Moloch

In ancient times, one of the practices that distinguished the Jews, and later the Christians, from their pagan neighbors was that they did not expose infants. This practice, which was accepted among the Greeks and the Romans, was the placing of a deformed, sickly, or simply unwanted infant in a deserted place so that it would die of hunger or exposure. The most common deformity which required getting rid of a baby was the lack of a penis, and girls were exposed far more often than boys.  The people that practiced infant exposure were not monsters. They believed that exposing infants was a sad necessity in a world in which you could not be sure there would be enough food to go around. In times of hunger, it was better to discard another hungry mouth than have the baby’s older siblings starve. The parents who exposed their baby could at least take some solace in the idea that their child might be found by a shepherd or goat herder and go on to live a happier life.

The ancient Canaanites and Carthaginians were said to sacrifice children to their gods, particularly the god Moloch. There is some question whether this was true or simply Hebrew and Roman propaganda, but child sacrifice has been attested in many cultures. Again, the people who performed such sacrifices were not necessarily monsters. They doubtless loved their children as much as anyone, but they believed their gods demanded sacrifices, and the ultimate sacrifice was the thing they loved most. I imagine that such sacrifices were normally performed in times of great trouble.

We would like to think that we are more civilized than the people who lived centuries ago. Surely, we have made a lot of progress. We have abolished slavery. We no longer burn witches or heretics at the stake. We believe in equality and justice for all. Surely, we are a lot more civilized than the barbarians of long ago who murdered their own children.  Maybe. Maybe not.

In the news lately, is the story of an abortion councilor who decided to film her own abortion in order to show that having an abortion is not at all a negative experience. The story is all over the place but here is an account in the Washington Times.

Emily Letts, an abortion counselor in New Jersey, said she wasn’t ready to have a baby, even though she was pregnant, and decided that the best solution for her would be to have an abortion — and film it.

“I found out I am pregnant,” the 25-year-old said in the video she uploaded onto YouTube. “I’m not ready to have children.”

So why the video of the procedure?

“[I want to] show women that there is such thing as a positive abortion story,” The Blaze reported.

The video does show her going through the procedure, but minus the graphic details. The camera predominately focuses on her face, The Blaze reported.

Her conclusion at the end of the video: “I feel in awe of the fact that I can make a baby. I can make a life. I knew what I was going to do was right, because it was right for me and no one else. I just want to tell my story.”

The video is titled “Emily’s Abortion Video.” In a followup story published on Cosmopolitan.com, Ms. Letts writes: “We talk about abortion so much and yet no one really knows what it actually looks like. A first trimester abortion takes three to five minutes. It is safer than giving birth.”

It wasn’t safer for the baby nor was it likely to find being killed a positive experience.

Consider the reason this woman decided to have an abortion. She wasn’t ready for a baby. She lives in the most  prosperous nation in history. No matter what her financial situation might be, there is virtually no chance that that child would have starved nor would any other child have to do without food because of it. The poor souls in ancient Greece and Rome had to make decisions about life and death that most people in the developed world never will. They could be said to have a good reason to kill an infant in order for there to be enough for others. She cannot say that.

I do not know what this woman’s religious beliefs are, but I am certain that she is not a worshiper of Moloch. The people who sacrificed their children believed that they were doing a good thing that pleased the gods. If the sacrifice of a child was what it took to turn away their god’s wrath in a national emergency, then the sacrifice of the child saved the lives of everyone else in the kingdom. She was only having the abortion because she didn’t happen to want a baby.  To her, this baby was no more than an old tissue to be thrown away. It was not a human being to her. It wasn’t even alive to her. I doubt very much if she would kill an animal so casually.

No, we are not more civilized than the people who lived in ancient times. I think that most of the people who felt they had to expose or sacrifice their children would have preferred for those children to be alive. If the people who lived centuries ago could see how prosperous the our lives are in the twenty-first century and could learn how we have defeated most of the diseases which killed their children, they would wonder that we didn’t value our children more highly. They wouldn’t understand why we would want to kill any of our children. I doubt even the Romans, who enjoyed their gory gladiatorial contests would want to film a baby being murdered for the amusement of viewers.

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