EPISTLES TO TIMOTHY.
1 Timothy ii.
9 In like manner, also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety: not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array:
10 But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.
11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.
12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve.
14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.
The Apostle Paul, though older than Timothy, had travelled much with him, and was at one time imprisoned with him in Rome. Paul had converted Timothy to the faith and watched over him as a father. He often speaks of him as my son, and was peculiarly beloved by him. When Paul was driven from Ephesus he wrote this epistle to Timothy for his direction.
It is perhaps not fair to judge Paul by the strict letter of the word. We are not well informed of the habits of women in his time in regard to personal adornment. What Paul means by "modest apparel" (supposing the translation to be correct), we may not precisely understand. Paul speaks especially of "braided hair." In his time Paul evidently considered as of account the extreme susceptibility of his sex to the effect of the garb and adornment of women.
The Apostles all appeared to be much exercised by the ornaments and the braided hair of the women. While they insisted that women should wear long hair, they objected to having it braided lest the beautiful coils should be too attractive to men. But women had other reasons for braiding their hair beside attracting men. A compact braid was much more comfortable than individual hairs free to be blown about with every breeze.
It appears very trifling for men, commissioned to do so great a work on earth, to give so much thought to the toilets of women. Ordering the men to have their heads shaved and hair cropped, while the women were to have their locks hanging around their shoulders, looks as if they feared that the sexes were not distinguishable and that they must finish Nature's work. Woman's braids and ornaments had a deeper significance than the Apostles seem to have understood. Her necessities compelled her to look to man for sup port and protection, hence her efforts to make herself attractive are not prompted by feminine vanity, but the economic conditions of civilization.
E. C. S.
The injunction that women should adorn themselves through good works was sensible. The Apostle did not imply that this adornment was not already possessed by women. Neither did he testify that the generations of men, of Prophets and of Apostles had been objects of the good works and all the ministrations of self-abnegation, which are required only of the mothers of men. Comparatively few women, who have fulfilled the special function which man assigns to them as their chief duty in life, lack the adornment of good works. In addition to these good works of motherhood in the family, woman has ministered to the necessities and the comfort of the sick, the feeble and the poor, through the centuries.
Could Paul have looked down to the nineteenth century with clairvoyant vision and beheld the good works of a Lucretia Mott, a Florence Nightingale, a Dorothea Dix and Clara Barton, not to mention a host of faithful mothers, he might, perhaps, have been less anxious about the apparel and the manners of his converts. Could he have foreseen a Margaret Fuller, a Maria Mitchell, or an Emma Willard, possibly he might have suspected that sex does not determine the capacity of the individual. Or, could he have had a vision of the public school system of this Republic, and witnessed the fact that a large proportion of the teachers are women, it is possible that he might have hesitated to utter so tyrannical an edict: "But I permit not a woman to teach."
Had the Apostle enjoined upon women to do good works without envy or jealousy, it would have had the weight and the wisdom of a Divine command. But that, from the earliest record of human events, woman should have been condemned and punished for trying to get knowledge, and forbidden to impart what she has learned, is the most unaccountable peculiarity of masculine wisdom. After cherishing and nursing helpless. infancy, the most necessary qualification of motherhood is that of teaching. If it is contrary to the perfect operation of human development that woman should teach, the infinite and all wise directing power of the universe has blundered. It cannot be admitted that Paul was inspired by infinite wisdom in this utterance. This was evidently the unilluminated utterance of Paul, the man, biassed by prejudice. But, it may be claimed that this edict referred especially to teaching in religious assemblies. It is strikingly inconsistent that Paul, who had proclaimed the broadest definition of human souls, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, male or female, but ye are one in Christ Jesus," as the Christian idea, should have commanded the subjection of woman, and silence as essential to her proper sphere in the Church.
