In the wake of the terrible shooting last month at a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs, Colo., I began to wonder if evangelicals should completely change their approach to challenging abortion. What if they made a New Year’s resolution to move from protest to hospitality in 2016? Conferences, rallies, and on-site protests may raise awareness among those already committed to the pro-life cause, but they are not likely to bring about the change Christians really want. It also seems unlikely that abortion laws will change anytime soon, if ever. What remains, then, is the ancient children’s liberation movement practiced by the early Christian church that changed the world by taking in the children the larger society wanted to destroy.
When early Christians practiced what the Bible actually teaches (Matthew 22:36-40; James 1:26-27), it resulted in families opening up their homes to people in need. As a result, in the ancient world, children not only were protected, but they also became people. As the historian O.M. Bakke points out in his book When Children Became People (Augsburg Fortress, 2005), in ancient Greece and Rome, children were valued less than livestock, but Christians permanently changed the equation. It was common for the elite to exploit children of the lower classes sexually and subject them to grueling labor practices, including slavery. Sick and deformed babies were often left outside to die. Christians took them into their homes. Christian hospitality and advocacy put an end to infanticide. Christians bestowed upon children value and significance because of the way they treated them and, as a result, showed the world that children matter.
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