Moloch

“When the ancient Israelites sacrificed their children to Moloch, did God instruct the priests and kings to create welfare programs to stop their parents from killing their babies?”

A provocative question I found.

The answer is no, but the context was different.

The ancient Israelites willingly entered into a covenant relationship with YHWH.

They agreed to not worship the LORD their God in the way of their pagan neighbors, for every abominable thing that the LORD hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods. (Deuteronomy 12:31)

Yet, the ancient Israelites violated their agreement with God and they sacrificed their children to Moloch in a religious attempt to bring fertility to their land or to themselves instead of looking to and relying upon God to provide.

It would not make sense for God to command the creation of welfare programs in this covenant context. For one thing, trying to gain the favor of fertility gods implies the land of Israel often experienced times of scarcity and famine and so welfare states would not be possible since there is no abundance to make welfare states out of.

Also God’s primary focus on calling out the sin of killing babies for Moloch was judicial. He was well within his rights to punish his covenant people for their blatant violation of the agreement they willingly entered. He often compares this covenant transgression to adultery, as his covenant people were effectively breaking the marriage covenant with other so-called gods.

How God related to his ancient covenant members is one thing. How professing Christians should relate to unrepentant sinners who are outside the covenant of Christ is another.

Ancient Israelites sacrificing their kids to get in favor with fertility gods is one thing. Low income unbelieving parents killing their kids to escape economic hardship is another.

The motivation and context between the two scenarios is different.

The ancient Israelites broke an agreement that they knew about and willingly entered. Perhaps if the land was more fertile, the parents would not have sacrificed their children to Moloch, since the incentive would be removed. Even so in light of their covenant relationship with YHWH, it was expected that the Israelites would look to YHWH to provide for them.

Unbelieving low income parents, on the other hand, do not have a covenant relationship with God in Christ Jesus, so we cannot quite hold them to the same standards and expectations as we do for the ancient Israelites.

Ideally, low income parents would recognize that killing their kids in the womb is wrong and that they should give the child up for adoption or seek assistance from private charities and churches.

But I question to what extent unbelieving parents would understand and agree with biblical ethical standards that they did not enter into of their own accord yet. They often do what seems best to them in an agnostically cold pragmatic manner.

When they fail to recognize their own evil, they must repent and believe in Jesus as the Messiah for the forgiveness of sins, reconciliation to God the Father, and receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit.

They would have new hearts with new desires that seeks to bless the child. They would also ideally have access to communities that would help them raise the child up and learn to conform to biblical sexual standards such as saving themselves for marriage instead of engaging in risky sexual behavior.

But in the event that they reject the Gospel, there is hope that the next best thing would be having some welfare programs on hand that address the financial concerns of expecting parents, and rescue babies from those who often cite economic hardship as a reason for obtaining elective abortions.

Perhaps welfare recipients are substantially less likely to turn to abortion than are comparable low-income pregnant women especially in states where abortion policies, access to abortion providers, and public opinion reflect a pro-life orientation.

I personally have a preference for private charities and churches, but there may be room for having taxpayer-sponsored welfare programs provided that they are managed and used appropriately.