Culture Wars /

OPINION: I’m a Firm Believer in the Bible — That’s Why I’m Pro-Abortion

As God's proxies on earth, women must have the uncommon right to protect their uncommon ability to give birth — or not give birth — to the creation they are responsible for


Growing up in the South, it was common to hear a mother reprimand her child by saying, “I brought you into this world and I can take you out of it.” This colloquialism, a paraphrase from a Gogol novel, might sound hyperbolic and even lighthearted, but after reflecting on its implications in the wake of a reignited national conversation about abortion, I’m not so sure. 

When you were a kid, you didn’t take your mom seriously when she casually threatened to kill you. If anything, you smirked and thought, “You wouldn’t dare.” But as a parent, the phrase doesn’t carry the same casual dark humor. It brings to mind the God-like position of the parent — a weary but romantic creator of existence; a life-giver and provider caught up in an infinitely complex relationship with a creation that is as equally destined to please as they are to disappoint. 

Moreover, it’s a statement (or threat or promise or sick joke) that humanizes God’s dilemma. The impulse to create (or procreate or re-create) is so powerful, so dangerous, and yet — for the vast majority of humanity — it cannot be avoided, and the result of that inevitability is the certainty of sorrow, grief, helplessness and pain. Of course, the flip side also exists: creating life guarantees joy, amazement, heightened maturity, and the most powerful sense of purpose a human can experience. 

But it’s not just one or the other: it’s a blessing and a curse, this burden-gift that accompanies the creation of life. No entity on earth or in eternity understands that more deeply than God and the woman faced with having a child. If anyone is tempted to gloss over God’s conundrum by suggesting he’s full of nothing but love, I would point them to all the passages that illustrate his wrath, fury and impatience with his creation. 

Perhaps no other portion of the Bible illustrates this more clearly than the Book of Job. A man’s life is destroyed, his family is slaughtered, and he becomes terminally ill — all within what seems to be a few minutes. Then, Job’s only remaining friends visit him and insist that this unthinkable tragedy must be his own fault. Meanwhile, all of this happens because God challenged Satan to a bet against a man God admits is essentially perfect. 

And after Job has the most epic existential crisis in the history of literature, God storms onto the scene and replies, essentially, “Excuse me — who do you think you’re talking to?” This retort is not a far cry from, “I brought you into this world and I can take you out of it.” 

Job, with what the writer Cynthia Ozick described as “lightning perception,” replies to God’s diatribe, “You’re right — I forgot who I was talking to.” 

God’s relationship with humanity (detailed at length in the text of the Bible, not the dogma that religion has sloppily retrofitted on top of the text) is unfathomably complex because God is the mother of his creation and God’s proxy on earth is the woman: only she has the absolutely unique ability (and drive) to create life. Despite certain trendy, demented claims that have crept into the cultural discourse lately, women — that is, adult human females — are the only creatures capable of creating life on God’s terms: “in his own image.” **

As such, every woman must have absolute and unquestioned control over whether or not she gives birth to a creation she is responsible for. To suggest otherwise is to minimize the distinctly feminine inheritance of the crucifixion-like experience of pregnancy and childbirth; to completely ignore her willful lifelong physical, mental and spiritual commitment to the anguish, bitterness, despair and sorrow that is naturally tethered to motherhood; and, finally, to fail to acknowledge that women are burdened and blessed as God’s direct proxies on earth. 

As the author of humanity, God possesses certain singular abilities that are innately connected to certain absolutes. Since he has the obligation to create, his freedom to destroy is beyond question; it’s self-evident. If a woman cannot claim the same authority, then her role as the creator and nurturer of life loses its divine significance. 

Clearing the Cobwebs

Let’s dispense with the false dichotomy of pro-choice versus pro-life. Both terms are designed to flatter their proponents and neither provide an accurate or principled stance on the issue of abortion. (Who really opposes individual liberty? Who is “against” life?) The positions of pro-abortion and anti-abortion provide a more useful characterization: if you believe women should have access to an abortion, you support it; if you think abortion should essentially be avoided at any cost, you’re opposed. 

Having bypassed the weaselly framing from both sides of the argument, let’s clear away the cobwebs that prevent us from seeing the debate more clearly.

On the one hand, there’s a compelling case against killing an unborn baby that is inarguably experiencing some phase of life. But this stance disregards the immeasurable, irreparable and potential lifelong trauma experienced by a child whose mother would rather have him dead than alive. Even if the abortion isn’t perceived by the mother as murder, at the very least the child would face the possibility of having a mother who doesn’t or didn’t want him. 

