Nadia Bolz Weber

Nadia Bolz-Weber Asserts Life Begins at Breath

on January 18, 2019

As more Protestants increase their pro-life witness this week at the annual March for Life, Nadia Bolz-Weber, an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) pastor-turned-public theologian, is selectively ignoring the Scriptures to restyle abortion as a morally acceptable choice.

“[F]or a very long time, the Judeo-Christian thought held that life began with breath. In Genesis, it says that God breathed into dust to create humanity, that that was the moment that we had a living soul,” Bolz-Weber said during an interview with NPR’s All Things Considered.

“So this idea of life and breath being connected is something that people can sort of hold on to, if they still have an attachment to Judeo-Christian thought, and still allow for, hey, women need to be able to have the decision around family planning and whether they’re going to go through with a pregnancy or not,” she added.

Bolz-Weber is currently promoting her new book Shameless: A Sexual Reformation, which aims at “calling out harm that’s been done to people as a result of what the church has taught them about sex, body, and gender.” (We’ve covered Nadia’s ideas on the purity culture here before.)

While much of her interview focused on what she calls “sexual flourishing,” her comments on abortion were particularly disheartening. Bolz-Weber, who has had an abortion herself, holds that because God created man from dust, “that was the moment we had a living soul.” But citing God’s creation of the first man from dust is a very different creation process than God’s reproductive design. Plus, the Creation story does not end there.

Consider Genesis 1:27-28:

So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and sudue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

It is that key “in the image of God” part that Bolz-Weber conveniently leaves off of public radio. Whatever her motives, it seems deceitful to dismiss Genesis 1:27, since this is where Christianity’s understanding of the sanctity of human life stems. Every life matters because every life is created in the image of God. No matter how big, or how small. No matter our physical limitations, gender, race, or environments or geographical locations, all life is created in God’s image and is therefore precious.

Further, David, inspired by the Holy Spirit testifies that God is the giver of life even before we enter the womb. Psalms 139:13 reads:

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,
I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

That God as Creator miraculously knits us together in our mother’s womb and in His image and we are therefore blessed by him is awe-inspiring.

An expectant mother, if honest, can testify that life thrives in her womb long before first breath. At the moment of writing this, I am 21 weeks pregnant. Right now my unborn son is kicking, nudging, and fluttering about. On my fridge hangs a 3-D sonogram photo of him sweetly sucking his fingers. His eyebrows, lids, nose, and lips are distinct and he can practice swallowing.

But expectant mothers don’t even need sonogram images to tell us that unborn lives are precious. There is an innate awareness combined with Scripture’s confirmation that our unborn children are created by God and in His image.

Some folks I know might be quick to dismiss Bolz-Weber as an outlier or maybe even a heretic. But I believe this is an unhelpful response. The enormity of her influence is hard to ignore. And for that reason, her comments on abortion (among other theological aspects) are worrisome. Imagine how those who are unsaved hear statements like this from a Christian “public theologian,” and are sadly misled.

Right now thousands of pro-life Christians are filtering into Washington, D.C. for today’s March for Life, the largest pro-life demonstration in the world. Every year the march gathers young people, their parents, grandparents, adoptive parents, clergy, and post-abortive women who march along the National Mall in commemoration of the millions of lives lost to abortion. Sometime soon I pray that Nadia Bolz-Weber will be marching alongside of them.


  1. Comment by David on January 18, 2019 at 7:01 am

    Exodus 21:12 Death is the punishment for murder.

    21:22 “Suppose a pregnant woman suffers a miscarriage as the result of an injury caused by someone who is fighting. If she isn’t badly hurt, the one who injured her must pay whatever fine her husband demands and the judges approve. But if she is seriously injured, the payment will be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, cut for cut, and bruise for bruise.”

    Hittite Code
    #17 “If anyone causes a free woman to miscarry, [if] it is her tenth month, he shall pay 10 shekels of silver, if it is her fifth month. he shall pay 5 shekels of silver.

    Code of Hammurabi
    209. “If a man strike a free-born woman so that she lose her unborn child, he shall pay ten shekels for her loss. If the woman die, his daughter shall be put to death.”

