How Christianity Made Children Human

children

In their rush to dismantle Christian morality, modern secularists would do well to read their history. I’ll help them out.

So many of the ideas and values we take for granted today are historical innovations, brought about by the rise of Christianity. Take the common rules of engagement that add a measure of “fairness” to warfare, or the idea that men and women are equally valuable in the sight of God.

These days, of course, Christianity takes the fall for things that cramp people’s style: monogamous marriage, chastity, the sanctity of life, and the nuclear family, to name but a few. But in their rush to dismantle these irksome rules, modern secularists would do well to heed G. K. Chesterton’s warning about knocking down a fence before knowing why the fence was put there in the first place.

You see, the early Christians’ insistence on sexual restraint proved enormously beneficial to the ancient world—especially to society’s most vulnerable members. My colleague John Stonestreet talked about this recently on “The Point.”

Take the case of children. Writing at “The Week,” Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry explains, “Today it is simply taken for granted that the innocence and vulnerability of children makes them beings of particular value, and entitled to particular care…[but] this view of children is a historical oddity.”

Gobry points to the work of historian O. M. Bakke, whose book “When Children Became People” documents how radically Christianity altered the practices of ancient Greece and Rome, and what the world before Christ looked like.

Children, he says, were considered nonpersons. In the cultures of Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, and Pliny the Elder, society was organized in “concentric circles,” with the most valuable (freeborn, adult males) in the center, and the least valuable (women, slaves, and children) on the fringes.

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SOURCE: BreakPoint
Eric Metaxas

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