Herod the Abortionist

Herod’s Slaughter of the Innocents is one of the few ways a man can get close to proving the existence of sin by mere example. The story has haunted me since I was a child.

And it haunts me now because it still goes on, in abortion clinics across the world, at a morbid, clinical pace of 4000 innocents a day. When Herod sent his soliders out to kill every boy under the age of two in Bethlehem and its surrounding area, he unwittingly spat out a blackened prophecy for our times.

Herod’s massacre was an attempt to kill the Christ-child. He could not bear the possibility that his own power be infringed – that he would ever have to stoop before another King, and a greater King at that. He was possessed by a prideful sovereignty; a panic over losing his kingly position. He was – by all available standards – a control-freak.

If we Catholics can say nothing else of the Culture of Death, may we not say she is the most rotten of control-freaks? Contraception and sterilization destroy fertility for control. Euthanasia allows us not to worry about treating or healing, and gives us ultimate control over our elderly. The overuse of the death penalty allows us to ignore justice and mercy in favor of easy control. Even the language – birth control, population control, safe sex – all of it demands control. Control of our situation at any cost. And where is this more apparent than in the act of abortion?

The false conception of “sovereignty” seems likewise apparent in the person of Herod. He was a king. As such he had authority, and it seems that his authority was legitimate. It was good. But to maintain that authority he – in true Roman fashion – had his own family members executed, his wife included. He was Jewish, but had rabbis killed who told him that he – in his brutality – was not living like a Jew at all.

The Culture of Death provides with a twisted concept of self-sovereignty. “My body. my choice,” as the mantra drones. To have power of one’s own body is a good, true and beautiful thing. But we have applied that to another body, and another person. Out of love for our own authority over our body, we kill. Out of Herod’s love for his own authority, he killed. In both cases there is a falsehood being followed, that the authority over one thing – our bodies, the state – is control over another – the lives of the Innocents, the lives of our family members.

Herod saw the Christ-child as an enemy. He could not have known that Christ came not to condemn the sinner but to save him, that Christ sought no earthly kingdom to rival his own. He simply misperceived Jesus as a threat to that most precious to him – earthly power and control. He flailed out viciously, in an effort to eliminate the threat. He slaughtered in fear; murdered in anxiety. His assumption – probably as a result of being so wrapped in the elite Roman culture of assassination, execution and betrayal – was that the Christ was nothing more than a potential infringement upon his life.

The Culture of Death – so wrapped up in the ‘me!’ – refuses to acknowledge the possibility that an unintended child might be anything but an enemy. There is no acknowledgement of the telling lack of women who, having avoided abortion, regret the existence of their child. The Culture of Death does not acknowledge that women who decide against abortion see their newborn as a gift. Does the child infringe on their lives? Oh, absolutely. But so do husbands, wives, friends, and any relationships worth calling a relationship. And so abortion marches onward against the child, refusing to acknowledge the possibility of a bad situation’s beautiful outcome.

Herod and the Culture of Death, they hold hands. At both sets of princely feet lie what can only be considered the greatest tragedy human history can bear – slaughtered Innocents.

Herod died in a mess of burning fever, ulcerated entrails, foul discharges, convulsions, stench, etc. (Josephus). In what certainly was a bitter, divine irony, he died of that which he could least control. All his life he killed to maintain his authoritative control; he died unable to control his bowels. So the Culture of Death will die by that which they are least able to control – us. The Culture of Life.

It is a beauty to see life making gains on every side; in legislation, in Planned Parenthood’s speedy decay, in education, in media, and in the majority opinion of the American people. We are winning, because we cannot and shall not be controlled by the tyrant Culture of Death. No, “Death, thou shalt die!”

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  • http://www.thinveil.net Brandon Vogt

    Stunning and stinging.

    I’m reminded of St. Luke account that Jesus’ birth took place because Caesar ordered a census, a grand display of control. In the ancient world, as in ours, an emperor counted people to better tax them, to better draft them into their army, to better establish their puppeteering power over the citizens of their domain.

    How strange, then, that this vulnerable, needy baby wrapped in swaddling clothes–the one who was *least* in control of himself–overtook those Masters of Control, Caesar and Herod. And not through force, not through violence, not through overpowering, but through humble sacrifice.

    I love that the pro-life movement exhibits the same strategy. We don’t necessarily overpower, overspend, or over-top the anti-life forces. We bend our knees, close our eyes, and pray–all actions that scream “out-of-control” when actually, by aligning ourselves with God, the Controller of All Being, we are precisely in the center that the battle revolves around.

    • Anonymous

      Romans would not ever, ever, have conscription. In their society all political power hinged on military service, the cursus honorum. To conscript people into the military would’ve been tantamount to using slaves as soldiers, and that was unthinkable to them, like 19th-century Hindus having Untouchables as military officers.

      And although the census was for taxation purposes, it was also how representation in the Roman Senate was apportioned, and how they assessed whether various colonies and territories could become full provinces, with the legal rights and semi-autonomy that implied.

      Why are you attempting to represent as evil, an action that was entirely neutral?

  • Sara Suchy

    I love that you just quoted John Donne. “And Death shall be no more/Death, thou shalt die”

  • Karyn

    I have seen the posters women carry about the regret they feel over an abortion they had but I never thought about the testimony of those women who chose life over abortion and have no regret. What a wonderful film and/or collection that would make. How powerful. And positive.

