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March 10, 2014 – Exodus 21

ultrasoundSigh. This is going to be a rough one today, so prepare yourself.  Normally EveryDay Devotions tries to steer clear of controversial topics, but every once in a while, they come up.  What can we do but face them head on?  So it shall be today.  It’s abortion discussion time, my friends.

The pro-life/pro-choice debate fills our culture these days.  It pits our desire for freedom against our desire to care for the weak.  It even divides families and churches, with strong, Bible-believing Christians on both sides.  The first thing we need to recognize is that being either pro-life or pro-choice is not the measure of our salvation.  When we stand before God on judgement day, He won’t ask if we were pro-life; Jesus will say either “I know him” or “Away from me, I never knew you.”  So, let’s first agree that, while we may be passionate about this, we are still brothers and sisters in Christ.


There are several passages in the Bible that are used to support a pro-life position, such “knit together in my mother’s womb” and other famous passages.  However, there is no question that parts of these passages are poetic (do we really think God has a couple of darning needles in a woman’s belly?).  So these passages are really not conclusive.  So, rather than go through them one by one, since that has been done elsewhere, let’s look at one particular one from today’s chapter.

Exodus 21:22 is used by pro-choice proponents to argue that God does not see a fetus as a living child.  It is usually quoted in English like this: “If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine (KJV).” or “If people are fighting and hit a pregnant woman and she has a miscarriage but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows.”  The argument follows then that a miscarriage (or abortion) in and of itself is ok (just a fine), but if the mother is injured then there must death to the perpetrator.

At issue of course is the idea of “mischief” or “serious injury” or “further injury.”  What is that referring to? The mother or the child?


So, in the time-honored method of arrogant scholars everywhere, let’s look at the Hebrew.  The word for “miscarriage” there does not have the connotation of death that our English term does.  The word is “yasa” and is translated “miscarriage” only here – in other passages of the Bible it is translated as “coming out” or “comes forth.”  In other words, a better translation would be something like this: “And if men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that the child comes forth, yet there is no injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman’s husband may demand of him; and he shall pay as the judges decide. But if there is any injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life….”

In this more direct rendering, it seems clear that the “injury” refers to the child.  It actually makes a kind of sense, as a premature child would require more care and thus the fine would help cover some of those expenses.

Once again, this passage is not conclusive.  However, it seems clear that this passage cannot be used as conclusive reason for the use of abortion procedures.    How one wishes to apply that to one’s own beliefs regarding abortion are of course between the one and the One.

While this is a controversial subject for believers, and whatever our conclusions may be, let’s try to remember that we are all servants of Christ.  He is the one that will we stand before, not each other.  A little grace can go a long way to keeping peace as we all struggle to deal with these kinds of topics.

6 thoughts on “March 10, 2014 – Exodus 21

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