The Christian Legacy of Standing for Life

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

Psalm 139:14

Before Christianity, the idea that all humans were created of equal value and were worthy of life, dignity, and respect in equal degrees was not a concept practiced in any significant way by any major worldview. One of the clearest areas this was seen was in the historic practice of infanticide, the global phenomenon of the normalization of mass murder of infants. Infanticide was a normal and universally accepted part of Roman and Greek society in the days of Jesus. Infants could be killed for any number of reasons using often brutal and torturous means of death. Children who were born with disabilities or particular frailties were most often candidates for death. Major Roman philosophers such as Seneca and Cicero promoted infanticide as a necessity for removing abnormal or unwanted children from society. The practice was so widely practiced that Polebius went so far as to blame the decline in Greece’s population on the practice.[1] What’s more, infanticide was not only a regular part of Greco Roman society, but was largely practiced by cultures and society’s all around the globe including: India, China, Japan, Brazil, and even among the Eskimos.[2]

There are two fundamentally important points to outline before going any further. First, though most modern Western ears are repelled by the idea of mass killings of infants, this was not necessarily a repelling idea to those living in these cultures at those times. Infanticide was simply a part of life. Secondly, infanticide was an orthopraxy (consistent practice) that arose from the orthodoxy (consistent thinking) of these false worldview of the time. In other words, the practice of infanticide was a direct ethical implication of the underlying worldview of these various cultures.

When Christianity, rooted in the teachings of Jesus and Biblical scriptures, emerged into first century Roman culture, Christians uniformly stood against infanticide. According to the Christian worldview, every human being is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). Christians were directed by the Scriptures explicitly to “pursue justice” and to courageously care for the disenfranchised (Micah 6:8, James 1:27). The Christian worldview demands that a person’s worth or value is not determined by what house they are born into, the pigmentation of their skin, the size of their bank account, their level of development or deformity, location of life—whether inside or outside the womb, or any other external factor. Christianity demands that no favoritism be shown to the poor or to the rich, but rather that justice must be executed equally for all (Leviticus 19:15). These might sound like obvious statements that everyone agrees with to our modern ears, but we must note that everyone agrees with it today because Christianity won the argument in history and set our new precedent. As a result of these Christian moral foundations, the early Church fathers stood uniformly against infanticide, and early Church Christians as a whole were willing to do something about it.

In Roman society, infanticide was often practiced using a mechanism known as Infant Exposure. In Infant Exposure, an unwanted child was simply exposed to the elements and left to die in heaps along the road or on the outskirts of a garbage dump. The practice of infant exposure came to a screeching halt as a result of Christians, standing firmly and consistently on their Christian worldview, determining to change the fabric of the society around them. Unwilling to let such an evil continue, Christians opened their homes and lives and adopted children literally off the streets, raising them as their own children. Infanticide was officially outlawed only after Christianity had so spread throughout the Roman empire that the general consensus of the nation had agreed upon its wickedness and on Christianity’s superior ethic on the subject.

Nearly two millennia later most nonChristians in the west read of Infant Exposure and consider it a stain upon human history. What must realized yet again, is that the reason infant exposure is considered a stain upon human history is because the Christian worldview of dignity-for-all grew to become the basis for Western civilization. Dignity-for-all did not exist until Christianity offered it to the world. In terms of actual human history, it was only the Christian worldview that was able to provide the necessary preconditions to arrive at such a noble ethic. Christianity provided an entire new basis for understanding humanity. It demanded that every person be considered a full person with unique inalienable rights as an image bearer of God. As a holistic worldview, it not only provided the moral framework for ending infanticide, but simultaneously provided the faith-filled personal courage to selflessly and sacrificially solve the problem by being the solution and adopting thousands of children despite threats of death and persecution for such behavior. Yes — Around the globe, Christians have always lead the way in adopting children.

One does not have to look far to discover the modern reemergence of the normalization of infanticide among our population. Infant Exposure was a normalized method of taking the life of an unwanted child after it was born. Abortion is now a normalized method of taking the life of an unwanted child before it has been born (or in the case of partial birth abortion, while it is partially born). The legalization of abortion in any nation is the declaration that a nation considers infanticide societally acceptable and morally permissable. Rather than leaving our youngest and most vulnerable along the side of the road, exposing them to the elements in such a way that the general public must watch the slow death take place, we now abort our unwanted children in the privacy of hospital settings where the gruesome reality of painful death by decapitation and dismemberment can be hidden from the public’s eyes. Fundamentally, the practice is no less grotesque or morally reprehensible than infant exposure.

