In millennia past, some parents placed their children in the arms of a brazen statue, fire burning beneath them, their screams drowned out by loud ceremonial drumbeats.
Can you imagine such a thing? Me neither.
Yet the Bible’s Old Testament describes this ancient practice, ghastly rituals periodically embraced by God’s people, a practice always condemned by God, the giver of life and sole object of true worship:
“Were your acts of harlotry a small matter, that you have slain My children and offered them up… by causing them to pass through the fire?”
The words of the prophet Ezekiel resonate afresh today, a startling reminder of how history’s horrors get repeated.
Killing an unborn baby now is legal in New York state up until the child’s due date, courtesy of a law passed two weeks ago. In Virginia, lawmakers are weighing whether to follow suit and enact the state’s own version of their neighbor’s “Reproductive Health Act.”
Today’s increasingly lax abortion laws send a chill into the hearts of those who see in utero children as God’s own – actual, real people made in God’s image, lives to be cherished and protected, not snuffed out.
On Tuesday, President Trump used part of his State of the Union address to urge Congress to “pass legislation to prohibit the late-term abortion of children who can feel pain in the mother’s womb,” reported CBS News. “Let us work together to build a culture that cherishes innocent life.”
Trump’s comments, void of specifics, mark yet another upsurge in the ethical and religious debate that has polarized Americans for decades.
Politics aside, it is the slow creep of liberalizing abortion law that troubles so many Christians and other advocates for the unborn.
For example, New York’s new law defines a person as “a human being who has been born and is alive.” In other words, babies in the womb are not legally people, according to New York statute.
Consider the implications: New York now allows babies to be killed just before they’re born, so long as the abortion is “necessary to protect the patient’s life or health.” The “patient,” is defined only as the mother. And “health” includes the mother’s mental health.
To kill a baby right after birth, however, is considered a homicide.
Also, the state treats abortion as a fundamental women’s right, making the practice increasingly less likely to be examined from a moral standpoint.
Abortion advocates often cite instances of non-viable pregnancies and risks to a mother’s life, but statistics make very clear that abortion is far more frequently seen as a means of after-conception birth control.
“Despite recent declines in abortion, it is still a common procedure, and nearly one in four U.S. women will have an abortion in her lifetime,” says Rachel Jones of the Guttmacher Institute. She referenced a year-old study by the institute published in the American Journal of Public Health.
A recent New Yorker article suggests late-term abortion law advocates were emboldened by last November’s political shift in the state.
“With a strong Democratic majority,” wrote Jia Tolentino, “… there was now a new question to consider: Did the political will exist to go further than (Roe v. Wade, 1973) and affirm a woman’s right to an abortion with no legal restrictions?”
Clearly, the answer is yes.
Choice. Rights. Gender equality. So often these are the arguments for abortion on demand today.
But listen more closely.
Are not such arguments the modern-day drumbeats of idolatry? Are we not a people increasingly willing to sacrifice our own children in order to revere ourselves?
Sadly, we no longer need to imagine such a thing.
Steve Massey is pastor of Hayden Bible Church. He can be reached at (208) 772-2511 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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