Thursday, March 29, 2012

The early Christians as radicals

Very interesting post yesterday by Peter Leithart about the radical pro-woman stance of the early church, quoting from a book I never heard of that looks interesting (see his post for details!):

Christians were forbidden to have abortions or to expose infants. Further, Christian women tended to marry later than pagan women and Christian men were expected to have sex with their wives, and only with their wives: “Christians discouraged marriage below a certain age and banned consummation of a marriage between a man and a child bride, such that the average age of marriage for Christian women became twenty, whereas for pagan women it was twelve. One must add that the rate of reproduction among pagans was very low: men favoured birth control (including anal and, less commonly, oral sex), indulged in homosexual sex, took concubines and patronized both male and female prostitutes, who in turn favoured various methods of birth control and abortion when necessary. All of these practices were forbidden to Christians, as most were to Jews. Roman men who converted to Christianity were obliged to have vaginal intercourse with their wives, and if pregnancy resulted, were obliged to have a child and raise it, regardless of sex.” The church provided protection for women whose husbands attempted to force them to violate these standards: “A Christian woman would have a community to support any resistance she offered to the directives of a pagan husband to do otherwise.”

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Read the whole post for a good overview of what was "normal" in the ancient world...
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