A woman experiencing doubt about the challenge of motherhood could certainly change with time and experience. However, it’s equally possible that the woman is simply not mother material. If you find this inconceivable, consider Jordan Peterson’s analysis of the damage caused by overbearing mothers, or Meryl Streep’s out-of-the-blue but dead-on observation, when asked about the danger of “toxic masculinity,” that “women can be pretty f—ing toxic,” too. Or, you could speak with someone who either recognizes or is oblivious to the fact that their relationship with their mother has screwed them up for the rest of their life. 

Believe me — those people exist. 

On the other hand, one can’t exactly dismiss the counterargument that a woman has the essential right to do as she likes with her body and no form of government has authority over her personal decisions. While there are good faith arguments presented by this side, they do seem to exhibit a disturbing dismissal of the sanctity and preciousness of life, thereby reverting to bad faith arguments that fail to address the central objection voiced by their opponents. 

The claim that a woman’s rights cease to exist when it comes to the rights of an unborn baby has always struck me as ludicrous: the woman growing an unborn child is in an absolutely unique situation. How can individual rights apply to a unborn child whose livelihood depends completely on a cord of blood that connects him to his source of life? Claiming individual rights for an unborn child is a non-starter; an unserious diagnosis of the mother-child dynamic. 

Anti-abortionists tend to take issue with the murder of an innocent baby. Pro-abortionists refuse to acknowledge that point-of-view. As Dave Smith pointed out on a recent episode of his “Part of the Problem” podcast, if the classical liberal argument is “Safe, Legal, and Rare,” why should it be rare? This appears to be a devastating rebuttal to the “clump of cells” viewpoint. 

(Smith, a pro-life libertarian, further claims no pro-abortionist will explain the difference between a living unborn baby and a living born baby. The answer, which is so obvious it shouldn’t merit mentioning, is birth — that’s the main event separating the two. To suggest that pre-born and post-born babies are essentially the same is to ignore the dark-night-of-the-soul that a woman endures in order to finally bring her baby into the world. Birth is the demarcation, and the so-called “pro-life” anti-abortionists want to view it as just another semi-noteworthy step in the fetuses’ journey into the world.) 

What’s more galling is how a portion of pro-abortionists gravitate toward radical enthusiasm for — even celebration of — a procedure that, only a blink ago, was framed as something that should be “rare.” It’s no wonder that radical pro-abortionists’ political affiliation has been deemed by pundits to be a Death Cult. 

While advocates want to disregard the fact that abortion kills a living baby, anti-abortionists want to disregard the overwhelming challenges faced by the child who didn’t request life and the woman who didn’t want to become a mother. Neither argument acknowledges a complete and comprehensive understanding of the central problem.  

Wisdom is needed, and wisdom can be found in Solomon’s judgment in the case of the prostitutes who argued over two babies — one dead, one alive. The first prostitute claimed that the other stole her living baby after she killed her own in her sleep. (It’s unclear whether or not the death of the child was accidental or intentional, but I think one explanation is more likely than the other.) The other prostitute claimed the opposite. 

“What are we to do?” Solomon said. “This woman says, ’The living son is mine and the dead one is yours,’ and this woman says, ‘No, the dead one’s yours and the living one’s mine.” 

So the king said: “Bring me a sword. Cut the living baby in two — give half to one and half to the other.” 

Without realizing it, both women gave up their true identities. 

“Oh no, master! Give her the whole baby alive,” said the real mother. “Don’t kill him.”

But the liar — the bad mother; the woman who smothered her own newborn and then stole another baby to replace him — said, “If I can’t have him, you can’t have him — cut away!”

As always, the answer is in the Big Book; it contains wisdom in the form of stories that are more real and more relevant than history itself. It doesn’t matter if they’re fact or fiction because the text overflows with higher truths; insights into the fabric of reality that eclipse cheap dogma and the outdated restrictions that religious systems seek to impose. 

The bad mother is capable of acts of evil and depravity that go far beyond abortion — a relatively humane act compared to the alternative. 

Uncommon Abilities, Uncommon Rights

If Solomon’s wisdom is applied and Christ’s words are true, then everyone must be permitted to sin or “miss the mark.” This applies to everyone in general but to women in particular because they carry the unique burden of creating life. Of course that burden is counterbalanced by the blessing of creating life: anti-abortionists tend to focus more on the latter and downplay the former and pro-abortionists take the opposite approach.

But the burden is laid out explicitly in Genesis, when God tells Eve, “I’ll multiply your pains in childbirth; you’ll give birth to your babies in pain.” This translation isn’t totally accurate. The word “pain,” etseb in Hebrew, means more than just the kind of physical pain a woman experiences during labor. It signifies hurt, toil, sorrow, labor, and hardship. 

