You may think that abortion is a very recent moral issue. It is not. Abortion has been around for two of thousand years, perhaps even longer. While there is little evidence that abortion was performed by surgery in the early times, it is well known that the Romans knew about herbs and chemicals which caused abortions and their use was common.
When the early church came into existence, Christians had one loud and clear position on abortion. There was absolutely no ambiguity about it at all. The most common term used then was “murder of the child”. Early Christians always considered abortion as an outrage. Read the following comments from early Christians.
In the year 70 AD we read, “you shall not destroy your conceptions before they are brought forth, nor kill them after they are born (Letter to Barnabus). About 350 ADSt JohnChrysostom said, “There are medicines of sterility. There is murder before birth. Indeed it is something worse than murder, and I do not know what to call it; for she does not kill what is formed, but prevents its formation. What then? Do you condemn the gifts of God and fight with His Laws? What a curse! You seek it as though it were a blessing.” St Basil the Great, at about 360 AD said, “a woman who aborts deliberately is liable to trial as a murderess. For here there is involved the question of providing justice for the infant to be born, but also for the woman who has plotted against her own self.” Here St Basil says something very shocking. “For in most cases the women die in the course of such operations. But besides this, there is to be noted the fact that the destruction of the embryo constitutes another murder.”
In the year 223 AD Tertullian said, “The life in the womb may not be destroyed.” Shortly after the Resurrection of Jesus in the Didache we read, “you shall not slay the child by abortion.” Tertullian again said, “We acknowledge, therefore, that life begins with conception, because we contend that the soul begins at conception. Life begins when the soul begins.”
St Basil the Great also said, “The hair splitting difference between formed and unformed makes no difference to us. In this case it is not only the being about to be born who is victimised, but the woman in her attack upon herself.”
You may be shocked to read this. The act of abortion is even more horrendous. Why has it gone so far? What’s wrong with society? Why are Christians so confused that they would argue that abortion is a basic “right” of all women? To be in favour of abortion is to be in a contrary position to the teachings of the early church from the days of the apostles themselves.
Perhaps the famous Dostoewski explains this the best! “Where God is no longer supreme, everything is permitted.”
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