It is written:
Acts 17:6-But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too.
Some claim that Christianity is responsible for the woes of the world. Indeed, over the years I have worked with many atheists and agnostics who make this claim, seemingly unaware of the fact that one reason they are able to make these claims so vocally is because of the freedoms that they enjoy in this country-which is a direct result of Christian influence!
So, many Americans badmouth Christianity, utilizing the very freedoms which they enjoy, which are a direct result of Christianity!
Over the years, many have noticed the various contributions of Christianity to the world.
“Despite its humble origins, the Church has made more changes on earth for the good than any other movement of force in history. To get an overview of some of the positive contributions Christianity has made through the centuries, here are a few highlights: • Hospitals, which essentially began during the Middle Ages. • Universities, which also began during the Middle Ages. In addition, most of the world’s greatest universities were started by Christians for Christian purposes. • Literacy and education for the masses. • Capitalism and enterprise. • Representative government, particularly as it has been seen in the American experiment. • The separation of political powers. • Civil liberties. • The abolition of slavery, both in antiquity and in more modern times. • Modern science. • The discovery of the New World by Columbus. • The elevation of women. • Benevolence and charity; the good Samaritan ethic. • Higher standards of justice. • The elevation of the common man. • The condemnation of adultery, homosexuality, and other sexual perversions. This has helped to preserve the human race, and it has spared many from heartache. • High regard for human life. • The civilizing of many barbarian and primitive cultures. • The codifying and setting to writing of many of the world’s languages. • Greater development of art and music. The inspiration for the greatest works of art. • The countless changed lives transformed from liabilities into assets to society because of the gospel. • The eternal salvation of countless souls. The last one mentioned, the salvation of souls, is the primary goal of the spread of Christianity. All the other benefits listed are basically just by-products of what Christianity has often brought when applied to daily living. The rest of this book is devoted to demonstrating how all of these benefits to mankind have their origins in the Christian faith.” (D. James Kennedy & Jerry Newcombe, What if Jesus Had Never Been Born?, 118-136 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN; Thomas Nelson, Inc.)
Let’s notice in more detail how Christianity has been a tremendous source and influence of good in the world of humanity.
Christianity And Women
Jesus Christ was a Revolutionary towards women and towards women’s equality in the world.
For example, the very first eyewitness to Jesus’ resurrection from the dead was a woman:
Mark 16:9-Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons.
This is amazing when we consider how women were treated in first century Judaism, particularly in regard to legal testimony in courts of law:
“Sooner let the words of the Law be burnt than delivered to women.” (Talmud, Sotah 19a)
“The world cannot exist without males and without females-happy is he whose children are males, and woe to him whose children are females. (Talmud, Kiddushin 82b)
“But let not the testimony of women be admitted, on account of the levity and boldness of their sex, nor let servants be admitted to give testimony on account of the ignobility of their soul; since it is probable that they may not speak truth, either out of hope of gain, or fear of punishment. (Josephus, Antiquities 4.8.15)
“Any evidence which a woman [gives] is not valid (to offer), also they are not valid to offer. This is equivalent to saying that one who is Rabbinically accounted a robber is qualified to give the same evidence as a woman. (Talmud, Rosh Hashannah 1.8)
On a side note, this also teaches us something regarding the credibility of the Apostles report regarding the resurrection of Christ from the dead.
“4. The naming of specific women as the first witnesses to the empty tomb was highly embarrassing for the first-century Jews. A woman’s testimony was considered as practically worthless in a court of law and was hardly ever allowed. No invented account would have named any women as the first witnesses if it wanted to gain credibility. Moreland notes, “This probably explains why the women are not mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15 and the speeches of Acts, since these speeches were evangelistic.” (MoJP.S 168) Further, that Mary Magdalene (one previously possessed by demons) is named would have further eroded confidence in the report. The only possible reason for a writer including this information is that he was compelled to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” (Josh McDowell & Bill Wilson, Evidence For The Historical Jesus: A Compelling Case For His Life And His Claims, 6774-6778 (Kindle Edition); Eugene, Oregon; Harvest House Publishers)
More to the point, the fact that Jesus chose a woman to be the first eyewitness of His resurrection demonstrates the attitude towards women that Jesus and His followers had.
Consider another example from the life of Jesus
Luke 10:38-42-Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” 41 And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. 42 But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.
Notice that Mary was a woman who “sat at Jesus’ feet.” This was a Jewish expression that meant that Mary was a recognized disciple of Jesus, being taught His Word as male disciples were also. In the first century world of Judaism, this was amazing!
“One very familiar story in Luke’s account is that of Mary and Martha (Luke 10: 38–42). Preachers often pose the question, “Which are you, Mary or Martha?” in sermons. This is an excellent teaching passage on taking the time to learn and be contemplative. In Luke 10: 39, however, Mary is sitting at the feet of Jesus. This was the position that a disciple took. It’s the very same posture that Paul took when he learned from Gamaliel in Jerusalem (Acts 22: 3; cf. Luke 8: 35). What’s so startling about this story is that women were not disciples of rabbis. Period! They received no formal education, and the only skills they were taught were typically household duties. Moreover, if a man instructed his daughter in the Law, it was as if he was teaching her lustfulness according to the rabbis (m. Sotah 3.4). Women were too simple minded to learn such deep truths, so it was believed. For Mary to have become a disciple was for Jesus to have elevated women. This one small detail in this story is often overlooked, but it is a profound truth in a short phrase. Luke shows that Christ elevated women to the status of a disciple (Luke 24: 10).” (Steven Hunter, Being Phoebe: How Women Served in Early Christianity (Start2Finish Bible Studies), 13 (Kindle Edition); Dalls, TX; Start2Finish Books)
When we look at the way that Jesus treated women in the first century, we can understand why so many adore Him.
