05/07/2022 02:43 AM
On the heals of the outstanding
news that Roe v. Wade may soon be overturned in the
United States by the Supreme Court, there's an interesting connection that, for Christians,
strengthens the pro-life argument in
surprising ways that I've been wanting to write up for a long time. If you are not a Christian
or a Jew, what I have to share here is probably of little significance to you. But you are
welcome to read it anyway.
There seems to be an uncomfortable connection between hell and an *extremely* similar concept
to abortion and seems to *inform* and *charge* God's judgment for evil and Jesus' references to
hell in the Bible. (Quick note: This is NOT a claim that people who have had abortions or pro-choicers
are in going to hell, or anything like that. I'm just trying to reveal what I think the heart
of God is -- or more to the point here, is *NOT*)
Here's where we're going, **strength** and *emphasis* mine:
“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘*You shall not murder*, and *anyone who murders will be subject to judgment*.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And *anyone who says*, ‘You fool!’ *will be in danger of the fire of* ***hell***."
- Jesus, in Matthew 5:21-22
Jesus, speaking here in a section where He "turns up" the common teachings Israel already had, said that murder, of course, is wrong ... in fact, even saying "you fool" is also wrong and puts one "in danger of the fire of hell."
**But what does He mean by hell?** Most Christians think of hell only as a place of judgment for those who reject Jesus and therefore are punished for their sin. And while I personally think that's accurate, I think Jesus is doing something much more interesting here, and relevant to abortion.
In Greek, the original language of the New Testament, the word "hell" is translated from the word G*ehenna (*Γέεννα*)*. Gehenna is really not a Greek word, though, for hell or for anything else. It's actually a Hebrew/Aramaic name of a place that was transliterated into the Greek language. It's referring to a valley just south of Jerusalem's central hills Zion and Moriah: The Valley of Hinnom, or in Hebrew גֵּיא הִנֹּם "Gei-hinnom."^(1) And that place has incredibly significant meaning in the Hebrew Bible for both Christians and Jews.
Israel, being a desert region then, as it is now, lacked frequent rain. Little rain means little crops. Little crops means hunger, discomfort, and disease. Inconvenience. Personal suffering. This was a particularly strong reason the Israelites frequently fell into the worship of Ba'al. ("Ugaritic records show Ba'al as a weather god, with particular power over lightning, wind, rain, and fertility."^(2))
Of course, the predominant form of worship in the ancient world was animal sacrifice. But history and the biblical record show Israel turned remarkably and disturbingly *desperate* at certain times. (Ba'al, apparently, wasn't helping quickly enough.) They thought he required more than animals. *So they started sacrificing their own children.* Let's watch this unfold in Jeremiah 19:1-8
, **strength** and *emphasis* mine:
**1** Thus says the LORD, “Go, buy a potter's earthenware flask, and take some of the elders of the people and some of the elders of the priests,
**2** and go out to the Valley of the Son of Hinnom at the entry of the Potsherd Gate, and proclaim there the words that I tell you.
**3** You shall say, ‘Hear the word of the LORD, O kings of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem. Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I am bringing such disaster upon this place that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle.
**4** Because the people have forsaken me and have profaned this place by making offerings in it to other gods whom neither they nor their fathers nor the kings of Judah have known; and **because they have filled this place with the blood of innocents**,
**5** and **have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons \[children\] in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal**, which I did not command or decree, *nor did it come into my mind*—
**6** therefore, behold, days are coming, declares the LORD, when this place shall no more be called Topheth, or the *Valley of the Son of Hinnom*, but *the Valley of Slaughter*.
**7 And in this place I will make void the plans of Judah and Jerusalem, and will cause their people to fall by the sword before their enemies, and by the hand of those who seek their life. I will give their dead bodies for food to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the earth.**
**8 And I will make this city a horror, a thing to be hissed at. Everyone who passes by it will be horrified and will hiss because of all its wounds.**
So there's fire in Gei-hinnom (the Valley of Hinnom, translated "hell" in the New Testament). But who lit it? Notice, it wasn't God! He actually said the evil they were doing when THEY lit the fires *never even entered into His mind*.
WE (humans) lit the fires of Gei-hinnom, to pass our children through the fire as a sacrifice, hoping for rain -- better conditions for ourselves and any other children. In pursuit of convenience, quality of life, personal prosperity (one less mouth to feed!), we lit the fires of Gei-hinnom to kill our children.
God's response: This would become the place He brings the guilty back to see their destruction. This will be a sign to all who see it. And the name of that very place, Gei-hinnom, where humans sacrificed their children for rain (which to a desert community means convenience and prosperity), became the VERY word Israel's prophets and later Jesus used to talk about how God would deal with human evil -- even in this life. (This isn't about burning people in fire; it's about our wickedness being turned back on ourselves which may not wait until our own death.)
TLDR; The place where children were sacrificed for the convenience of the parents in the Hebrew Bible became the word the Bible, Israel's prophets, and later Jesus used to talk about hell and how (and maybe where!) God would deal with all evil. Child sacrifice at the hands of their parents is the origin of the biblical idea of hell. Said another way, according to the Bible hell, the ultimate place of dealing with evil, is a direct result of parents killing their own children, which must have been viewed as the ultimate evil -- *because it didn't even enter into God's mind*. Those who did it were responsible for kindling hell's fire.
**It's right here, when this point is understood, that men and women of faith have been most likely to admit their pro-choice position is wrong and perhaps may lean away from pro-choice thinking. For the first time, they realize there may be more to think about than they originally thought.**
I hope you found this both helpful and interesting.
1 - https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Valley_of_Hinnom_(Gehenna)
2 - Wikipedia, referencing Herrmann, Wolfgang (1999a), ["Baal"](https://books.google.com/books?id=yCkRz5pfxz0C&q=Ba%27al), in [Toorn, Karel van der](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karel_van_der_Toorn); Becking, Bob; [Horst, Pieter Willem van der](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pieter_Willem_van_der_Horst) (eds.), [Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, 2nd ed.](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dictionary_of_Deities_and_Demons_in_the_Bible), Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, pp. 132–139)