    • Marc Barnes

      i’d like to make that film…hmmmm, ok i will.

  • Anonymous

    I’m a feminist and I support abortion rights because I believe women should be able to participate in public life, including by earning their own money and not having to beg their husbands for grocery cash. Having a job and life is not compatible with having a large family. If you want me to believe that you hold this opinion because of genuine reverence for life and not because you think women are walking wombs who, if they wanted education, ambition, or enough cash to buy a cup of coffee should have been born with a penis, please explain to me how you would change society to make work more compatible with family life.

    • Blessedgoddess09

      This comment makes me sad. I am a woman. I have 3 children. I cannot have anymore. My regret is only that I can’t have more. I don’t regret their intrusion into my life, the sacrifices I had to make or the fact that everyday I am reminded that i am NOT the most important person on the planet. I have NEVER had to beg for grocery cash or money for coffee. A marriage should be a partnership, each individual contributing equally. However, equal does not mean the same. One may contribute financially and one may contribute by being the primary caretaker. It is the messed up society that only places the value of someone’s contribution on money.

    • Anonymous

      Well, when the Catholic Church was at its strongest—the High Middle Ages—women owned property, practiced trades, filed lawsuits, and voted in any assembly men could, without abortion having to be legal. Girls were also taught to read just as often as boys—a common devotional motif was “the child Mary at her lessons”, even though Mary probably wouldn’t have had lessons, since 1st century Jews didn’t usually teach their daughters to read—and women bought more books. Women’s taste in literature dominated poetry, prose fiction, and most fields of devotional writing from the 11th to 14th centuries. Noblewomen routinely led troops and exercised all the prerogatives of noblemen, and abbesses often had more power than their local bishops.

      Of course, they didn’t have a proletarian economy, but a distributist one—that is, the means of production were owned, individually, by those who used them, rather than by an investor-class, possessed of the means of production, that employed the dispossessed. Those workers, who owned their own means of production and were (in our terms) self-employed, protected their interests by means of professional associations—guilds. We like to caricature guilds as being like unions, but actually they were more like the bar, or medical associations. It shows how far our civilization has fallen that we think it would be odd for bricklayers to have an association like that—to us the bricklayer is naturally an employee, it seems odd to us that he be his own master.

      So restoring that model of labor would be one way to change society. But your recourse to the Marxist ad hominem—”Your objections arise from class interest!”—indicates, to me, that you weren’t really interested in an answer, you just wanted to denounce Emmanuel Goldstein for unthink and thoughtcrime.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat Katrina Fernandez

      Don’t feed the troll. What an obvious bait. Do you really believe that dribble you just typed?

      • Anonymous

        Yes, actually, I do believe what I wrote. Your answer is an ad hominem attack and Sophias Favorite wants to go back to the Middle Ages. Can anyone provide one example of a policy position that would make it possible for women to have economic and political power without giving up families entirely that is possible in the actual world today? That doesn’t involve flying unicorns in purple-sequined tutus?

        I’ve read Ms. F’s blog. She wants women, excepting of course her super-special-snowflake self, to stay kitchen-bound doormats. Also, the word you should have used is ‘drivel,’ not ‘dribble.’

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat Katrina Fernandez

          “I’ve read Ms. F’s blog. She wants women, excepting of course her super-special-snowflake self, to stay kitchen-bound doormats.”

          Yes, that is exactly what I write about all the time. You’re precious.

    • Bobby


    • Libby Barnes

      Hm. I was raised by a beautiful woman with six kids and a master’s degree. Every one of us was lavished with love, taught to be mature and responsible and given fantastic educations and life experiences. I’m now a scientist, working my dream job. My sister is serving our country. My brother is getting paid to do what he loves. Not to mention the three still in school. Do I look at this woman who made this all possible and think, “My mom didn’t have a job. No accomplishments there”? I don’t. And she certainly doesn’t, either. Would you?

      Earning doesn’t constitute equality or happiness or our worth.

      I do admit that, coming from so many broken families, many many people can not see the family as love, safety, a life’s accomplishment, something worth fighting for. Your last sentence was very true: we need to “change society to make work more compatible with family life,” not to allow us to work more, but allow us to attend to the family and rediscover the life that it brings to society.

    • Maura

      So – you accept that abortion is the taking of a human life? Because you are simply justifying it (because nothing is more important than money or power) and not denying or arguing the evil of the taking of innocent life.
      Nice drama – the cup of coffee line. All I am hearing is that you value money over human life, your own of course excluded.
      Kind of scary that the argument is no longer whether it’s murder, but whether it’s justified.

  • Liesl Baumann

    Great post! Love the John Donne quote at the end – one of my favorite poets.

  • korou

    Well, this conversation seems to be over, but I just came across it shortly after reading an article which I think is relevant. So I’ll post it here:


    Although the writer is talking about evangelicals, not Catholics, I think the point still applies. Do you actually believe abortion is murder? Because if I lived in a world in which the government routinely murdered thousands of six-year old children, for example, I think I’d do more than just write condemnatory articles, picket the government murder centres and work for laws which might, one day, outlaw the practice.

    On the other hand, when it comes to the government providing assistance to women and their families who don’t want to have extra children by removing clumps of unwanted cells or, when necessary, removing foetuses if the woman’s life is in danger, I don’t have a problem with that because I don’t see it as murder. But you do see it as murder, don’t you? Don’t you think you ought to be doing more?