LEVITICUS 12: HEALING FOR WOMEN THROUGH CHILDBIRTH AND ABORTION
The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 2 Speak to the people of Israel, saying:
If a woman conceives and bears a male child, she shall be ceremonially unclean seven days; as at the time of her menstruation, she shall be unclean. 3 On the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. 4 Her time of blood purification shall be thirty-three days; she shall not touch any holy thing, or come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purification are completed. 5 If she bears a female child, she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her menstruation; her time of blood purification shall be sixty-six days.
6 When the days of her purification are completed, whether for a son or for a daughter, she shall bring to the priest at the entrance of the tent of meeting a lamb in its first year for a burnt offering, and a pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering. 7 He shall offer it before the Lord, and make atonement on her behalf; then she shall be clean from her flow of blood. This is the law for her who bears a child, male or female. 8 If she cannot afford a sheep, she shall take two turtledoves or two pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement on her behalf, and she shall be clean.
In chapter 12, The Lord speaks to Moses the requirements for women who give birth. Because blood flows both during menstruation and through the placenta, a separation is required to show the division between life and death.
A woman is to remain in solitude for a week after giving birth to a son and two weeks after giving birth to a daughter. On the eighth day, a boy is to be circumcised but the woman waits an additional thirty-three days to be purified by means of a year-old lamb, or in the case of one who cannot afford a lamb, a pair of doves or pigeons. The sacrifice is a sin offering and burnt offering to make atonement for the woman and presumably to consecrate her for life and care of the new child.
A comparison is made between this time of separation and the woman’s menstrual period. In the flow of blood is life and death. Israel is instructed to avoid blood, not to consume it, and to enact ritual separation when one comes in contact with it. The division between life and death is important in the life of Israel. In blood is life but it also means death. As in the atonement, blood flows to redeem and give life, but a sacrifice and sprinkling of blood enacts it.
I’ve known many women who have had miscarriages. Those of you who have had miscarriages or stillbirths know the emotional, psychological, physical, and spiritual toll of losing a baby is great.
Abortion is also a tragic event in some women's and men's lives. Until publishing this blog post, only three people knew that I had an abortion when I was 18. I didn’t feel I had a choice and I didn’t know Christ so I didn’t have the strength or guidance of that relationship to help me. I was pressured to have an abortion and it wasn’t by the father. He never knew. Those who compel a woman to have an abortion should suffer from guilt and this kind of coercion should also be exposed as part of the sexual harassment #metoo movement.
But be aware, that it’s not only men who coerce women to have abortion. Sometimes it’s family members and sometimes it’s peers (the women/girls we confide in and trust).
At The Journey we speak about these things very carefully and God forbid not politically in ways that allow our Christian faith to be co-opted by political machinations. Abortion is first of all wounding and tragic and not first of all political. What if when I had an abortion, our laws did not protect me to ensure that it was safe? What if later in life, I couldn’t have my son, Aaron? What if I had died from complications? Instead, I later opened my heart to Christ and that sin was washed away and He healed me.
Today, we call on God's grace, mercy, love, and compassion to pour out on those who have succumbed to the pressure and had an abortion for any reason, and we believe God can heal you just as He healed me, where emotional, psychological, physical, and spiritual wounds may still exist. Give women and men the courage to speak out about their pain, their sin, their suffering, their rights, their joys.
I‘ve shared something deeply personal and wounding, but something God has cleansed me from through Christ. I invite all, especially women to comment here. Our conversation is open on the comments, and as long as you comment respectfully, your comments are welcomed.
Jo Morton teaches the Bible and occasionally preaches at The Journey. About the group of women she meets with for Bible study Sunday mornings, Jo says "they are my teachers, and I am the one student." Jo has courageously faced life issues very personally in teaching and has modeled a life of service for The Journey community. Contact Jo.