I know nothing about Dr. Steven W. Waterhouse, except that he’s written Outside the Heavenly City: Abortion in Rome and the Early Church’s Response. But I’d really like to meet him.
It’s a fascinating little booklet.
In certain quarters of the church today, abortion has actually become controversial. Far more often than not, this is simply because the church’s guttering lamp has been overwhelmed by the surrounding culture’s s love of autonomy and irresponsibility, and its consequent hatred for children. Creeping liberalism and syncretism, in other words; the salt losing its savor and the lamp hiding out under a basket with all the cool kids. Of course, this is not always the case: there are rock-ribbed conservatives who believe that abortion is permissible, and their reasoning tends to be more conscientous and less…heedless…than the liberal variety. I acknowledge the distinction, although I’m not all that impressed with the difference between them. Call me crazy, but my sympathies are with the kid, who winds up just as dead no matter how solid mommy’s conservative credentials might be.
But I’m addressing the liberals today. One of the common excuses bandied about by the liberal variety of waffler is “Hey, these are difficult, complicated choices, and although I may be personally opposed to abortion, who am I to say that it’s not the right choice for someone else in their unique circumstances?” In other words, these matters are hopelessly muddy, and it’s not possible to take a clear stance on the issue.
The early church, as Waterhouse demonstrates, didn’t agree. Of course this doesn’t mean they were right — “The early church believed it” isn’t some sort of magic solvent that dissolves every objection — but it is a point of interest in the continuing discussion. At the very least, the early church’s clear pro-child, anti-infanticide stance demonstrates that murk and confusion is not inevitable. These days, that’s important in itself.
Westcliff Press , which publishes the book, looks to be a small operation (can handle credit cards, cannot do so online), so ordering will have to be done the old-fashioned way — by phone or mail. However, at $2 each ($1 if you buy 3 or more), it’s not as though cost is a hardship. Buy one for yourself and a few to pass around. You won’t regret it.