Sunday, September 30, 2012

Worshipping Moloch

             The worship of Moloch is alive and well in Canada, which you might find surprising, given that Moloch was the deity worshipped by the ancient Ammonites in the time of Moses.  One of the less charming aspects of his worship was the practice of sacrificing babies to secure his favour and thus provide for health, financial security, and happiness for those doing the sacrificing.  There is, I suggest, no doubt that ancient Ammonite mothers found this occasional sacrifice of their infants sufficiently heart-wrenching, and that it was not done routinely or easily.  One imagines that, given their circumstances, they felt they had no choice.  I would not demonize the mothers of a long-gone day.
            Nonetheless, the Mosaic Law refused to accept such practices or include them within the mandated worship of Yahweh.  In Leviticus 18:21 we read, “Neither shall you give any of your offspring to offer them to Moloch, nor shall you profane the Name of your God.”  Other nations allowed for child-sacrifice, “making their children pass through the fire to God” (as the phrase had it).  Our God regarded such practices as abhorrent.  Children were not disposable things, but persons, adorned with the image of God.
            As said above, it is perhaps surprising to find Moloch worshipped in Canada, and to find this worship celebrated as praise-worthy, progressive, enlightened, and to find it fiercely protected by Canadian law.  But so it is.  Apparently the human heart does not change, nor does the abiding reality of barbarism; we simply change the names and alter the labels on them.
            By “worshipping Moloch”, I refer of course to the recent vote held in the Canadian House of Parliament September 26.  Vote # 466 proposed “That a special committee of the House be appointed and directed to review the declaration in Subsection 223(1) of the Criminal Code which states that a child becomes a human being only at the moment of complete birth and to answer the questions hereinafter set forth.”  In other words, the proposal, put forward by Conservative backbencher MP Stephen Woodworth, asked that a discussion be held to determine whether or not a fetus is human.  He intended by this to reconsider the now-venerable Canadian legal freedom to destroy a child in the womb anytime prior to the actual onset of labour.
            The response to Woodworth’s motion was immediate and vociferous.  Rallies were held in Vancouver denouncing it as an attempt to push back the clock and keep women down, as a disgusting and retrograde attack on women’s rights.  (The fact that half of the children aborted were female seems not to have occurred to the vociferous arguers.)  The proposal was opposed by many, including the present Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who was on record as saying that he opposed opening the topic in the first place.  Not surprisingly the NDP voted against it, denouncing it as an attack on women’s rights, since freedom to destroy the unborn is an official part of the NDP platform and must be supported by anyone running for office under that banner.
            To no one surprise, including Mr. Woodworth’s, the vote did not pass:  91 MPs voted in favour of having the debate, 203 voted against.  (Mr. Woodworth later said that he was surprised that the proposal gathered as much support as it did.)  Canada remains legally committed to retaining the freedom to destroy its unborn any time before labour pains begin.  Moloch continues to be worshipped and fed.
            How much do we feed Moloch?  Let’s look at some statistics, and compare our reactions to other forms of death.  Take for example traffic fatalities.  Death on the highway through traffic collisions is indeed a terrible thing, and is justly lamented as a tragedy.  We reserve all kinds of moral indignation for those responsible for it, and loudly denounce our justice system when drunk drivers kill others through such collisions and receive what we regard as light sentences.  Organizations such as MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) exist to channel our indignation and work to eliminate such deaths.  And no one, to the best of my knowledge, hold rallies denouncing MADD.  
How many people are killed in collisions?  Not all traffic fatalities are the result of drunk driving, of course, but all are tragic.  Happily, the rate has been dropping.  In 1979 there were 5933 deaths in Canada; in 2004 there were 2875.  The total number of motor vehicle deaths from 1979 to 2004 is 97,964.  (Stats from Statistics Canada.)  Despite the “good news” (comparatively speaking) of a dropping death rate, people of all political stripes are still hard at it to denounce drunk driving and one day reach the situation where no one dies in traffic collisions on our roadways.   
Now compare statistics for abortion in Canada—that is, for legal, reported abortions (some abortions going “unreported” as “D. and C.s”), abortions funded by the government-sponsored, tax-supported medical system.  The rate of such abortions is going up, not down.  In 1970, the first year that such abortions became legal, there were 11,132 such abortions done in Canada.  In 2004, there were 100,039 such abortions done in Canada, which is more than all the motor vehicle deaths from 1979 to 2004 combined.  (Research conducted by the Guttmacher Institute.)
            Let’s compare again:  2004 saw 2875 unintended deaths on the roadway, with the accompanying (and justified) hand-wringing from all political parties and all persons of good will.  The same year 2004 saw 100,039 deliberately intended deaths in the womb, with angry denunciations of anyone who would have the temerity to question this.  That is more than the 2011 population of Delta, B.C., whose population last year was 99,863.  (For our American friends, that is about the size of Rialto, California, whose 2010 population was 99,171.)  Every year in Canada, a group the size of a modern city is slaughtered, and Parliament will not even allow a discussion of this fact.  Moloch is alive and well, and his shrine flies a Canadian flag.  It should; we feed him well.
            What does this mean for us Orthodox?  Simply that we should speak the truth whenever possible, and not turn our eyes and hearts away from the fact that our nation routinely and resolutely slaughters its unborn.  That is, that as a nation, we are barbarous.  For that is what the term “barbarous” means.  A nation’s barbarity is judged not by whether or not its people love classical music, and speak finely and protectively about the “rights” of groups of which they approve.  It is judged by how they treat the helpless among them, and about how they protect the rights of those of which they emphatically disapprove.  At the risk of being unduly provocative, let us remember that Germany in the 1930’s loved classical music, and spoke protectively about the rights of those groups of which they approved.  It was the groups of which they did disapproved that provided the test of whether or not that nation in that particular decade was civilized or barbarous.  When this same test is applied now to Canada, our nation fails utterly.  In 1930’s Germany, the group of which they disapproved was labelled by some as “untermenschen”; it contemporary Canada the group of which some disapprove is labelled “fetal tissue”.  Regardless of the identity and label, the correct term for the practice relating to both groups is “genocide”.
The fact that our nation has descended into barbarism does not mean that we should despair.  But it means that we should pray.  And it means that we should continue to speak the truth, however unpopular this may be.  God is not mocked.  He remains the father of the fatherless, the defender of widows, and the champion of the unborn.  On the Last Day when the books are opened (Rev. 20:12), this Parliamentary vote will be recalled, for the way that the MPs voted has been recorded in heaven as well as in the House of Commons' Hansard.  Let us speak the truth while we can, for Heaven records our responses as well to the ongoing genocide of the unborn.


