5 Christianity Grew in the Cities – The Roman Empire was noted for its proliferation of huge, chaotic, violent and corrupt cities. A huge number of people lived together in incomprehensible squalor, violence, anonymity and cruelty. Life in Roman cities was uncertain, harsh, barbaric and decadent. Hordes of people moved to the cities to survive during times of famine, but the cities were prone to fire, invasion, attack, crime and unemployment. The Christian Church offered community, solace, connections, faith and hope in a harsh, cruel world. The Church offered light, peace and belonging to those lost in a society of cruelty and meaninglessness.
6. The Christian Community Was Pro Life – Stark points out how the Roman Empire was pro choice and pro death. Infanticide and abortion were commonplace. He shows how the Roman leadership were constantly worried about the falling birth rate. Because female infants were killed there were not enough women to reproduce. Too many men could not be bothered to get married and have children. Homosexuality and prostitution were an easier way for them to find satisfaction. The government offered incentives to men who had three or more children. They decreed that men over a certain age had to get married and reproduce. In the midst of this the Christians were pro family. They honored and loved children. They rescued the infants who had been abandoned or exposed. They were against abortion of all kinds saying it was murder. Not only was this attractive in a culture of death, but it had natural consequences in helping the church grow: the Christian women were unlikely to die from the result of botched abortions. There were more Christian women because they did not kill their baby girls. The Christian men were encouraged to love their wives and children. Consequently there were more Christians because their women and girls survived. They had large families and their numbers increased while pro-choice-pro death pagans were killing themselves off.
7. The Christian Community was Pro Women It has often been observed that the early Christian church was dominated by women. This is a skewed perception of the truth. In Roman civilization a woman was not much more than a breeding machine or a sex object. Girls were married off as early as age nine or ten and although consummation of marriage with a girl was supposed to be illegal nobody minded. Girls very often died giving birth to a child. Marriage was not much more than a legal concept for the legitimization of children. Prostitution and pornography were commonplace. Women died through botched abortions, poor health care and from being beaten. They were not permitted to be unfaithful but a man could go with prostitutes and rent boys as much as he wanted. However in the Christian Church the women were honored. Husbands were also expected to be faithful. Chastity for both men and women was the high ideal. Furthermore, there is good evidence that women exercised leadership roles in the church and community. Within the middle and upper class households noblewomen were Christians and they converted their husbands and households and provided a strong, positive role model for the wider community.