Under the Influence, How Christianity Transformed Civilization

by Alvin J. Schmidt

Some social reformers work a lifetime to effect one social change. Witness the life-long efforts of those who fought for women's suffrage, the abolition of slavery, or changes in child labor laws. But Jesus Christ, through His followers, has changed the face of Western civilization. The teachings of Jesus have been the catalyst that have torn down the barriers between slave and free, between rich and poor, and between privilege and underprivilege. Alvin J. Schmidt's book outlines dozens of changes that the followers of Jesus have instituted.

One of Christianity's greatest contributions to civilization is that of the sanctity of human life. Early Christians spoke against infanticide, the abandonment of infants, the evils of abortion, and the gory excesses of gladiatorial shows.

Christians spoke against homosexuality, lesbianism, pedophilia, and bestiality. They espoused heterosexual marriages and decried the devastating evils of divorce. The early church not only welcomed women into its fellowship, it began to elevate their status. Gradually women won the right to have a say in their marriages, and eventually, women were no longer required to wear a veil in public.

Christians, too, showed their compassion for the sick, the aged, widows, and orphans. Believers established hospitals, homes for the aged, and places of refuge for widows and orphans. Christians established mental institutions to provide humane care for the mentally incompetent.

Education also felt the impact of Christians. It was believers who established private-later public--schools for boys and girls alike. Believers fought for tax support for public schools. Schools for the blind and deaf were established at the behest of Christians. Churchmen established almost all colleges and universities in early America.

We cannot forget the influence of Christians in the fields of music, art, literature, and architecture. Handel's Messiah and Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress attest the influence of Christ in the arts.