“JESUS’S CHARACTER • Loyal • Trustworthy • Honest • Moral • Attentive • The highest level of integrity • Direct • Smart • Supportive • Faithful • A gentleman • Respects you • Emotionally intelligent • He is willing to put the work in to get you where you need to be • Will never leave you • Will never condemn you • Wants only the best for you • Has your back • The best friend you’ll ever have • Best big brother ever And above all • Is crazy stinkin’ in love with you and wants you to follow Him wholeheartedly No, you didn’t just time warp and open up a Glamour Magazine to a checklist touting all the best qualities of a perfect mate. Do you see? Do you understand? These women in this book might not all be like you, but I know there’s at least one you can relate to. These women were flesh and bone like us: flawed, bent and most likely their own worst enemies. Can you hear some of the self-talk? Jesus lovingly met each where they were and was gracious enough not to leave them there. With patience, commitment, unconditional love, and acceptance He’s holding out His hand to you now to do the same.” (Dawn Baggott Ford, Jesus’s Stops: The women Jesus encountered in John’s gospel and why it matters now, 39 (Kindle Edition); Maitland, FL; Xulon Press)
Observe further that the the Apostle Paul allowed women to be taught alongside the male disciples in the first century:
1 Timothy 2:11-Let a woman learn in silence with all submission.
This again speaks to the positive influence of Christianity in the world towards women.
“Concerning the question of educating women in the Church, however, much is known. Whenever Paul established a church, he insisted that women were to be educated in the faith. He began this passage in 1 Timothy with the words “let a woman learn,” and while such a program would be in keeping with Paul’s goal for women, it was at variance with Jewish and Greek customs. Jewish women were not included in formal education. It was permissible for a man to teach Scripture to both boys and girls, 1 but a woman could not teach even the youngest of children in a school, and one rabbi said that “if a man gives his daughter a knowledge of the Law, it is as though he taught her lechery.” 2 Women were to be educated only in matters regarding homemaking skills. As one rabbi said, “There is no wisdom in woman except with the distaff.” 3 (See chapter 1, this volume.)…Therefore, Paul’s desire that women be educated in the faith was both radical in thought and difficult in execution. Women were not used to listening to lectures or thinking about theo-logical concepts, or studying at all….“But the word for silence is a lovely word, hesuchia (hey-soo-KEY-ah). It does not mean simply refraining from talking. It means restful quietness, as in meditation or study. A few sentences before, Paul used this same word to describe the peaceful and quiet life (1 Tim. 2: 2), good and acceptable before God, the kind of life Paul wished for all believers….It is quite possible that Paul had in mind a certain woman or group of women in Ephesus when he wrote this passage. If so, Paul was not willing to lessen his insistence that women are to learn, in spite of the high-handed attitude of one or some. Instead, he wrote that they are to learn in quietness, without being rude or domineering.” (John Temple Bristow, What Paul Really Said About Women: The Apostle’s Liberating Views on Equality in Marriage, Leadership, and Love, 70-72 (Kindle Edition, emphasis added); New York, NY; HarperCollins NY).
How Women Were Viewed In Other Ancient Nations
Many teach that women were somehow revered in the other nations of the world. They are quite often woefully ignorant of the facts of the matter.
“A respectable Athenian woman was not permitted to leave her house unless she was accompanied by a trustworthy male escort, commonly a slave appointed by her husband. 4 When the husband’s male guests were present in his home, she was not permitted to eat or interact with them. She had to retire to her woman’s quarters (gynaeceum). 5 The only woman who had some freedom was the hetaera, or mistress, who often accompanied a married man when he attended events outside his home. The hetaera was the man’s companion and sexual partner. 6 The Greek wife had virtually no freedom. Even in Sparta, where women had more freedom than in Athens, men kept their wives “under lock and key,” according to Plutarch, the second-century Greek biographer and essayist (Lycurgus 15.8). The poet Aristophanes has Calonice say in one of his plays, “We women can’t go out just when we like. We have to wait upon our men” (Lysistrata 16–19). The average Athenian woman had the social status of a slave. 7 And according to Euripides’ tragedy Medea, the wife could not divorce her husband, whereas he could divorce her anytime. Small wonder that Medea in Euripides’ play lamented, “Surely, of all creatures that have life and wit, we women are of all unhappiest” (Medea 231–32). Greek discrimination against women began early in a woman’s life cycle. Nonslave boys in Athens were sent to school, “taught to read and write, and educated in poetry, music and gymnastics; girls did not go to school at all,” says one Greek scholar. 8 Throughout a woman’s entire life she was not permitted to speak in public. Sophocles wrote, “O woman, silence is an adornment to woman” (Ajax 293); Euripides asserted, “Silence and discretion are most beautiful in woman, and remaining quiet within the house” (Heraclitus 476); and the philosopher Aristotle said, “Silence gives grace to woman” (Politics 1.1260a). But long before the days of Euripides, Sophocles, and Aristophanes, the writer Homer portrayed Telemachus rebuking his mother Penelope for speaking in the presence of men. Dogmatically, he tells her that “speech shall be for men” (Odyssey 1.359). The Athenian woman was also deemed inferior to man. Given this cultural perception, the Greek poets were fond of equating her with evil. Euripides (480–406 B.C.) has Hippolytus ask, “Why hast thou given a home beneath the sun, Zeus, unto woman, specious curse to man?” (Hippolytus 616–17). Aeschylus (525?–456 B.C.) has a chorus declare, “Evil of mind are they [women], and guileful of purpose, with impure hearts” (Suppliant Maidens 748–49). Another Greek poet, Aristophanes, has the chorus in his play Lysistrata say, “For women are a shameless set, the vilest of creatures going” (368–69). The great epic writer Homer has Agamemnon declare, “One cannot trust women” (Odyssey 11). And, of course, it was the Greek myth of Pandora’s jar that blamed woman for introducing evil into the world.” (Alvin J. Schmidt, How Christianity Changed the World, 98-99 (Kindle Edition, emphasis added, M.T.); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan)
When we consider these facts, it is little surprise that scholars throughout time have recognized the amazing impact of Christianity on recognizing the equality of women with men.