    While abortion as we know it is not mentioned in scripture, we can take guidance from the Exodus and similar laws that predate it. If causing fetal death is not murder and not punished as murder, then the fetus is not the same as a born person. Science tells us that up to 75% of human conceptions are naturally aborted, often prior to the pregnancy even being noted. If you care to place the onus for this on God, then abortion is a divine activity.

  2. Comment by William on January 18, 2019 at 9:14 am

    And the internal combustion engine vehicle that I drive is not mentioned in Scripture as well, along with countless other things. But, a fatality as a result of an accident from a blown tire on that vehicle cannot be equated with someone INTENTIONALLY driving that vehicle over a pedestrian resulting in a fatality. Abortion is about INTENT, the INTENT and subsequent actions to take another human life. All the contorted, twisted rationale in the universe cannot erase the fact that an abortion is the intentional taking of another human life.

  3. Comment by Pastor J on January 18, 2019 at 12:40 pm

    Gee, and everyone eventually dies too. That must mean murder is a divine activity.

    Seriously, the argument that because miscarriages happen, that means God approves of abortion, is sand-poundingly stupid and morally vapid.

  4. Comment by David on January 18, 2019 at 5:58 pm

    What is held by some to be the Word of God differentiates between a fetus and born human. They are not equal and apparently not of the same moral worth. So, argue with the Bible, not me.

  5. Comment by Marco on May 17, 2019 at 9:42 am

    Excellent point, David!.
    Keep up the good work!

  6. Comment by Didaskalos on January 19, 2019 at 7:00 am

    [From an article entitled “What Exodus 21:22 Says about Abortion”]

    “. . .The relevant phrase in the passage, “…she has a miscarriage…,” reads w?yase û ye ladêhâ in the Hebrew. It’s a combination of a Hebrew noun, yeled, and a verb, yasa, and literally means “the child comes forth.” The NASB makes note of this literal rendering in the margin.

    The Hebrew noun translated “child” in this passage is yeled[4] (yeladim in the plural), and means “child, son, boy, or youth.” It comes from the primary root word yalad, meaning “to bear, bring forth, or beget.” In the NASB yalad is translated “childbirth” 10 times, some form of “gave birth” over 50 times, and either “bore,” “born,” or “borne” 180 times.

    The verb yasa is a primary, primitive root that means “to go or come out.” It is used over a thousand times in the Hebrew Scriptures and has been translated 165 different ways in the NASB–escape, exported, go forth, proceed, take out, to name a few. This gives us a rich source for exegetical comparison. It’s translated with some form of “coming out” (e.g., “comes out,” “came out,” etc.) 103 times, and some form of “going” 445 times. . . .

    Moses had words in his vocabulary that literally meant abortion or miscarriage, but he didn’t use them in Exodus 21:22. Instead, he chose the same word he used in many other places to signify a living child being brought forth.

    Yasa doesn’t mean miscarriage in the sense we think of that word. Instead, the combination of yeled with yasa suggests a living child coming forth from the womb. Nowhere else is this word ever translated “miscarriage.” Why? Because the word doesn’t mean the baby is still-born. It simply means the child comes out. . . .

    Yasa doesn’t mean miscarriage; it means “to come forth.” The word itself never suggests death. In fact, the word generally implies the opposite: live birth. If it’s never translated elsewhere as miscarriage, why translate it that way here?

  7. Comment by David on January 20, 2019 at 9:50 am

    The quoted article would have been more helpful if the actual other words for “miscarriage” were named. A few months ago, I encountered a news report that antiabortion groups were pressuring publishers to have the text of the verse in question changed to something more their liking. However, the Code of Hammurabi may aid in the interpretation of this verse. Much of the so-called Law of Moses is copied from from the code. This is not surprising as this was first set in writing in Babylon by the exiles. The various word usages in the Books of Moses show it was not the work of a single writer. I guess we should thank Shamash, the Babylonian god of justice, for this very early example of written law.

  8. Comment by Didaskalos on January 20, 2019 at 5:42 pm

    Well, maybe modern liberal scholarship disputes the authorship of the Pentateuch, but that view doesn’t fare too well under strict scrutiny : “There is a trend among scholars to view the Pentateuch as a literary unit again. Scholars are admitting that the way the books use common words, phrases and motifs, parallel narrative structure, and deliberate theological arrangement of literary units for teaching and memorization support viewing the five books as a literary whole.” [ Andrew Hill & John H. Walton, A Survey Of The Old Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1991), 81.]

