Agnostic historian and author Tom Holland has said Christians radically changed the way people treated sex and slavery in the classical world.
During an exchange on The Big Conversation, Holland explained that Paul’s idea of lifelong matrimony, as an image of the marriage of Christ and the church, set in train a radical reconfiguring of the way that people came to think about sex and marriage.
“I think, by and large, pretty much everyone now takes those assumptions for granted and we can see that,” Holland said.
“In the 60s, in particular, there was this kind of sense that Christian morality is boring, let’s get rid of it. Sexual revolution. Let’s go back to the hedonism of pagan days. Let’s be Dionysus.
“Of course, Dionysus was a rapist. All the Greek gods were regular rapists. It enshrined the idea that males have the right to use their inferiors in any way that they wanted. And that was something that essentially, over the course of the 70s, 80s, and 90s, we know what the consequence of that was. And we see that now with the MeToo movement, which essentially is an attempt to reimpose Christian sexual morality.
“The paradox of this, and there are so many paradoxes that surround this, is that women who go on marches in support of MeToo will dress up in the costumes of handmaids from Margaret Atwood’s novel and the TV adaptation of it. That of course, is written as a parody of Puritanism, yet essentially what they are demanding is that men control themselves and essentially behave has Puritans.
“The truth is, MeToo would only work, it would only have the resonance that it does if most men accepted the validity of what women protesters were saying. And I think that by and large, they do… If that is not evidence of the saturating effect of Christian teaching over two thousand years, I don’t know what is.”