How Christianity Changed the World
Christian influence has transformed the world in many ways including morals, ethics, health care, education, labour and economics, art, literature and music. It has even influenced science and democracy.
The Christian religion also revolutionised the status of women and elevated sexual morality by rejecting polygyny, prostitution and bestiality. It also encouraged a work ethic and a reverence for the Holy Scriptures.
1. It abolished slavery
Christians opposed slavery on the basis of a clear-cut belief in morality and sin. They firmly believed that Providence regulates and chastises nations, and therefore slavery was immoral.
Moreover, Christian abolitionists based their argument on the biblical commandments to love one another and to care for those in need. They realised that they could stir the consciences of a nation by demonstrating the cruelty of the slave trade and describing its consequences.
This was especially effective in Africa, where the Bible’s story of Moses as the liberator seemed particularly powerful to Africans. The 2007 bicentenary of the parliamentary act to abolish slavery is a good time to recall this aspect of Christianity’s positive influence on the world.
2. It gave women greater dignity and freedom
Before Christianity, women were considered property of their husbands and could only remarry if they had no children. Jesus revolutionized this by promoting a respectful way of viewing women (even gazing at a woman lustfully was called adultery in the Bible).
Christians were also the first to promote charity. They cared for the sick and the dying and founded schools, mental institutions, nursing and other organisations that are still around today. The sanctity of life, free speech and the dignity of the person are concepts that stemmed from Christianity.
3. It gave children a higher status and importance
Prior to Christianity, children were considered expendable. It was common for unwanted or infirm babies to be thrown away or even killed. But Christians embraced children, taking them into their homes and caring for them. They also fought for the rights of the sick and disabled.
Schmidt says that “no other religion, philosophy, teaching, nation or movement–whatever its shortcomings–has changed the world for the better in the way that Christianity has.” Those are bold claims but he backs them up with strong evidence from history and contemporary studies.
4. It gave us the middle-class workforce
Prior to Christianity’s arrival, most people were either wealthy or poor. It was very common for infirm and unwanted children to be thrown away or even killed (under Roman law). The early Christians took the first steps toward establishing a middle-class workforce by emphasizing that every person, whether rich or poor, is created in God’s image and thus worthy of working.
Schmidt’s book, with charts and timelines, provides solid evidence for Christianity’s influence on transforming men, inspiring charity and compassion, elevating women’s status and dignity, sanctifying human life, advancing science and medicine, founding hospitals and education, inspiring the fine arts and literature. It’s a book that every Christian and every non-Christian should read.
5. It sanctified human life
The church’s teaching on marriage, the family and the value of human life influenced the world. As a result, abortion was banned and the practice of throwing infirm and unwanted children into the woods to die or be eaten by animals stopped.
It took some time, but Christianity’s influence on the world brought about a respect for all human life. This stemmed from the belief that humans are made in God’s image and reflect Him (Genesis 1:26-27). The Christian understanding of this helped to stop the burnings at the stake, crucifixion and brutal gladiatorial games.
6. It elevated sexual morality
Christianity has had an enormous impact on the world for the better. Despite its shortcomings and the fact that it was persecuted at times, there is no other religion or philosophy that has done so much good for humanity.
Women now have greater dignity and freedom as a result of Christianity. Men no longer see women as their property, and sexual deviance is considered a sin with eternal ramifications. It was Christians that stopped human sacrifice and the cruel gladiatorial games. Formal education for blind and deaf children was pioneered by Christians, as were Sunday schools and universities.
7. It gave us the right to worship
Despite its often negative publicity, Christianity has made a positive difference to the world. It has helped to reshape every aspect of culture, from the care of the sick and elderly to education. It has also made contributions to literature, music, and architecture.
Prior to Christianity’s influence, human life was expendable. Abandoned or infirm babies were commonly left to die, or they were left to be eaten by wild animals. Christians defended the sanctity of human life.
Christianity succeeded because it reached people one at a time. It started at the bottom and grew from there.