I am doing some background study on 1st Corinthians, and I am struck by the beautiful strangeness of Christianity.
The scene is Corinth, a wealthy, diverse city. Once Greek, now Roman, home to many nationalities. It is a patriarchal society. The highest echelon of society is the freeborn male, whose rights must never be violated. It is a sexual society, with a bent toward conquest. The art and graffiti betray a preoccupation with male sexuality. Men are the heads of their households, but are permitted to take both male and female lovers from the lower classes: from slaves, entertainers, and prostitutes.”Catamite” is the word Paul uses in 1st Corinthians, and it is generally defined as a pretty boy between 12-20 who would allow himself to be “conquered” by an older male of the upper class.
Posiedan is the primarily worshipped, though there are temples to several other gods. The gods had the same passion for conquest that the men of the day seemed to share. Poseidon alone had over 30 lovers, 3 of whom were male. In worship, the Corinthians host Isthmian games, very much like the Olympics, but including competitions in rhetoric and debate. What is being spoken of? Democracy, atoms, religion, philosophy. We get some pretty amazing ideas from cities like Corinth.
Enter Christianity, stage right. Christians, as they became known to the Romans, were feared as cannibals. They ate flesh and drank blood at every opportunity. (Communion). They never offered a formal apologetic to polite society for such behavior. They were not conservatives. They did not worship the gods as upright citizens should.
Their preachers told them the eschew the temple prostitutes, only have sex with their spouses (or better yet, remain single and celibate if able) and avoid even the meat offered to the gods. But the greatest offense is this…
Christianity was not just a system of morality or belief–it claimed to be a transforming mind meld with the Creator God of the Universe. The craziest and most mysterious thing about Christianity is this–we have the mind of Christ. Our relationship with God is not one of distant servitude, but of indwelling. The sacrifice is not a bull on an alter of a temple, but our bodies as temples of God. The greatest offense of Christianity can be found in the person of the Holy Spirit.
Christianity is not a system of belief where we pick and choose what to believe. God lives in us. GOD lives in us. That is what Christians believe. God lives in us, he has deposited incorruptible immortality within us and he is changing our minds to conform to His. It doesn’t make sense, and never will. There is no apologetic for the Holy Spirit. He will never be socially acceptable or easily rationalized. Christianity is beautiful and strange and mysterious, and relevant, but most of all–it is present