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Pauline Woman.

But how is the prevalent and popular notion of the inferior status of woman, and of the unfitness and impropriety of women exercising the full rights of citizens in Christian States, to be accounted for? There can be no doubt, I think, that it is in large part due to the teachings of the Apostle Paul. Now Paul was a bachelor, and at the time he wrote his Epistles he was an old and a very confirmed bachelor, with very strict views about women, which seem to read rather crusty, and are, to say the least, rather patronizing. For while he is careful to state that the acceptance of the Christain faith obliterates all other distinctions— “There is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, male nor female”— yet Paul all through his writings seems to be struggling with the conviction that women were a kind of necessary—not evil; oh, no! not that by any means—but a necessary and embarrassing difficulty; that they required very judicious, delicate, yet firm, management; and therefore he lays down very stringent and very definite laws for them in the Christian community.

There is no resisting the conviction that he was determined to keep women in what he held to be their place, and that was a subordinate place, and on a lower plane than man.

He writes:—“The man is not of the woman, but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman, but the woman for the man. The woman is the glory of the man. The head of the woman is the man” (1 Cor. xi. 1–9).

“Let the women learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression” (1 Timothy ii. 11–14).

“Let your women keep silence in the churches, for it is not permitted unto them to speak, but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home; for it is a shame for women to speak in the church” (1 Cor. xiv. 34, 35).

He lays down sumptuary laws for them—“I will that women adorn themselves in modest apparel; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array” (1 Tim. ii. 9).

Personally he seems to have been opposed to marriage, for he advised men and women against it:—“I would that all men were even as I myself. …. I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good


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for them if they abide even as I. …. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife” (1 Cor. vii. 1–27), is his advice to men.

He counselled fathers to dissuade their daughters from marriage, and to withhold their consent if it were safe to do so:—“He that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better.”

And concerning this there is an incident narrated full of Scottish humour. A Highland girl's lover was not acceptable to her father, and he used this text to prevent the marriage. “Ye ken, Janet, the Apostle Paul weel kenned what was best. He said that he that gaeth his daughter im marriage daeth well, but he that gaeth her not daeth better.” “Na doot, fayther,” Janet replied; “but I'm thinkin' that as, if ye'll let me hae Donald, ye'll dae weel, let ither faythers dae better if they wull. To do weel is gude eneuch for you and me.”

If women are so daring as to marry, Paul tells them that they must submit themselves to and be obedient to their husbands; and so far as the younger women are concerned, he defines the chief sphere of their activity; they are to “guide the house” (1 Tim. v. 16; Eph. v. 22). In the Constitution of the Christian Church there is the solitary mention of one deaconess—Phœbe, of Cenchrea (Rom. xvi. 1); and widows over sixty years of age, who had been the wives of one husband, were enrolled for a purpose not clearly specified.

No doubt there were special reasons, arising out of the general expectation of the immediate establishment of the Messiah's kingdom upon the earth; but it is impossible to resist the conclusion that Paul placed limitations upon women; and it cannot be questioned that while Christianity elevates the position of women it contributes nothing in favour of their equal rights as citizens, and the New Testament contains no directions to them to take part in politics, Parliament, legislation, or the government of the State. And, though we have the mythical account of the Amazons, who constituted a female nation, and find women ruling as Judges and Monarchs, nowhere outside Mythology are women found voting as citizens. Before the time of Cecrops they are said to have voted at Athens; but in the later Athens—the mother and exemplar of extreme democracy—citizenship and the right to vote were strictly limited to free men of full age; while in Rome, as a historian attests, notwithstanding the pure and lofty character of the Roman matron, “by the Roman law married women had no personal rights; they were subject to their husbands as absolutely as if they had been slaves.”

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