We had looked at the eight ancient (before Christ) false religions that I know of.
Since Jesus’ crucifixion hundreds of other false beliefs were formed and in the remainder of the New Testament we will look at the most known of.
Tomorrow we’ll look at…
1 Corinthians 8
Food Offered to Idols
1 Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.
“Offered unto idols” – offered on pagan altars. Meat left over from a sacrifice might be eaten by the priests, eaten by the offerer and his friends at a feast in the temple or sold in the public meat market.
Some Christians felt that that if they ate such meat they participated in pagan worship and thus compromised their testimony for Christ. Other Christians did not feel this way.
“Knowledge puffeth up” – it fills one with false pride. And we see that happening whenever we listen to a politician talk.
“Charity edifieth” – the Christian should love his brother who doubts.
2 And if any man think that he knoweth anything, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.
“He knoweth nothing” – the wisest and most knowledgeable Christian realizes that his knowledge is limited. God is the only one who knows all (cf. Rom 1:33-36).
3 But if any man love God, the same is known of him.
“If any man love God, the same is known of him” – a person who tempers his knowledge with love towards God shows that he is really known and thus accepted by God as one of God’s own redeemed (Gal 4:8-9: 1 Jn 4:7-8).
4 As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.
“Idol is nothing in the world” – it represents no real god and possess no power but there are demons behind it and even though they are not god, they do possess power to manipulate and destroy people if that person is foolish enough to listen to man, rather than to God.
5 For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,)
“Called gods” – the alleged gods of Greek and Roman mythology.
“As there be gods many, and lords many” – not that there really is any. Paul is recognizing the obvious fact that there are many who are worshipped as gods, even though they are nothing but men, such as the Pope or President Obama.
6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.
7 Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.
“Their conscience being weak is defiled” – Christians who conceive of an idol as being real cannot rid themselves of this idea. Consequently, they think that in eating meat sacrificed on pagan altars they have involved themselves in pagan worship and thus have sinned against Christ.
This would be the same as going to a psychic for advice or possessing a Rosary. See 1 Cor 10:21.
8 But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.
9 But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to them that are weak.
10 For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols;
“Sit at meat in the idol’s temple” – at the site of ancient Corinth, archaeologists have discovered temples containing rooms apparently used for pagan feasts where meat offered to idols was eaten. To such feasts Christians may have been invited by pagan friends.
11 And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?
“Through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish” – the weak Christian is influenced by the example of the stronger Christian and though he feels it to be wrong, eats the meat that has been offered to an idol. The spiritual destruction that follows is explained in v. 12.
12 But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.
“Wound their weak conscience” – eating meat offered to idols when they feel it is wrong tends to blunt their consciences, so that doing what is wrong becomes much easier. The result may be moral tragedy.
“Ye sin against Christ” – because Christ died for your bother, even as He died for you. It is also a sin against Christ because it breaks the unity of the members of His body (the church).
13 Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.
“I will eat no flesh while the world standeth” – Paul will forever refrain from engaging in the harmless practice of eating meat sacrificed to idols if it will cause his weak Christian brother, who feels it is wrong, also to eat that meat.
How Marriage Has Changed Over Centuries
Since the ancient world, marriage has evolved from a preservation of power to a personal contract between two equals seeking love, stability, and happiness.
Actually, the institution has been in a process of constant evolution.
Pair-bonding began in the Stone Age as a way of organizing and controlling sexual conduct and providing a stable structure for child-rearing and the tasks of daily life.
But that basic concept has taken many forms across different cultures and eras.
“Whenever people talk about traditional marriage or traditional families, historians throw up their hands,” said Steven Mintz, a history professor at Columbia University.
“We say, ‘When and where?'” The ancient Hebrews, for instance, engaged in polygamy —King Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines — and men have taken multiple wives in cultures throughout the world, including China, Africa, and among American Mormons in the 19th century.
Polygamy is still common across much of the Muslim world. The idea of marriage as a sexually exclusive, romantic union between one man and one woman is a relatively recent development.
Until two centuries ago, said Harvard historian Nancy Cott, “monogamous households were a tiny, tiny portion” of the world population, found in “just Western Europe and little settlements in North America.”
