God’s People Defending Life

Since God’s people are clearly called to treasure and defend life, and since abortion is not a sin confined to the modern era, it is right to ask what role the Church has taken in the past in defending those who are most innocent and vulnerable.  Since the earliest days of the Church, Christians have waged a battle against pagan practices that treated life as cheap.  Abortion, infanticide, exposure, and abandonment were all common and not even seen as wrong.  In fact, historian George Grant writes, “None of the great minds of the ancient world – from Plato and Aristotle to Livy and Cicero, from Herodotus and Thucydides to Plutarch and Euripides – disparaged child-killing in any way.  In fact, most of them actually recommended it.”  However, the early Church spoke out against these injustices.  The Didache, one of the earliest non-canonical Christian documents, includes a call to cherish and defend life.  Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Bishop Ambrose, Jerome, and Augustine were vocal in their defense of life, calling the Church to action.  Augustine also spoke on the moral responsibility that men carried in abortion.

In the eighth chapter of John Ensor’s book, he writes about Basil of Caesarea, a pastor in the fourth century whose actions for the sake of the unborn have been model for the Church, followed with more or less fervor, through the centuries.  Here they are in John Ensor’s words:

1.) He gave a series of sermons, using Scripture to affirm the sanctity of human life and the humanity of preborn children.
2.) He called upon the Christian community to stop aborting their own babies, and he called them to actively defend innocent life by helping mothers in pregnancy distress find the help they needed to give life.  In other words, he inspired the church to do the work and ministry of crisis pregnancy centers and maternity homes.
3.) He launched a legislative battle using his power and influence to criminalize abortion.
4.) He launched an education program to teach the entire city about the value of human life and to stigmatize and denounce abortion among the general population.

And we must continue in that manner until the day when abortion is unthinkable.


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