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Come Reason's Apologetics Notes blog will highlight various news stories or current events and seek to explore them from a thoughtful Christian perspective. Less formal and shorter than the Web site articles, we hope to give readers points to reflect on concerning topics of the day.

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Protecting the Value of Life

My newly born granddaughter is over at the house this week and this morning I awoke to the sounds of the hungry girl crying. I loved the sound. It isn't that I would like to see her upset; at three weeks, crying is really the only way she can communicate. To me, the sound of a newborn's cry is a confirmation of life. It's an echo of her first cries in the delivery room and when it fills my house I take a certain kind of joy in knowing that our family will continue, that life has been passed on. It's how things should be.

Photo courtesy Gianni1wiki
As loving parents, my son wants only the best for his daughter. He cares about responding when she cries. He wants to make sure she's getting the best nutrition and the proper rest. He performs diaper changes so she won't get a rash. As she grows, her needs and the proper responses to them will change, but the motivation is the same: he wants to provide the best environment for her flourish. However, we as a society are corroding some of the necessary conditions for human flourishing and it worries me.

In its constant pull away from its Christian moorings, today's culture is blind to the damage it causes to all human life. The continuing horrors being disclosed from abortionist Kermit Gosnell's murder trial, the aftermath of the Boston terrorism attacks, and the general elevation of the individual's desire for pleasure over the best interests of the community are all symptoms that a culture that once held to a moral framework informed by Christian values has turned its face from that foundation and now seeks something else.

 This becomes all the more evident when we compare some of the hot button issues of today with their counterparts in pre-Christian societies. Ancient Rome was the pinnacle of technology and living in its day. It had successfully conquered the world. Its citizens then enjoyed an unparalleled era of Pax Romana—200 years of peace. However, in this time of comfort and leisure the Romans didn't think twice about its degradation of human life. Parents of babies who were considered less than desirable were killed, offered as sacrifices, or left out by the Tiber to die of exposure. Historian Alvin J. Schmidt reports, "So common was infanticide that Polybius (205? – 118 B.C.) blamed the population decline of ancient Greece on it (Histories 6)."1 Schmidt also tells of how the Romans practiced abortion for the sake of wealth and convenience2 and encouraged suicide as a more noble way to die than through natural causes.

Of course the Roman trivializing of life is nowhere more evident than in the Roman Gladiatorial games. Using human beings as sport because they were slaves or held religious views that were considered improper to the state is something we would consider barbaric today. But such actions were a natural conclusion to a worldview that places the individual's happiness above the life of another. Most people don't realize it was because of the act of one brave Christian martyr that the Gladiatorial games ceased within five years of his stand.

I write all this because it is too easy to see how we are falling back into a trap of trivializing life. Abortion today is framed as a political issue, but no one bothers to remember why Christianity sought to eliminate it. Kermit Gosnell shows how debased one can become when his worldview objectifies the beginning of human life as a product or choice to be had or not. The terrorists in Boston cared not one whit for the value of their victims' lives. They wanted their own position to be heard no matter the cost.

In our modern age, we've forgotten that the Christian principles that shaped our society also transformed it from a more barbarous one. We're once again in an age of relative peace and luxury, and there are those who think the old ways can be discarded simply because they are old or they get in the way of personal expression. They need to realize that tit may be because of those old ways that we have the true peace that they so cherish. It's easier to stay secure when one has strong walls built around him to keep out the things that will cause harm.  G.K. Chesterton put it well when he said only a fool would tear down a fence before he knows why it was put there to begin with.

We're tearing down the walls of the Christian worldview and I fear a few savage beasts have already slipped in. This is why I do apologetics. It's not for my sake, but for the sake of my granddaughter and the society in which she will live. As a precious human being born into this world, she deserves nothing less.


1 Schmidt, Alvin J. How Christianity Changed the World.
(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004). 49.

2 Ibid. 56.

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