And I thought the dead who are already dead more fortunate than the living who are still alive. But better than both is he who has not yet been and has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun.
The following is an edited transcript of the audio.
What would you say to someone who uses this passage to say that abortion is a better alternative than the life awaiting some babies?
1) The writer of Ecclesiastes, in speaking that way, is speaking the words of a despairing man, not a man of faith.
The book of Ecclesiastes is a difficult book to interpret. It's like Job. Job has 29 chapters of bad theology, inspired by God to be known as bad theology.
You've got Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar, and almost every time they open their mouths they're getting it wrong. Or they're saying something true and giving it a wrong twist.
That sort of thing is in the Bible. Inspired lies are still lies. They're just to be known as lies!
In the book of Ecclesiastes, statements of despair like this-about the meaninglessness of life-are not to be taken as a model. Like, "O, I guess life is despairing; so let's all either commit suicide or not let babies be born," or whatever.
It's an exegetical mistake, it sounds like, that this person is not really grasping how Ecclesiastes is meant to be taken. In the last chapter the sum of the matter is this: "Obey the commandments of God," because all the efforts that Solomon made had gotten him nowhere. This is bleak theology in Ecclesiastes, not admirable theology.
2) Even if you took it that way, it is not a warrant for murder!
You don't sin in order to spare a child from experiencing being sinned against. You don't kill a child because somebody might someday kill him. You're not God! We don't know!
OK, so we have a tragic situation here with a single mom with no resources. What hope does the child have? Infinite hope! God is God!
And we Christians shouldn't be devoting our efforts to think about how to get rid of such children, but rather how to step into those lives and help and care and provide hope for born children.
Copyright 2009 John Piper. Website: desiringGod.org