Thursday, March 09, 2006

Pro-life Context

Pro-lifers really annoy me. Their position has nothing to do with choice and everything to do with controlling women. What really annoys me is how they twist the text of the Bible around to support their beliefs. They take pieces of scripture completely out of context, giving it some supposed meaning that was never intended.. Let me give you an example of what I'm talking about from the guy who started this Ultimate Human Life Amendment, Dave Rogers.

“I am now giving you the choice between life and death, between God's blessing and God's curse, and I call heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Choose life.” Deuteronomy 30:19

Now isn't that a wonderful quote to end with? Here I am, Mr. Pro-lifer, and I am shown that God has actually asked me to choose life over death! I mean, WOW, God is telling me to be a Pro-Lifer! Isn't it all just grand?

First of all, he doesn't even quote the entire verse, but he makes it look like he did. The last sentence actually reads:

Choose life, so that you and your descendants may live (emphasis mine).
What's the harm? With a small bit of Biblical editing he has managed to stick the pro-lifers mantra into the Bible. Isn't that a bit disingenuous? Actually it's a lot more deceitful than that.

Secondly, after his long spiel about the "silent holocaust" he lays this small quote from the Bible on us. Why? It gives the impression that this is a passage where the Bible is specifically speaking on the issue of abortion and that God is asking us to choose life. But this passage has nothing to do with abortion. It has nothing to do with the issue Dave Rogers and his band of merry misogynists spend so much time and hate fighting against: a woman's right to choose.

Let me put this quote in context. It's one of the final chapters in the book of Deuteronomy. It's Moses' last hoorah before he dies--he's 120 years old for God's-sake!--and he's telling that crazy band of Israelites that they better follow all those crazy rules he brought them, like the one found in Deuteronomy 23:1

No one whose testicles are crushed or whose penis is cut off shall be admitted
to the assembly of the Lord.
Imagine that. You're walking into church and a guy says, "I'm gonna have to see your genitals, sir." Only after vigorously explaining to them that while it is small it has definitely not been cut off, they allow you to your seat. Or here's another winner from the great book of wisdom:

You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey yoked together (Deut. 22:10).
That might sound funny to you or me, but it was a constant problem in the ancient world. It wasn't common knowledge back then that if you yoked a donkey and an ox together they would explode. These are very big animals and the explosions can be quite traumatizing.

Last but not least I'll share a gem that even Kobe Bryant could appreciate:

If a man meets a virgin who is not engaged, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are caught in the act, the man who lay with her shall give fifty shekels of silver to the young woman's father and she shall become his wife.
Did you catch that? If a guy finds and rapes a virgin who is not engaged and they get caught all he has to do is pay the girl's dad 50 shekels, which is something like a pound of silver, and not only is he off Scott free, she becomes his wife!

Take a gander at the old book of Deuteronomy some time. It has some real doosies. My point, however, is that Mr. Rogers really takes this quote out of context. Choosing life in this instance means reducing our punishment for rape to a small fine and a free wedding to his rape victim. That's what Moses actually meant when he exhorts his tribesman to choose life, so that you and your descendants may live.

When you get a little context behind it, the last little part of the sentence makes a lot more sense. Moses has reminded these people about all these really kookie laws that he's brought them and he's saying, "Hey, if you follow these laws God will treat you well and you and your descendants will live long and prosper." The crazy thing, though, is that in all of these laws Moses brought down, not a one deals with abortion. But don't tell that to the nut in the picture above. He's got his eyes set on Roe and he doesn't care what the Bible really says.

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