December 28th marked the commemoration of the Massacre of the Innocents in the Catholic liturgical calendar. It is a solemn and sad reminder of the despicable murder of hundreds or more male children under the age of 2 in the town of Bethlehem by King Herod.
Herod killed these innocent children to protect his power because he believed that Jesus, as the Messiah, would somehow bring an end to his reign. Since Jesus was born in Bethlehem sometime in a two-year window, Herod made the cruel calculation to minimize his chances of failure by killing all the boys in that town born in that window.
There are many reasons for this which I shall not go into, but suffice it to say that Herod’s fear of the loss of earthly power and wealth ultimately are what drove him to such a despicable act.
We, today, look back on the wanton murder of innocent babies with an appropriate level of disgust and reproach. And we, today, tend to think that such acts of barbarity are limited to the distant past because our society has grown so much more humane and superior in its everyday practice of basic moral goodness.
But is that really the case? Is Herod so much different from people of today? I would say not.
The obvious example is abortion. While Herod is truly despicable for killing hundreds, maybe thousands, of children at one time, we have slaughtered some 50 million unborn children since 1973 and the fateful decision of the Roe vs. Wade case.
And I don’t believe our motivations today are so much different than those of Herod. Most people who choose an abortion are, at the end of the day, doing so to preserve and protect their own future material success and well-being.
The boyfriend who pressures his unfortunate girlfriend into an abortion is doing so because he believes not doing so will negatively impact his ability to go to college and have the dream job and the dream car and many dream vacations.
Or, similarly, a female college student who finds herself pregnant from some boy she barely knows rightly feels very afraid about her future, and so decides that the best way to protect that future is to eliminate the child in her womb.
And society tells her — at least some parts of society — that doing so is perfectly acceptable and in fact is a right, a good right that she should happily act on (e.g., #shoutyourabortion).
Even married couples who make this very tragic choice do so to protect their wealth and worldly goods, or their dreams of a comfortable early retirement.
I know this sounds extremely judgmental, but I am not here to judge those who have made that decision. After all, we live in a society that has decided both in its laws and its cultural norms that abortion is a perfectly acceptable option and an inevitable necessity, given the promotion and encouragement of sexual behavior outside the bonds of marriage.
However, it doesn’t change the fact that when a person chooses to have an abortion, they are sacrificing the life of a child for their own material well-being. In that sense, that person and we in general are no different then Herod and other wicked kings of past and present.
Peachtree City, Ga.