Occupations and entertainment
The Apostolic tradition lists occupations that are not acceptable for someone who wants to become a catechumen. They include brothel keepers, sculptors, painters (because they must deal with idolatrous images), actors (notoriously of low character), anyone involved as participant or manager in the games, priests of a pagan cult, city magistrates (presumably because they would have to offer sacrifice in the course of their duties), prostitutes, decadent persons, eunuchs, magicians and astrologers. All these must absolutely cease this occupation if they wish to become catechumens. A teacher of children should cease this work unless he has no other means of livelihood. The reason is probably because the lessons were based on the Greek and Roman classics, considered by Christians to be full of immorality and idolatry. Soldiers are a special case. They can be accepted if they are willing not to kill, even under orders, or to take the military oath that was considered an act of worship of a foreign god. These two prohibitions would in fact make it very difficult to continue as a soldier, and any catechumen or believer who is not a soldier but wishes to become one is to be rejected (Trad. ap. 16).18
Attendance at public celebrations and spectacles, along with participation in the life of baths and gymnasium, were what comprised public life for male residents of the polis. But Tertullian says that attendance at any of the public spectacles (theatre, races, gladiatorial events) is something that Christians do not do (Apol. 38.4). The reason, we would suppose, would be primarily the bloodthirsty violence, but his is different: the extent of religious ritual and meaning in them, which constitutes idolatry. Although Tertullian states that these events are forbidden to believers, the fact that he writes a whole treatise to convince Christians that they should not attend (De spectaculis) shows that apparently not everyone agreed to stay away from them.
Discussions like these by early Christians reveal how difficult it must have been for Christians to be full citizens. All public and many private social occasions included acts of religious worship that were off-limits for conscientious Christians. No wonder apologists, such as the author of the letter to Diogne-tus, wanted to stress how similar Christians were to the rest of the population, so as to remove suspicion from them. In many ways they were like everyone else, but in many ways, they were not. The differences would eventually cost some their lives.
18 The attitudes of Christians toward military service in the pre-Constantinian empire were a cause of conflict. See esp. Harnack, Militia Christi; Ryan, 'Rejection of military service'; Helgeland et al., Christians and the military.
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