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Christians are different: They don’t kill their children

April 16, 2015

“Exposure” was a common practice in the Roman world. If a family’s firstborn was a girl (or otherwise undesirable), one available option was to “cast it out” or “expose” it. This means leave it in the woods to die.  Hear the words of Hilarion in 1 B.C. in a letter to his “sister” (i.e. his wife):

Hilarion to his sister Alis very many greetings, likewise to my lady Berous and Apollonarion. Know that we are still in Alexandria. Do not be anxious; if they really go home, I will remain in Alexandria. I beg and entreat you, take care of the little one, and as soon as we receive our pay I will send it up to you. If by chance you bear a child, if it is a boy, let it be, if it is a girl, cast it out. (The New Testament Background, Edited by C.K. Barrett, p. 40).

In a late 2nd century letter called the Epistle of Mathetes [i.e. a disciple] to Diognetus, the unknown author explains Christianity to an unbeliever. You can read the entire letter here: In chapter 5 the author describes what Christians are like. In verse 6, he says, “They marry like all other men and they beget children; but they do not cast away their offspring.”


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