Tomorrow is the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruling that made up out of judicial thin air a constitutional right to abortion on demand. Some view the ruling as a giant step forward, but it was really a quantum leap back–back about two millennia.

The ancient world was incredibly open to the killing of children. For starters, they had almost none of the sentimentality we have towards kids in 21st century America. There was no Disney, not Toys R Us, no Chuck E. Cheese (can I get an Amen?). Family life–even if there was such a thing–certainly did not revolve around the children. Children, if I may generalize, were useful at best, burdens at worst, and rarely coddled.

The dominant fact regarding children in the ancient world were the high mortality rates, especially infants. Many newborns were still born or died in labor. Those who made it often went hungry. There were too many mouths to feed and too little food. As a result, children were often abandoned, exposed to the elements, literally left on trash heaps to die. From 230 B.C. onward, the commonest family in Greece was a one-child family. Families of four or five were rare. Some families might want two sons, but rarely would they want two daughters.

Unwanted children were disposed of, often sold into slavery. Others were aborted in the womb. Many more were simply killed as infants. Newborns were not considered part of the family until the father officially acknowledged them and received them into the house by religious ceremony. Consequently, the ancient Greek and Romans thought little of little babies, and thought even less of getting rid of them.

In the ancient world, it was uniquely the Jewish people who prohibited abortion and infanticide. And the practice was not overturned until Christianity became privileged in the empire. Christians have always opposed killing children, whether infants outside the womb or infants inside the womb. The two were one and the same crime. “You shall not abort a child or commit infanticide,” commanded The Didache, a late first century church constitution of sorts. Despite the muddled arguments of denominational study groups (whose obfuscation with language is positively Orwellian), opposition to abortion and infanticide is not simply one position for Christians, it is the Christian position.

Jesus welcomed children when others wanted to shoo them away (Mark 10:13-16). Moreover, he said the measure of our love for him would be measured by our love for children (Mark 9:36-37). He took the children in his arms as if to say, “Honor these little ones, and you honor me. Send them away because they are weak, socially insignificant, and bothersome, and you’ve demonstrated you don’t understand the values of the kingdom.”

On the eve of Roe, let’s pray for our society to change its mind regarding the smallest and most helpless of its citizens. Let’s pray the change starts in the church (those parts too cowardly or confused to condemn abortion). Let’s pray that every judge, politician, and doctor becomes convinced of the sanctity of unborn life and acts accordingly. Let’s pray for the flourishing of pregnancy centers and women’s clinics that provide an alternative to abortion. Let’s pray for the women contemplating such a tragic choice, and for the family members encouraging them in the wrong direction. Let’s pray for men to be men, to stop fooling around and to stop fleeing when they have. Let’s pray that hundreds of politicians, thousands of pastors, millions of would-be moms and dads, and 300 million hearts are gripped by a Jesus-inspired view of children.

Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world. Whether they’ve got an umbilical cord or not.  

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21 thoughts on “Jesus Loves the Little Children”

  1. John says:

    There has been a not-so-subtle swap where the life and death power of the male head of house in Patriarchal systems has been replaced by life and death power of the female head of house. Feminism may have turned the tables, but it can never change people’s hearts.

  2. Zach Nielsen says:

    Thank you for the post Kevin.

  3. Thomas says:

    I greatly appreciate your post and the need to end abortion in this nation. For my own interest could you give me resources to look into the treatment of children during antiquity as you so astutely describe. Thank you so much, this is great to read daily

  4. Jason Nicholls says:

    Thanks, Kevin. I may borrow your piece here for our church bulletin Sunday. Well put and right on the mark.

  5. Jeremy says:

    I agree that abortion is wrong and that the law should but reversed, but I think Christians spend too much time and energy in efforts to see the law changed and not enough time and energy trying to help women make a different choice. I am guilty of this as well. If we focused on ways to help women make a choice for life, then there would be fewer abortions regardless of the status of the law.

  6. Jeff M. says:

    But don’t all those aborted babies automatically get to go to heaven?

  7. paul D says:

    My favorite line: “Let’s pray for men to be men, to stop fooling around and to stop fleeing when they have.”

    To me, it all starts with the men. If men are in love with Christ, their whole life is radically changed, they won’t rape, they won’t get unwed girls pregnant. If they do, they won’t run. They will respect girls, restrain themselves, marry and provide a wonderful environment in which wives will long and love to be mothers. In that context, abortion will transition back to the cultural taboo it’s supposed to be.

    thanks for the wonderfully written post, Kevin!

  8. Pastor Matt says:

    Great post Kevin but as I posted today on my own blog, may we also pray for the justices on the Supreme Court. My prayer is that the Spirit will move powerfully and convert a pro-abortion Justice. Would God’s saving someone like Justice Kennedy be more dramatic than His saving of Saul or John Newton? Again, thank you for the post.

  9. paul st.jean says:

    Who will take care of all the elderly people? The older American will one day greatly outnumber the younger.

  10. Terry says:

    I join you in your prayer.

  11. Ben@TIC says:

    One way to help men and women make a choice for life is to support the cost for them to have an ultrasound. See here:
    http://www.heartlink.org/oupdirectors.cfm

    It also helps to be ready with a loving word of counsel. John Piper and Randy Alcorn have great resources about how to talk with women and men who are considering abortion.

  12. meredith says:

    one more Amen. And the film “Bella” is a lovely blessing to share with both teens and adults.

  13. Christians cannot be pro-choice or support those who are.

    http://www.bluecollarphilosophy.com/christians-cannot-be-pro-choice

    If they are they are helping bring about the tolerance of infanticide, both inside and outside of the womb. No priest of God, someone who claims to follow Christ, should help justify the slaughter of children. Particularly since infants and children were so dear to the heart of Jesus.

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Kevin DeYoung


Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor of University Reformed Church (RCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University. He and his wife Trisha have six young children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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