Christianity changed how women were viewed in Roman culture

There is an interesting article by Chuck Colsen in the Christian Post dated yesterday about how Christianity changed the role of women in Roman society:

In her new book, Paul Among the People, classics scholar Sarah Ruden writes the common view of the Apostle Paul as an “oppressor of women” could “hardly be more wrong.” With the exception of a handful of high-born matrons, the Roman world often treated women worse than it did cattle.

This was especially true of slaves, who comprised one-third of Rome’s population. They could expect beatings, rape, and, if they were “fortunate,” being forced into prostitution. It was a world where unwanted children were left to die of exposure-infanticide.

Even high-status women ranked, at best, third in her husband’s hierarchy of concerns, behind his parents and her children. Sexually, she was expected to be at her husband’s beck and call. Wives could be disposed of when their husbands no longer desired them.

Thus, when Paul wrote that the “husband should treat the wife’s body as his own,” he inverted the way marriage was seen in the classical world. As Ruden put it, the ridiculous idea that some promote that Paul saw women as “sexual and domestic servants” could only be the result of a “brain fever.”

Paul’s’ teaching about equality in the Church was, if anything, even more revolutionary. The distinctions between slave and free, high-born and plebian were so much a part of the classical world that Paul’s teaching was scandalous. It was so scandalous that the pagan critic Celsus called Christianity a “religion of women, children and slaves.”

Good stuff.

Read the full article here.

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