How the early Christians saved thousands of newborn babies and changed ancient culture

“So as the number of Christians increased, we saw the decrease in the number of children doomed to death or to slavery often worse than death. " 

L'adoption by the New York Senate of law Project allowing abortion until birth continues to stir awareness. And if Christians can conclude that the end of time is near and things are going to go from bad to worse, it is interesting to question history and see what the attitude of the early Christians was in the face of a similar situation. .

During antiquity there was a practice rooted in culture: the exhibition. To expose a baby was to choose abandonment for economic or emotional reasons. If you were a poor family and you weren't able to raise this newborn baby, you would put it at risk. If you were rich, but didn't want a girl, you exposed it. If your child was born with a disability, you put it at risk. All you had to do was drop your baby off in a public place and abandon her.

The stories of the time then speak of babies collected "in garbage pits", found in the morning hungry or "devoured by stray dogs". Blandine Cuny-Le Callet discusses this exhibition in Rome and its monsters: birth of a philosophical and rhetorical conception.

"But the babies thus abandoned are most of the time doomed to certain death or - fate perhaps even worse than death - taken in by 'protectors' who raise them to sell them as slaves or prostitute them, who sometimes mutilate them. to make them 'professional beggars' whose appearance will apitoiera passers-by. "

Faced with these “old world crimes”, Christians have played their role of “light of the world”, as Ernest Semichon in History of abandoned children from Antiquity to the present day. He evokes the place of children in the Christian faith:

“And many other passages that every Christian knows by heart and which testify to love and respect for the Son of God for childhood. We have seen that the ancient philosophies do not include women or children. It took the torch of the gospel to enlighten the world on these main points. "

Saint Justin, martyr of the 2nd century, spoke then of "infanticide", noting in his Apologies, "that he has a horror of this impiety, and that if the exposed children die for lack of care, we are guilty of infanticide. In the same way Athenagoras, Platonic philosopher turned Christian affirms "that to expose a child, it is to reproach oneself for its death".

Kirk Walden is editor-in-chief of Pregnancy Help News. He insists on the role of these early Christians:

“The early Christians, however, decided to take Jesus' teaching seriously to 'love your neighbor as yourself.' They understood - as in the story of the Good Samaritan - that these babies, left to die, were called neighbors. So they went to those places or wherever they could find these children and took them home. "

For Ernest Semichon, there is a correlation between the number of Christians and the number of exhibitions. He speaks of "radical and immediate revolution".

“So as the number of Christians increased, we saw the decrease in the number of children doomed to death or to slavery often worse than death. "

Kirk Walden explains that Christians have fought this fight, "day in and day out":

“The actions of these early believers showed the cruel and inhuman world around them the image of sacrificial and selfless love. They did it day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. "

This will continue until the laws change. The Emperor Constantine will convert and impose important reforms: "laws, canons of councils were issued to protect children". In 315, he had this order given to the officers posted in all the towns and engraved on brass tables:

“To provide food and clothing for any child brought by a father or mother pressed by poverty; the treasury of the empire and that of the sovereign should provide for it without distinction. "

In 331, when Constantine had to reconcile Christian ideas with the laws of the Empire, he recommended “to foreigners to take care of children, and invoked the intervention of priests”.

For Kirk Walden, in the face of abortion, we have the same responsibility as the early Christians:

“Because if we believe that our work can change a culture just as the early Christians changed their world, our thinking changes. The early believers had no idea of ​​the outcome of their work. Many probably died without knowing that their acts of love would eventually save thousands of children. […] Our mission ? Let us continue to believe that God can still work in ordinary people like us to change culture. As believers, let's act according to our beliefs with things like faith, hope, and love. "


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