says, “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.”