At the Altar of Moloch

There is nothing “progressive” about a society which legalizes the murder of the unborn

John Monaco
Jan 28 · 16 min read
Offering to Moloch (illustration from the 1897 Bible Pictures and What They Teach Us by Charles Foster)

Outside the walls of Jerusalem, southwest of the ancient city, lies a small valley. Since the 7th-century B.C., this valley was called Gei Ben-Hinnom; in Hebrew, meaning “Valley of the Son of Hinnom,” and, by the 1st-century A.D., was commonly known in the Aramaic language as Gēhannā. Today, the valley looks insignificant, unworthy of a second glance. After all, like most valleys, it too is filled with grass and vegetation. In ancient times, however, this specific valley took on a different meaning, as Gehenna was the place of child-sacrifice. In this valley, parents willingly offered their children to suffer a brutal killing, so that they would be a pleasing sacrifice to the Canaanite god, Moloch, who in turn would grant the people prosperity & favor.

(1) Gehenna (2) The ancient city of Jerusalem

The Old Testament makes several references to this valley (Josh 15:8; 2 Chr 28:3; 2 Kgs 28:10), and none of them are positive, glowing reviews (for obvious reasons). The child-sacrifices occurred at a particular place in the valley, called Tophet. The Hebrew word, toph, translates to ‘drum’ or tambourine. According to several medieval Jewish commentators, the place of child-sacrifice was called Tophet because of the Canaanite priests, who banged their drums loudly so that the parents did not hear the screams of their dying children. One Jewish commentator, Rashi (A.D. 1040–1105), describes the sacrifice in detail in his commentary on Jeremiah 31:7:

That is Molech, which was of copper, and they would heat it up from underneath it with its hands spread out and heated. And they would place the child on his hands, and he would be burnt and moan, and the priests would beat drums so that the father should not hear his son’s voice and take pity. It is called Topheth because of the drum (תּוף), Hinnom because of the child’s moaning (נהמת).

Another Jewish commentator, familiar with the ancient Canaanite cultic practices, describes the altar of Moloch in detail:

[it] was a hollow statue, which contained seven apartments: in one there was offered to the god, flour; turtle-doves were sacrificed in the second; sheep in the third; rams in the fourth; cakes in the fifth, and bulls in the sixth; as to the seventh cell, it was opened when they were going to sacrifice children.

Lest one think this is anti-pagan mythology, recent historical and archaeological evidence from ancient Carthage proves otherwise. Carthage provides a helpful example to the practices of Moloch-worshipers, as it was a city founded by the Canaanites themselves (who were called ‘Phoenicians’ by Greek merchants). Modern evidence affirms that child-sacrifice truly happened, and in very violent, tortuous ways. As the 1st-century Greek biographer, Plutarch, writes:

[W]ith full knowledge and understanding they [the Carthaginians] themselves offered up their own children, and those who had no children would buy little ones from poor people and cut their throats as if they were so many lambs or young birds; meanwhile the mother stood by without a tear or moan; but should she utter a single moan or let fall a single tear, she had to forfeit the money, and her child was sacrificed nevertheless; and the whole area before the statue was filled with a loud noise of flutes and drums, which took the cries of wailing, so that they did not reach the ears of the people.

During the reforms by King Josiah (7th-century B.C.), these practices were outlawed in the land of Judah. Josiah, under the command of God, ordered “that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Moloch.” (2 Kgs 23:10). That term, “pass through the fire”, was certainly not a euphemism — the Canaanites literally burnt their children alive. It was because of these atrocities that the LORD, through the prophet Jeremiah, warned that Gehenna would be forever known as the “Valley of Slaughter”, a place where corpses would pile up “until there is no room”. Gone would be joyful and happy voices, “for the land shall be desolate.” (Jer 7:32–34)

The word ‘Gehenna’ is mentioned twelve times in the New Testament, with 11 of its occurrences coming from mouth of Jesus. Gehenna is described as a place of “unquenchable fire” (Mk 9:43), where “both soul and body” are destroyed (Mt 10:28). While some contemporary Christians try and sanitize this hellish reality by suggesting Gehenna was simply a “garbage dump” where the people of Jerusalem burned their trash, there is no archaeological or historical evidence proving so. Gehenna is a place of death, utterly opposed to the gift of life. And Gehenna — the “valley of slaughter” — is where we find ourselves today.


Last Tuesday, on the 46th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the New York State Senate passed the Reproductive Health Act, which extend the allowances for abortions even further. Now, a woman may abort her fetus if “the patient is within twenty-four weeks from the commencement of pregnancy, or there is an absence of fetal viability, or the abortion is necessary to protect the patient’s life or health.” The bill also allows for abortion to be procured by non-doctors. The ambiguous language of the bill — as well as the words of Governor Andrew Cuomo — indicate that “abortion will be available to women essentially on demand up to the point of birth.

