Anglican Samizdat

February 16, 2010

How to hit the headlines with a sermon

Filed under: Anglican,Christianity — David Jenkins @ 3:10 pm
Tags: ,

Tell women they should submit to their husbands.

This goes so much against the Zeitgeist, is so politically incorrect and seems so outrageous to contemporary sensibilities that the Guardian, Daily Mail, Telegraph and Times all carried the story.

Something that was not mentioned in any of the articles is the fact that it was Christianity that elevated women from being the property of a man to being his equal, a child of God. From a review of Rodney Stark’s The Rise of Christianity: A Sociologist Reconsiders History:

Stark produces impressive evidence that Christianity was deeply appealing to pagan women, for within the Christian sub-culture, women held a much higher status than did women throughout the Greco-Roman world. Women were recognized by Christianity as equal to men, children of God with the same superantural destiny; moreover, the Christian prohibition of polygamy, divorce, birth control, abortion and infanticide contributed to the well-being of women substantially, securing them dignity and rights within both Church and state. One effect of this higher status was to increase the number of Christian women, which in turn led to a superior fertility rate for Christians, another factor in the growth of the faith.

The papers also made little mention of the fact that in Ephesians 5, just after the “wives submit to your own husbands” verse, we find:  “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” While women submit to their husbands, husbands have to love their wives as Christ loved the church: in other words, a completely selfless love: the husband would die for his beloved.

Islam makes an interesting contrast: women are considered inferior to men and the Koran encourages a Muslim husband to beat his wife – an activity that is so common it ceases to be news:

When I first began to study the topic I did not realize that an Islamic marriage is not equivalent to a Christian marriage. Its rules, roles, and requirements are different. In a Christian marriage the husband is given the role as head of the household and the wife is expected to submit to the husband’s leadership. However, she is his equal in terms of social status; she is not inferior to him. In Islam the husband is also the head of the marriage, additionally he is his wife’s manager. Women are considered to be “in-between a slave and free man”. Slaves are not equal to their masters, rather they are subservient, managed, and controlled. Similarly, Muslim wives are inferior to their husbands and are managed and controlled.

As for, “If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.” women have the advantage of being able to sleep through the sermon and ask their husbands about what happened later; husbands have to be wide-eyed in rapt attention.


1 Comment

  1. I fondly remember my Nana, a good Christian woman, who was what you might call “old school”. She always wore a hat in Church (for women were to keep their heads covered in Church), she was completely against the bood of alternate services, and the list goes on and on. She would not take kindly to women readers (never mind women priest, and God forbid women bishops).

    Even to this very day there are women who uphold the Holy Scriptures teachings on the role of women in the Church. I recently received an email from a Priest in which he states that in his Church they have had on occasion (special services) a woman reader. Only to have other women in the Parish “complain” that this was “wrong”.

    Comment by AMPisAnglican — February 17, 2010 @ 9:04 am

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