Thursday, October 8, 2009

The bright side of the Dark Ages

The Inquisition, burning books, scientist and philosophers dying slow and painful deaths because they held a belief opposed by the 'Church', suppressed urges and emotions... A creepy image of the Dark Ages...

I started reading this book on the Middle Ages, "Liebe und Sex im Mittelalter" (love and sex in medieval times) by Alexander Ballhaus and I am surprised to find that those Dark Ages might have a bright side too. (and no, I don't mean the Hollywood 'princesses and knights' bright side!)

Even though the 'Church' (and thus to an extend Christianity) have been the driving force behind that terrifying Inquisistion and other horrible things, Christianity has also brought about important changes that distinguish the ancient from the modern world.

For one thing Christianity, with its claim that all humans are equal in the eyes of God, laid the foundation for the later abolishment of slavery. (note that in the Roman Empire slaves were regarded and treated as animals; also note how Christianity was initially adopted by slaves and how they were persecuted by the Roman Empire)
Beside this, it also brought about a shift in people's minds about the position of women.
Clement of Alexandria reported: "Christians want women to be appreciated on the basis of the purity of their behavior and not their beauty; furthermore they don't want men regarding women as subservient objects, because nature gave us marriage, just as it gave us food, which we can use but not abuse." [4]

Even though it might have taken a long time until women and men became equals and slavery was abolished, it seems that the Dark Ages have been a breeding ground for this. A first step in a long-long journey...

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