Later that Tuesday night, the New York City sky shone in celebration, as the One World Trade Center Tower’s spire was lit pink to celebrate the passing of the law.

The One World Trade Center Tower, which was intended to be a memorial for those killed in the 9/11 attacks, now gloats triumphantly in the face of other innocent lives lost — the unborn.

Thomas Peters’ tweet isn’t too far off. Prior to Tuesday night’s vote, it was already legal in New York to tear a baby’s body apart, limb from limb, before crushing its skull. That is what we call a ‘second-trimester abortion’. What the Reproductive Health Act allows for now , in addition— a potential third trimester abortion — involves lethal injection into the heart of the fetus. And so, under this new law, it is entirely legal to terminate the life of a child at 24 weeks — a child who looks like this:

Interestingly enough, a well-known, board-certified OB/GYN with plenty of experience caring for pregnant women, offered an illuminating take on the RHA:


The “Progressive” Myth

Photo by Alex Knight on Unsplash

As a society, we like to think that we are more “advanced”, “woke”, and “enlightened” than our predecessors. Technological advancement and scientific discovery have puffed up our chests full of confidence. At the touch of a button, we can command a robot to sweep our living room floors. At our fingertips, we have a wealth of information available to us at 5G speed. We are always hearing the words “progress” & “innovation” thrown around in TED Talks. We are able to genetically-modify babies. Truly, we are living in an advanced & sophisticated society.

Except, we’re really not. For as wonderful and amazing as we think humanity is in 2019, we are actually failing a few basic litmus tests. Let’s think of some basic needs we share with animals, eh? For starters, food. Whereas our ancestors ate food in order to provide for one’s daily sustenance, we moderns make food-eating a recreational activity. Obesity is on the rise like never before. Water? We are destroying our ecosystems at an unprecedented rate, leading to ever-shrinking fresh water supply. Shelter? Our toxic economic policies and mis-distribution of wealth is the reason homelessness is ever-increasing, especially in “progressive” cities like San Francisco and Seattle.

But here’s the (literal) killer. We are literally the only species in the world which willfully and intentionally murder our young. Seriously. The entire animal kingdom & all of nature (including us) is wired to reproduce and defend our young, especially within the womb. What makes things even more ironic is that we hold ourselves as “more advanced” than our animal counterparts, and still fail the ‘nature test’. It’s true — animals act on instinct alone, and human beings alone can exercise rationality within a corporeal body. And so, the fact that we are even able to reason, make voluntary choices, and enact laws makes our society’s worship of abortion all the more twisted.

Make no mistake — there is nothing “progressive” about abortion. There is nothing praiseworthy about a society which legalizes the murder of the unborn. Period. Abortion is the direct termination of human life within the mother’s womb. It is a scientific fact that, when the sperm fertilizes an egg, human life begins. This is an undeniable, scientific fact — no religion necessary! Now comes the inevitable “It’s not a human, it’s a clump of cells!” Not only is that a false statement, it’s also rooted in poor philosophy. When does a ‘human’ become human? Is it when he or she can read? Well, that would automatically erase the ‘person-hood’ of the 781,000,000 illiterate people in the world, of which two-thirds are women. Is the fetus a human when he or she ‘looks like’ one? Besides being completely subjective (remember, throughout history, entire groups of people were considered sub-human because of their appearance), by the sixth week of pregnancy, the fetus has already began developing a nose, mouth, brain, intestines, and heart.

Sure, it doesn’t look like George Clooney, but then again, neither do I.

So when does a fetus ‘become’ a person? Well, considering that no human fetus has ever transcended the laws of nature and was born an elephant, I think it is safe to say that person-hood is established at the moment of conception. Anything else would be ‘ableism’, no? The fetus is not a “potential human being”; it is a “human being with potential”. Note the difference. In the former, the humanity of the fetus is denied, postponed until some unsure date, whereas in the latter, the fetus (from the moment of conception) is understood to be a person — albeit a small one, at that!

But most Americans do not support unrestricted abortion. Many of those who are “pro-choice” argue that abortion should be allowed in the case of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is in danger. Let it be known that rape & incest are terrible crimes against humanity and a disgusting assault upon human dignity. Let it also be known, however, that just because a baby is conceived out of rape or incest does not make the baby any less human. Those who argue for abortion “rights” in these situations are understandably upset about the crimes of rape & incest. But they are acting by pathos (emotion), rather than by ethos (ethical character) or logos (logic). The answer to a crime against one’s humanity is to pursue justice against the offender — not to create a second victim (in this case, the child). In addition to these arguments come the arguments of utility — it is better that an “unwanted” baby be killed than experience a rough life, or to be born to parents who do not want him or her. Again, this is a logical error, as the potential future that awaits a child does not suddenly change his humanity, which remains in the child born of a crack-addict or the child born of royal lineage. A child is a child, and a child is human — no situational or consequential ethic can supersede this basic truth, nor can it erase that child’s right to life.

