Imagine the following if you are able:
The coliseum stands before you in all its glory. The sky is a bright and a surreal blue. All around you, people are excited! The pace of their walks – the pace of their talk – everything is a little more brisk than normal. The air is thick, electric and intense – the “Games” are about to begin!
You stand in line for hours. Although the Tessara (tickets) are free to Roman citizens, you didn’t get one and have to stand in line. You probably won’t have a seat if you get in and will probably be in standing room only if you do. You watch as high level Roman citizens with Tessara cut the line in front of you with impunity and so you wait . . . you wait for your turn to enter the coliseum. It will not come fast enough!
Finally, you’re in! Just in time for the games to begin. You know this because the ritual sacrifice has begun. You can hear a procession coming in the distance. Everyone, yourself included, turn their attention to the East Gate – towards The Gate of Life as the procession enters. The trumpets are loud and the slaves are adorned in golden armor – they are followed by the musicians playing lutes and fifes and horns – an exciting and spectacular sight!
You watch as the Editor in his purple toga enters led by and entourage of trainers and supporters in one of the most magnificent chariots you have ever seen! You can see the jewels on the Editor’s golden wreath crown glistening in the sunlight – magnificent!
As the rest of the procession enters, you marvel at the elephant, mule and horse drawn floats. Each float holds a different group of young men and women posing in some mythological motionless pose or historical scene that you are familiar with – some are naked and some are not . . . they are followed by acrobats, animal trainers, animal acts, hunters and bowman all showing off their skills to the delight of everyone! They circle the arena several times so that all can see. You love it because one of your favorite parts is coming next – the exotic dancers! As they scatter rose petals, you fantasize about them in their revealing outfits, you think to yourself, I should not have procrastinated! I should have got a Tessara early so that I could have a much better seat – a closer seat – so that I could see these beauties up close!
Your fantasy is interrupted with the entry of the Vestal Virgins! Awesome stuff! You watch as they take their place just opposite of the Imperial Box. Once they have taken their place, your Emperor Tiberius Julius Caesar Augustus arrives and enters the coliseum followed by a detachment of the Praetorian Guard!
Finally, the last part of the procession arrives. The rock stars of your generation known as the Gladiators! The crowd goes wild! They are all wearing different armor and weapons. Some have gold embroidered cloaks. You are excited beyond belief! You know what their armor means and you know the different styles of combat that they will display based upon what they are wearing and the weapons they are using. The parade around the arena several times for all to see. Good stuff!!!
Finally, the Gladiators form ranks in front of the Imperial Box – in front of your Roman Emperor Tiberius Julius Caesar Augustus.
In a loud voice and in unison they bellow out a proclamation to the Emperor that sends shivers up your spine:
“Ave imperato morituri te salutant!”
(“We who are about to die, salute you!”)
As the festivities start, a hapless Jew is pushed out into the arena – a thief you are told. One of the gladiators, a Velite (spear fighter) starts trotting towards him. As he gets nearer, he goes into a fall run and jumps in the air as he brings his spear over his head. As he lands, he drives the spear into the mans shoulder – through his chest – and out one of his legs. Gruesome gory fun! You strain to see his final death throws from your seat.
Several other gladiators such as Dimachaeri, Eques, Hoplomachi, Laquearii, Mumilliones, Retiarii, and Sagittarius show off their different fighting skills as they execute criminals for the crowd’s enjoyment.
You are on the edge of your seat now. They have just announced that the Christians are coming. A group of about 40 Christians are marched right past your position. They grab one from the group – a young male Jew about 20 years old. You notice they are bringing a cross out. They nail and strap the young Jewish Christian to the cross and raise it for the crowd to see. You are almost giddy as you watch them pile firewood at the foot of the cross and set it on fire. The man’s screams of agony are titillating! The blaze of fire is glorious! This is the best start to the games that you ever remember seeing!
If that isn’t enough, once they have killed all of the adult men, the loose both lions and tigers on the women and children. Watching the lions and tigers fight over body parts of these Christian women and children is almost more than you could have ever expected! What a bonus!
After all of the Christians are killed, the gladiators start doing battle. As gladiators fall, Pollice verso (with thumb turned) becomes a matter of life and death. The crowd goes wild, and in its fever pitch, several orgies break out in the stands around you.
