Christianity’s Contributions: Women respected (Part 1)

As we continue to examine the contributions that Christianity has made in culture, let’s turn to the issue of the treatment of women. Historically, the Christian Church offered a new direction in the attitude and behavior toward women.  The idea of treating women with dignity and respect was not found in the Greek or Roman cultures.  Both cultures saw women as less than men.

Women were deemed inferior by both the Greeks and Romans.  Consequently, female infanticide (the killing of newborn infants) occurred more often with girls than with boys.  After reaching the age of attending school, Greek girls weren’t allowed to attend, but the Romans allowed some education for girls.

Upon adulthood, Greek women were not allowed outside the house without a male escort.  For both Greeks and Romans, women were not allowed to talk or eat with male guests in the house.  Upon leaving the house, both cultures did not permit women to speak at public events.

The Romans added a few more restrictions to women.  A wife and her property were owned by her husband.  Moreover, he had the power of life and death over her.  And in the case of divorce, only the husband could divorce his wife.  She had no right under Roman law.

However, in the Hebrew culture, women received a bit more status.  Girls received some education, although women were not allowed to speak in public.  In worship, women were merely passive listeners, separated by a partition from the men in the synagogue.  They did not participate as they do today in Christian churches.  That was due to Christianity’s contributions.  More on that in the next blog.

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