As with the first century, Christians are at the tip of the spear of the battle to declare that all humans are made in the image of God, even those in the womb. Christians are courageously working to change laws, protect life, adopt children, care for women with unplanned pregnancies, and overall demonstrate to a watching society that every human being truly is made in the image of God and is therefore worthy of life, dignity, and respect. They are doing all of this under intense pressure and hate speech from every direction. If ever you want to see this hate speech and demonic anger up close and personal, I invite you to come join me at the local abortion clinic when we attempt to save lives and care for women.

Infanticide in the first century was an ethical output of the underlying presuppositions of the Roman worldview which did not believe in equality of people nor in the fundamental right to life. In the same way, our modern form of infanticide, what we call Abortion, is a necessary ethical output of the underlying presuppositions of atheistic and postmodernistic worldviews which are unable to provide meaningful grounds for the idea that all human beings are worthy of dignity, life, and respect. Postmodernity prioritizes the fullest expression of one’s true inner-self as the great expression of morality. According to the postmodernist, an unexpected child growing in a woman’s womb is often considered a threat to those parent’s fullest expression of themselves. I read of one woman who got an abortion because the baby would hinder her “beach body” during the summer months, and I’m sure she’s not the only one. The newly created child will function as another of Rousseau’s chains hindering and limiting one’s pursuit of self authenticity. Therefore, what is truly good and what ought to be celebrated, according to the postmodernistic ethic, is the courage to do what must be done in order to secure one’s path towards self discovery, even if that means taking the life of the human standing in one’s way.

Most postmodernists and atheists who stress ‘a woman’s right to choose’ are unwilling to engage in meaningful dialogue around the folly of their own worldview. Like the the average first century Roman who believed Infant Exposure was just a normal way of life, modern society has grown accustomed to the new normal of infanticide by abortion and numb to the inconvenient truths of what is actually happening in a womb as a child grows, and what truly takes place during an abortion. No serious student of the Bible or of the vast amount of peer reviewed scientific literature can deny the humanity of the child in the womb. It is only by elevating a new set of moral principles driven by the murky foundations of the post-modernistic pursuit of self-authenticity or the atheistic pursuit of might-makes-right that one could possibly believe it is morally acceptable to kill a living child for no other reason than personal desire.

Once again it is Christianity that serves as an unchanging anchor for our modern morally confused society. It is Christianity that provides the necessary foundational truths that all people are worthy of life, dignity, and respect. It is Christians following the way of Jesus that are radically stepping into the gap for those who cannot speak for themselves, in this case the unborn. This is the unpopular minority-corner that Christians have always held. The Christian awaits with eager anticipation, the day in the future when the West once again awakens to the horrors of this modern infanticide. We are willing to endure great harassment in order to faithfully labor towards that end. And more importantly, we are willing to open our homes to the many orphans who Christ our savior has called us to love selflessly.

Unlike the caricature painted of Christians by modern mainstream media, Christians are incredibly consistent, thoughtful, and historically impactful in their approach to this topic. We stand upon a rich legacy of men and women, anchored in Jesus Christ, who have fought the good fight to stand for life. We stand upon an ancient heritage of mothers and fathers who sacrificially opened their hearts and homes to care for orphan among us. We rest in the knowledge that it is both the Christian worldview and Christians themselves who have gone around the world caring for women and mothers in need, building hospitals and health clinics in order to care for those who society has forgotten, built schools for education, and created legal systems to honor God’s vision of justice. So yes, Christians are profoundly and unwaveringly Pro-Life. There is no need for nuance about it. Here we stand.

[1] Schmidt, Alvin J. How Christianity Changed the World. United States: Zondervan, 2009.

[2] Scrimshaw, Susan C. M. lnfanticide in Human Populations: Societal and Individual Concerns in Infanticide: Comparative and Evolutionary Perspectives. New Yoric Aldine Publishing, 1984. Page 439.


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