“One scholar of ancient Rome has aptly said that “the conversion of the Roman world to Christianity [brought] a great change in woman’s status.” 2 Another has expressed it even more succinctly: “The birth of Jesus was the turning point in the history of woman.”” (Alvin J. Schmidt, How Christianity Changed the World, 98 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan)
Let’s consider how Christianity has made an amazing impact on the world in regard to children.
Jesus and His Word have always held children in the highest regard.
Matthew 18:3-and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 18:14-Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.
According to the Old and New Testaments, children were to be primarily provided for by their parents (Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 6:1-7; Ephesians 6:1-5). This was in direct contrast to the decrees of many nations in the ancient world:
“The individual was regarded as of value only as he formed a part of the political fabric, and was able to contribute to its uses, as though it were the end of his being to aggrandize the State. 1 This was the pagan idea of man. The wisest philosophers of antiquity could not rise above it. Its influence imbued the pagan world.” (Richard Fronthingham, The Rise of the Republic of the United States, 162-166 (Kindle Edition); Miami, Florida; Hard Press)
Abortion And Exposure
Christ and His Word have always taught that life begins in the womb at the moment of conception, and that children are uniquely made in the image of God. This was so evident that the taking of life in the womb was considered murder.
Exodus 21:22-25-“If men fight, and hurt a woman with child, so that she gives birth prematurely, yet no harm follows, he shall surely be punished accordingly as the woman’s husband imposes on him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. 23 But if any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.
Sometimes it is claimed that this passage is actually teaching that the unborn are less “human” than others. However, a detailed analysis of the passage reveals the opposite:
“EXODUS 21:22–23 Does this passage show that unborn children are of less value than adults? PROBLEM: According to some translations of the Bible, this text teaches that when fighting men cause a woman to have a “miscarriage” they “shall be fined” (v. 22 , RSV ). But, if the fighting men caused the death of the woman, the penalty was capital punishment (v. 23 ). Doesn’t this prove that the unborn was not considered a human being, as the mother was? SOLUTION: First of all, this is a mistranslation of the verse. The great Hebrew scholar, Umberto Cassuto, translated the verse correctly as follows: When men strive together and they hurt unintentionally a woman with child, and her children come forth but no mischief happens—that is, the woman and the children do not die—the one who hurts her shall surely be punished by a fine. But if any mischief happens, that is, if the woman dies or the children, then you shall give life for life. ( Commentary on the Book of Exodus, Magnes Press, 1967) This makes the meaning very clear. It is a strong passage against abortion, affirming that the unborn are of equal value to adult human beings. Second, the Hebrew word ( yatsa ), mistranslated “miscarriage,” actually means to “come forth” or to “give birth” (as NKJV , NIV ). It is the Hebrew word regularly used for live birth in the OT. In fact, it is never used for a miscarriage, though it is used of a still birth. But, in this passage, as in virtually all OT texts, it refers to a live, though premature, birth. Third, there is another Hebrew word for miscarriage ( shakol ), and it is not used here. Since this word for miscarriage was available and was not used, but the word for live birth was used, there is no reason to suppose it means anything else than a live birth of a fully human being. Fourth, the word used for the mother’s offspring here is yeled which means “child.” It is the same word used of babies and young children in the Bible ( Gen. 21:8 ; Ex. 2:3 ). Hence, the unborn is considered just as much a human as a young child is. Fifth, if any harm happened to either the mother or the child, the same punishment was given, “life for life” (v. 23 ). This demonstrates that the unborn was considered of equal value with the mother. Sixth, other OT passages teach the full humanity of an unborn child (see comments on Ps. 51:5 and 139:13ff ). The NT affirms the same view (cf. Matt. 1:20 ; Luke 1:41 , 44 ).” (Norman Geisler & Thomas Howe, When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties, 1163-1180 (Kindle Edition); Victor Books)
Of course, science also confirms that life begins in the womb:
“Many people have been told that there is no medical or scientific consensus as to when human life begins. This is simply untrue. Among those scientists who have no vested interests in the abortion issue, there is an overwhelming consensus that human life begins at conception. (Conception is the moment when the egg is fertilized by the sperm, bringing into existence the zygote, which is a genetically distinct individual.) Dr. Bradley M. Patten’s textbook, Human Embryology, states, “It is the penetration of the ovum by a spermatozoan and the resultant mingling of the nuclear material each brings to the union that constitutes the culmination of the process of fertilization and marks the initiation of the life of a new individual.64 (Unless otherwise noted, quoted words in italics have been italicized by me, rather than the original author.) Dr. Keith L. Moore’s text on embryology, referring to the single-cell zygote, says, “The cell results from fertilization of an oocyte by a sperm and is the beginning of a human being. ’65 He also states, “Each of us started life as a cell called a zygote.”66 Doctors J. P. Greenhill and E. A. Friedman, in their work on biology and obstetrics, state, “The zygote thus formed represents the beginning of a newhfe.67 Dr. Louis Fridhandler, in the medical textbook Biology of Gestation, refers to fertilization as “that wondrous moment that marks the beginning of life for a new unique individual.”68 Doctors E. L. Potter and J. M. Craig write in Pathology of the Fetus and the Infant, “Every time a sperm cell and ovum unite a new being is created which is alive and will continue to live unless its death is brought about by some specific condition.”69 Popular scientific reference works reflect this same understanding of when human life begins. Time and Rand McNally’s Adas of the Body states, “In fusing together, the male and female gametes produce a fertilized single cell, the zygote, which is the start of a new individual. “70 In an article on pregnancy, the Encyclopedia Britannica says, “A new individual is created when the elements of a potent sperm merge with those of a fertile ovum, or egg.”71 These sources confidently affirm, with no hint of uncertainty, that life begins at conception. They state not a theory or hypothesis and certainly not a religious belief—every one is a secular source. Their conclusion is squarely based on the scientific and medical facts. 