Infanticide, Barbarism, and Idol Worship

Planned Parenthood Jesus

I recently read a Facebook comment which explained the Hebrew translation of Proverbs 12:10:

“A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.”

The writer of the comment claimed that the word “tender mercies” in the Hebrew was “racham” (H7356), and the actual meaning was “womb.” I looked it up in the Blue Letter Bible app and the word “womb” actually was the first definition. The second definition was “compassion.”

I’m not a Hebrew scholar, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the biblical word “womb” would be an appropriate translation for Proverbs 12:10, since I’ve been able to observe in my own lifetime how the further a society gets away from biblical belief, the more dangerous and cruel the womb becomes.

Unbelievably, I’ve watched the growing phenomena of couples choosing to have dogs instead of children, and over the last few decades I’ve seen moves to save everything from owls to whales, while it continues to be open season on babies in (and now even out of) the womb.

The New York legislature recently passed a law which would make abortion legal for all nine months if the life of the mother was endangered–something many ob/gyn doctors say is a false excuse–since the baby could be born alive and would never have to be aborted in that case. The people of New York even lit up the new World Trade Center to celebrate the occasion.

Seventeen days after Democrats in the U.S. Senate rejected the “Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act,” which would have demanded that aborted babies who were born alive be given medical treatment, those same Democrats introduced a bill supporting the humane treatment of kittens (“Kittens in Traumatic Testing Ends Now”). Governor Northam of Virginia received more outrage from Democrats over the blackface photo in his high school yearbook than he did over his support for infanticide.

I often wonder if the Democrats have any understanding of history. Do they realize how they are promoting things that were only overcome as a result of  the growth of Christianity? Do they understand how the rejection of the true God of the Bible will lead them far down the road to savagery, even if they live in clean and beautiful homes and drive new cars?

Both the Greek and Roman civilizations practiced infanticide. And yet, the Greeks and Romans were some of the most reasonable societies in history. They were brilliant at developing governmental structures, architectural advances, city planning, military strategy, philosophical thought, and advancing the arts–but it took Jesus to civilize them.

According to Plutarch, writing on the subject of superstition, the ancient Carthaginians sacrificed their children to Saturn. Poor parents would sell their babies for the purpose of sacrifice “witting and knowing they killed their own children . . . as if they were lambs, young calves, or kids, for the said purpose. At which sacrifice the mother that bare them in her womb would stand by without any shew at all of being moved, without weeping or sighing for pity and compassion.” [1]

The priests would threaten to not pay the parents if they showed any emotion. And to make sure that no sympathy could be mustered as the baby was roasted alive, “the place resounded and rung again with the noise of flutes and hautboys, with the sound also of drums and timbrels, to the end that the painful cry of the poor infants should not be heard.” [2] Human life was cheap in the ancient world. Those who were weak, deformed, or inadequate in any way were put out. Little girls were often thrown away because boys were preferred.

Plato and Aristotle both accepted infanticide as part of Athenian law. The Spartans also practiced infanticide, although the decision on whether or not to expose the child was left up to public officials. Roman law, the Twelve Tables, condoned infanticide if a child was deformed and even gave fathers the right to expose their infant daughters. Cicero, the Roman orator, would defend infanticide merely because it was the law, and Seneca stated, “we drown children at birth who are weakly and abnormal.” [3]

In a letter written by a man named Hilarion to his wife, the ancient attitude toward infanticide is captured: “I’m still in Alexandria . . . I entreat you and beg you to take good care of our baby son. As soon as I receive payment I’ll send it to you. If you go into labor and childbirth before I get back home, if it’s a boy keep it, if a girl discard it.” [4]

Exposed infants were often picked up and raised by slave traders who cared nothing for them. They were so worthless that they were even named after waste. The Cambridge Ancient History describes how little value ancient societies placed on their children:

In Egypt we know that children were exposed in local garbage pits, cesspools, and dumps where, in many cases, they were left to die. But these same venues could also serve as places where collusory acts of acquisition could be undertaken by parents and slave dealers. In fact, there woould seem to be a clear relationship between the “picked-up” children and a significant group of Egyptians who bore what are politely labeled “copronyms,” that is, names derived from the word κοπροδ [“shit”]. [5]

The Christian attitude toward infanticide didn’t proceed from the philosophers, statesmen, or pagan religions. It came from Jesus. While the evil King Herod would flippantly slaughter innocent little boys in order to rid himself of his competition (Matt. 2:16), the good King Jesus would embrace the innocents, saying, “Let the little children come unto me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matt. 19:14). This was a new ethic! It was revolutionary. Because of these words, the church would set itself to the task of saving exposed infants.

The New Testament doesn’t mention infanticide as a sin, but that could be because Jesus and the disciples lived in Israel where they didn’t allow babies to be exposed. In fact, the Jewish rejection of infanticide angered the Roman historian Cornelius Tacitus, who noted in his Histories that “it was a crime among them to kill any newly-born infant” and that it was just another of the many “perverse and disgusting” customs of the Jews. [6]

But even though infanticide isn’t mentioned in the writings of the apostles, the church carried on a particular ethic from the teachings of Jesus that inspired them to spread out among the ancient world and collect exposed babies and rear them as their own.

