Graeco-Roman Antiquities & the New Testament
There are things you can tell about an entire ocean even if you have only one cup of water from it. Naturally a scientist would like to have as many cups and as broad a sampling as possible, but even a single cup is of some help. The same is true when investigating the world of the New Testament. You can learn something even from one ancient document, though the explorer of the ancient world would like to have as many documents as possible.
I hope once a week to present a small sample of information that mirrors some aspect of the ancient world surrounding nascent Christianity.
THEY EVEN APPLAUD THOSE WHO SIN
Apostle Paul Romans 1:32b (NRSV)
Followers of Christ should not only be aware of their own struggles and losses with their attraction to the power of sin, but also acknowledge that Christ even struggled with his attraction to sin (Heb. 4:15). So, struggle with sin is certainly not one of the issues that divides Christians from non-Christians. One of the major Pauline criticisms of pagan ethics, sexual and otherwise, is not that believers never commit the same sins, but that pagans “even applaud those who practice them” (Rom. 1:32b, NRSV). A problem of the pagan existence depicted in Rom. 1:18-32 is that pagans have no moral compass, except their own human traditions and personal hedonism.
A tour through many of the great museums of the world readily show the promotion and applause of sexual decadence in Graeco-Roman art. The Scriptures certainly have no problem in affirming the importance of human sexuality in its God-given setting and even on occasion mentions erogenous body parts; Scripture is even very clear to acknowledge the sexual sins and sins of greed of its leaders (e.g., King David), but it does not applaud this departure from God’s ways.
One of the manifestations of the modern church’s assimilation to its surrounding pagan culture is in the area of same sex relationships. It is a tragedy that so many Christian denominations have now begun to accept and even applaud same sex lifestyles, sometimes even in their leadership positions. This includes Canadian and American Reformed Churches, Disciples of Christ, Church of Scotland, Episcopal, Church of Denmark, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Evangelical Lutheran Church of Canada, Presbyterian Church (USA), Church of Sweden, United Church of Canada, United Church of Christ (taken from listing given at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki List_of_Christian_denominational_positions_on_homosexuality#cite_note-15 ).