  1. The problem with your argument is that the action you support would unintentionally result in greater barbarity.

    1. I only saw two actions supported: "pray", and "speak the truth". How does either of those unintentionally reuslt in greater barbarity?

  2. I don't like abortion any more or less than any other conservative or right-winger. But the reality is that their proposals as to what to do about it are not realistic. Making abortion illegal is not a way of dealing with the issue. Some kind of socialism, or at least a social safety net, is. We can't call ourselves 'pro-life' if we are not going to approve of public funds being spent on education, housing, employment, health care, and, dare I say it, day care. Otherwise, we're just pro-birth. And let's face facts; if there's no public funding for contraception, and little access to it, then the abortion rate will go through the roof.

  3. There is NO evidence of greater barbarity in raising the QUESTION of when life begins. Canada is the most backward nation when it comes to abortion. Almost all nations in which abortion is legal (and where it has been legal much longer than in Canada) have SOME legislation in place as to when abortion is permissible--ie usually not after 13 weeks gestation--for the VERY sensible reason that a fetus at 9 months is not to easy to terminate and because the attempt is SERIOUSLY dangerous medically speaking for the mother. STUPID STUPID STUPID!!!

  4. An additional note that of course regardless of whether the government even allows the question to be asked, people of good will continue to provide support of various kinds to women at risk and their babies both before and after delivery. Our parish's charitable ministry has done collections of baby clothing and supplies to be distributed through a local shelter.

    Canada is out of step with many countries who place clear restrictions on abortion. What I find most horrifying and unjust under our current lack of abortion law is that the women who are faced with this decision are really only technically free to choose. So many women say they choose abortion only because they feel they have no other choice. There are women who choose abortion because that's what the father of the child or other male partner wants. Worst of all, there are teenagers who choose abortion because their parents insist upon it.

