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Born of Water

John 3:5-6

Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

People generally take these verses one of two ways. One group believes that someone “born of water and the Spirit” is someone “born of the Spirit” because, to them, the phrase “born of water” refers to baptism. The other camp believes that the phrase “born of water” refers to physical birth, and water alludes to the amniotic fluid that surrounds a fetus inside the womb and bursts from a mother ready to give birth.  According to people of this mindset, to be “born of water” is to “be born of flesh”, and I share this belief.

People have written exhaustively in defense of both of these viewpoints, and I don’t feel compelled to defend my point of view. If you really care to know, pages 316-325 of the book Lectures in Theology by  Bennett Tyler and Nahum Gale published in 1859 defend it more eloquently than I ever could on my own. You can find it here http://books.google.com/books?id=Y6UMAAAAIAAJ&lpg=PA97&ots=fgXWgMT8-z&dq=nahum%20gale&pg=PA317#v=onepage&q=born%20of%20water&f=false for free. I might summarize it in the next post, but for now I just want to say that this interpretation suggests that the unborn cannot enter heaven.

According to that interpretation, during Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus, he mentions the requirement of two births three times, four times if you include verse 6. This provides extra fodder for the debate over where life begins and the debate over abortion, and either side could use it to bolster their argument. However, I can’t think of an argument based on this interpretation that could entice either camp to change their way of thinking. I have a stance on this, but I think focusing on that stance misses the point. Although I do believe debates over abortion have merit, I think a well-adjusted, thoughtful person would care more about how to keep women from having to make that choice than whether the legal right to make that choice should exist (I say life instead of human life intentionally).

Whether you feel that engaging in sexual intercourse without intending to procreate is immoral or that engaging in sex solely for pleasure is healthy, I don’t think anybody wants to bear the social cost of  other people’s unwanted pregnancies that could have been prevented through abstinence or the use of contraceptives. I don’t understand why people who believe sex outside of marriage is immoral would want people who commit immoral acts raising children they don’t want especially if those same pillars of society will do literally nothing to help that child become a righteous person except trying to achieve the reasonable goal of reshape the laws of this country to reflect their belief system. I also don’t understand and haven’t met a responsible adult who thinks sex is a great thing you should do often who also believes people should engage in a behavior if they can’t own up to all of the potential consequences. It’s like telling someone without the ability to pay off a loan to buy a house because it’s a great investment. It just makes sense to employ all of the tools available to prevent fertilization of an egg so maybe that the number of unwanted pregnancies can one day be so small that we are willing to bear the cost.

Miscellaneous Thought:

This thing went pear shaped on me. I was actually thinking of using that verse to try to bolster my stance on where life begins before I realized, while trying to write this post, that it was a stupid, stupid idea. So I decided to write something that I could make a good argument for without having write pages on the subject, cite scientific and religious authors who agree with me, and ultimately fail to do anything to move people entrenched in their stances. So if the shift in focus from religious to political was jarring, it wasn’t my original intent, but I think what I wrote has the potential to be more fruitful than what I originally wanted to write.

Also in my mind, pear-shaped is a ridiculous term that I don’t think I’ll ever use seriously. Additionally, the amniotic sac entry on wikipedia has a pretty raw picture of someone pulling the amniotic sac out of a woman. I honestly didn’t expect it to look so sac-like.

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Categories: Faith, Politics
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