Part of what human “progress” means is that we are advancing in the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness. Because of this, abortion by its very definition is not progressive — it is regressive. It returns us to a state of barbarism and backwardness, a place where we not only act against our own natures, but that belonging to another, as well.


Language-Games

For far too long, language has been used to shy away from the horror of abortion. Phrases like, “My body, my choice!” & “Support women’s reproductive rights!” are used to mask the dark reality of what is going on behind the scenes. Of course, no one wants to be on the side of restricting one’s freedom. As soon as it is worded like that, the pro-lifer is branded as the “bad guy”. But why is defending the life of the unborn so bad to the pro-abortion crowd? It has to do with the misuse of “rights” language. In our society, we see freedom as this unrestricted, abstract “right” to do whatever we please. No longer do we see “freedom” as “choosing the good”, but instead we see it as a proto-“right” which eclipses even the most basic, fundamental right in the world — the right to live.

Language in the pro-abortion crowd thrives on making their opponents look like a bunch of old white men who want to “control” women’s bodies. They dress up their depravity by framing it within the context of “liberty”. However, despite what the pro-abortion folks want you to believe, freedom is never unrestricted. Unrestricted freedom would mean that we are allowed to whatever we please. But, just like the #MeToo movement correctly shows, freedom must respect the freedom and dignity of the Other. A man who sexually assaults a woman is a criminal, precisely because he misused his “freedom” by infringing upon the rights, freedom, and dignity of the woman. A person who kills their neighbor is not a “free” man — he is guilty of the crime of murder. We have laws in order to protect, safeguard, and honor the common good. But when our laws violate the common good, they are no longer ‘just’ laws. They are tyrannical obstacles to human flourishing.

Put simply, a person’s “rights” end where the rights of another begins. Thus, the woman has no real “right” to terminate the life of her unborn child because that would infringe upon the right to life belonging to her child. The location of the fetus — within the mother — is no more a reason to justify its murder, any more than a landlord has the “right” to kill his tenants. “My body, my choice” is a fundamental lie, for the body of the fetus is ultimately a body separate than that of the mother’s. While it is true that the life of the fetus is dependent upon the mother for viability, you can say the same about the life of any child outside of the womb. As far as I know, it is still a crime for a parent to kill his or her child in the years following the child’s birth, even though the child still depends on the mother (or father) for its survival. Although judging by the direction New York is heading in, we may be in for a change.

I know that, for many of you, such ideas are appalling: “hOw dArE YoU TrY AnD ReStRiCt mY FrEeDoM?” But the fact of the matter is that there has never been a society in which a person’s freedom is absolute, universal, and untethered by something greater than it. Even our abortion-celebrating American society doesn’t contain such freedom, as the above examples show. Do not be led astray by these false notions of “freedom” which endanger the lives of others, even those members of our society which you cannot see without an ultrasound. Am I free to shoot heroin into my veins? Is your father “free” to get belligerently drunk & drive on the road? Is your brother “free” to touch any person wherever he pleases? Of course not — any of these situations result in destruction and an erosion of one’s dignity, as well as the dignity of others. A person on Twitter who announces his plan to commit suicide is rightly reported, and hopefully gets the help he needs. Our society is ingrained for self-preservation, even if it creates unjust laws to try and prove otherwise.


The “Gods” of the Present Age

Narcissus is affixed to his own reflection in the spring. J.W. Waterhouse, 1903. Public domain.

According to the latest research, the fastest-growing religious group in the West are the “nones” — those who do not identify with any particular religion. Whether they be atheist, agnostic, or simply apathetic, the Millennial generation (and most likely the generation following) is called a “non-religious” generation. However, I am not sure I totally agree with this.

Everyone has a ‘god’ of some sort. Because none of us created ourselves, nor did we create society, or the earth, or the universe, we are entirely contingent beings and owe our existence to someone — or something — else. We are born, and we die. None of us lives on earth forever. Just because the ‘gods’ of the present age are not as traditional or theistic does not make them any less controlling over the lives of many. As I told my students once, “If you aren’t worshiping God, you are worshiping something else.” And so, I identify three ‘gods’ worshiped by the neo-pagans of today.

