Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Christianity: The Foundation for Women's Rights

From the book "How Christianity Changed the World" by Alvin Schmidt, (Zondervan, 2004), 93,94

What would be the status of women in the Western world today had Jesus Christ never entered the human arena? One way to answer this question is to look at the status of women in most present-day Islamic countries. Here women are still denied many rights that are available to men, and when they appear in public, they must be veiled. In Saudi Arabia, for instance, women are even barred from driving an automobile. In the summer of 1999, news reports revealed that women are forbidden to wear lipstick, and if they do they can be arrested and jailed. Whether in Saudi Arabia or in many other Arab countries where the Islamic religion is adhered to strongly, a man has the right to beat and sexually desert his wife, all with the full support of the Koran, which says "Men stand superior to women...But those whose perverseness ye fear, admonish them and remove them into bedchambers and beat them; but if they submit to you then do not seek a way against them" (Sura 4:34). This command is the polar opposite of what the New Testament says regarding a man's relationship with his wife. St. Paul told the Christians in Ephesus, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." And he added, "He who loves his wife loves himself." (Ephesians 5:25, 28).

The high and honorable marital ethic set forth cannot be found in the pagan literature of the Greco-Romans or the cultures of other societies. The civil and humane behavior that is expected between husband and wife today, even by secularly minded people, reflects the sea change effect Christ has had on the lives of women and on marriage, especially in the West.

One scholar of ancient Rome has aptly said that "the conversion of the Roman world to Christianity (brought) a great change in woman's status." Another has expressed it even more succinctly: "The birth of Jesus was the turning point in the history of woman."

Continue reading "How Christianity Changed the World" by Alvin Schmidt, (Zondervan, 2004), 97,98