“There’s not place like home” Dorothy excitably boasts even though she comes from the probably racist and sexist state of Kansas from which her house has been destroyed. She would return a homeless woman in a society that gives her no advantages. We can often look at the positives of a place, especially if it is ‘home’. I often try and defend London, my home, as being the slick, clean, industrial and positive capital. However I ignore some key issues, such as London having the highest poverty rate in the UK.
Corinth was a bustling city, build just beyond a land bridge it was a center of trade, commerce and culture. There were people of different religions and spiritual backgrounds meeting and sharing religious ideas and tradition. Women could even compete in sports. What a lovely sounding culture! But wait there’s more. If we stopped here it sounds like the ideal (liberal) world. Now let’s remember some of the not-so-nice bits about Corinth.
Torture and the death penalty were public events. People would be shamed and ostracized from communities. Some religions endorsed the use of ‘shrine prostitutes’, which was seen as a good thing. In this male dominated society a man could divorce his wife for any reason and dominate them sexually. If their wives weren’t sleeping with their abusive husbands, they could go and sleep with a prostitute and this was seen as acceptable practice. Some religions were making converts cut parts of their bodies off to show their dedication. People would compete to be the best and assert their status over others, usually linked to financial success but also include intellectual dominance. If you want to know more read the letters to the Corinthians.
Nevertheless Corinth was viewed as a good place. What’s interesting (and disturbing) is it isn’t too different to what I’ve seen in cities today. We have people being shamed for their beliefs and ostracized; refused service, asked to leave place and even attacked violently. Whether we are talking about holding Muslim or Christian views, either one can suffer slander at the hand of those who disagree with them. It would also seem it is becoming easier to divorce, and more acceptable to cheat if you aren’t getting what you want from a relationship. Now there is a positive in that it is easier to get a divorce from an abusive relationship (and there are many types of abuse from financial to mental to physical and even neglect), however there is a lack of commitment and more abuse of marriage. It is used for getting green cards, financial gain and even for acquiring land or wealth.
When we reflect on the corruption of corporations today, the hierarchy of the rich and academic people, it does not take long to realise we are in a bad place. Major companies abuse the poor to get cheap materials and look down on smaller companies. Academics will not listen to people without PHD’s. We live in cities that share the same sins of the city of Corinth. People want to be the best: morally and financially, and will stop at nothing to assert this. The church is called to a living more peaceful way of life. For this reason I want to urge you, especially if you live in a city, to read through the counter cultural letters to the Corinthians.
A brief guide to the 1st letter to Corinthians is the first to forth chapters are about not having a ‘who is greater’ attitude and living together as Christians, the fifth to seventh is about having a Godly attitude to sexuality and marriage, the eighth to tenth are about idolatry (putting things before God), the eleventh is about how your outwards clothing/behaviour represents Christ, the twelfth to fourteenth is about orderly behaviour of the church, and the final chapters remind us of the hope we are working towards and that everything we do is worth it.
I have’t quoted any bible here, but rather want to encourage you to read. God bless you and keep you in sober judgement all the days of your life.