Despite the muddled arguments of progressive Christian groups and denominations (whose obfuscation with language is positively Orwellian), opposition to abortion and infanticide is not simply one position for Christians, it is the Christian position.
Oddly enough, it’s sometimes progressives who are most eager to move the culture backward.
As we reflect in horror at the utter callousness with which some persons and organizations speak of (not to mention crush) the tiniest humans, it’s worth remembering that the ancient world was unabashedly open to the killing of children. For starters, they had almost none of the sentimentality we have towards kids. There was no Disney, no summer camps, no play dates. Family life–even if there was such a thing–certainly did not revolve around children. In general, children, were useful at best, burdens at worst, and almost never coddled.
If there was one dominant fact regarding children in the ancient world it was their high mortality rates, especially among infants. Many newborns were stillborn or died in labor. Those who made it safely out of the womb often went hungry. There were too many mouths to feed and too little food. As a result, children were often abandoned, exposed to the elements, literally left on trash heaps to die. From 230 B.C. onward, the most common family in Greece was a one-child family. Families of four or five were rare. Some families might want two sons, but rarely would they want two daughters.
Unwanted children were disposed of, often sold into slavery. Others were aborted in the womb. Many more were simply killed as infants. Newborns were not considered part of the family until the father officially acknowledged them and received them into the house by religious ceremony. Consequently, ancient Greeks and Romans thought little of little babies and did not hesitate to get rid of them.
In the ancient world, it was uniquely the Jewish people who prohibited abortion and infanticide, the latter of which was not outlawed until Christianity took on a privileged place in the empire. Christians have always opposed killing children, whether infants outside the womb or infants inside the womb. The two were one and the same crime. “You shall not abort a child or commit infanticide,” commanded the Didache, a late first century church constitution of sorts. Despite the muddled arguments of progressive Christian groups and denominations (whose obfuscation with language is positively Orwellian), opposition to abortion and infanticide is not simply one position for Christians, it is the Christian position.
Jesus welcomed children when others wanted to push them away (Mark 10:13-16). He said the measure of our love for him would be measured by our love for children (Mark 9:36-37). He took the children in his arms as if to say, “Honor these little ones, and you honor me. Send them away because they are weak, socially insignificant, and bothersome, and you’ve demonstrated you don’t understand the values of the kingdom.”
As abortion is again in the public eye (though willfully ignored by major media outlets), let’s pray for our society to change its mind regarding the smallest and most helpless of its citizens. Let’s pray for the church to lead the way in protecting, honoring, and caring for children–not matter how unborn or unwanted. Let’s pray that every judge, politician, and doctor becomes convinced of the sanctity of unborn life and acts accordingly. Let’s pray for the flourishing of pregnancy centers and women’s clinics that provide an alternative to abortion. Let’s pray for the women contemplating such a tragic choice, and for the family members encouraging them in the wrong direction. Let’s pray for men to be men, to stop fooling around and to stop fleeing when they have. Let’s pray that hundreds of politicians, thousands of pastors, millions of would-be moms and dads, and 300 million hearts are gripped by a Jesus-inspired view of children.
Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world. Even the ones with an umbilical cord.
Kevin DeYoung has been the Senior Pastor at University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan since 2004. Kevin blogs at the Gospel Coalition. This article is reprinted with his permission.