Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

What did the early church fathers think about abortion?

Unborn baby scheming about early church traditions

Unborn baby scheming about early church traditions

This is from Birds of the Air. (H/T Neil Simpson)


Recently I came across a reading of the Didache. “The what?” you may ask. The Didache is a book written somewhere in the first or second century. For a long time it was up for consideration as Scripture. It was believed to be the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles. Eventually it was agreed that the book was an excellent book, but not inspired Scripture. So I was pleased to be able to download this admirable book containing good teachings from the early Church fathers.

The book seemed to be largely a lot of quotes from Scripture. You’ll learn the basic rules of Christianity — “First, you shall love God who made you; second, love your neighbor as yourself.” You’ll learn that “grave sins” are forbidden, like adultery, murder, fornication, and so on. (They specifically include pederasty in the list.) There are instructions regarding teachers, prophets, Christian assembly, and so on. Lots of the normal, good stuff. But, since this was written sometime prior to 200 AD, I was somewhat surprised at this instruction: “You shall not murder a child by abortion” (Didache, Ch 2).

Honestly, there is no real factual disagreement on abortion. People justify killing the weak the same way as they always do – because the weak are in their way and they are stronger and can get away with it. The politically correct jibber-jabber about “choice” is just to make them (the man and the woman) feel good afterward. Really, abortion is just selfishness taken to the nth degree – you create another human being by recreational sex (fun) and then you kill them in order to avoid have to take responsibility for that new life. It’s like going out and getting drunk then getting behind the wheel of a car and killing someone with the car. It may not be what they intended to do, but it was their decisions that led up to it. They’re responsible. But they don’t want to face the natural consequences of their own actions, and they are willing to do the most heinous crime imaginable in order to do so. Sex makes babies. If you can’t welcome a baby into the world, don’t have sex. I don’t. And the chance of getting a woman pregnant is of the reasons why. (One of the others is that I don’t want to hurt a woman by leaving her after sex – which is why I believe in married sex. I don’t want to hurt anyone, most of all babies.

Given the pro-life practices of the early church, I find it hard to understand how people can think that fornicating (pre-marital sex) and abortion are OK. We were not like that then, and we shouldn’t be like that now. Sex was not a recreational activity then, and it is not a recreational activity now.

Learn about the pro-life case

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7 Responses

  1. wgbutler777 says:

    They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers.

    They marry, as do all [others]; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring. They have a common table, but not a common bed. They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. (2 Cor 10:3) They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven. (Phil 3:20) They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men, and are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death, and restored to life. (2 Cor 6:9) They are poor, yet make many rich; (2 Cor 6:10) they are in lack of all things, and yet abound in all; they are dishonoured, and yet in their very dishonour are glorified. They are evil spoken of, and yet are justified; they are reviled, and bless; (2 Cor 4:12) they are insulted, and repay the insult with honour; they do good, yet are punished as evil-doers. When punished, they rejoice as if quickened into life; they are assailed by the Jews as foreigners, and are persecuted by the Greeks; yet those who hate them are unable to assign any reason for their hatred.

    (Epistle to Diogentus, II-III c.)

  2. […] what was forbidden, it condemns abortion. You can find a post on it over at Neil‘s, and at Wintery Knight. Go and read both. But I do have to quote Wintery Knight here. I really liked what he wrote: […]

  3. Marshall Art says:

    Well, sex has always been a recreational activity. The question is should it be viewed as such by responsible and/or moral people? The answer is indeed “No”, with the notable exception of that which takes place between a husband and his wife. But even then, the attendant responsibilities exist.

    But indeed, the arguments of the pro-abortion faction are all based on cheap rationalizations meant to allow them continued enjoyment of carnal pleasures. As I like to put it, abortion is the most heinous abdication of personal responsibility man has yet to invent.

  4. Seth says:

    “It’s like going out and getting drunk then getting behind the wheel of a car and killing someone with the car. It may not be what they intended to do, but it was their decisions that led up to it. They’re responsible. But they don’t want to face the natural consequences of their own actions, and they are willing to do the most heinous crime imaginable in order to do so.”

    Great comparison! I had never thought of equating abortion with manslaughter via drunk driving. That’s truly a great comparison. This is also an excellent post. Sex in the ancient world is usually a good discussion because some might wonder if couples way back then had sex for pleasure or for procreation. Certainly, past the ability of having children, couples enjoyed sex for pleasure, but having no form of birth control, sex was probably used as a means for having children. That’s my opinion anyway, I haven’t researched sex in the ancient world.

  5. Timothy says:

    I have a lot to say on the topic of sex, but I need to give it some thought first. AS for now, I think you have hit one of the nails on the head… there are many other nails that need to be struck on this topic.

  6. Mary says:

    Good post, Wintery.

    This is also further evidence that Catholics for Choice is out of line with Christianity in general, and Catholicism in particular. (Not that they had a leg to stand on in the first place.)

    Super quote from wgbutler777 too.

  7. Mihai says:

    Great article and comments! Could not access the link “some other quotes by church fathers on abortion”, could you check it a bit!

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