02.04.04 Position of Mankind, View of Life
In all ancient cultures one was born into a class system or social order in which one was expected to live out his life. To the Romans, abortion and infanticide was acceptable and elderly people were expected to end their lives peacefully so as not to burden families. On occasion a prominent figure would object to the lack of value of human life, but such individuals were rare. The prevailing Roman opinion was that human life was expendable, not sacred, and dedicated to the state.
The human body was admired and worshiped. For this reason, athletic events were performed in the nude and statues of gods and goddesses were likewise nude. Sex was not restricted to marriage, but was thought best to be unlimited. Pleasure and sensuality were considered goals to be achieved, which is why the Herodian dynasty was known for lavish and outrageous parties and celebrations. On the other hand, to insure ultimate punishment, when the Romans crucified anyone, he/she was completely nude.
To the Jews, all men were created equal and in the image of God. Therefore, human life was sacred. Those Jews who lived in slavery did so for economic reasons, but with a limit of seven years. Abortions and infanticide were strictly forbidden and elderly people were highly respected and admired for their wisdom. In the early days of the Enlightenment, European artists painted biblical scenes of various personalities. The fact that these artistic renderings were often either nude or scantily clothed is reflective of the Greco-Roman influence in the church, and not reflective of the Jewish roots of Christianity.
A final point on the sacredness of the human body is this: modesty in dress was stressed and nudity strictly forbidden. For example, Jewish fishermen fishing at night on the Sea of Galilee would wear only a small loin cloth to permit freedom while working the nets even though there were no women in the area. Sex was considered sacred and ordained to be only within marriage.
. God hates slavery, but it was part of the human predicament, which is why He permitted slavery for a limited duration of seven years (Ex. 21:2 ff.; Deut. 15:12). In Amos 2:6 He brought judgment upon Israel for the enslavement of its own people. The way the Apostle Paul dealt with Philemon, demonstrates how God changed the slavery-based economy by changing the hearts of men.
. The divine plan of salvation of the Old and New Testament was taught by the Hebrew prophets, as outlined in Appendix 9.