It is not a decade since a manifesto was issued by a religious convention bewailing the fact that woman is not only seeking to control her property, but claiming the right of the wife to control her person! This seems to be as great an offence to ecclesiasticism in this hour and this land of boasted freedom, as it was to Paul in Judea nineteen centuries ago. But the "new man," as well as the "new woman," is here. He is inspired by the Divine truth that woman is to contribute to the redemption of the race by free and enlightened motherhood. He is proving his fitness to be her companion by achieving the greatest of all victories—victory over himself. The new humanity is to be born of this higher manhood and emancipated womanhood. Then it will be possible for motherhood to "continue in sanctification."
The doctrine of woman the origin of sin, and her subjection in consequence, planted in the early Christian Church by Paul, has been a poisonous stream in Church and in State. It has debased marriage and made both canon and civil law a monstrous oppression to woman. M. Renan sums up concisely a mighty truth in the following words: "The writings of Paul have been a danger and a hidden rock—the causes of the principal defects of Christian theology." His teachings about woman are no longer a hidden rock, however, for, in the light of science, it is disclosed to all truth seeking Minds. How much satisfaction it would have been to the mothers adown the centuries, had there been a testimony by Mary and Elizabeth recording their experiences of motherhood. Not a statement by them, nor one about them, except what man wrote.
Under church law, woman's property, time and services were all at the husband's disposal. Woman was not rescued from slavery by the Reformation. Luther's ninety-five theses, nailed upon the church door in Wittenberg, did not assert woman's natural or religious equality with man. It was a maxim of his that "no gown worse becomes a woman, than that she should be wise." A curious old black letter volume, published in London in 1632, declares that "the reason why women have no control in parliament, why they make no laws, consent to none, abrogate none, is their original sin." The trial of Mrs. Anne Hutchinson, in the seventeenth century, was chiefly for the sin of having taught men.
To-day, in free America, a wife cannot collect damages for injury to her person by a municipality. Legally her husband owns her person; and he alone can collect damages if the wife is injured by any defect or mishap for which the administration of the municipality is responsible. This was tested in the Court of Appeals in New York in 1890. The judges decided that "the time and the services of the wife belong to the husband, and if she has received wages from him it was a gift." Thus the spirit and the intent of the church law to make the wife a servant of the husband, subject to and controlled by him, and engrafted in common law, is a part of statute law operative in these United States to-day. Blackstone admits the outgrowth of common law from canon law, in saying: "Whoever wishes to gain insight into that great institution, common law, can do so most efficiently by studying canon law in regard to married women."
Jesus is not recorded as having uttered any similar claim that woman should be subject to man, or that in teaching she would be a usurper. The dominion of woman over man or of man over woman makes no part of the sayings of the Nazarene. He spoke to the individual soul, not recognizing sex as a quality of spiritual life, or as determining the sphere of action of either man or woman.
Stevens, in his "Pauline Theology," says: "Paul has been read as if he had written in the nineteenth century, or, more commonly, as if he had written in the fifth or seventeenth, as if his writings had no peculiarities arising from his own time, education and mental constitution." Down these nineteen centuries in a portion of the Christian Church the contempt for woman which Paul projected into Christianity has been perpetuated. The Protestant Evangelical Church still refuses to place her on an equality with man.
Although Paul said: "Neither is the man without the woman nor the woman without the man in the Lord," he taught also that the male alone is in the image of God. "For a man ought not to have his head veiled forasmuch as he is the image of God; but the woman is the glory of man." Thus he carried the spirit of the Talmud, "aggravated and re-enforced," into Christianity, represented by the following appointed daily prayer for pious Jews: "Blessed art thou, O Lord, that thou hast not made me a Gentile, an idiot nor a woman." Paul exhibits fairness in giving reasons for his peremptory mandate. "For Adam was first formed, then Eve," he says. This appears to be a weak statement for the higher position of man. If male man is first in station and authority, is superior because of priority of formation, what is his relation to "whales and every living creature that moveth which the waters bring forth, and every winged fowl after his kind," which were formed before him?