One commentator writes:

It connotes a deep grieving or sorrow of spirit and can also be translated sorrow, and probably should be in this case. The root from which it is taken [means] physical, mental, and spiritual anguish ranging from sorrow to bitterness or despair, to feeling disgust, trouble, turmoil, indignation, even terror. It is used less of physical pain than of mental pain. Women have brought children into the world when they knew they could not provide for them, when they had no say in their lives or what would happen to them. Even in the best of times there is pain and sorrow in raising children.

Adam Clarke, writing in the 19th century, noted that the Hebrew makes the woman’s condition even worse than it sounds: “multiplying I will multiply; i.e., I will multiply thy sorrows, and multiply those sorrows by other sorrows. … And this curse has fallen in a heavier degree on the woman than on any other female” [emphasis his].

Any mother who is honest with herself will recognize these characteristics as hallmarks of motherhood. Indeed, it’s a critical component of the incomparable bond that mothers share with their children. 

A 2017 study sought to build upon previous theories by using a neuroimaging analysis to prove that “brain regions associated with empathy are dramatically reconfigured after pregnancy in a mother’s brain.” In other words, mothers experience “high-self overlap”: when they imagine their children in a distressing situation, they literally experience that stress. (The noteworthy exception, of course, was narcissistic mothers, who did not exhibit the same capacity for empathy.)

No sane person would argue that having children doesn’t provide a woman with indescribable joy and the most powerful sense of purpose. However, according to the Bible, the lived experiences of many, countless anecdotal truths, and science, it comes with a heavy cost — as do all things that provide one with a sense of meaning (cf. Jordan Peterson: “Pick up the heaviest weight you can and carry it”). 

Since the challenge of motherhood entails a lifelong burden, a burden that’s magnified incredibly for the mother and the child if the woman is so adamant about not giving birth that she would have an abortion, then society is obliged to allow the woman that right. Or, at the very least, not impede her pursuit to do with her body and her unborn child as she sees fit. 

If we take the Bible as seriously as we should, then we ultimately turn to the words and actions of Christ — companion to prostitutes, “tax men and other disreputable characters.” While one can make the compelling argument that a woman should not kill her unborn baby, the anti-abortionist is hard-pressed to find a Biblical basis for petitioning the government to instate a policy preventing abortions. 

Christ never advocated for government intervention as a means for preventing sin. Instead, he encouraged the voluntary shunning of wrongdoing: “Go your own way,” he told the woman who was nearly stoned to death after being caught cheating on her husband. “From now on, don’t sin.”

It seems Christ, who was executed by a malevolent government so easily swayed by a deranged mob, may be the least likely figure to support policymaking as a means to prevent sin. 

The anti-abortionist would also have his work cut out for him if he argued that abortion is wrong from a religious standpoint. While he could make any argument based on the dogmatic (i.e., manmade) doctrines which sprang from religious tendencies, Christ does not appear to strongly support religion. Quite the contrary: he reserves his harshest rebukes for the so-called religious people in his community, calling them “hopeless … frauds … double-damned [and] stupid,” pointing out their “arrogant stupidity … ignorance [and] ridiculous hairsplitting.” He called them “snakes and reptiles” whose “insides are maggoty … all rotting bones and worm-eaten flesh.”

In other words, the trusted religious establishment of his day were hopelessly, demonically corrupt; arguably more corrupt than the government that carried out his heinous execution. 

There is no record of Christ attacking a government building or rallying people to demand more equitable laws on behalf of human rights or social justice. He did, however, violently tear apart a church, a place where he was sure to find the largest concentration of thieves, criminals and hypocrites. 

So when Christians attempt to make an anti-abortion argument based on their religious view, or support government policy as an approach to preventing abortion, they may be approaching the issue from a good faith position. However, that approach is disconnected from the reality that the Bible lays out and is divorced from anything Christ said or did. 

Even a cursory reading of the text would suggest the only way for a person to avoid sin is to have a radical change of heart and spirit. Any position that supports change via legislative policy would enforce behavior instead of allowing the liberty to change at the individual level when that individual is organically moved to do so. Any position that seeks change via religion relies on the broad conversion to a group or institution instead of a personal and profound reorientation of outlook. 

Hence, the only persuasive argument available to the anti-abortionist is that an expectant mother should not kill her unborn child. The appropriate rebuttal to this is, No, of course she shouldn’t. Nevertheless, if she so chooses, that decision should not be hindered. Of all the autonomies that should be valued, a woman’s autonomy over giving birth or not giving birth overrules all. Hers is, paradoxically, the most vulnerable, the most valuable, and the most powerful in that she possesses the ability to carry, create, and nurture life. 

In the final analysis, what the pregnant woman chooses to do with her unborn child is between her and God — not just because we all must answer to God, but because, for her in particular, she has a more intimate and visceral understanding of God’s need to create as well as his temptation to destroy. 