First, the ‘god’ in one’s self-agency. The practice and defense of abortion, for example, reveals the lack of belief in God as Creator. No one who commits an abortion truly believes that God — the creator of all things — has His own “rights” over life and death. All creation — and all of us — are subject to Him. Instead, those who advocate for the direct termination of unborn life often do so by worshiping the ‘god of Choice™’. This is a deity who says, “Hey, do whatever you want. It’s *your* life!” Identifying a person’s individual choice as the highest good, these neo-pagans defend just about any decision they make without shame or second-thought. To them, the ultimate meaning of life is to make choices — even if they are bad, harmful, or just plain wrong.

Secondly, the ‘god’ in the usefulness of situation. Any culture which supports abortion in the first place is not exempt from their own inverted worship. Many who support abortion as must-have in light of the “overpopulation” myth have revealed a second deity — the ‘god of Utility™’. Here, abortion is seen as a “useful” exercise, ensuring that the world’s resources will remain free from the hands of entire generations — wiped out in doctors’ offices. This deity also appears in the unstable philosophy which undergirds much of “pro-choice” discourse — “It’s better that the unborn baby with Down syndrome die than for him or her to have a useless life.” According to several news reports, there are apparitions of this ‘god’ in Iceland.

Lastly, a ‘god’ we have discussed earlier: Moloch. People who choose abortion because they cannot be “bothered” with another child, or who choose abortion because they believe they will be better off financially are no different than the Moloch-cult of the ancient Canaanites. After all, those who gave their children to Moloch did so to gain financial and material prosperity. Do I think that the parents who offered their children as sacrifice in the year 800 B.C. were monsters? No. I think that they truly believed — in their pernicious errors — that by sacrificing their own child, they would gain favor from the gods. As the ancient accounts recorded, the parents were clearly upset — as you remember, the Canaanite-priests beat their drums loudly to drown out the child’s screams so that the parents were not overcome with grief. And yet, despite their grief, we can obviously conclude (I hope) that their child-sacrifice was an atrocious evil. So too with abortion today do the emotions of the debate drown out the stark reality of it all — that in abortion, a human child dies a disturbing, painful, and unnecessary death. And no amount of flowery “rights”-language can cover the silent scream in the womb.


Abortion is an anti-sacrament. Whereas, for Christian theology, a sacrament is a visible sign of Christ’s invisible grace, abortion is a visible sign of Satan’s invisible influence upon our world. As Dr. Peter Kreeft, a professor at Boston College, writes:

“Abortion is the Antichrist’s demonic parody of the Eucharist. That is why it uses the same holy words, ‘This is my body,’ with the blasphemously opposite meaning.”

Time and time again, it is proven that abortion harms women. Abortion is also deeply anti-woman, and is antithetical to the very concept of feminism. Abortion-providers, such as Planned Parenthood, target black communities the most, which is unsurprising, given that PP’s founder, Margaret Sanger, was a known eugenicist and notable racist. As advances in science help us see the beauty of human life within the womb, it is clear that abortion is not an arbitrary “choice” that should be protected by law, but rather a crime against humanity which should be criminalized & its doctor-procurers imprisoned.

The existence of abortion and its sacrosanct status among its supporters is evidence that, contrary to popular belief, we are not living in a very “progressive” society. We are living in a society not much different than the one of the Canaanite pagans, who offered their children to false gods for their own selfish benefit. There is no middle-ground on this issue — silence is compliance, which leads to fetal violence. Either you support abortion and its legion of demons, or you choose, cultivate, and respect life. As for me, I choose the latter. And I pray that a future societal reform will once more destroy the altars of Moloch, and cast him — and all false idols — into the depths of Gehenna.


Author’s Note: If you or a loved one are facing an unplanned pregnancy, you are not alone. Whether you are considering abortion, or if you have had an abortion in the past & are seeking healing, the following resources may be helpful:

Via phone/email

Option Line — (800) 712–4357 | Option Line offers a confidential live chat, text line, and toll-free hotline that is available 24/7. The website contains additional resources for women who are considering abortion, have had an abortion, or are seeking alternatives to abortion.

Care Net — (877) 791–5475 | Care Net offers free resources and a confidential, toll-free, phone line available from 6 AM to 10 PM ET.

International Helpline for Abortion Recovery — (866) 482–5433 | International Helpline for Abortion Recovery provides confidential care 24/7 for those needing help after abortion. The helpline is staffed by consultants who have personally experienced the pain of abortion, but have also found hope and healing.

Rachel’s Vineyard — (877) 467–3463 | rachel@rachelsvineyard.org | Rachel’s Vineyard offers confidential, weekend programs and other services across the United States and Canada, with additional sites around the world, for anyone affected by abortion.

John Monaco

Written by

Graduate student in theology, seeking the true, good, and beautiful.

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