Monday, 12 October 2009

Biblical Marriage

Okay so just to provide a bit of context, my friend John posted a tweet, I found it absurd, John was adament that at least one Christian academic took this stance and posted the relevant quote to Tumblr. I was still unconvinced and said I would write a blog about it. Here it is.

While I understand your tweet was supposed to be provocative, and wasn't entirely serious, I still think there's a general feeling around that agrees with your original tweet - that Christians are anti-feminist, or that we just generally do not consider women to be equal to men, especially in marriage. In some cases this is a fair assessment of how Christians treat women, but it would be unfair to say that all Christians - or even most Christians - act this way. I feel this behaviour is wrong and lacks Biblical support.

Richard Holloway's quote is interesting, but I don't think he was actually generalising the Biblical view of marriage. He was talking about the Law in the Old Testament, and the sentiment expressed in the quote was reflective of the culture of Mesopotamia at the time. Women are treated very poorly in the Old Testament, and there is no denying that. However, taking the culture of seventh century BC and broadly applying it to modern-day Judeo-Christian thought is absurd. Perhaps that is what you where going for. However, I get the feeling you aren't very familiar with the writings of Paul in the New Testament, which is where Christianity derives its views on marriage.

Ephesians 5: 21-33 is the main passage on this topic. Ephesians is a letter written by Paul of Tarsus and was addressed to the church in Ephesus. Interestingly, the church in Ephesus was largely administered to by Priscilla and Aquila - a married couple.

A quick glance at the passage will reveal that it contains things that have been used to put women down for years. However,"Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord" isn't the end of what Paul had to say. He continues, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her". This is incredible and powerful. Christ died for the church (referring to the body of believers) and put himself last in all matters.

People have (and do) use this passage to disempower women, but I feel it is clear that Paul did not intend for that to be the case. Instead, we are to "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." This stance on marriage is incredibly empowering for women considering the culture of the time it was written in - Rome, AD 62 - when women had almost no rights in regard to owning property: thus making them vulnerable to divorce and subsequent poverty. Rather than showing marriage as a husband domineering over his wife, Paul paints a picture of two people working together for the greater good of each other and the greater body of believers.

So, far from Biblical marriage being about "women-as-property", I think (and I am certainly not alone in this thought) that it is actually much more ahead of its time, and functions well within a modern context.


  1. Great blog Rohan, as always well delivered and a compelling 'arguement'