Christmas and infanticide are forever related and linked.
That may sound strange. Christmas is supposed to be a happy occasion. Food, family, and presents are the order of the day. And thoughts about baby Jesus, of course.
The tame, mild baby Jesus who was born in a manger, surrounded by cute, cuddly animals (all who could be at a modern day petting zoo, of course), doted on by his parents, and visited by some dumbfounded shepherds.
This view helps us maintain the sentimentality of the season. Fuzzy feelings and sugar plum thoughts.
But let’s not forget the rest of the story.
The wise men came bearing gifts for a king, intending to give homage. But the ruler of the land, Herod, a bloodthirsty tyrant, became jealous for his own power. He was troubled. And he was right to be troubled.
For make no mistake, the story of Christmas is the story of the first gambit in the last battle of a long war. It is the rightful king coming to take up his throne. The prince who would raise up the lowly, and throw down the prideful. Prideful people just like Herod.
And so Herod had every child under the age of two years old slaughtered. Mass murder. Infanticide. Mothers weeping as their children were stolen from their arms.This is as much a part of the Christmas story as the angels singing “Peace on earth,” but we don’t sing many carols about Rachel weeping for her children.
In a nation like ours that routinely murders its own children as a matter of convenience, it is a part of the story that we can never forget. Bundled up in the Christmas story is a clear picture of why Christmas had to happen in the first place. The world is dark. The world is sinful. The world is begging for light.
When the Bible says Herod was troubled, it also says that all of Jerusalem was troubled with him (Matthew 2:3). Their salvation from tyrants, like Herod, had been born, and yet they sided with the tyrant. They empathized with the man who would kill their children not long after.
It is no different today. Our own Herods nod approvingly as they allow the slaughter of millions of innocents, in numbers that might have made the original Herod blush. And we nod right along with them. We have our excuses. Some of them even sound reasonable, on the surface. But that is par for the course with sin. It always sounds reasonable, right up to the point where it demands your very life, or the life of someone you love.
We think we are an enlightened people. Because science…or something. But we are no better than Herod and his ilk. Perhaps, we are even worse.
Christmas is a time for celebration. So celebrate. But know what you are celebrating: the hope of a final victory of over darkness. A darkness that casually calls for the slaughter of children on a whim. A darkness that still calls for the slaughter of children.
This is the very darkness that Christ stepped down into, so that it would flee like a swarm of cockroaches.
Merry Christmas. And may the light continue to scatter the darkness.