1c. Some of the world s most prominent scientists and physicians testified to a U.S. Senate committee that human life begins at conception. A United States Senate judiciary subcommittee invited experts to testify on the question of when life begins. All of the quotes from the following experts come directly from the official government record of their testimony.72 Dr. Alfred M. Bongioanni, professor of pediatrics and obstetrics at the University of Pennsylvania, stated: I have learned from my earliest medical education that human life begins at the time of conception…. I submit that human life is present throughout this entire sequence torn conception to adulthood ma that any interruption at any point throughout this time constitutes a termination of human life…. I am no more prepared to say that these early stages [of development in the womb] represent an incomplete human being than I would be to say that the child prior to the dramatic effects of puberty…is not a human being. This is human life at every stage. Dr. Jerome Lejeune, professor of genetics at the University of Descartes in Paris, was the discoverer of the chromosome pattern of Down syndrome. Dr. Lejeune testified to the judiciary subcommittee, “aher fertilization has taken place a new human being has come into being. “ He stated that this “is no longer a matter of taste or opinion,” and “not a metaphysical contention; it is plain experimental evidence.” He added, “Each individual has a very neat beginning, at conception. “ Professor Hymie Gordon, Mayo Clinic: “By all the criteria of modern molecular biology, life is present from the moment of conception.” Professor Micheline Matthews-Roth, Harvard University Medical School: “It is incorrect to say that biological data cannot be decisive. …It is scientifically correct to say that an individual human life begins at conception. … Our laws, one function of which is to help preserve the lives of our people, should be based on accurate scientific data.” Dr. Watson A. Bowes, University of Colorado Medical School: “The beginning of a single human life is from a biological point of view a simple and straightforward matter—the beginning is conception. This straightforward biological fact should not be distorted to serve sociological, political, or economic goals.” A prominent physician points out that at these Senate hearings, “Pro-abortionists, though invited to do so, failed to produce even a single expert witness who would specifically testify that life begins at any point other than conception or implantation. Only one witness said no one can tell when life begins.”73 1d. Many other prominent scientists and physicians have likewise affirmed with certainty that human life begins at conception. Ashley Montague, a geneticist and professor at Harvard and Rutgers, is unsympathetic to the prolife cause. Nevertheless, he affirms unequivocally, “The basic fact is simple: life begins not at birth, but conception.”74 Dr. Bernard Nathanson, internationally known obstetrician and gynecologist, was a cofounder of what is now the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL). He owned and operated what was at the time the largest abortion clinic in the western hemisphere. He was directly involved in over sixty thousand abortions. Dr. Nathanson’s study of developments in the science of fetology and his use of ultrasound to observe the unborn child in the womb led him to the conclusion that he had made a horrible mistake. Resigning from his lucrative position, Nathanson wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine that he was deeply troubled by his “increasing certainty that I had in fact presided over 60,000 deaths.”75 In his film, The Silent Scream, Nathanson later stated, “Modern technologies have convinced us that beyond question the unborn child is simply another human being, another member of the human community, indistinguishable in every way from any of us.” Dr. Nathanson wrote Aborting America to inform the public of the realities behind the abortion rights movement of which he had been a primary leader.76 At the time Dr. Nathanson was an atheist. His conclusions were not even remotely religious, but squarely based on the biological facts. Dr. Landrum ShetÜes was for twenty-seven years attending obstetriciangynecologist at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York. Shettles was a pioneer in sperm biology, fertility, and sterility. He is internationally famous for being the discoverer of male-and female-producing sperm. His intrauterine photographs of preborn children appear in over fifty medical textbooks. Dr. ShetÜes states: I oppose abortion. I do so, first, because I accept what is biologically manifest—that human life commences at the time of conception—and, second, because I believe it is wrong to take innocent human life under any circumstances. My position is scientific, pragmatic, and humanitarian.77 The First International Symposium on Abortion came to the following conclusion: The changes occurring between implantation, a six-week embryo, a six-month fetus, a one-week-old child, or a mature adult are merely stages of development and maturation. The majority of our group could find no point in time between the union of sperm and egg, or at least the blastocyst stage, and the birth of the infant at which point we could say that this was not a human life.78 The Official Senate report on Senate Bill 158, the “Human Life Bill,” summarized the issue this way: Physicians, biologists, and other scientists agree that conception marks the beginning of the life of a human being—being that is alive and is a member of the human species. There is overwhelming agreement on this point in countless medical, biological, and scientific writings.79”. (Randy Alcon, Pro-Life Answers to Pro-Choice Arguments, 921-994 (Kindle Edition); Multnomah Books)
Despite this, the ancient world often practiced abortion.