And again, "Adam was not beguiled, but, the woman being beguiled, hath fallen into transgression." There was then already existing the beguiling agency. The transgression of Eve was in listening to this existing source of error, which, in the allegory, is styled "the most subtle beast of the field which the Lord God hath made." Woman did not bring this subtle agency into activity. She was not therefore the author of sin, as has been charged. She was tempted by her desire for the knowledge which would enable her to distinguish between good and evil. According to this story, woman led the race out of the ignorance of innocence into the truth. Calvin, the commentator, says: "Adam did not fall into error, but was overcome by the allurements of his wife." It is singular that the man, who was "first formed," and therefore superior, and to whom only God has committed the office of teaching, not only was not susceptible to the temptation to acquire knowledge, but should have been the weak creature who was "overcome by the allurements of his wife."
But the story of the fall and all cognate myths and parables are far older and more universal than the ordinary reader of the Bible supposes them to be. The Bible itself in its Hebrew form is a comparatively recent compilation and adaptation of mysteries, the chief scenes of which were sculptured on temple walls and written or painted on papyri, ages before the time of Moses. History tells us, moreover, that the Book of Genesis, as it now stands, is the work not even of Moses, but of Ezra or Esdras, who lived at the time of the captivity, between five hundred and six hundred years before our era, and that he recovered it and other writings by the process of intuitional memory. "My heart," he says, "uttered understanding, and wisdom grew in my breast; for the spirit strengthened my memory."
With regard to the particular myth of the fall, the walls of ancient Thebes, Elphantine, Edfou and Karnak bear evidence that long before Moses taught, and certainly ages before Esdras wrote, its acts and symbols were embodied in the religious ceremonials of the people, of whom, according to Manetho, Moses was himself a priest. And the whole history of the fall of man is, says Sharpe, in a work on Egypt, "of Egyptian origin. The temptation of the woman by the serpent, the man by the woman, the sacred tree of knowledge, the cherubs guarding with flaming swords the door of the garden, the warfare declared between the woman and the serpent, may all be seen upon the Egyptian sculptured monuments."
This symbology signifies a deeper meaning than a material garden, a material apple, a tree and a snake. It is the relation of the soul or feminine part of man, "his living mother," to the physical and external man of sense. The temptation of woman brought the soul into the limitations of matter, of the physical. The soul derives its life from spirit, the eternal substance, God. Knowledge, through intellect alone, is of the limitation of flesh and sense. Intuition, the feminine part of reason, is the higher light. If the soul, the feminine part of man, is turned toward God, humanity is saved from the dissipations and the perversions of sensuality. Humanity is not alone dual in the two forms, male and female, but every soul is dual. The more perfect the balance in the individual of masculine and feminine, the more perfect the man or the woman. The masculine represents force, the feminine love. "Force without love can but work evil until it is spent."
Paul evidently was not learned in Egyptian lore. He did not recognize the esoteric meaning of the parable of the fall. To him it was a literal fact, apparently, and Eve was to be to all womankind the transmitter of a "curse" in maternity. We know that down to the very recent date of the introduction of anesthetics the idea prevailed that travail pains are the result of, and punishment for, the transgression of Mother Eve. It was claimed that it was wrong to attempt to remove "the curse" from woman, by mitigating her suffering in that hour of peril and of agony.
Whatever Paul may mean, it is a fact that the women of our aboriginal tribes, whose living was natural and healthful, who were not enervated by civilized customs, were not subject to the sufferings of civilized women. And it has been proven by the civilized woman that a strict observance of hygienic conditions of dress, of diet, and the mode of life, reduces the pangs of parturition. Painless child-bearing is a physiological problem; and "the curse" has never borne upon the woman whose life had been in strict accord with the laws of life. Science has come to the rescue of humanity, in the recognition of the truth, that the advancement as well as the conservation of the race is through the female. The great Apostle left no evidence that he apprehended this fact. His audacity was sublime; but it was the audacity of ignorance.