This ethic is expressed in the “Letter to Diognetus.” Speaking of the Christians, the writer says, “Like other men, they marry and beget children, though they do not expose their infants.” [7] The Didache, written around 100 AD, said, “Practice no . . . abortion, or infanticide.” [8] The “Epistle of Barnabus” says that followers of “the Way” should “never do away with an unborn child or destroy it after its birth.” [9]

This attitude would become further strengthened in the fourth century under the newly converted Emperor Constantine, who changed Roman law. The Theodosian Code would make it easier for poor people to keep their children by giving them money from the imperial treasury to care for the baby, and also entitled those who rescued a baby to have property rights over the child, allowing Christians to care for cast-off orphans.

Now, as biblical Christianity loses its influence, and is replaced by a new faith based only on human intellect and reason–which isn’t tethered to the wisdom of the sacred ancient words–we’re going right back to our inhumane ways. And not surprisingly, we’re driven to disobey the very first commandment that God gave to humanity:

“Be fruitful and multiply.” — Genesis 1:28

Psalm 127:3 tells us that children are a blessing from God.

“Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.”

And though we want prosperity from God, we toss aside the main thing that would cause our nation to prosper!

“A large population is a king’s glory, but without subjects a prince is ruined.”–Proverbs 14:28

Our unwillingness to be fruitful and multiply, and to appreciate children as a blessing from God, is disobedience. It’s a return to paganism. We may look more civilized, and do our rebellion in rooms that look scientifically sterile, but we are no different than the people of long ago.

In the ancient world, infants were expendable. They were regularly exposed to the elements, ravaged by wild animals, drowned, sacrificed, eaten by cannibals, or even left on top of a tower to starve or be eaten by predatory birds.

This sounds horrifying! But do I need to describe what WE do with our children? We cut them up, pull them apart limb by limb, suck out their brains, stab them in the neck, burn them in saline solutions, and leave them to die on cold metal tables. Afterwards, we put them in the trash, harvest and sell their body parts, or send them away to be incinerated. Can anybody argue that we aren’t as bad (or worse) than godless pagans?

Western civilization broke away from these types of pagan actions only as the gospel was preached. (Infanticide was found all over the world by the missionaries of the nineteenth century. It wasn’t until they brought the Word of God to the nations that infanticide stopped.)

The greatest evidence that a society is losing its Judeo-Christian ethic is in how it treats the “least of these.” In the 1960’s the United States began a rebellion against Christianity. It wasn’t long after the “Age of Aquarius” dawned that the sexual revolution was birthed and the Supreme Court legalized abortion in Roe v. Wade. Over 40 years later, the decline continues, expanding to LGBTQ rights and infanticide.

Those who oppose abortion (and now infanticide) have consistently been called “right-wingers,” implying that they are on the “far-right” side of the political spectrum–next to the Nazis. They’re made to look like tyrannical and hypocritical characters from the Handmaid’s Tale. (In fact, several “handmaids” in full costume showed up at Judge Kavanaugh’s senate hearing.) How pro-lifers can be made to look like they’re evil is Orwellian. After all, we are not the ones who are shedding INNOCENT BLOOD.

 

The acceptance of abortion was easier to justify since it’s done to babies who are barely formed and never seen, but infanticide is shocking because the baby is fully formed and out of the womb. Our acceptance of it reveals that we are returning to a time of brutality and harshness when society wasn’t civilized. It also reveals that we have left the true God and replaced Him with an idol.

The ancient Israelites were guilty of the same thing. When they began to worship idols they became hard and cruel. Isaiah described how God didn’t even want to hear their prayers anymore. The Israelites “delighted” in the “sacred oaks” (Isa. 1:29). They were no longer faithful to God and now their hands were “full of blood” (Isa. 1:15).

Unfortunately, history has shown us over and over that it doesn’t take much for even the most reasonable of humans to become cruel, and to convince themselves that genocide, holocausts, slavery, and infanticide are justified. In our age, as in every other, the only hope is a return to the true Jesus of the Word, and not to the feminist, Planned Parenthood Jesus. He’s just an idol created out of our own desires, a “nose of clay” that we’ve molded and made into the god we want, rather than the God who IS.

——————————————————

  1. Plutarch, “Of Superstition,” Plutarch’s Moralia: Twenty Essays, trans. Philemon Holland (London: J.M. Dent and Sons, 1911), 387-388.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Seneca, “De Ira,” as quoted by Alvin J. Schmidt in How Christianity Changed the World (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005), 49.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Allan K. Bowman, The Cambridge Ancient History: XI, The High Empire, A.D. 70-192, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 402.
  6. Tacitus, “Histories,” The Complete Works of Tacitus, trans. Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb (New York: Random House, 1942), 659-660.
  7. “The Epistle to Diognetus,” Early Christian Writings, trans. Maxwell Staniforth, rev. trans. Andrew Louth (London: Penguin Books, 1987), 145.
  8. “The Didache,” Early Christian Writings, 191.
  9. Barnabus, “The Epistle of Barnabus,” Early Christian Writings, 180.
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