“The idea of life being sacred in itself was quite foreign to the Roman mind. Abortion was not discouraged by law and was very extensively practiced. It was apparently well understood and a regular part of the physician’s practice. The destruction of a new born infant was common. A sickly or deformed child was drowned at birth, and the fate of the normal child was solely in the hands of the father. The exposure of girl babies was common enough that there were professionalists who gathered them up and reared them until they could be sold into slavery.” (F.W. Mattox & John McRay, The Eternal Kingdom: A History of the Church of Christ, 6 (Kindle Edition, emphasis added); Charleston, AR; Cobb Publishing)
Pedophilia And Homosexuality
Christianity made a profound difference in the world in regard to homosexuality and pedophilia:
Romans 1:26-27-For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.
Jesus teaches that people may be forgiven of all sin when they obey God’s plan of redemption (i.e., through faith, repentance, and baptism):
1 Corinthians 6:9-11-Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
Consider the link in the ancient world between homosexuality and pedophilia, and see how Christianity made a profound difference in this regard:
“Many people today know that the Greeks were notorious for their homosexual behavior. But often they do not know that Greek homosexual sex was primarily pederasty or pedophilia, that is, an adult man having sex with a young boy who commonly was between twelve and sixteen years old. The Romans practiced the same perversity. Roman literature both before and after the birth of Christ has numerous references, similar to Greek writings, showing that this kind of homosexual behavior was widespread and common. That Roman homosexuality was largely pederastic is underscored by its own poet Martial. He is rather explicit and unembarrassed in referring to it. To Phaedrus, he writes, “You sleep with well-endowed boys” (Epigrams 3.72). To another he says, “You do it with long-haired boys whom you have procured for yourself with your wife’s dowry” (Epigrams 7.97). So explicit are Martial’s writings that he even notes one man was unable to sodomize his boy lover who had diarrhea (Epigrams 11.88). Florence Dupont, a modern historian, writes that the Romans were so obsessed with pederasty that “beardless youths had to be prohibited from taking part in Saturnalia [a festival in honor of Saturn, the harvest god] in order to protect their virtue.” 21 And according to Martial, young boys were not only sodomized by adult men but also by women (Philaenis 7.67). The acceptance of pedophilia among the Roman populace is not just evident in the literature of its poets and philosophers; it is also illustrated on archaeological artifacts. Clarke’s book (cited above) shows many plates of Roman relief portraits of man-boy couples engaged in sex. These pictures depict behavior that today, even in an increasingly secular and anti-Christian society, is regarded as morally abhorrent and thus legally classified as child molestation. As with the heterosexual customs, the sexual depravities were not confined to the Roman public, but were also practiced by society’s upper echelon. Thus, we find pederastic sex as common behavior among many Roman emperors. Legends say that Tiberius, the emperor under whose rule Christ was crucified, often surrounded himself with young boys whom he used sexually. 22 Nero had at least two boys, Sporus and Pythagoras, with whom he engaged in sexual acts. Sporus was castrated so he could assume the role of “wife” for Nero, and with Pythagoras, Nero himself assumed the role of “wife.” 23 Emperor Galba, who succeeded Nero, had at least one male lover, and Titus loved to party with his catamites and eunuchs. 24 Hadrian (117–38), the emperor who built Hadrian’s Wall across northern England, not only had numerous affairs with women, but he also had a young lad, Antinous, as his sexual companion. 25 Emperor Commodus, along with three hundred concubines, also had three hundred young boys to satisfy his sexual appetite. Emperor Elagabalus (218–22) had many homosexual liaisons. He often went about town at night playing the part of a male prostitute. Still another emperor, Carus (282–83), used boys sexually. 26 These emperors, given to the perversity of pederasty or pedophilia, were commonly bisexual. As one Roman historian has noted, Rome’s sexual sensuality in its most degrading forms pervaded all classes and was “the opprobrium of history.” 27 Whether it was the craving to have sex with boys or to have sex with all sorts of women, the conscience of the Roman populace and its emperors was dead as stone. The pagan gods whom the Romans worshiped did not set high moral standards, nor did they ask for contrition or repentance—that was foreign to Greco-Roman paganism. Instead, as one historian says, the pagan gods “were often seen as the First Cause [sic] of the spiral of desire.” 28”. (Alvin J. Schmidt, How Christianity Changed the World, 85-87 (Kindle Edition, emphasis added); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan)
The ancient world also at times strongly endorsed homosexual “marriage” even as it stood for pedophilia:
“In actuality, there was much more diversity in the types of same-sex relations in the Roman world. While we have numerous examples that fit the active and passive paradigm, there were several exceptions to this norm. We know of at least two emperors who played the passive role in intercourse with other men. Nero dressed up as a bride when he married his “husband” Pythagoras (Tacitus, Ann. 15.36–37). In this second marriage to another man, Nero—obviously of high status—assumed the passive role. Elagabalus (AD 218–222) also “[ indulged] in unnatural vice with men” (S.H.A. Elagabalus 5.1–2) and made a public bath in the palace that “by this means he might get a supply of men with unusually large organs” (S.H.A. Elagabalus 8.6–7). Finally, the emperor Hadrian, while maintaining the active role, had a public love affair with the Bithynian Antinoüs. According to Aelius Spartianus, Hadrian wept passionately for Antinoüs when he died, which suggests that Hadrian’s love for Antinoüs was more than just an exploitative sexual outlet…. “Consensual, same-sex love—even marriages—can be found during the time of imperial Rome. A second-century AD writer named Iamblichos talks about a marriage between two women named Berenike and Mesopotamia (Photios, Bibliothēkē 94.77a–b), and Lucian of Samosata mentions the marriage of two wealthy women named Megilla and Demonassa (Dial. meretr. 5.1–3). Ptolemy of Alexandria, a famous second-century AD scholar, refers to women taking other women as “lawful wives” (Tetrabiblos 3.14 sect. 172). And several archaeological discoveries depict mutual love between women, including a funeral relief that dates to the time of Caesar Augustus in which two women are holding hands in a way that resembles “the classic gesture of ancient Roman married couples” (Brooten 1994, 59–60).” (Edwin M. Yamauchi & Marvin R. Wilson, Dictionary of Daily Life in Biblical & Post-Biblical Antiquity: Same-Sex Relations (Dictionary of Daily Life in Biblical and Post-Biblical Antiquity), 263-285 (Kindle Edition, emphasis added); Peabody, Massachusetts; Hendrickson Publishers Marketing, LLC)
Christianity brought a recognition to the world that these actions were not acceptable before a perfectly holy God.
Islam And Child Brides
Think of how, even today, the exploitation of children is taught as a virtue in many world religions.
For example, Muhammad’s most famous “wife” was Aisha. She and Muhammad were married when she was six years old (he was in his forties), and then it was consummated when she was nine.
“5.236: Narrated Hisham’s father: Khadija died three years before the Prophet departed to Medina. He stayed there for two years or so and then he married ` Aisha when she was a girl of six years of age, and he consumed that marriage when she was nine years old.” (Simon Abram, Islamic Hadith, 14940 (Kindle Edition))
In stark contrast to this, Christianity brought great and needed reform in the world. By teaching people God’s standard for marriage and the family (Matthew 19:1-13; Mark 10:1-8; Luke 16:18; 1 Corinthians 7), homosexuality and pedophilia lost much of their influence.
Think of how Christianity has greatly influenced slavery in the world.
Many claim that Christianity endorsed slavery.
However, they misunderstand several important facts.
First, slavery in the Old Testament and in the ancient world was more a form of indentured servitude.
“A mistake critics make is associating servanthood in the Old Testament with antebellum (prewar) slavery in the South-like the kind of scenario Douglass described. By contrast, Hebrew (debt) servanthood could be compared to similar conditions in colonial America. Paying fares for passage to America was too costly for many individuals to afford. So they’d contract themselves out, working in the households-often in apprentice-like positions-until they paid back their debts. One-half to two-thirds of white immigrants to Britain’s colonies were indentured servants. “Likewise, an Israelite strapped for shekels might become an indentured servant to pay off his debt to a “boss” or “employer” (‘adon). Calling him a “master” is often way too strong a term, just as the term ‘ebed (“servant, employee”) typically shouldn’t be translated “slave.” John Goldingay comments that “there is nothing inherently lowly or undignified about being an ‘ebed.” “Even when the terms buy, sell, or acquire are used of servants/employees, they don’t mean the person in question is “just property.” Think of a sports player today who gets “traded” to another team, to which he “belongs.” Yes, teams have “owners,” but we’re hardly talking about slavery here! Rather, these are formal contractual agreements, which is what we find in Old Testament servanthood/employee arrangements. ..“Contrary to the critics, this servanthood wasn’t much different experimentally from paid employment in a cash economy like ours.” (Paul Copan, Is God A Moral Monster? Making Sense Of The Old Testament God, 124-125 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Books)
As such, individuals (and whole families) could sell themselves into slavery if they chose. This would literally save their lives during times of famine, drought, pestilence, and war!
Second, there were many laws in the Old Testament that protected slaves.
If slaves were mistreated, they were to be set free (Exodus 21:26-27);
Slave Traders were to be killed (Exodus 21:16; Deuteronomy 24:7);
Abused run-away slaves were NOT to be returned to their abusers (Deuteronomy 23:15-16);
Slave-Masters who killed their slaves were to be put to death (Exodus 21:21; CEV-Death is the punishment for beating to death any of your slaves).
