If the West discards its Christian heritage, little will remain to protect innocent human life
by Max Polak Mar 8 2017 published in the mercatornet.com
We are frequently reminded that ours is a post-Christian era. There is some basis for this — but only in the depopulating West. In China, India and Africa, Christianity is on the rise.
But what about those places where it isn’t? Is it irrelevant? Hardly. People who criticise Christianity don’t complain because Christians are attacking them with car bombs. They should remember that the core principles of Western society are Christian.
Take marriage, for instance. Before the advent of Christianity, polygamy was common, especially among elites. Men readily divorced women, though women found it more difficult to divorce men. There was a plethora of sexual behaviours which made living in the bigger cities of the Roman Empire risky to one’s health, one’s security or one’s sanity.
Then there was the attitude to human life. Roman law protected “the other” to some degree if he or she were a Roman citizen. But slaves were not protected by any legal structure and were at the mercy of their masters. Those foreigners who did not obey the Roman Emperor in matters of religion were punished with torture and death.
The sick could only be cared for by their own families and resources – if they had any. The poor were only able to survive by begging. Infants were routinely exposed to the elements on birth to see if by surviving they merited to live. And abortion was common. A variety of contraceptive methods were known or presumed to work, including the use of certain herbs. Life was cheap.
Superstition made people fearful of innumerable objects, natural phenomena, persons, and innocuous events. Even persons of high stature paid at least lip service to mythical gods like Jupiter, Venus and Mars. Stories about them illustrated not virtue but murderous vice. There was no historical or philosophical evidence to substantiate their existence, nor any reason why one should honour them or learn from them.
Christianity, a world view with roots in the small nation of the Jews, began to win converts with striking rapidity. It proposed a whole new perspective founded on the crucifixion and resurrection of the Nazarene Jesus. It was a risk to one’s safety and prosperity to be known as a Christian. Nevertheless, within three centuries some 10 percent of the Empire was Christian and soon thereafter the Church represented the dominant religion. At the end of the 4th century emperor Theodosius actually acquiesced to a judgment by the Christian bishop Ambrose of Milan. A Christian, he submitted to public penance for overstepping the mark in quashing a public riot.
During the 4th century the Christian Church introduced practices which made a profound impression on the culture. Its way of treating the poor, the sick, children and even its persecutors greatly extended the notions of magnanimity, duty of care, forgiveness and patience. Read more at the mercatornet.com