If she chooses to abort, perhaps she will one day regret her decision. If she does, she might eventually choose to give birth. If not, then she will have to account for her decision before God. 

When God planned to slaughter an entire city of people in Genesis — both the good and the bad — Abraham intervened, saying, “I can’t believe you’d do that, kill off the good and the bad alike as if there were no difference between them.”

Then, he added a devastating critique of God: “Doesn’t the judge of all the Earth judge with justice?”

Checkmate.

Christ: “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults — unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own.” 

Judgement belongs to God: not the fledgling government who meddles and monkeys with our transient society, not the anti-abortionists who think unborn children should be born regardless of their potentially detrimental quality of life thereafter, and not the pro-abortionists who conveniently ignore the fact that a life is being extinguished in a manner that can only be considered brutal. 

Only women — paradoxically weak yet strong; suppressed yet powerful; predisposed to empathy almost as equally as they are to cruelty; determined to create yet fully capable of destroying — can fully understand God’s dilemma. Therefore, they must have uncommon, guaranteed rights to protect their uncommon strengths. 

God of Wrath, God of Love, and the Redeemer

I’ve waded deep into the waters of both sides of this argument. Before my red-pilling and shortly after my relatively effective liberal arts collegiate indoctrination, I was a milquetoast “pro-choice” type. I didn’t know what that meant. I just knew that’s what I should believe and support. 

I never had a secondhand experience with abortion or childbirth. None of my girlfriends had an abortion (that I know of). I didn’t have any family members or close friends who had that experience (that I know of). Nor did I have any close friends, family members or girlfriends give birth. Without any personal experience, I had little to offer to the somewhat muted discourse other than the sanctioned point-of-view I had been taught to hold. 

But witnessing the birth of my two children changed that. I had a more powerful understanding of the preciousness and frailty of life — not to mention the sheer miracle of birth. My wife’s ability and eagerness to create life, and her ongoing instinctive response to nurture that life, has been nothing short of intoxicating. Walking alongside her through two pregnancies, births, and the early stages of the parenting experience was more than enough to help me understand why the anti-abortionists were so adamant about the need for children that weren’t even theirs to be born no matter what. 

I remember getting into the middle of a back-and-forth between Ian and Tim on IRL about the topic in the fall of 2021. Ian wanted to know why anyone would care what someone else chooses to do with their bodies. 

At the time, absolutely floating between the personal experiences of having one child and expecting the next, I said something like, “You can’t understand it until you experience it. That’s the only way you’ll know.” 

I’m still sensitive to the arguments of anti-abortionists who have experienced pregnancy, birth, and parenthood. Folk wisdom tells us it’s hard to argue with a fellow who has a story, and that is well said. When a colleague of mine defends his anti-abortionist view with a story involving time spent with tiny newborns in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, I don’t have a meaningful rebuttal. 

However, at the same time, when a mother, having passed through the crucible of birthing and parenting small children, stills maintain pro-abortionist views, it might be because she has an intense understanding of the demands and challenges associated with creating life. Real parenting has a way of knocking any Pollyanna preconceived notions out of your head. It might be the most radical waking up any adult can experience, which is why it’s a critical step on the road to maturity. 

If becoming a mother brings a woman closer to understanding God, then killing an unborn child brings a woman closer to understanding the brutality that God is capable of. Both motherhood and violently declining motherhood after conception are acts patterned after God’s behavior. Yes, God is love, but God is also a mass-scale destroyer. Lest we forget, he flooded the entire world and has vowed to destroy it once again with fire. 

The reconciliation of these two aspects of God — the creator-destroyer — is Christ, who redeems evil and offers life that transcends death. In the absence of the extreme change of heart and spirit that only Christ can provide, the pregnant woman is left with the opportunity to either create or destroy; to embrace the role of a God of love or a God of wrath. This responsibility is her gift and her curse. Her inescapable position empowers and enslaves. 

Unlike God, faced with Abraham’s shocking rhetorical question, the pregnant woman has zero obligation to “judge with justice.” Rather, she possesses the unique capacity to kill or create. If she chooses the former — due to the liberal culture she has inherited, her deep misgivings about motherhood, the simple fact that she’s not suited to care for a child, or any combination thereof — future experiences could very well lead her to redemption. Preventing the possibility of abortion beforehand could interrupt that journey toward redemption and that might be the greater crime. 

If, however, the unique sin of killing an unborn baby is permitted, the woman arguably has a stronger chance of evolving. If she declines to evolve, well, God will be her judge, not the equally sinful crowd shouting at her from all directions.  

**All direct quotes from the Bible are taken from Eugene H. Peterson’s THE MESSAGE REMIX: The Bible in Contemporary Language, NavPress, 2006

*For corrections please email [email protected]*

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