The Ancients Knew More than Moderns About Big Things
It is a modern myth that people in the Middle Ages believed the earth was flat. A 6th-century Latin poem composed on an island off the coast of Scotland says otherwise:
By the divine powers of the great God is hung
the globe of the earth, the circle of the great deep placed about it,
Held up by the strong hand of Almighty God. . . .1
“The globe of the earth” here in Latin is globus terrae, a clear reference to our spherical world. How did a poet on the fringe of Europe (and presumably his readers) know the earth was a sphere? For one thing, the poet, likely a Christian monk, had been reading his Bible. The book of Job, written many centuries before Christ, seems to indicate a globe: “[God] hangs the earth upon nothing” (26:9). Many of the early church fathers wrote assuming a global world. Also, Pythagoras (6th c. BC) and Plato (4th c. BC) wrote about the spherical earth; Aristotle provided proof for it by 330 BC. So word had gotten out and made it all the way to Europe’s fringes well before the Middle Ages even began.
Ascribing flat-earth beliefs to medieval Christians goes hand in hand with skeptical characterizations of the Bible as full of superstitions and make-believe history. But Christians need not fear such skeptics. In this issue, Jonathan McLatchie encourages readers to ask questions arising from any doubts they have about the Bible and Christianity; he describes his apologetic work at talkAboutDoubts.com. That’s not all on the Bible in this issue. Neil English once again showcases archaeological evidence confirming biblical history, in this case, the accounts of idols and false gods in the Old Testament. Most of those gods centered on—surprise!—fertility, involving cultic sex or child sacrifice.
Many today think biblical teaching on sex is obsolete, wrong, or even dangerous. Regis Nicoll defends the biblical teachings on sexuality by turning the tables on Hollywood’s long assault on “moral strictures of the past” and Sigmund Freud’s view of the Bible as “hazardous” to our sexual health.
While the life of an ordinary person might not be affected adversely if he believes the earth is flat, harboring false notions about sex will have serious consequences. In our Parting Shot, John Stonestreet and Kasey Leander make a compelling case that the fate of any civilization depends on sexual restraint. Chastity, anyone? And in “Sexual Insurrection” we critique an organization called OPEN, which promotes polyamory as a replacement for marriage.
Rick Reed acknowledges in “A Guide to Marriage” that not only child-bearing, but marriage itself is held in low regard these days, and that “feminists urge young women to delay marriage—or avoid it.” Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, he shows, is an antidote to that view, as is singer-songwriter Marie Bellet’s compelling witness to the goods of marriage and children (she has nine). Terrell Clemmons’s review of Sex & Society: God’s Design, Tradition & the Pursuit of Happiness summarizes what is at stake in recovering the divine gift as given to us.
The above lineup doesn’t even touch the longer feature articles or other columns in this issue. But it should give you some idea that modern materialists, who view sex merely as a biological urge to do with as we choose, need corrective lenses. Sexual love ordered toward marriage and the creation of families has, over the centuries, inspired magnificent stories, enchanting love songs, and soaring poetry, while modern sex has collapsed into a one-dimensional bodily orgasm, now a public idol lacking modesty and drained of the beauty of chastity (see “Pride”). Why, even the medievals knew better.
Altus Prosator, stanza M, translated by Thomas Owen Clancy, in Iona: The Earliest Poetry of a Celtic Monastery (1995).
is the executive editor of Salvo and Touchstone magazines.Get Salvo in your inbox! This article originally appeared in Salvo, Issue #63, Winter 2022 Copyright © 2023 Salvo | www.salvomag.com https://salvomag.com/article/salvo63/the-flat-sex-society