Athenagoras [c. AD 133-190] described himself as the “Athenian, Philosopher, and Christian” indicating that he was probably converted after having been trained in Greek Philosophy. After his conversion, he became an influential apologist for Christianity in the East.
The excerpt below is from a plea he made to his fellow Christians to condemn and detest all forms of cruelty (especially murder and abortion).
What man of sound mind, therefore, will affirm, while such is our character, that we are murderers? For we cannot eat human flesh till we have killed some one. The former charge, therefore, being false, if any one should ask them in regard to the second, whether they have seen what they assert, not one of them would be so barefaced as to say that he had.
And yet we have slaves, some more and some fewer, by whom we could not help being seen; but even of these, not one has been found to invent even such things against us.
For when they know that we cannot endure even to see a man put to death, though justly; who of them can accuse us of murder or cannibalism?
Who does not reckon among the things of greatest interest the contests of gladiators and wild beasts, especially those which are given by you? But we, deeming that to see a man put to death is much the same as killing him, have abjured such spectacles.
How, then, when we do not even look on, lest we should contract guilt and pollution, can we put people to death?
And when we say that those women who use drugs to bring on abortion commit murder, and will have to give an account to God for the abortion, on what principle should we commit murder? For it does not belong to the same person to regard the very fœtus in the womb as a created being, and therefore an object of God’s care, and when it has passed into life, to kill it; and not to expose an infant, because those who expose them are chargeable with child-murder, and on the other hand, when it has been reared to destroy it. But we are in all things always alike and the same, submitting ourselves to reason, and not ruling over it.
From Athenagoras’ “Plea for the Christians”, chapter 35