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.