Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Vol. 2: Comments on
the Old and New Testaments
Copyright © 1898. All Rights Reserved.
EPISTLES TO TIMOTHY
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.
LUCINDA B. CHANDLER
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.
L. B. C.
LUCINDA B. CHANDLER
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. 1 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.
LUCINDA B. CHANDLER
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.
L. B. C.
LUCINDA B. CHANDLER
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.
LUCINDA B. CHANDLER
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.
LUCINDA B. CHANDLER
May the Wisdom Force
be with You.
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