    Instead of protecting abortion access at all costs, our government should provide more support for pregnant women in difficult situations and encourage more adoptions.

  5. Refusal to address this issue is willful ignorance and therefore NOT FREEDOM.

  6. It is indeed true that simply outlawing abortion is not the total answer, but that options need to be made available to encourage women to keep their babies, or at least put them up for adoption.
    Regarding public funding for contraception and access to it: happily contraception is readily accessible at any drug store, and at little enough cost that public funding should not be required. The problem is not with the availability of contraception, but with our current mentality which views abortion as a kind of retroactive contraception.

  7. Contraception can be gotten free actually from almost any organization geared to social welfare. Contraception is not a problem in Canada or any western "developed" country at all. And you are perfectly right Gavin--more does need to done regarding social programs--including and especially daycare. Unfortunately daycare in the country not only has no money but is very very unregulated. It is more convenient and cheaper to just avoid any question of the ethics of abortion rather than ask the questions and work on finding some way of reducing abortions--particularly late term ones in which mothers are harmed as well--than to go on screaming about women's rights while insisting on keeping them all ignorant. It disgusts me.

  8. Canada also needs to make it far less expensive and less of a hassle to adopt a child. From the many stories I've heard of there is a ridiculous amount of red tape and expense involved. Why wouldn't the government cover the costs since a permanent home is a better solution for the child and otherwise the government would be paying for foster care anyways?

  9. Roxanne, I absolutely agree. Permanent adoption is much preferable to being shunted about in a series of foster care homes.

  10. At the same time, if we want less abortions - or preferably none - we have to accept that there are going to be a lot of unwed, single mothers (and fathers) out there. And they are going to need financial help from elected governments to avoid poverty for themselves and their children. Yes, let's ease up on adoption restrictions, but that also is only one part of the solution.
    It'd be nice if 99% of everyone was heterosexual, monogamous, staying married 'til they died, and waiting 'til they were married to have sex. But, we don't live in that kind of a society anymore. Ethical decisions are made in the face of less than ideal states of affairs.

  11. It is true that ethical decisions must be made in the face of less than ideal states of affairs. But this is not new: ethical decisions have always been made in less than ideal states since we left the Garden. The less than ideal state simply brings into greater prominence the moral choices we must make, and sometimes calls us to heroism if we would avoid barbarism. Take Germany in the 1930s: the less than ideal state of affairs at that time and place meant that people then had a choice between becoming martyric heroes or complicit (in one degree or another) in barbarism and genocide. The tragedy of the time with its less than ideal state of affairs effectively meant that the middle ground of mediocrity and non-heroic decency was no longer open. Each one had to choose between silence and costly protest. Every generation and place has its own unique challenges. The choice between accepting the genocide of the unborn as a human right and protesting against it is the moral challenge given to our current generation--and one which requires less heroism on our part than was required by those who opposed the genocide in the 1930s.

  12. Yes, well, I know a certain priest who likes to remind his congregation that getting concerned about human rights or global warming or the spotted owl is all right; but, we have to keep our eyes on the Kingdom of Heaven and trust that everything will work out. So, what's fair is fair; no special pleading will do. Getting concerned about abortion is comendable, if that's what your conscience leads you to. Be true to your conscience. Mine leads me to be concerned with human rights, poverty, and the promotion of democracy and socialism.
    But, in the end, as the priest says, we have to keep our spiritual eyes on the Kingdom of Heaven . . . .

  13. I agree with the priest you mentioned about following one's conscience, and especially about keeping one's eyes on the Kingdom. But I don't think that protesting national genocide in one's country can be fitly compared with working to end poverty, working against global warming, and promoting democracy. These latter are worthy "causes" among which one may choose (and where the work is endless and the point at which success has been attained somewhat nebulous); whereas the presence of genocide is a clear evil which must be protested by anyone of conscience. Note: I am not saying that one must make pro-life work one's "cause", only that it should elicit protest.

  14. I don't disagree Gavin. The Conservatives need to admit that and start dealing with it because a less-than-ideal state is preferable to killing thousands of people don't you think? If you ask me both right and left leaning goverments in Canada would say no to that question...


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