Holy Innocents

For many in the modern era, Christianity has been seen as an apolitical religion. Christianity is a private, spiritual religion.

It’s a convenient myth for modern people. After the Reformation, Europe entered a period of protracted and often vicious conflict that left large portions of Western Europe devastated. Many concluded – inaccurately – that “religion” was responsible for the mayhem. Religion was dangerous and divisive in politics, and it had to be driven away to bring peace and quiet.

If religion was going to be excluded from political life, it had to be turned into something that was not inherently political. It had to be spiritualized.

Jesus said that the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. Herod the Great – paranoid, power-hungry, unscrupulous – recognized something about Jesus that many faithful believers do not recognize: He knew that when Jesus was called the “son of David” and “king of the Jews,” it means He is.

And Herod could see the inevitable political logic: Jesus is King of the Jews and Herod claims to be King of the Jews, and they can’t both be right. If both claim to be kings, and they do, then a conflict is going to be inevitable. Inevitably, Jesus’ advent provokes fear and rage from other pretenders to the throne, like Herod.

Herod’s fear of the child-king led to the slaughter of the innocents, the baby boys of Bethlehem. And this gives us a deep insight into the abortion regime of the present day. Rulers who refuse to kiss the royal Son of Bethlehem strike out against innocents – the weak, the helpless, widows and orphans, unborn babies.

Legal abortion is a violent horror, but it is at root a reaction, a protective response to the gauntlet that God threw down in Bethlehem two millennium ago. Jesus’ mere presence on earth, even as a little baby, was itself a political act, God’s challenge to the political status quo, God’s challenge to Herod and all earthly rulers like him.

Legal abortion is a futile bid to defend the kingship of the Herods of the world. It’s a bid to avoid the force of the Christmas gospel: “Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; take warning, Judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with reference, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry and you perish in the way.”

Peter J. Leithart is President of Theopolis.