Infanticide in a world without Christianity

Feb 8, 2019 by

By John Stonestreet and Roberto Rivera, Christian Post:

[…] Johnston introduces us to the world in which Christianity was born, and eventually transformed. He tells the story of Hilarion, an otherwise-unremarkable Roman citizen who had traveled to Egypt. He writes to his pregnant wife that he may not make it home in time for the birth. So he wishes her “good luck” and then tells her what to do when the child is born: “If it is a boy, keep it; if it is a girl, throw it out.”

As I said, there was nothing remarkable about Hilarion or his attitude towards his soon-to-be-born child. As Johnston tells us, “…in the first-century Roman world . . . killing an unwanted child was no big deal.” He quotes the philosopher Seneca, who wrote: “Unnatural progeny we destroy; we drown even children who at birth are weak or abnormal.”

Into this world came Christianity, whose teaching and practice was 180 degrees from that of the surrounding societies. The early second century Christian document known as “the “Didache” told Christians, “Do not murder a child by abortion, nor kill it at birth.” The Epistle of Barnabas, which dates from a few decades later, similarly said, “Do not murder a child by abortion, nor, again, destroy that which is born.”

Believe it or not, infanticide is just one example of the cruelty and callousness that characterized the ancient world. Anyone who wasn’t a nobleman—emphasis on the “man”—was a potential, and often actual, victim of this same kind of cruelty: infants, women, slaves, and the poor to name but a few.

Against this backdrop, Paul’s declaration that “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” had the potential to turn the world upside down.

And that’s exactly what it did. It took time, and there were fits and starts, but Christianity made the world we now take for granted, possible.

Read here


Related Posts


Share This