The Miracle of Life, by Justin Martyr


Despite being a small minority in pagan society (about 2% in the second century A.D.), Christians were staunchly opposed to child prostitution and sodomy, which invoked little criticism even from the best pagan moralists of their time.

In his First Apology, written in Rome in the middle of the second century and addressed to the Emperor Antoninus Pius and his adopted sons, Justin Martyr  (c. 114 – c. 165) defends Christianity by attacking the immoral practices of the pagans. In order to show that Christian teaching is morally superior, Justin subjects to severe criticism a widely accepted pagan practice of abandoning newly-born children.

But as for us, we have been taught that to expose newly-born children is the part of wicked men; and this we have been taught lest we should do any one an injury, and lest we should sin against God, first, because we see that almost all exposed (not only the girls, but also the males) are brought up to prostitution.1


1 Justin Martyr, “First Apology,” Translations of the Writings of the Fathers Down to A.D. 325, in Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1993), 172.

Share this article on…

More Articles

The Gift We Overlook

Early Christians saw themselves as the manifestation of Christ in the world. According to sociologist Rodney Stark, this understanding of Christ’s body fueled the church’s

Read More »

Preaching and Prayer

Augustine of Hippo (354-430)—famous bishop, pastor, theologian, and philosopher—was a superlative preacher. In On Christian Teaching, he shares with his brother pastors his meditations on the

Read More »