Finally, it is time for the main event. One of the great gladiators of your generation – a gladiator so popular that the Emperor himself introduces him:
“Citizens of Rome, I present Arekaygos Arekone !!!
In the time during the 2nd temple period, there lived a man by the name Arekaygos. Arekaygos was Roman celebrity to the extreme. Known by virtually everyone in the Roman empire and Republic – He inspired admiration and popular acclaim throughout the empire and was loved and admired by all but a few jealous souls within the empire. In fact, his popularity was so large, that the Roman Emperor Tiberius Julius Caesar Augustus granted him Cives Romani with the subclass Optimo Lure (full Roman citizenship with the additional right to vote and hold office if he so desired). Celebrity extreme!
Why was he loved so dearly? There were many popular gladiators at the time. What made Arekaygos so different? It was how he fought – what he did when he fought. Arekaygos was an innovator when it came to gladiatorial combat. Arekaygos wouldn’t just kill a man, he would chop of his head and then french kiss the severed head. In fact, there was always some new sort of sexually overt act in each of his conquests . . . sometimes while they were alive – sometimes during their death – sometimes after they were dead. He especially loved to kill Christians and would quote verses of the TaNaKh (Old Testament) to them laced with sexual innuendo as he killed, or raped and then killed them.
The crowds of the Coliseum loved him for this. He was an entertainer. He was a showman.
The love of Arekaygos was celebrated in many different ways by his adoring public. In both the high arts and in the low arts. There were paintings and statues of him all over Rome – 2nd only to the Emperor himself.
Arekaygos himself was an entertainer beyond just gladiatorial combat . . . he also played several instruments and would perform at parties of high level Roman citizens know as patricians and in the Roman drinking establishments of the plebeians – for the elite in Roman society and for the not-so-elite as well. Just like his battles, his songs were laced with sex and sensuality. His songs also quoted verses from the Bible interlaced with every kind of sexual innuendo that he could construct.
Since you have come read the story to this point, I want to ask you all a question. This question may be uncomfortable. It may cause you to examine yourself and beliefs in a way that you neither want nor are prepared to do. To ask this question, I have to frame it so that you can see it clearly – without rationalizations (attempts to make the unreasonable sound reasonable).
I want you to imagine the church during the 2nd Temple Period – during the time of Yeshua (Jesus). It was against Roman law to follow the Messiah Yeshua. To follow him was to be guilty of sedition against Rome. All of the disciples except one died gruesome deaths for following Yeshua. The one that didn’t die was partially boiled in oil and lived his final days in secluded agony.
You didn’t invite strangers to your gathering – your assembly of believers – in a word, church. That was your safe haven. You discipled away from it. To do any different might, and more than likely would, get the whole church killed by Crucifixion or stoning or both.
When you were thoroughly convinced they were real and true believers, maybe you met with others from your tight knit group with them – far away from where your assembly met – you prayed and the group prayed– maybe even drew lots to decide if the new disciples conversion was true just like they did when they decided the 12th disciple after Judas killed himself.
So imagine what that church was like. A small home with 20-30 Jewish followers of the Messiah Yeshua . . . maybe a few gentiles. Imagine lounging in that small home church with the Jewish discipiles Shim‘on Kefa, his brother Andrew,Ya‘akov Ben-Zavdai, his brother Yochanan, Philip, Bar-Talmai, T’oma the doubter, Mattityahu the tax-collector, Ya‘akov Bar-Halfai, Taddai, and Shim‘on the Zealot.
Imagine what that “church service” would be like. Imagine what worship would be like! Imagine the discussion during the oneg (communal meal). Imagine what it would be like when Kefa broke the bread and reminded them that this was the body of Yeshua broken for them just as Yeshua had told them. Imagine what it would be like when Yochanan took the cup and reminded them that this was the blood of Yeshua spilled for them so that there could be forgiveness of sins.
Hebrews 9:22 (CJB)
In fact, according to the Torah, almost everything is purified with blood;
indeed, without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.
Can you see this in your head? Can you imagine it?
So here is my question . . .
Can you imagine at this gathering of disciples – at this gathering of believers who saw the miracles – that walked in the dust His sandals kicked up – the following scenario?:
As the fellowship meets – framed on the wall –
in the room they worship in – is a life-size picture of
Is that shocking to your system? Would the disciples even have a picture of anyone on the wall in any of their homes since that would be considered idolatry? How much less would they have it in their place of worship – in their church? And would someone such as the blasphemous and sexually immoral Arekaygos Arekone be anything that they revered or promoted in any way?!?
