Virtually every culture in antiquity was stained with the blood of innocent children. Unwanted infants in ancient Rome were abandoned outside the city walls to die of exposure or from attacks by wild foraging beasts. Greeks often gave their pregnant women harsh doses of herbal or medicinal abortifacients. Persians developed highly sophisticated surgical curette procedures. Primitive Canaanites threw their children onto great flaming pyres as a sacrifice to their god Molech. Egyptians disposed of their unwanted children by disemboweling and dismembering them shortly after birth—their collagen was then ritually harvested for the manufacture of cosmetic creams. None of the great minds of the ancient world—from Plato and Aristotle to Seneca and Quintilian, from Pythagoras and Aristophanes to Livy and Cicero, from Herodotus and Thucydides to Plutarch and Euripides—disparaged child-killing in any way. In fact, most of them recommended it. They callously discussed its various methods and procedures. They casually debated its sundry legal ramifications. They blithely tossed lives like dice. Indeed, abortion, infanticide, exposure, and abandonment were so much a part of human societies that they provided the primary literary leitmotif in popular traditions, stories, myths, fables, and legends—from Romulus and Remus to Oedipus, Poseidon, Asclepius, Hephaestus, and Cybele.
But thanks be to God, the God, who is the giver of life (Acts 17:25), the fountain of life (Ps. 36:9), the defender of life (Ps. 27:1), the prince of life (Acts 3:15, NASB), and the restorer of life (Ruth 4:15), did not leave men to languish hopelessly in the clutches of sin and death. He not only sent us the message of life (Acts 5:20) and the words of life (John 6:68), but He also sent us the light of life as well (John 8:12). He sent us His only begotten Son—the life of the world (John 6:51)—to break the bonds of death (1 Cor. 15:54–56). Jesus “taste[d] death for everyone” (Heb. 2:9), actually “abolish[ing] death” for our sakes (2 Tim. 1:10) and offering us new life (John 5:21).
The Didache, one of the earliest Christian documents—actually concurrent with much of the New Testament—asserts that “there are two ways: a way of life and a way of death.” In Christ, God has afforded us the opportunity to choose between those two ways—to choose between fruitful and teeming life on the one hand and barren and impoverished death on the other (Deut. 30:19).
Apart from Christ, it is not possible to escape the snares of sin and death (Col. 2:13). On the other hand, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17).
The primary conflict in temporal history always has been and always will be the struggle for life by the church against the natural inclinations of all men everywhere. This was the case long before Roe and it will be long after, for as long as the Lord tarries.
So after Roe, what’s our job now? It is the same as always: we must be gospel advocates of all that is right and good and true. We must care for the poor, the hurting, and the marginalized. We must speak the truth in love. We must remind our magistrates of their responsibilities. We must disciple. We must be unflinching in the proclamation of the good news, which changes everything. Our intercessions and labors must be unceasing.
Our local crisis pregnancy centers need our support like never before. Our pulpits need to ring out with practical, pastoral, and prophetic urgency like never before. And we need to remember God’s glorious promise like never before: “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert” (Isa. 43:19).
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on May 20, 2022.