Change the World

Before Christ, “In all of history, only one culture had prohibited [abortion and infanticide]–that of the Jews” (42)

I remember my mother telling me where she was and what she was doing when she learned that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor. She was sweeping the basement floor and listening to the radio. When the news came, she shut off the radio. Denial is our first response to unfathomable news.

Eventually the event becomes memory. But if we lose our awareness of the past, we neglect the help it offers. Few people alive today remember the horror of hearing that news.

We’ve reached the point in our nation when no school age students remember the events of September 11, 2001. They have only heard about the day 19 terrorists killed more than 3,000 Americans on US soil.

Since the fall of Roe v. Wade more than a year ago, however, we realize American’s have not come to terms with legal abortion. We still argue over it. A voice still proclaims the sanctity of human life. A voice still declares the holiness of the traditional family–the community designed to welcome and nurture new sacred lives.

Before Christ, aside from the Jews, every society practiced abortion, infancticide, pedophilia, and adultery without internal controversy. In their book Seven Revolutions: How Christianity Changed the World and Can Change It Again, Mike Aquilina and James L. Papandrea explain that human rights, equality, and compassion for the needy and weak have been nonexistent throughout history except for the influence of the Judeo-Christian God.

In the Roman Empire, charity was unheard of.  “A woman had no legal existence apart from the men who controlled her.” Roman fathers could execute their children, if they “judged them guilty of a crime, even into adulthood” (69). Abortion and infanticide, especially of girls, were common. Not rare, but common.

Aquilina and Papandrea cite census reports from Delphi that show that out of 600 families, “only six raised more than one daughter” (authors’ emphasis, 48).

Jewish communities treasured their children. But nobody else in the world thought twice about throwing away girls or disabled boys, any “inconvenient” child, like trash.

Until Christ.

Christ and His messengers changed the world so that human rights and equality became norms in Western Civilization. Most families in societies the Church influenced understood the nature of their holy trust to nurture sacred lives.

Today some of us are like my mother at the moment she learned of tragedy in the South Pacific. We have turned off the radio. Voices still argue. Some children and families survive; some thrive. Many are wounded or worse.

In the decadent world–before and beyond the Roman Empire, Christians spoke.

“To affirm the universal dignity of human life requires the strong to speak up for and defend the weak, those who can’t speak for themselves” (29).

Christians are the voice to renew regard for human life. We hold the revolutionary ideas that changed the world once.

And those ideas can change it again.


 
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.
Psalm 139:16.

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Photo Credit: Pexels

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friends, Family, and Revolutions

“In a post-Christian culture the dominant worldview is not longer founded on Christian principles. . . The Church no longer shapes the culture. . . . In a very real sense, this ‘post-Christian’ world is coming full circle to resemble the pre-Christian world.” From Seven Revolutions: How Christianity Changed the World and Can Change It AgainAquilina and Papandrea, 23.

In the 1950s and ’60s we made room for Daddy and Father knew best, and Donna Reed’s version of Mom held her own as did Lucille Ball’s.

Entertainment mirrors society. As the family is the foundation of Christian culture, so it was in the land of television more than half a century ago. But in the late ’60s and into the ’70s, as America turned away from devotion to God, television lost its devotion to family.

In the 1970s Archie Bunker was a cartoonish father who did not know best. Television celebrated the single woman with Marlo Thomas’s That Girl and Mary Tyler Moore’s self-named series. Men were accessories, not necessities.

In the late ’70s came One Day at a Time, celebrating the woman emancipated by divorce. In the 1990s, Seinfeld was a show about nothing and Friends brought us the sexual escapades of six friends who sometimes came with benefits. Slowly, the television family had been distorted.

Television has become a primary conduit of culture with the average child viewing 28 to 32 hours a week of programming. Television provides much of the information we receive and shapes our ideas. It is an influence on par with the Church and family of the past.

A child growing up on a steady diet of typical network programming would think friendship to be the foundational life relationship, not marriage or a family connection. That sounds like a strange idea. But it’s an idea the world has embraced before.

The Ancient Greek Achilles spent most of the Trojan War upset that he had lost his “prize”–a woman/sex slave he had won through his feats. He only reentered the fight to avenge the death of his friend Patroclus.

Achilles’ fellow soldier Odysseus spent 20 years yearning to get home to his wife. The war consumed 10 years as Odysseus fought beside male counterparts. He spent the next 10 years trying to get home to his faithful Penelope, but enjoying some dalliances along the way. Odysseus retired to marriage; he did not invest his life in it. His son grew to manhood with his father absent.

The Trojan survivor Aeneas left his lover Dido to achieve his greater destiny–founding Rome. Aeneas later married Lavinia after brokering the deal with her father. “The Roman gentlemen we meet in literature were more likely to reserve ‘love’ for the exalted philosophical relationship between equals [other men of their social standing] that they theoretically prized” (Aquilina and Papandrea 71).

Ancient Greeks and Romans reserved affection for friends; marriage was about deal making. American feminism in the 1970s asserted that marriage was a financial arrangement, detrimental to women. Now unmarried couples cohabitate to save money. And prenuptial agreements and no-fault divorce laws do not seem to have contributed greatly to the romance or longevity of marriage.

For some people today, friendship does supersede marriage as the primary relationship. It’s not just that some friendships outlast some marriages. That can happen in any age. It’s that many Americans have come to expect more from their friendships and less from their marriages, just as ancient pagans did.

“From the point of view of Roman tradition, the single most revolutionary thing in Christianity was Paul’s startling instruction “Husbands, love your wives” (71).

The more America rejects traditional marriage and the family, the more like the pagan world America becomes. And the more pagan our nation becomes, the more clearly Christianity should stand out in contrast.

But “the truth is that many self-proclaimed Christians are joining the paganization of the culture, not to mention the criticism of Christianity itself” (23).

To embrace true Christianity today means becoming revolutionary. People will only hear us if we are willing to recognize the “challenges to traditional faith, call them out, and resist them. We will also need to support one another . . . speaking up for our brothers and sisters when they are ridiculed.”

Unity among Christians who embrace orthodoxy in faith and tradition in marriage and family will be crucial to our effectiveness in once more turning the world upside down.

“In this way, the Church of the twenty-first century can overcome the new paganism the way the Church of the pre-Christian world overcame the old paganism . . . by refusing to deny the faith and by being willing to risk our lives (or the comfort of our lifestyles) for something bigger than ourselves” (32).

Refuse to deny. Be willing to risk. Pursue the God bigger than ourselves.

One at a time, we can overturn paganism for Christ once more.

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is available in paperback! Get your copy here!

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Today’s post revised from January 2016