This a Fourth of July we are reflecting on the Founding Father’s intensive study of the Roman civilization. Knowing history, they embraced Rome’s virtues and eschewed her vices. The Founders understood the currents of history which gave us a collective heritage unrivaled. Sadly, we as a nation are turning our backs on the morality that made America special.
The country has convulsed in the past 30 years as a new modern morality has supplanted the currents of culture built nearly two thousand years ago along the shores of Galilee. This new culture is not yet fully defined, but we stand horrified as we peer into the future.
The culture of the Roman world was brutal and nasty. Ironically, we see its worst practices reviving with vigor. Please give us a moment as we recount a history seldom taught today’s students.
The Roman Empire had a twisted view about the value of human life. These views were banished by the ascendency of Christ’s teaching. Infanticide was both legal and encouraged in ancient Rome. Pagan societies, such as the Carthaginians, Romans and Greeks went so far as to kill their children outside the womb, sometimes as a religious sacrifice to their gods. According to Plutarch, the Carthaginians “offered up their own children, and those who had no children would buy little ones from poor people and cut their throats as if they were so many lambs of young birds; meanwhile the mothers stood by without a tear or moan.”
We see a modern American society which looks at children as a burden, and a generation of mothers who have decided by their own “choice” to sacrifice a generation. Population control is now an international objective.
Roman views on homosexuality were closer to today’s views than many realize. Pundit Nathaniel Blake characterizes it this way: “But, the Roman conception of same-sex relationships was very different than that of the modern West. The most important factors in the Roman view seem to have been the status and role of the partners. The Romans did not consider homosexual or heterosexual identities as exclusive from one another. While bisexuality was common, strict homosexuality was all but unknown. Unlike the modern view, social class mattered a great deal in the acceptability of homosexual relations. The upper classes were much more likely to indulge in homosexual acts, and masters had the sexual use of their slaves.” It was common to see an older man who held dominance over a younger male, using him for sexual pleasure.
It was not until the teachings of Christ and Saint Paul conquered Rome and Western Europe that sodomy was outlawed. But alas much has changed. Now sodomy is once again legal, and some states believe these acts deserve celebration in the most public of ceremonies, the wedding.
Finally, we see the debasement of money and profligacy of the state. Today taxpayers fund stadiums for the “games.” Roman emperors don’t hold a candle to the US Congress and the Federal Reserve in the looting of the public coffers and destruction of money.
In this, Roman Emperor Caracalla comes to mind. In addition to murdering his brother, Caracalla is mostly remembered for granting Roman citizenship to every Freeman in the empire. Caracalla’s goal was to broaden the tax base to pay for his extravagant spending. He raised the inheritance tax so he could double public salaries and win the allegiance of the legions. His public works are still on display today. If you visit Rome, you can see the ruins of the gigantic “Baths of Caracalla.”
His final contribution rivals the Federal Reserve. The silver denarius was an innovation in sound money introduced by Emperor Augustus. It was 95 percent silver like America’s pre- 1964 coinage, and the denarius lead to greatly improved honest trade around the empire. Caracalla, in his drive to increase spending, changed it to a coin with only 50 percent silver.
It took later emperors to debase it as far as the Federal Reserve has debased America’s currency. By 268 AD the denarius was only 0.5 percent silver. The result was predictable, as prices rose throughout the empire by up to 1,000 percent. Soon the “barbarians” hired by the emperor as mercenaries would not accept the denarius as payment, and insisted on being paid in gold.
Such manipulations by Roman leaders are legendary, but Americans who fail to understand history are doomed to repeat it. The moral and financial collapse of Rome lead to a renaissance of morality and the “Christian Era.” We can only hope that the accelerating American collapse leads to a return of the time tested honest culture that celebrates life, prudently shuns sexual immorality, and with commerce flourishing after a return to honest money.
But until that day arrives, we will continue to fight for these virtues until our last breath.