Friday, 4 August 2017

The Degradation of the Ancient World

Pagan "Glories" Versus the Church of the Lord

The classical pagan world was a cesspit.  These days our moralistic, sniffy culture has (Victorian-like) decided that what went on in Roman and Greek households ought not to be mentioned.  Instead it must be made a matter of collective amnesia.  Sarah Ruden has done us all a favour by putting the degradation and filth front and centre once again.

On the matter of homosexuality in general, she affirms that Paul's Jewish household would have held to the "bread-and-butter" teaching of the Old Covenant scriptures and the rabbis.  "Jewish teaching was clear," she writes.  "Homosexual acts were an abomination."  [Paul Among the People: The Apostle Reinterpreted and Reimagined In His Own Time (New York: Pantheon Books, 2010), p. 48.]  But the Greco-Roman world was another matter entirely.

She continues, describing the norm in towns throughout the Empire:
Among the female prostitutes on the streets, or in the windows or doorways of brothels, were males, on average a lot younger. . . . [Paul] would know from his non-Jewish friends that household slaves normally were less respected as outlets for bodily functions than were the household toilets, and that a sanctioned role of slave boys was anal sex with free adults.  [Ibid.]
Anal sex with household slave boys was supposed to be violent and an act of rape.

The active partner had no comeback from his callous and selfish behaviour.  Thee were no derogatory names for him.  . . . (H)e positively strutted between his wife, his girl-friends, female slaves  and prostitutes, and males. . . . In fact, society pressured a man into sexual brutality toward other males.  To keep it unmistakable that he had no sympathy with passive homosexuals (slaves), he would tout his attacks on vulnerable young males. . . . The Greeks and Romans even held homosexual rape to be divinely sanctioned.  There was an idol of sexual aggression, Priapus, the scarecrow with a huge phallus who was said to rape intruders, lawfully policing gardens through sexual threat, pain, and humiliation . . . [Ibid., p. 53f.]
When Paul wrote condemning homosexuality and forbidding it amongst the redeemed and in the Church he was not just standing firmly in the traditional teaching of the Older Covenant.   He was stipulating that this teaching was to bear directly and authoritatively upon the pagan world as well, since Gentiles were now to be included in the Covenant of Grace.

Our world is now aggressively resurrecting homosexuality; this will not change overnight.  It has been a long time in the making; it will likely be a long time in the deconstructing.  But the key is obvious and apparent: the Community of the Covenant, the Church, must stand firm, be resolute in preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ the King, and proclaim liberty to those now held captive to homosexual sin.  If we fail, the degradation of the Greco-Roman world beckons.

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