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Ainsley Gumbley

September 28th, 2016


Martyrs and Martyrdom Assignment
Word Count: 962

The issues that we can see in todays society are not new issues. Differences in opinion
based on religion has always been a topic for discussion. Be it now in the year 2016 or back in
203 CE it is possible to find demonstrations of affliction to those who express their religion in a
society that may not share their beliefs. I believe that early Christian martyrdom in the Roman
Empire is not an anomaly rather something we still see in todays American society, though it
may not be as extreme as killing, it is still prevalent to have some Christian shaming by those
who do not share the same beliefs.
The use of persecution within the Roman Empire exemplifies Christian Shaming in
history. Under the power of the Emperor Romans were to abide by his law and anyone who
opposed this law was considered a threat to society. Unlike the Jews who were free from
persecution at this time the, gentile[s] who refused to participate in civic cult had no legal
standing. If they were a gentile, then the proper thing to do would be to honor the god of the
Emperor and of the empire and of the city. And by insisting on not doing this, certain Christians
made themselves conspicuous and invited upon themselves legal action (Meek), that was
enforced by the governors. The Romans that did not consider themselves gentile Christians
thought that the chaos and disruptions within their city were because of the Gentiles, and
therefore, they are used as an explanatory device whenever there are usual natural insuits of

human existence. Plague. Earthquake. Flood. Its because the Christians, as gentiles who are not
doing their duty to heaven why should the gods do anything for the city then? And thats how
you get Christians dragged before Governors and before these circuit courts and named as
troublemakers. (Meek). The Romans sought out justice for these tragedies and placed blame on
the Christians not understanding that it is due to their unrighteousness that put them in troubled
times. The Christians who were set apart as Martyrs were view as heroes for their great devotion
and faith in the Lord.
Within the diary of Perpetua, she tells of the trials she encountered while being
persecuted for her faith. Her story embodies true endurance as she goes through many
tribulations that ultimately lead to her standing strong in her beliefs that go against the societies
norm. From being a prisoner to being placed in front of gladiator to take knife to her throat
Perpetua was willing and valiant in her death for the Lord. An important quote from Perpetuas
diary is a conversation she has with her brother where she states, You must all stand fast in the
faith and love one another, and do not be weakened by what we have gone through.
(Martyrdom, Perpetuas statement is one that shows much strength in her decision to not deny
the Lord and shows that though she was persecuted that she does not want her family and those
who believe to be weakened or discouraged by the persecutions that she endured; rather, she
hopes that it helps to build up the faith of others and serve as a testimony to them. Perpetua is not
alone in testimony as still there are people who would drop their own lives to stand and serve for
the Lord.
There are so many events in history that lead up the where we are in society today.
Conflicts and opinions have built up upon each other to create a society that can be both
encouraging and discourage when it comes to ones beliefs. Specifically, in the United States of

America we are given our freedom of speech. This declaration allows for every individual to
have their own voice and impression of different topics. Being the melting pot that it is, America,
tends to see citizens stand up for their own beliefs in contrast to others. Unlike the Roman
Empire, where there was not much diversity in the culture and in the beliefs of the citizens,
America has a vastly wide diverse culture but this too still hinders the expression and
understanding of everyones different views particularly: religion.
The way that I see it is Perpetua was considered an outcast in the Roman culture because
she did not want to conform to the rituals and practices of the society she lived. I can relate to
Perpetua in this sense. Though I am not persecuted for my beliefs I am invariably put to test of
faith when it comes to my religion. Social media is a great example of how it can be frowned
upon to voice ones opinion or in this instance ones faith publicly. If someone posts about their
religious views on Twitter or Facebook it can then reflect on them when considered for jobs or
nominations for positions or who you friends are. Especially in todays day in age everything
that people say always insults someone else its quite controversial when we are told we are
given our freedom of speech but then having to worry if what you say or believe is going to
offend someone else; this is not true freedom. These issues are what makes it tough living in a
world that has become so open and accepting of many lifestyles and to try and hold true to your
own when you are constantly being exposed to the opposition. This test of faith is similar to
Perpetuas for which I must continue to withstand these trials. I believe that though we evolve
and society changes there is still a depiction of Christian shaming that is expressed by others
that do not possess similar beliefs, from the Roman Empire to American society today.

Works Cited
Meeks, Wayne A. The Martyrs. PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 28 Sept. 2016.
The Martyrdom of Saints Perpetua and Felicitas. PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 28 Sept. 2016.