For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him (John 3:17).
During Christmas week the church commemorates the Feast of the Holy Innocents, honoring the infant victims of Herod’s effort to wipe out the coming King of the Jews (Matthew 2:16-18). Understandably, and appropriately, many connect the slaughter of the innocents with the mass murder that is abortion. What we may not appreciate is the extent to which the slaughter of innocent infants is embedded within the story of Christmas. We cannot understand Christmas apart from Herod’s evil decree, nor can we understand abortion apart from Christ’s coming to us in a manger.
The Christmas story is told in the language of light and darkness. Isaiah prophesizes that “the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light” (Isaiah 9:2); John describes the birth of Christ as “the true light . . . coming into the world” (John 1:9); and Zechariah sees the Messiah in terms full of hope: “the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:78-79).
And what is the character of that darkness? Ever since Eden, mankind has chosen not to submit to God and His ways, but to be our own masters and to live as we please. And if that requires the sacrifice of young lives, so be it. The Supreme Court, in its 1992 ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, gave legal justification to our selfishness, arguing that:
For two decades of economic and social developments [since Roe v. Wade], people have organized intimate relationships and made choices that define their views of themselves and their places in society, in reliance on the availability of abortion in the event that contraception should fail. The ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives. . . . the certain costs of overruling Roe for people who have ordered their thinking and living around that case [cannot] be dismissed.
In other words, overruling Roe (and Casey) would impede my ability to be my own master and live as I please. Because, according to the Court, exercising sovereignty over my own social, economic, and sexual life requires abortion, around which we “have ordered our thinking and living.” The slaughter of the innocents exposed Herod for who he was. Abortion exposes us for what we have become.
This is the dark world into which Jesus came. The wonder of Christmas is that the Lord did not leave us in darkness, but sent His son into the world in order to save us—then and now.
Connecting Christmas with abortion therefore is not clever Christmas sentiment. It is crucial in defending 21st-century innocents—and protecting their mothers. For while we pray that the Supreme Court will overturn Roe and Casey, abortion culture in the U.S. will not be overturned by a judicial decree. Herod will not so easily relinquish his throne. Abortion culture will be overturned when people order their thinking and living around God, when they trust Him and submit to His ways. God’s answer to abortion therefore is the church, for only the church holds out Christ, the infant king in the manger, as light in a dark world.