No more stupendous demonstration of the power of thought can be imagined, than is illustrated in the customs of the Church for centuries, when in the general canons were found that "No woman may approach the altar," "A woman may not baptize without extreme necessity," "Woman may not receive the eucharist under a black veil." Under canon 81 she was forbidden to write in her own name to lay Christians, but only in the name of her husband; and women were not to receive letters of friendship from any one addressed to themselves. Canon law, framed by the priesthood, compiled as early as the ninth century, has come down in effect to the nineteenth, making woman subordinate in civil law. Under canon law, wives were deprived of the control of both person and property. Canon law created marriage a sacrament "to be performed at the church door," in order to make it a source of revenue to the Church. Marriage, however, was reckoned too sinful "to be allowed for many years to take place within the sacred building consecrated to God, and deemed too holy to permit the entrance of a woman within its sacred walls at certain periods of her life."
L. B. C.
1 Timothy iii.
2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;
4 One that ruleth well in his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity:
5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
8 Likewise must the deacons be grave, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre.
11 Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.
12 Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.
In this chapter the advice of the Apostle in regard to the overseer or bishop is unexceptionable. The first injunction that relates to woman is, that the bishop must be the husband of one wife. Under the present ideas of Christendom, the inference naturally is that the bishop was enjoined to be the husband of but one wife. If, as appears probable, this was an injunction in favor of monogamy, it was a true and progressive idea established with the foundation of the Christian Church.
Deacons also are instructed to be the husbands of one wife. "Women in like manner must be grave, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things." It is not clear whether this is spoken for the direction of women in general in the Church, or for the wives of deacons. The advice, however, is equally good for either class. The word "sober" in the old version is rendered "temperate" in the new one. Whether women in those days were liable to take too much wine does not appear. But nowhere in the Old or the New Testaments is there an account of drunkenness by women.
The directions for the conduct of the bishop are explicit. He is to be "gentle, not contentious," which sets aside much that distinguishes the masculine nature. In fact, with the exception of the qualification "apt to teach," before forbidden, the entire list of the necessary qualities of a bishop is that of womanly characteristics. Temperate, sober-minded (i. e., not given to trifling speech), orderly, given to hospitality, no brawler, no striker (this supposedly refers to pugilistic tendencies), but gentle, not contentious. Every qualification is essentially womanly.
1 Timothy v.
3 Honour widows that are widows indeed.
4 But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God.
5 Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God,
6 But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.
8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an Infidel.
9 Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years, having been the wife of one man.
10 Well reported of for her good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.
11 But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry;
12 Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith.
13 And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also, and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.
14 I will therefore that the Younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.
15 For some are already turned aside after Satan,
16 If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed.
No one can be desolate who has a purpose and a sphere of action, with ability to work. Paul's widow, who was a widow indeed, "continueth in supplication and prayers night and day." What an existence! Desolate indeed. Exercising but one faculty of the soul—that of supplication! Women of this period cannot be too thankful, that the numerous opportunities for educational and philanthropic work are open to them in addition to the opportunities to win subsistence in the various avocations of life.
The widow who was to be enrolled, to be provided for by the Church, must be three score years old, having been the wife of one man. Whether this is a repudiation of second marriages, or refers to polyandry, is not apparent. This obligation of the early Church to provide for women who had fulfilled the duties of motherhood, ministered to the afflicted, washed the saints' feet, and diligently followed every good work, is a recognition of a right principle, and which should be made a part of social organization.
But he directs that younger women be refused. Paul thought that women could not be loyal followers of Christ and "desire to marry." Therefore he desires them all to marry, to bear children and to rule the family. Another inconsistency of Paul. Having stated as expressly the teaching of the spirit that the doctrine forbidding to marry was of devils, he here again claims that when the younger widows desire to, marry they have waxed wanton against Christ. There is even by Paul one place in which woman is to be the head. If she may not teach, she may provide for the physical comfort of her husband and family.