    It would also be news to Jesus if Moses didn’t write the Pentateuch.

    “New Testament writers assumed that Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible. In Matthew 19:8 Jesus refers to laws regarding marriage in Deuteronomy and credits Moses with writing them. In John 5:46 Jesus says, “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.” (See 7:19 also.) In Romans 10:5 Paul states that Moses wrote the law. It would be hard not to attribute either deception or error to Christ and the apostles if Moses did not write the Pentateuch.

    “There are many other internal evidences that point to Mosaic authorship. The writer of Exodus gives eyewitness details of the event that only a participant would know about. The author of Genesis and Exodus also portrays remarkable knowledge of Egyptian names and places. This knowledge is evident even in the style of writing used. One scholar has noted that the writer used “a large number of idioms and terms of speech, which are characteristically Egyptian in origin, even though translated into Hebrew.”

    “Having received training in the most advanced literate culture of the day as well as having access to the Jewish oral tradition make Moses a remarkably able and likely candidate for God to use in documenting the founding of the Jewish nation.”

    These are the Hebrew words used in the OT for “miscarriage” and “abortion.”

    The noun nepel means “miscarriage” or “abortion,” and is used three times in the Old Testament.

    The verb sakal means “to be bereaved” and is used four times, including one time when it’s actually translated “abort.”

    As previously mentioned, yasa is used 1,061 times in the Hebrew Bible. It is never translated “miscarriage” in any other case. Why should the Exodus passage be any different?

  9. Comment by Rick Plasterer on January 20, 2019 at 7:16 pm


    If there is any doubt about the Bible clearly asserting the full humanity of unborn children, it is removed by Mary’s visit to Elizabeth (Lk. 1:39-45). Was it not John the Baptist who leaped in Elizabeth’s womb at the arrival of Mary, bearing Jesus? How does a non-person leap for joy (verse 44)? And is it likely that he only leaped for Mary, and not Jesus, conceived surely not more than a few weeks previously? Is it not obvious that Jesus and John the Baptist were present in their mothers’ wombs, not just living cells? And if the doctrine of the incarnation is taught in the Bible (as it clearly is), when does it say that God became man? Surely not at Jesus’ birth, when he took his first breath. Surely at the time of the Angel Gabriel’s annunciation to Mary. God spoke in Scripture at a time when people did not know all we do about conception and pregnancy, but he did speak of unborn children as human beings.


  10. Comment by Adrian on January 30, 2019 at 9:38 am

    “But if she is seriously injured, the payment will be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, cut for cut, and bruise for bruise.”

    “You have heard it said, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”

    In other words, two wrongs don’t make a right. Don’t stoop to their level.

  11. Comment by Brad on January 18, 2019 at 9:46 am

    I’m so thankful that I wasn’t aborted. I am grateful for the gift of life. It is a God-given gift. I pray others will see it that way, too. The scriptures say that those who teach will be held to a stricter standard. I hope so. For many are going to teachers who tell them what they want to hear instead of telling them the truth from God’s word. Blessings.

  12. Comment by Forrest on January 18, 2019 at 12:55 pm

    Why does anyone care what this narcissistic transsexual exhibitionist thinks?

  13. Comment by Robert Calhoun on January 30, 2019 at 9:07 am

    Well, apparently you do, Forrest. But maybe put more thought into engaging her argument and less into gross ad hominem.

  14. Comment by John on January 18, 2019 at 8:15 pm

    You’ve missed the point of your own citations. They all confirm that the unborn child has such cross-culturally recognized value that even an accidental termination deserves punishment. They all treat accidental termination of the unborn as a kind of manslaughter. And guess what — when manslaughter is deliberate, not accidental, then it’s murder.

  15. Comment by Palamas on January 19, 2019 at 12:16 pm

    Bolz-Weber’s thinking here is a joke. She has a pre-conceived idea (abortion is morally licit), and goes looking in Scripture for something, anything can be used to justify that idea. Commenter David, on the other hand, looks to the Hammurabi and Hittite Codes (!) as if they have any possible relevance to the issue.