When did people start marrying?
The first recorded evidence of marriage contracts and ceremonies dates to 4,000 years ago, in Mesopotamia.
In the ancient world, marriage served primarily as a means of preserving power, with kings and other members of the ruling class marrying off daughters to forge alliances, acquire land, and produce legitimate heirs.
Even in the lower classes, women had little say over whom they married. The purpose of marriage was the production of heirs, as implied by the Latin word matrimonium, which is derived from mater (mother).
When did the church get involved?
In ancient Rome, marriage was a civil affair governed by imperial law. But when the empire collapsed, in the 5th century, church courts took over and elevated marriage to a holy union.
As the church’s power grew through the Middle Ages, so did its influence over marriage.
In 1215, marriage was declared one of the church’s seven sacraments, alongside rites like baptism and penance.
But it was only in the 16th century that the church decreed that weddings be performed in public, by a priest, and before witnesses.
What role did love play?
For most of human history, almost none at all. Marriage was considered too serious a matter to be based on such a fragile emotion.
“If love could grow out of it, that was wonderful,” said Stephanie Coontz, author of Marriage, a History. “But that was gravy.”
In fact, love and marriage were once widely regarded as incompatible with one another.
A Roman politician was expelled from the Senate in the 2nd century B.C. for kissing his wife in public — such behavior was condemned as “disgraceful” by the essayist Plutarch.
In the 12th and 13th centuries, the European aristocracy viewed extramarital affairs as the highest form of romance, untainted by the gritty realities of daily life.
And as late as the 18th century, the French philosopher Montesquieu wrote that any man who was in love with his wife was probably too dull to be loved by another woman.
When did romance enter the picture?
In the 17th and 18th centuries, when Enlightenment thinkers pioneered the idea that life was about the pursuit of happiness. They advocated marrying for love rather than wealth or status.
This trend was augmented by the Industrial Revolution and the growth of the middle class in the 19th century, which enabled young men to select a spouse and pay for a wedding, regardless of parental approval.
As people took more control of their love lives, they began to demand the right to end unhappy unions. Divorce became much more commonplace.
Did marriage change in the 2oth century?
Dramatically. For thousands of years, law and custom enforced the subordination of wives to husbands. But as the women’s-rights movement gained strength in the late 19th and 20th centuries, wives slowly began to insist on being regarded as their husbands’ equals, rather than their property.
“By 1970,” said Marilyn Yalom, author of A History of the Wife, “marriage law had become gender-neutral in Western democracy.”
At the same time, the rise of effective contraception fundamentally transformed marriage:
Couples could choose how many children to have, and even to have no children at all. If they were unhappy with each other, they could divorce — and nearly half of all couples did.
Marriage had become primarily a personal contract between two equals seeking love, stability, and happiness.
This new definition opened the door to gays and lesbians claiming a right to be married, too.
“We now fit under the Western philosophy of marriage,” said E.J. Graff, a lesbian and the author of What Is Marriage For?
In one very real sense, Coontz says, opponents of gay marriage are correct when they say traditional marriage has been undermined.
“But, for better and for worse, traditional marriage has already been destroyed,” she says, “and the process began long before anyone even dreamed of legalizing same-sex marriage.”
Gay “marriage” in medieval Europe
Same-sex unions aren’t a recent invention. Until the 13th century, male-bonding ceremonies were common in churches across the Mediterranean. Apart from the couples’ gender, these events were almost indistinguishable from other marriages of the era.
Twelfth-century liturgies for same-sex unions — also known as “spiritual brotherhoods” — included the recital of marriage prayers, the joining of hands at the altar, and a ceremonial kiss.
Some historians believe these unions were merely a way to seal alliances and business deals. But Eric Berkowitz, author of Sex and Punishment, says it is “difficult to believe that these rituals did not contemplate erotic contact.
In fact, it was the sex between the men involved that later caused same-sex unions to be banned.”
That happened in 1306, when the Byzantine Emperor Andronicus II declared such ceremonies, along with sorcery and incest, to be unchristian.