Christianity’s Contributions: Life protected (Part 4)

The final aspect of how Christianity changed people’s perspective on the value of life lies in the Church’s  approach to the gladiatorial combat of the Roman empire.  The games began in 264 BC, but where not held every week.  They were an irregular occurrence at the emperor’s decree, but that meant that they could last for months at a time.

The sad reality was whether it was for one day or a whole month, humans were viewed as expendable commodities.  Men were to battle to the death, all for the entertainment of the people.  The fighters were slaves, condemned criminals, or prisoners of war.  But the Christians would not attend the games.  Church members were even told not to attend.

That did not sit well with the Romans.   A Christian apologist, Minucius Felix, records a Roman complaint about the Christians: “You do not attend our shows; you take no part in our processions; you are not present at our public banquets; you abhor the sacred (gladiatorial) games.”  These Christians followed God, and would not watch the slaughter of other human beings who had been made in God’s image.  Persecution arose from that decision to be different.    (See )

Thankfully, the Emperors Theodosius I (390) and Honorius ended the games (404).  Life was protected due to Christians’ influence in culture.  May we do the same in our days wherever we live.

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