In the year 112, two women led the Christian congregation in Bithynia (modern Turkey). We know almost nothing about them: neither names, nor stories. We do know they were enslaved, which meant their rights were limited—no right to marry, have control of their own bodies, keep their children, make money, etc.
BY MATT INGALLS/RELEVANT MAGAZINE
Their station in the world would have depended entirely upon the will of their master(s), who we know nothing about. But a pagan governor of the time, Pliny, wrote a letter to Emperor Trajan concerning these two extraordinary women and their flock. He tortured them for their confession of Christ as Lord. And though it is a bit up to interpretation, he likely executed them for their stubborn insistence upon the reign of Christ.
These nameless heroes of the Church’s infancy help us capture the tenor of the early Church’s moment. They and Christians like them posed a threat to Rome’s order. In his letter, Pliny writes that the Christian message is so well-received in his region that the pagan temples go empty and the sacrifices to the pagan gods go undone—which up-ended the local economy that revolved around pagan sacrifice. So, he felt the need to send a signal to the Christian dissenters, that their obstinance and divisiveness would not go unchallenged.
Pliny offered the women a chance to escape his wrath. They had only to curse Christ and offer solemn reverence to an image of Caesar. Instead, they held to their convictions. Thus, they lost Pliny’s mercy, while gaining a share in the suffering of Christ. I pray they found Christ’s joy in their final moments.
THE DANGERS OF PLEDGING BLIND ALLEGIANCE
The sacrifice and “protest” of these women is a far cry from taking a knee at a ballgame, but I think we can learn a thing or two that might help diffuse the explosiveness of our current ruckus.
First, we should be very wary of Christians telling people to follow their country blindly… READ FULL COMMENTARY AT RELEVANT MAGAZINE.