If you are unsure what the text says, let me share a few verses with you:
Romans 13:12-14 (CJB)
The night is almost over, the day is almost here.
So let us put aside the deeds of darkness
and arm ourselves with the weapons of light.
Let us live properly, as people do in the daytime —
not partying and getting drunk,
not engaging in sexual immorality and other excesses,
not quarreling and being jealous.
Instead, clothe yourselves with the Lord Yeshua the Messiah;
and don’t waste your time thinking about
how to provide for the sinful desires of your old nature.
1 Corinthians 5:9-11 (CJB)
In my earlier letter
I wrote you not to associate with people
who engage in sexual immorality.
I didn’t mean the sexually immoral people
outside your community,
or the greedy, or the thieves
or the idol-worshippers —
for then you would have to leave the world altogether!
No, what I wrote you was not to associate with anyone
who is supposedly a brother
but who also engages in:
- sexual immorality,
- is greedy,
- worships idols,
- is abusive,
- gets drunk or
With such a person you shouldn’t even eat!
Galatians 5:19-21 (CJB)
And it is perfectly evident what the old nature does.
It expresses itself in
- sexual immorality,
- impurity and
- involvement with the occult
- and with drugs;
- in feuding,
- becoming jealous
- and getting angry;
- in selfish ambition,
- and envy;
- in drunkenness,
- and things like these.
I warn you now as I have warned you before:
those who do such things
will have no share in the Kingdom of God!
And perhaps one of the most powerful rebukes in the text:
Ephesians 5:1-7 (CJB)
So imitate God, as his dear children;
and live a life of love,
just as also the Messiah loved us, indeed,
on our behalf gave himself up as an offering,
as a slaughtered sacrifice to God with a pleasing fragrance.
there should not even be mentioned
- sexual immorality, or
- any kind of impurity, or
these are utterly inappropriate for God’s holy people.
Also out of place are
- obscenity and
- stupid talk or
- coarse language;
instead, you should be giving thanks.
For of this you can be sure:
every sexually immoral, impure or greedy person —
that is, every idol-worshipper —
has no share in the Kingdom of the Messiah and of God.
Let no one deceive you with empty talk;
for it is because of these things
that God’s judgment is coming on those who disobey him.
So don’t become partners with them!
1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 (CJB)
What God wants is that you be holy,
that you keep away from sexual immorality,
that each of you know how to manage his sexual impulses
in a holy and honorable manner, without giving in to lustful desires,
like the pagans who don’t know God.
Jude 1:4-7 (CJB)
For certain individuals,
the ones written about long ago as being meant for this condemnation,
have wormed their way in — ungodly people
who pervert God’s grace into a license for debauchery
and disown our only Master and Lord, Yeshua the Messiah.
Since you already know all this,
my purpose is only to remind you that Adonai,
who once delivered the people from Egypt,
later destroyed those who did not trust.
And the angels that did not keep within their original authority,
but abandoned their proper sphere,
he has kept in darkness,
bound with everlasting chains for the Judgment of the Great Day.
And S’dom, ‘Amora and the surrounding cities,
following a pattern like theirs,
committing sexual sins and perversions,
lie exposed as a warning of the everlasting fire
awaiting those who must undergo punishment.
In case you are unaware, Arekaygos/Arekone is a phonetic pronunciation of a Greek word in the text that means: Leader, ruler, prince; the beginner, author, originator.
Yes – PRINCE!
I wrote this post in hopes that it would put pebbles in the shoes of the many believers that think idolatry is okay . . . especially idolatry by Christians of someone as sexually immoral and blatantly blasphemous of the Word of God as the recently deceased musician Prince.
But in case you forgot what some of his songs were about, I’ll quote a few lyrics.
