By Rob Furlong
Have you ever wondered how different our world might be if Jesus had never been born?
For example, as a direct result of His emphasis on love, mercy and compassion, Christians set up organizations such as hospitals, universities, a just and fair judicial system, orphanages and centres caring for the poor.
All because a baby was born in a stable two thousand years ago.
One of the most profound impacts Jesus has had upon our world is in the area of our relationships, especially those between husbands, wives and the family unit.
When Jesus was born, the marriage relationship was at a very low ebb in the Roman Empire.
In fact, marriage was regarded by many as nothing more than an institution for the birth and raising of children.
The men of Ancient Rome had a saying that went something like this,
“We have wives for the bearing of legitimate children, courtesans for pleasure and mistresses for love.”
Divorce was rampant. One historical source recounts the fact of a husband and wife being on their 23rd and 24th marriage respectively!
Historians have demonstrated that adultery was so common in Roman society it caused very little concern for people and prostitution was widespread.
The issue of divorce was also a problem in Judea. The debate over what was considered as legitimate grounds for divorce was a hot topic among the Jews in Jesus’ day, with one Rabbi going so far as to say that if a wife burned her husband’s breakfast bagels or he no longer considered her to be pretty enough, then he was free to divorce her!
Into such a world, Jesus was born.
And what a radical transformation to the relationships between wives, husbands and families His teaching brought.
In place of adultery and sexual immorality, Jesus promoted and encouraged sexual faithfulness between married couples.
Instead of easy divorce, Jesus advocated lifelong commitment for married couples, speaking directly to the principle of permanence in marriage when He said, “Let no one split apart what God has joined together.”
As the message of Jesus spread across the world, countless lives were transformed and released from the bondage, pain and hurt caused by sexual promiscuity and the easy breakup of marriages and families.
Men and women discovered the joy of loving one person for life and the family unit grew more stable and secure.
The impact of Jesus and Christianity on marriages and families was so great that in 125AD an Athenian philosopher wrote the following defense of Christianity to the Emperor Hadrian:
“They (Christians) do not commit adultery or immorality … Their wives, O king, are as pure as virgins, and their daughters are modest. Their men abstain from unlawful sexual contact and from impurity, in the hopes of recompense that is to come in another world.”
At an even more practical level, because countless numbers of people committed themselves to Jesus and His teachings on marriage and the family, literally millions of people throughout history have been spared the pain caused by sexually transmitted diseases.
As one author said:
“Had Jesus not come, far more people would continue to act like the people of the ancient world – many of whom had no control over their urges. What would have happened to the human race if sexual diseases had been left unchecked to wipe out a large segment of the population? In short, if Jesus Christ had not been born, you might not have been born either!”
What if Jesus had never been born?
Take time to thank God this Christmas for the birth of His Son because His life has transformed our relationships in so many ways!
By Rob Furlong