Christianity's Effect on the Roman Culture
Christianity came into the world approximately two thousand years ago. It was persecuted at first, but atually became the offical religion in 381 A.D. "It is the spiritual force that conquered the Roman Empire; one of the decisive elements in the growth of Western civiliztion (Bunson 9). Throughout history Christianity has played a major role in changing our society into what it is today. "Christianity won the professed allegiance of the overwhelming majority of the population of the Roman Empire and even the support of the Roman State (Latourette 65). Not only did Christianity thrive, but it also succeeded in changing the face of Roman culture.
Consider the gladiatorial fights. "The huge Coliseum at Rome seated 50 thousand people and was the scene of many bloody gladiatorial combats and even mock naval battles" (Schoder 108). "Hundreds of thousands of slaves shed their blood in the arena in Rome year after year to satisfy the perverted lust of the Roman mob" (Kennedy 148). "Although many Romans descried these blook-letting contests, there persisted a streak of cruelty in Roman public amusements which can scarcely be comprehended, far less condoned, today (81). The message of Christianity helped changed this aspect of Roman life because it gave worth and significance every life (Kennedy 149). Jesus told the multitudes to "love your neighbor as yourself" (Luke 10:27) He also told the story of the good summaritan to illistrate that any person he came in contact with was his good neighbor (Luke 10:30-37). Christianities message contains the golden rule "do to others as you you have them do to you" (Luke 6-3).
"The child of today is loved and adored. But it was not so in pre-Christian times. The Roman father?s power of his child was absolute. "He could expose it to death; he could scourge it, mutilate it, marry it, divorce it, see it as a slave, or kill it to satisfy his own blood lust." Quintillion, a roman writer, said that to kill a man was often held to be a crime, but to kill one?s own children was sometimes considered a beautiful action (Kennedy 149). The message of Christianity gave value to children. Jeasus said "who ever humbles himself like this child is greatest in my kingdom. If anyone causes these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone around his neck and be drowned in the Sea (Matt 18:4-6).
"Half of the entire Roman Empire consisted of slaves. The city of Athens had four hundred thousand inhabitants; one hundred thousand of those were free and three hundred thousand were slaves. Slavery in the ancient world was far more brutal than anything modern slavery has demonstrated. One Roman had six hundred slaves put to death for the killing of a man. Another roman master put a slave to death simply for the pleasure of a guest who had never seen anyone die (Kennedy 150)."