Slaves were to be set free every seven years (Exodus 21:1-2; Deuteronomy 15:12);
The slavery laws were to be for Jews and non-Jews dwelling in their lands (Leviticus 19:33-34; Deuteronomy 10:18-19);
The New Testament teaches all people are equal (Matthew 23:8-9; Galatians 3:26-29);
The New Testament teaches that slaves should buy their freedom if they were able to do so (1 Corinthians 7:21)
The New Testament exhorts slaves and masters to treat each other with love and oppose violent reform (Philemon 16);
Third, the Apostle Paul endorsed the equality of all persons and even encouraged slaves to buy their freedom if they had opportunity:
Galatians 3:28-There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
1 Corinthians 7:21-Were you called while a slave? Do not be concerned about it; but if you can be made free, rather use it.
In the ancient world, slavery among the nations was often a terribly brutal practice. Slaves were considered little more than property. However, look at the amazing difference the Gospel of Jesus Christ made on the ancient world in regard to slavery!
“Slaves fared no better among the Greeks, whose philosopher Aristotle argued that “a slave is a living tool, just as a tool is an inanimate slave. Therefore there can be no friendship with a slave as slave” (Nichomachean Ethics 8.11). In many instances, Christians freed slaves. During the second and third centuries, according to Robin Lane Fox, the early Christians “were most numerous in the setting of urban households where freeing [of slaves] was most frequent.” He further states that “the freeing of slaves was performed in church in the presence of the bishop.” 6 How many slaves were freed during the early years of Christianity can never be known, but that there were many is illustrated by W. E. H. Lecky, who says, “St. Melania was said to have emancipated 8,000 slaves; St. Ovidius, a rich martyr of Gaul, 5,000; Chromatius, a Roman prefect under Diocletian, 1,400; Hermes, a prefect under Trajan, 1,200. [And] many of the Christian clergy at Hippo under the rule of St. Augustine, as well as great numbers of private individuals, freed their slaves as an act of piety.” 7 It is also known that Constantine in A.D. 315, only two years after he issued the Edict of Milan, imposed the death penalty on those who stole children to bring them up as slaves.” (Alvin J. Schmidt, How Christianity Changed the World, 2)74 (Kindle Edition, emphasis added, M.T.); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan)
Christianity And The Civil War Era
Perhaps we have forgotten (or have never been taught) the role that Christianity played in helping people recognize the equality of all men during the Civil War era.
“His story, which was published in 1789, did much to educate the British people about the actual experiences and horrors of the slave trade and slavery itself, and it provided a powerful argument against the idea that Africans were different from any other people. The book showed its author to be a deeply sensitive, extremely intelligent human being, and an exceedingly devout Christian. The acutely Christian character of the British abolitionist movement is undeniable, for its leaders were all consciously acting out of the principles of their deeply held faith. For the pronounced enemies of abolition, however, the notion of human equality had no objective basis and was a mere tautology, a snake swallowing its tail.”(Eric Metaxas, Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery, 96 (Kindle Edition, emphasis added, M.T.); New York, New York; HarperCollins E-Books)
Finally, consider how Christianity has made such a tremendous impact on the world in regards to science.
The Bible has always encouraged people to study the world and the universe. For example, Paul wrote:
1 Thessalonians 5:21-Test all things; hold fast what is good.
Now, consider how Christianity has influenced scientific progress in the world:
“Great cultures, where the scientific enterprise came to a standstill, invariably failed to formulate the notion of physical law, or the law of nature. Theirs was a theology with no belief in a personal, rational, absolutely transcendent Lawgiver, or Creator. Their cosmology reflected a pantheistic and animistic view of nature caught in the treadmill of perennial, inexorable returns. The scientific quest found fertile soil only when this faith in a personal, rational Creator had truly permeated a whole culture, beginning with the centuries of the High Middle Ages. It was that faith which provided, in sufficient measure, confidence in the rationality of the universe, trust in progress, and appreciation of the quantitative method, all indispensable ingredients of the scientific quest….The future of man rests with that judgment which holds the universe to be the handiwork of a Creator and Lawgiver. To this belief, science owes its very birth and life. Its future and mankind’s future rest with the same faith.” (Stanley L. Jaki, Science And Creation: From Eternal Cycles To An Oscillating Universe, 232-253 (Kindle Edition, emphasis added); Fort Collins, CO; Gondolin Press)
“To be fair, the claim that Christianity led to modern science captures something true and important. Generations of historians and sociologists have discovered many ways in which Christians, Christian beliefs, and Christian institutions played crucial roles in fashioning the tenets, methods, and institutions of what in time became modern science.2 They found that some forms of Christianity provided the motivation to study nature systematically; sociologist Robert Merton, for example, argued seventy Christianity provided the motivation to study nature systematically; sociologist Robert Merton, for example, argued seventy years ago that Puritan belief and practice spurred seventeenth-century Englishmen to embrace science.3…Although they disagree about nuances, today almost all historians agree that Christianity (Catholicism as well as Protestantism) moved many early-modern intellectuals to study nature systematically.4 Historians have also found that notions borrowed from Christian belief found their ways into scientific discourse, with glorious results; the very notion that nature is lawful, some scholars argue, was borrowed from Christian theology.’ Christian convictions also affected how nature was studied….For all these reasons, one cannot recount the history of modern science without acknowledging the crucial importance of Christianity.” (Ronald L. Numbers, Editor, Galileo Goes To Jail: And Other Myths About Science And Religion, 856-874 (Kindle Edition); Cambridge, Massachusetts; Harvard University Press)
What About Sins Of Christians?
