EPISTLES TO THE CORINTHIANS.
1 Corinthians vii.
2 Let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.
3 Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.
10 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:
11 But if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband, and let not the husband put away his wife.
12 But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not: and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.
13 And the woman which hath a husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.
14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean: but now are they holy.
16 For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?
The people appear to have been specially anxious to know what The Christian idea was in regard to the question of marriage. The Pythagoreans taught that marriage is unfavorable to high intellectual development. On the other hand, the Pharisees taught that it is sinful for a man to live unmarried beyond his twentieth year. 'The Apostles allowed that in many cases it might be wise for a man to live unmarried, as he could be more useful to others, provided that he were able to live with that entire chastity which the single life required.
The Apostle says that Christians should not marry unbelievers, but if either should change his or her opinions after, he would not advise separation, as they might sanctify each other. Scott thinks that the children are no more holy with one unbelieving parent, than when both are unbelieving; and he has not much faith in their sanctifying each other, except in a real change of faith. A union with an unbeliever would occasion grief and trouble, yet that ought patiently to be endured, for God might make use of the unbelieving wife or husband as an instrument in converting the other by affectionate and conscientious behavior; as this might not be the case, there is no reason to oppose the dissolution of the marriage.
There are no restrictions in the Scriptures on divorced persons marrying again, though many improvised by human laws are spoken of as in the Bible.
E. C. S.
In this chapter Paul laments that all men are not bachelors like himself; and in the second verse of that chapter he gives the only reason for which he was willing that men and women should marry. He advised all the unmarried and all widows to remain as he was. Paul sums up the whole matter, however, by telling those who have wives or husbands to stay with them—as necessary evils only to be tolerated; but sincerely regrets that anybody was ever married, and finally says that, "they that have wives should be as though they had none;" because, in his opinion, "he that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord; but he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he please his wife."
"There is this difference, also," he tells us, "between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband." Of course, it is contended that these things have tended to the elevation of woman. The idea that it is better to love the Lord than to love your wife or husband is infinitely absurd. Nobody ever did love the Lord—nobody can—until he becomes acquainted with him.
Saint Paul also tells us that "man is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man." And, for the purpose of sustaining this position, he says: "For 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." Of course we can all see that man could have gotten along well enough without woman. And yet this is called "inspired!" and this Apostle Paul is supposed to have known more than all the people now upon the earth. No wonder Paul at last was constrained to say: "We are fools for Christ's sake."
1 Corinthians xi.
3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.
4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head.
5 But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head.
7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.
8 For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man.
9 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.
10 For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.
11 Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.
13 judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?
14 Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?
15 But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given her for a covering.
According to the custom of those days a veil on the head was a token of respect to superiors; hence for a woman to lay aside her veil was to affect authority over the man. The shaving of the head was a disgraceful punishment inflicted on women of bad repute; it not only deprived them of a great beauty, but also of the badge of virtue and honor.
Though these directions appear to be very frivolous, even for those times, they are much more so for our stage of civilization. Yet the same customs prevail in our day and are enforced by the Church, as of vital consequence; their non-observance so irreligious that it would exclude a woman from the church. It is not a mere social fashion that allows men to sit in church with their heads uncovered and women with theirs covered, but a requirement of canon law of vital significance, showing the superiority, the authority, the headship of man, and the humility and the subservience of woman. The aristocracy in social life requires the same badge of respect of all female servants. In Europe they uniformly wear caps, and in many families in America, though under protest after learning its significance.
It is certainly high time that educated women in a Republic should rebel against a custom based on the supposition of their heaven- ordained subjection. Jesus is always represented as having long, curling hair, and so is the Trinity. Imagine a painting of these Gods all with clipped hair. Flowing robes and beautiful hair add greatly to the beauty and dignity of their pictures.
E. C. S.
The injunctions of St. Paul have had such a decided influence in fixing the legal status of women, that it is worth our while to consider their source. In dealing with this question we must never forget that the majority of the writings of the New Testament were not really written or published by those whose names they bear. Ancient writers considered it quite permissible for a man to put out letters under the name of another, and thus to bring his own ideas before the world under the protection of an honored sponsor. It is not usually claimed that St. Paul was the originator of the great religious movement called Christianity; but there is a strong belief that he was Divinely inspired. His inward persuasions, and especially his visions, appeared as a gift or endowment which had the force of inspiration; therefore, his mandates concerning women have a strong hold upon the popular mind; and when opponents to the equality of the sexes are put to bay, they glibly quote his injunctions.
We congratulate ourselves that we may shift some of these Biblical, arguments that have such a sinister effect from their firm foundation. He who claims to give a message must satisfy us that he has himself received such a message. The origin of the command that women should cover their heads is found in an old Jewish or Hebrew legend which appears in literature for the first time in Genesis vi. There we are told that the sons of God, that is, the angels, took to wives the daughters of men, and begat the giants and the heroes who were instrumental in bringing about the flood. The Rabbins held that the way in which the angels got possession of women was by laying hold of their hair; they accordingly warned women to cover their heads in public so that the angels might not get possession of them.
Paul merely repeats this warning, which he must often have heard at the feet of Gamaliel, who was at that time prince or president of the Sanhedrim, telling women to have a power (that is, protection) on their heads because of the angels: "For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels." Thus the command had its origin in an absurd old myth. This legend will be found fully treated in a German pamphlet, "Die Paulinische Angelologie und Daemonologie." Otto Everling, Gottingen, 1883.
If the command to keep silence in the churches has no higher origin than that to keep covered in public, should so much weight be given it, or should it be so often quoted as having Divine sanction?
1 Corinthians xiv.
34 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.
35 And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for woman to speak in the church.
The church at Corinth was peculiarly given to diversion and to disputation; and women were apt to join in and to ask many troublesome questions; hence they were advised to consult their husbands at home. The Apostle took it for granted that all men were wise enough to give to women the necessary information on all subjects. Others, again, advise wives never to discuss knotty points with their husbands; for if they should chance to differ from each other, that fact might give rise to much domestic infelicity. There is such a wide difference of opinion on this point among wise men, that perhaps it would be as safe to leave women to be guided by their own unassisted common sense.
E. C. S.