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Some Strange Christian Nostalgia for Pre-Christian Antiquity

Marc Barnes makes a misguided argument about paganism (via Rod):

Think about it: Christianity is still attacked — one would hardly deny the fact — but the Christian today is rarely summoned up to defend the Holy Family. He is instead forever being called to rise to the defense of that Pagan institution, the human family. The fundamentally human idea that a vow is a thing forever kept is an idea weary and battered by divorce. That natural, human understanding that a child is Good is an understanding contracepted from our hearts.

I don’t think I’m being pedantic in pointing out that pre-Christian societies in the Mediterranean world regularly practiced infanticide and abortion, and particularly among some of the “hardest” ancient societies deformed and female children were frequently abandoned and exposed to the elements. Pre-Christian societies in what we might call “the West” valued certain children as the continuation of a family’s lineage, but not all children were valued so highly. Likewise, many ancient Mediterranean societies allowed for divorce. So if one is interested in defending the family and the sanctity of life and of marriage, one would be ill-advised to follow the example of ancient pre-Christians, whose values and practices were sometimes starkly at odds with the teachings of the Church.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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