“Hatred of the Human Race” (A Lesson from Nero Caesar)

By Weylan Deaver

An age that worships sin does not relate well to people who teach moral purity. The gospel of Christ demands godliness, as defined in the pages of his New Testament. The less the gospel is known and respected, the bolder sin becomes. That is how an ethically challenged culture can pit itself against God, who loved enough to send Jesus to die in our place: the supreme expression of divine love for humanity that, somehow, evokes derision, opposition, rejection. It explains how Christians who proclaim heaven’s ultimate message of love can be condemned as unloving, bigoted, intolerant, hateful just because they refuse to endorse homosexuality, Islam, skepticism, evolution, or other things contrary to the gospel. It explains how the Bible, whose principles once wove our national fabric, can now be considered “hate speech.” America is in a moral fog, wandering to the wrong side of reality. When Rome burned in July of the year 64 A.D., emperor Nero looked for someone to blame, pointing an accusing finger at the city’s Christians. In his Annals, Tacitus, the ancient historian, tells what happened. Christians “were arrested; next, on their disclosures, vast numbers were convicted, not so much on the count of arson as for hatred of the human race.” Two millennia ago, a godless culture decided Christians were too “hateful” to put up with. In the interest of power, sometimes a government has to do hard things. So, those “hateful” Christians were slaughtered by the enlightened who, we assume, had only love for the human race. Tacitus notes that “derision accompanied their end: they were covered with wild beasts’ skins and torn to death by dogs; or they were fastened on crosses, and, when daylight failed, were burned as lamps by night.” Many see today’s society as more open-minded than people used to be. Loud are the voices calling us to tolerate diversity of every stripe, assaulting the walls of long held prejudice. But, the gospel is not about diversity, and therein lies the insuperable difficulty, as today’s confused masses seem unable to respond peaceably to the fact. That is why Christians now can be so vilified by the spiritually myopic, not unlike in the days of the progressive minds of ancient Rome. And so, let Nero teach us this: the more things change, the more they really stay the same.