What Today’s Christians Can Learn From Antiquity About Living in a Hostile Pagan World
By Greg Scandlen
To survive in a hostile culture, Christians must articulate and exemplify an alternative vision of human flourishing.
Mollie Hemingway had a very nice article in The Federalist the other day in which she suggests that our society’s sexual obsession is a new religion. She writes,
This new religion has fervent adherents and strict dogma, but it’s also true that the doctrines are still being formed. Now that marriage has been redefined away from sexual complementarity, the project to redefine the sexes themselves is moving forward. The doctrines governing biological reality, monogamy, polygamy, beastiality, pedophilia, and other issues will continue to be debated in councils and forums.
She overlooks the holy sacrament of abortion in her list of dogmas: it is the one practice that is beyond debate in this new paganism. Despite the political rhetoric of “pro-choice,” this religion’s expectation is that pregnant women should get abortions and celebrate doing so on Twitter and YouTube. It doesn’t matter much if the expectant mother has been coerced by boyfriends or family members as long as the Temple of Planned Parenthood is fed new sacrifices.
Yet many facets of this “new religion” are actually depressingly familiar. Current conditions are strikingly similar to the paganism practiced in Ancient Rome around the time Christianity came along, as Rodney Stark describes in his 1996 classic “The Rise of Christianity.” Perhaps we can learn how to deal with the New Paganism by considering how Christians replaced the Old Paganism in a very short time (at least by historical standards).
Now, before atheist Federalist readers fire up their snarky comments about spaghetti monsters in the sky, relax. Stark’s book is a sociological treatise, completely avoiding any mention of divine intervention, or even much about Jesus. He even uses the secular designation of “Common Era” (C.E.) in his dates, rather than the A.D. (anno domini, or “Year of our Lord”).
Read more: The Federalist
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