The Apostle accuses women of learning to be idle, going about from house to house, of being tattlers and busybodies—these young widows, or unmarried women. What a spectacle the thousands of bread-winning young and unmarried women of to-day, would be to Paul if he could come here! And these young women have no time to go from house to house, or even to fulfill social obligations. And the students in our colleges and universities, Paul would not find them tattlers or busybodies. What could the unmarried women of Paul's time do? They had no absorbing mental pursuit or physical occupation. Perhaps they could not read; and there was little for them to study. Lacking mental furnishing to noble ends, they must of necessity deal with trivial matters. What could a woman do who had no home to care for, no business to attend to, perhaps nothing to read (if she could read), no social organizations in which she had a place and part except the religious assemblies in which she was to be "in quietness," "in silence"?
They were not worthy of condemnation if they were going from house to house and tattling. The unmarried woman will not lack opportunity for the dignity of self-support and the ministrations of philanthropy in the new dispensation. Womanhood and its high possibilities of mind and of heart are worthy attainments, even though not crowned with self- elected motherhood. Whether married or unmarried, the highest duty of every living soul, woman or man, is to seek truth and righteousness; and the liberty which is of the spirit of truth does not admit of the bondage of husband and wife, the one to the other. Freedom to seek soul development is paramount to all other demands.
1 Timothy i.
2 Too Timothy, my dearly beloved son: grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
5 When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grand-mother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.
Timothy, whom Paul calls his true child in faith, and whom he placed as overseer, or bishop of the first church at Ephesus, as all commentators agree, was the child of mixed parentage, his father being a Greek and his mother a Jewess. It is supposed that his father died in Timothy's childhood, as no mention is made of him. Timothy, then, was educated religiously by the teaching and the example of his mother and his grandmother. Paul expresses with fervent emotion his remembrance of his "beloved child," and of the unfeigned faith which is in him, and, "which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois and thy mother Eunice."
After having instructed Timothy to exercise all the gentle virtues which are feminine and womanly, the Apostle in this acknowledgment that he was the child of a devout mother and grandmother, discloses a fact which places in no favorable light his strenuous opposition to woman's equality in the Church. This mother and grandmother under whose teaching Timothy had become qualified to receive the important office of bishop, and whose faithfulness so endeared him to the Apostle, were required to keep silence in the Church equally with all other women whose evidence of faith were not so conclusive. There was no distinction. The ban was placed upon woman solely on the ground of sex.
The Church has only in this nineteenth century partially amended this record, by establishing the order of deaconesses for women who devote themselves to good works and to religious teaching. While in the liberal denominations the pulpit is accessible to woman, it is only in very recent years that in any evangelistic denomination it has been permissible for woman to "teach." The priesthood are as unwilling to-day as was Paul in the first century, that women shall be placed on an equality in offices of distinction. Perhaps this disposition comes of a dim, not fully evolved consciousness that, "when the present evolution of woman is complete, a new world will result; for woman is destined to rule the world. She is the centre and the fountain of its life," which the new man has recently announced from his pulpit.
There is no prerogative more tenaciously held by the common man than that of rulership. There is no greater opposition to woman's equality in the State than there is in the Church, and this notwithstanding the fact that the Church and the pulpit are largely sustained by women. The Church is spiritually and actually a womanly institution, and this is recognized by the unvarying expression, "Mother Church." Yet man monopolizes all offices of distinction and of leadership, and receives the salaries for material support. As the inevitable result, spiritual life has become so languid as to be ineffectual, and an effort is being persistently pushed by a portion of the Evangelical Church, a portion, too, which most strenuously keeps its women silent, to fortify the Church by the power of civil government.
There is no suggestion in the teaching of Jesus, as recorded, of compelling individuals, authorities, or powers, to acknowledge God. The religion of Jesus is a voluntary acceptance of truth. "God is a spirit, and they who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth." There can be no compulsory life of the spirit, quickened by the source of life, light and love. The masculine idea of compelling a formal acknowledgment of God by the State is entirely unchristian.
Until the feminine is recognized in the Divine Being, and justice is established in the Church by the complete equality of woman with man, the Church cannot be thoroughly Christian. "Honor thy father and thy mother" is the commandment. The human race cannot be brought to its highest state until motherhood is equally honored with fatherhood in human institutions.
L. B. C.