Was Paul A Male Chavinist? Essay, Research Paper
Michael W. Shell
Dr. Scott Nash
Essay Question 3: Was Paul a male chauvinist? Cite particular passages in his letters to support your view.
In many of the letters that Paul transcribed during his travels, he espoused views that feminists of our time might construe as being chauvinistic. In trying to determine whether his views on marriage and the place of women in society are biased, we must understand the time period of his writings. The theological impact on his pronouncements, and the society in which he lived influenced him to reach these conclusions. During his era, Paul was not considered a male chauvinist, but simply transmitted the general belief of the time. In our time period where women have taken a greater role within the church and society, his letters and works have come under scrutiny and raised cause for debate over the intent and meaning of certain passages with the New Testament.
The time period of his letters and writings were around the turn of the first century. Most of the civilized world was expanding and society was being influenced by different cultures intermingling during the travels. Paul s teaching about the church and religion were alarming enough to the great majority of society that seemed to have certain preconceptions about their theological past. Paul s pronouncements about marriage and women followed the traditional role of women held during this era. It was, in fact, the church of the early New Testament, that encouraged women to take a greater role in society and contribute to the spreading of the Gospel. These societies were patriarchal in orientation, relegating women to subordinate roles in religion, government, and domestic concerns. The movement of the church was toward a model of marriage in which neither partner seeks personal growth at the expense of the other. (MDOB, Women in the New Testament , Pg 966-968)
Paul made a pronouncement in his letter to the Ephesians, Wives, be subject to your husband as you are to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:22) In this pronouncement he drew an outline for a successful Christian home and followed the thought of the era and the teachings from the Old Testament. Each of us is subservient to the Lord, and the wife to her husband, but the husband must treat his wife as he would treat the Church suggesting a partnership in marriage, as understood in Genesis and in their relationship with God and Jesus. Although this view seems chauvinistic in our time, Paul tried to establish a hierarchy between men and women, the people and the church, and the church and God. He was laying the groundwork for new concepts in the theological aspects of peoples lives and attempted to direct the new paths that each person must follow. In his letter to the Colossians, in which he orates similar passages, he includes children obeying their parents and slaves obeying their masters. Paul states, Wives, be subject to your husbands , Children, obey your parents , and Slaves, obey your masters . (Colossians 3:18-22) We, in our time, reject slavery as immoral and although Paul included them in his outline did not address that issue. He simply tried to provide the outline for all levels of society to follow in his theology and teachings about the church.
As in the ministry of Jesus, women were active in the ministry of the early church. (MDOB, Women in the New Testament , Pg 966-968) They were teachers, scholars, deacons, church workers and prophets. Women today are active in the ministry of the church and have made profound impacts on religion throughout history. The views of Paul on marriage and the role of women as stated in his letters to the Ephesians and Colossians were consistent with the patriarchal views of his time and his teachings about the roles each of us must occupy within our realm to be within the church and religion.