Some may point out that throughout the years, Christians have been guilty of horrible deeds and atrocities. This is true, and needs to be recognized.
With that being said, consider these closing thoughts.
First, God’s people often fall short of what the Lord teaches. This is a fact that is made clear throughout the entire Word of God (cf. Genesis 3:1-6; Isaiah 59:1-2; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8). The Word of God freely acknowledges this. This is not an excuse, merely an acknowledgement. Christians do not hide the fact of their sins: they acknowledge them and strive to live better lives before God and with their fellow man.
Second, there is a difference between the failings of some individuals who fail to live up to the ideals of Christ and His Word, and between the failure of a system as a result of the fact that the system itself is fundamentally flawed.
For example, during the Crusades, the Roman Catholic church perpetrated horrible abuses on people. However, this was in direct opposition to what the Word of God teaches (cf. Matthew 5:44-45). As such, in this case Christianity did not fail (since the teachings of Christ and His Apostles were directly in opposition to what took place during the Crusades): instead, the followers of Catholicism failed because the system of Catholicism was fundamentally flawed.
As another example, think of how how atheistic regimes often get a “free pass” by those who refuse to acknowledge the consequences of the atheistic worldview. Atheistic regimes have been directly responsible for the deaths of multitudes of people, and this follows logically from the worldview of atheism.
As D’Souza documents:
“In this chapter, I want to focus on the really big crimes that have been committed by atheist groups and governments. In the past hundred years or so, the most powerful atheist regimes—Communist Russia, Communist China, and Nazi Germany—have wiped out people in astronomical numbers. Stalin was responsible for around twenty million deaths, produced through mass slayings, forced labor camps, show trials followed by firing squads, population relocation and starvation, and so on. Jung Chang and Jon Halliday’s authoritative recent study Mao: The Unknown Story attributes to Mao Zedong’s regime a staggering seventy million deaths.4 Some China scholars think Chang and Halliday’s numbers are a bit high, but the authors present convincing evidence that Mao’s atheist regime was the most murderous in world history. Stalin’s and Mao’s killings—unlike those of, say, the Crusades or the Thirty Years’ War—were done in peacetime and were performed on their fellow countrymen. Hitler comes in a distant third with around ten million murders, six million of them Jews. So far, I haven’t even counted the assassinations and slayings ordered by other Soviet dictators like Lenin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev, and so on. Nor have I included a host of “lesser” atheist tyrants: Pol Pot, Enver Hoxha, Nicolae Ceauşescu, Fidel Castro, Kim Jong-il. Even these “minor league” despots killed a lot of people. Consider Pol Pot, who was the leader of the Khmer Rouge, the Communist Party faction that ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979. Within this four-year period Pol Pot and his revolutionary ideologues engaged in systematic mass relocations and killings that eliminated approximately one-fifth of the Cambodian population, an estimated 1.5 million to 2 million people. In fact, Pol Pot killed a larger percentage of his countrymen than Stalin and Mao killed of theirs.5 Even so, focusing only on the big three—Stalin, Hitler, and Mao—we have to recognize that atheist regimes have in a single century murdered more than one hundred million people…Religion-inspired killing simply cannot compete with the murders perpetrated by atheist regimes….Communism calls for the elimination of the exploiting class, it extols violence as a way to social progress, and it calls for using any means necessary to achieve the atheist utopia. Not only was Marx an atheist, but atheism was also a central part of the Marxist doctrine. Atheism became a central component of the Soviet Union’s official ideology, it is still the official doctrine of China, and Stalin and Mao enforced atheist policies by systematically closing churches and murdering priests and religious believers. All Communist regimes have been strongly anti-religious, suggesting that their atheism is intrinsic rather than incidental to their ideology….The atheist regimes, by their actions, confirm the truth of Dostoevsky’s dictum: if God is not, everything is permitted. Whatever the cause for why atheist regimes do what they do, the indisputable fact is that all the religions of the world put together have in three thousand years not managed to kill anywhere near the number of people killed in the name of atheism in the past few decades. It’s time to abandon the mindlessly repeated mantra that religious belief has been the main source of human conflict and violence. Atheism, not religion, is responsible for the worst mass murders of history.” (Dinesh D’Souza, What’s So Great About Christianity? 213-220 (Kindle Edition): Washington, DC; Regnery Publishing Inc.)
Notice the contrast here: Christianity teaches the fact that mankind is made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-27), and as a result Christians who fail to acknowledge this have violated God’s Word (which is far superior to atheism). When atheism holds that mankind is slime, why should it surprise us when people who believe in atheism treat humanity like slime? This reflects a failure of the philosophy of atheism.
In the same way, the teachings of Buddhism and Hinduism regarding reincarnation have led to horrible devastation and starvation in multiple countries. Even though there is enough livestock to feed each person, the people will not use the food for this purpose because they believe that a cow may be someone’s grandmother (i.e., the direct teaching of reincarnation).
Christianity is a religion which has brought tremendous good into the world where the teachings of Christ and His Word are adhered to.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.
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