    Whether abortion is labeled “murder” is not the issue. The issue is whether abortion is taking a human life, and not only do the passages Chelsen cites point to that, the biology is indisputable–there is nothing else the unborn child can be but human. Bolz-Weber’s pathetic attempt to evade the obvious science so that she can justify terminating innocent life isn’t a mark of a “public theologian,” it’s the mark of a Christian who has lost her way in her effort to appeal to secular society.

  16. Comment by Kirk on January 20, 2019 at 2:14 pm

    If abortion is the illicit taking of innocent human life, as you affirm, then it IS a question of murder, which is, by definition, the “the unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another”.

  17. Comment by Deana Burnham on January 23, 2019 at 3:15 pm

    What enormous cruelty to the unborn if one thinks of that issue alone. How gruesome! The poking and prodding, then the inhumane cutting of tender flesh, the snapping and breaking of bones! The shedding of the most human innocent blood! How could anyone knowingly, knowingly, enact such agony on the nervous system, psyche, and soul of their own child? We treat dogs we might not even like better than the unborn aborted life growing in the mother’s womb! God have mercy on us! Certainly more than is being shown, human to human. Lord have mercy!

  18. Comment by Ted R. Weiland on January 23, 2019 at 4:53 pm

    The battle against this atrocity begins with identifying it correctly. By calling it “abortion,” we’ve already acquiesced to the opposition’s terminology. Look up “abortion” and “miscarriage” in any dictionary. A miscarriage is an abortion. What doctors (and parents) do to infants in the womb is infanticide. Had Roe v. Wade been waged over infanticide rather than abortion, it would have never made it to the court room. In fact, by employing the word “abortion,” Roe v. Wade was won before it ever got to court.

    The Greek word “brephos” employed in the New Testament for infants already born is the same word used for infants in the womb (Luke 2:12 and Luke 1:41), without specifying the precise moment they became a “brephos.” Therefore, our only option is to then accept that they became such at conception. Thus, intentionally killing a brephos at any point is “brephocide” or, more properly, infanticide.

    The point being, we Christians need to stop using the non-Christians’ watered-down, politically correct terms such as “abortion” and “gay.” It’s infanticide and sodomy. There is no power in the former terms against evil and our first mistake is in acquiescing to the ungodly’s terminology.

    Listen to Part 1 of “Word Wars & Captive Thoughts” at

  19. Comment by Search4Truth on February 6, 2019 at 8:26 am

    Both Science and medicine agree that life begins at conception. The early abortionists don’t even disagree. It was the US Supreme Court that decreed no civil rights would be extended until after birth – a decision that many jurists have pointed to a logically flawed. Then there’s the passage in Jeremiah 15 where God tells the prophet that because of the sins of Manasseh that Jerusalem would be destroyed. And he didn’t kill nearly the number of innocents that we have sacrificed to our arrogance and the idol of MY rights.

  20. Comment by Eternity Matters on February 6, 2019 at 11:09 am

    Pro-abortion advocates often refer to a passage in Exodus 21 to support their views.

    When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman’s husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. (Exodus 21:22–25, ESV)

    The short version is that the key word of the passage is sometimes not translated well and says “miscarriage” instead of “children come out.” It you study the original Hebrew it becomes very clear that Moses did not mean that if the child is killed that the penalty is less severe.

    More here, with a listing of all the errors pro-aborts make with this passage:

  21. Comment by Eternity Matters on February 6, 2019 at 11:17 am

    Make no mistake: The “our jesus says you can kill children up to their first breath” view may shock even secular people, but the “Christian” Left preaches that loudly and proudly. They have no equivocation with their Molech-worshiping views.

  22. Comment by Neil Alan Simpson on February 6, 2019 at 11:29 am

    Weber had Graves Disease as a child. She got mad at God and has been out to get him ever since. Sad but predictable.

  23. Comment by Lori Blanchong on March 25, 2019 at 6:21 am

    You honestly believe when God witnesses a 3rd trimester abortion of a fully formed, moving, kicking, living creature being torn limb from limb and skull crushed….that He is perfectly fine with that?

    And btw…..I’m not looking at it from the Christian perspective. As we all know, there are those of all faiths as well as Agnostics and Atheists who believe in the sanctity of life.

  24. Comment by Joann Hollie on April 9, 2019 at 2:17 am

    I find it interesting people debate murder (abortion). The god “of choice” has grown considerably.

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