WARNING: these lyrics are NSFW (not safe for work) and DEFINATLEY not safe for children of God. I ONLY put them in this post to preempt any attempt to rationalize (attempt to make the unreasonable sound reasonable) who Prince (Arekaygos ) was and what he represented
In Love: Ever since I met you, baby, I’ve been wanting to lay you down
Soft and Wet: needs no explanation
Baby: Should we go on living together’ Or should we get married right away’
Sexy Dancer: Sexy dancer, you got my body screamin’ Sexy dancer, you got me just-a-creamin’
Bambi: But you were untrue. You had another lover and she looked just like you Bambi, can’t you understand’ Bambi, it’s better with a man
I Feel For You: There’s something about the things you do That keeps me satisfied I wouldn’t lie to you, baby It’s mainly a physical thing This feeling that I got for you, baby It makes me wanna sing I feel for you–I think I love you
Dirty Mind: I really get a dirty mind Whenever you’re around It happens to me every time You just gotta let me lay ya Gotta let me lay ya, lay ya You just gotta let me lay ya Gotta let me lay ya down In my daddy’s car It’s you I really wanna drive
Head: But I’ve gotta have u, baby I got to have you in my bed And you said “But I just a virgin And I’m on my way to be wed But you’re such a hunk So full of spunk, I’ll give you Head Til you’re burning up Head Til you get enough Head Til you’re love is red Head Love you til you’re dead U know you’re good, girl I think you like to go down U wouldn’t have stopped But I, I came on your wedding gown And you said, “I must confess, I wanna get undressed and go to bed.” With that I jammed, you fool, U married me instead
Do Me, Baby: needs no explanation
Annie Christian: uses terms like crucified and Christ in its lyrics
Jack U Off: I only do it for a worthy cause Viriginity or menopause U’ll have an instant heart attack if I jack u off If u really really want to be a star We gotta do it in your momma’s car Naked in a Cadillac, I’ll jack u off
Little Red Corvette: Girl, U got an a** like I never seen And the ride… I say the ride is so smooth U must be a limousine Baby you’re much 2 fast Little red corvette
Let’s Pretend We’re Married: There ain’t nothin’ wrong if it feels all right I won’t stop until the morning light Let’s pretend we’re married and go all night, tonight I wanna f^%$ U so bad it hurts, it hurts, it hurts I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna f*&$ U Whatever U heard about me is true I change the rules and do what I wanna do
I’m in love with God, he’s the only way
‘Cuz U and I know we gotta die some day If U think I’m crazy, you’re probably right
But I’m gonna have fun every motherf%%$@*&’ night
Controversy: A song that quotes the entire Lord’s prayer on an album so full of blasphemy and sexual innuendo that the mind boggles how a Christian can post Prince music on their facebook site, and call him a genius while lamenting not seeing him in concert before he died.
You will notice, these are only a few of his albums. I didn’t even discuss his most popular one Purple Rain. Just as full of the glorification of sexual immorality. He recorded 37 albums in 38 years full of this stuff. He has sold over 3 million albums since his death a few days ago.
I have written this post in a sincere hope that people reading it will be convicted by the Holy Spirit to turn from the path they are traversing – that they will take an approach like King David did when the prophet Nathan confronted him and repent. I suspect most, and sadly, maybe all, will dismiss it and take an approach like Adam did who blamed God and Eve for his sin.
As absolutely heartbreaking as this was to write, I wrote this with the prayer that putting a pebble in the shoes of those that think it is okay to promote a sexually immoral person like Prince, that used sexuality in his lyrics and music to blaspheme our Lord in word, deed and song, should be someone that we as believers should flee far from according to the text . . .
I leave you with these final words to consider from the text:
John 3:19-21 (CJB)
“Now this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, but people loved the darkness rather than the light. Why? Because their actions were wicked.
For everyone who does evil things hates the light and avoids it, so that his actions won’t be exposed.
But everyone who does what is true comes to the light, so that all may see that his actions are accomplished through God.”
Ephesians 5:8-17 (CJB)
For you used to be darkness; but now, united with the Lord, you are light. Live like children of light,
for the fruit of the light is in every kind of goodness, rightness and truth —
try to determine what will please the Lord.
Have nothing to do with the deeds produced by darkness, but instead expose them,
for it is shameful even to speak of the things these people do in secret.
But everything exposed to the light is revealed clearly for what it is,
since anything revealed is a light. This is why it says, “Get up, sleeper! Arise from the dead, and the Messiah will shine on you!”
Therefore, pay careful attention to how you conduct your life — live wisely, not unwisely.
Use your time well, for these are evil days.
So don’t be foolish, but try to understand what the will of the Lord is.
- The Colosseum and gladiator information was adapted from http://www.tribunesandtriumphs.org/
- Arekaygos Arekoneis a fictitious character I made up from the Greek word Prince to parody fot the many believers that seem to think it is okay to promote Prince and his music