Marriage as we define it between one man and one woman has been taking quite a beating lately on the public square. In some ways, I’m divided, I’m not convinced that things of the First Kingdom, God’s, are any business at all of the second, the state.
And yet the state has horned its way in, with tax laws, and rules, and you shall do this, and you shan’t do that, and above all make that wedding cake, serf. And don’t talk about the $135 K fine for saying no.
Marriage, of course, is far older than the state, the very first of human institutions dating from before even the fall, and thus older than the church, and the state. But that won’t work for those who would make the state, god, and so they malign, and undermine, and dilute, and berate, and threaten, all without authentic evidence for their view.
For women’s rights flow directly, and inescapably from Christ and Christianity. Not for nothing did the resurrected Christ first appear to the Magdalene. See what Jessica had to say about this.
David J. Theroux wrote recently at the Independent Institute on the history of marriage, using actual scholarship, as opposed to making it up as he went along.
The biblical account of marriage begins with one man and one woman: “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them.’” And, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” Jesus later called humanity back to these records (Matthew 19:4–5, Mark 10:6–8), and the Christian story is viewed as ending with the wedding of Christ with His bride, the Church, from which all Christian discussions of marriage stem.
In Christianity, marriage is hence a sacred union of the highest order. However, since the Enlightenment, secularism has defined marriage as a civil union. Many academics view traditional marriage as a patriarchy to dominate and oppress women, all supported by Christian despots. Such a narrative is based on the theory that primitive mankind was egalitarian, matrilineal, and socialist, with communal sexual relations, despite the biological and kinship basis of heterosexual pairing.
However, for thousands of years around the world, a wife was considered a husband’s property. In ancient Jewish communities, almost every adult was married. By age thirteen, a man chose a wife who was betrothed (committed legally to marriage) and, thus, considered de facto married. The man headed the family, with the wife his property. In the Greco-Roman pagan world, marriage was reserved for citizens, and a woman shared her husband’s station as mother of his children, but she and the offspring were his.
While adultery was prohibited for women, no fidelity obligation existed for men. Older men could force marriage on pre-pubescent girls and compel them to have abortions, usually certain death for not only the baby but also the girl. Moreover, according to sociologist and historian Rodney Stark in his Pulitzer-Prize Finalist book The Rise of Christianity, infanticide was a commonplace, with baby girls disproportionately abandoned, resulting in “131 males per 100 females in the city of Rome, and 140 males per 100 females in Italy, Asia Minor, and North Africa.”The Christianity’s Revolutionary Recognition of Women as Equals: Newsroom: The Independent Institute.
All true and so is this:
Stark shows that Christianity recognized women as equal to men, all sacred to God. Christian wives did not have abortions (neither did Jewish wives), and Christians opposed infanticide, polygamy, incest, divorce, and adultery—all to women’s benefit. No longer serfs to men, women had dignity, were not rushed into marriages, and served as leaders in rapidly growing Christian communities. Christian women married older than pagans and into more secure families, had better marriages, were not forced to remarry if widowed, and were given assistance when needed. Stark notes Paul’s teaching:
But because of the temptation to immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not rule over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not rule over his own body, but the wife does. (I Corinthians 7:2-4)
It is very important, I think, for marriage to be removed finally from the political process and back in the milieu it belongs, that of God and the family, for this truly is a matter of God and not the state. Hey guys, Ephesians 5 reminds us:
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.