MARRIAGE AND THE WOMAN MOVEMENT
Society never made marriage; it found it: marriage is a direct act of God, based on a direct word of God. Our Lord goes behind the Law of Moses, back to the bedrock of Creation, and says, - “For this cause” - i.e., because God had made a man and a woman, and one man and one woman only – “the twain shall become one flesh: what therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matt. 19: 5). Essentially, therefore, marriage is not a legal contract; or an economic corner stone of the State; or a union of mutual love: it is all these, but it is immeasurably deeper; it is an act of God - “God hath joined together”- so making the persons directly responsible to Himself; and it is God, our Lord says, who decreed the union, - “He which made them, said, the twain shall become one flesh.” God gave away the first bride, -“God brought her unto the man” (Gen. 2: 22), and so sanctified wedlock for ever.
Thus marriage is one of the primal laws of God: “be fruitful and multiply” is a command that has never been rescinded for the Gentile nations; and all assaults upon the marriage state are thus direct assaults upon Jehovah. Believers now, it is true, may, with the full approval of God, avoid the gracious but binding tyrannies of domestic union for a fuller devotion to Christ: so the Scripture says, - “It is good for a man to be as he is” (1 Cor. 7: 26): an abiding exhortation throughout the dispensation because the reasons given for it (vv. 32-35) are abiding; and the “present distress” is thus the age-long tribulation of a pilgrim Church. But the sanctity, the general advisability (1 Cor. 7: 2, 1 Tim. 5: 14, Matt. 19: 10-12), and the fundamental divineness of marriage, remain: a sanctity which has been made final by our Lord’s adoption of it as the supreme symbol of His relationship to His Church, His Bride. “LET MARRIAGE BE HAD IN HONOUR AMONG ALL” (Heb. 13: 4).
For the Holy Spirit, by drawing the veil from God’s creative acts, before either man or woman had sinned at all, reveals - like a fossil creation found embedded in a rock - God’s bedrock design for manhood and womanhood; an unveiling which carries with it the enormous corollary that Paul’s instructions are no local or temporary customs of the East, but the unearthing of God’s mind from the very bowels and internals of creation itself. And the first fact thus unearthed is this:- that a profound order runs through the entire creation; and that all things, including God, are involved in this order. For “the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God” (1 Cor. 11: 3). “In the word ‘head’ dominion is expressed; as in the human body the exercise of dominion over all the members proceeds from the head: so in the family, from man; in the Church, from Christ; in the universe, from God” (Olshausen). As co-equal in substance and Godhead, God and Christ are one; and yet the subordination of the Son to the Father is inherent and eternal: so, when the woman acquiesces in her subordination to the man, she imitates Christ, and it is no more a dishonour to her than our Lord’s subordination is a dishonour to Him, or than the man’s subjection to Christ is his disgrace. For each subordination is for the benefit of the one next below. God is the head of Christ to do all that it is in the power of God to do for Christ: Christ is the head of the man to do all that it is in the power of Christ to do for man: so the man is the head of the woman to nourish and cherish her, to provide and care for her, to protect and defend her - to do all that it is in the power of man to do for woman.
The Holy Spirit draws the veil further aside. “The man is the image” the sovereign’s head on the coin, “and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of the man.” Adam’s body appears to have been moulded, either after the design God always had in mind for Christ’s body, or else after the actual form of the Son of God as the Jehovah Angel: Eve’s, on the other hand, was a creation out of a section of Adam; so that, while both were given dominion over all creation (Gen. 1: 26, 27), Adam was given dominion over her. Eve was no more made in the image of God than she was made in the image of Adam: neither is ever asserted: for she is female that is, diverse in image from both, a creation by herself; and as his helpmeet and counterpart, she is man’s glory (Prov. 13: 4). She reaches her highest through him she ranks alongside him: if he becomes a king, she becomes a queen. “Doth not nature itself teach you?” Nature is a hieroglyph of grace: so that man and woman’s physique is each a revelation of the Creator’s will for their function and destiny; and the woman’s flowing tresses, contrasted with the man’s comparatively uncovered head - the veil (not to conceal the face, but a head-dress) is but an artificial extension of the hair* - stamp them for ever, the one as the image and glory of God, the other as the glory of the man. “For the man is not of the woman”; the man existed before the woman had been created at all; “but the woman of the man”; she drew both her name and nature from him; she slept in his side before ever she awoke in the world, and so is ipso facto subordinate: “neither was the man created for [because of: Alford] the woman, but the woman for [because of] the man” - the woman proceeded from the man because she was intended to serve as his helper, and to complete his existence (Godet). “I will make him an helpmeet for him” (Gen. 2: 18) - a counterpart, a complement; one who, as being unlike, supplies his defects; so that all the man lacks, his other self - for she was created out of him - contributes physically, intellectually, socially and as hydrogen and oxygen blend to produce water, so man and woman blend to make the perfect marriage – God’s conjoint creation for which Christ died.
[* In a day when, for industrial and other reasons, women are assuming man’s dress, it is well to remember the words of Jehovah : ‑ “A woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment; for whoever doeth these things is an ABOMINATION unto the Lord thy God” (Deut. 22: 5).]
Thus we arrive at the balanced relationship of the home. As a Christian, the wife is her husband’s “sister”; as married, she is his “wife”: as sister she has an exact equality in standing
and redemption - for “there can be no male and female, for ye are all one in
Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3: 28); as wife she is subordinate and
obedient, even as the Bride, the Lamb’s Wife, is subject to Him. For “as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives also be
to their husbands in everything”;
a truth which is balanced by its
correlated truth, - “husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church” (Eph.
[* For delicate chivalry and warmth of appreciation, Paul, the first of all ancient writers to declare the Christian exaltation of woman, and the spiritual equality of the sexes, remains unsurpassed. “Priscilla, unto whom not only I give thanks, but all the churches; Phoebe, a succourer of many, and of myself also; the beloved Persis, which laboured much in the Lord , the mother of Ratus, his mother and mine; help these women, for they laboured with me in the gospel, whose names are in the book of life." The Scriptures have ever been the magna charta of ideal womanhood.]
Nor is marriage the only relationship which is regulated .by the creative act. “I PERMIT NOT A WOMAN TO TEACH” - as wider than ‘evangelize’ or ‘preach,’ the word includes all public instruction – “nor to have dominion over a man,” - the second clause is vitally linked with the first – “but to be in quietness” (1 Tim. 2: 12). Women may teach women (Titus 2: 4), and children (2 Tim. 3: 15), and instruct individuals, as did the woman of Sychar (John 4: 28), Mary (John 20: 18), and Priscilla (Acts 18: 26): she may thus teach four-fifths of the human race but publicity in mixed assemblies, hitherto neither desired nor approved by the great majority of those to whom the Holy Ghost has given the magnificent title of “daughters of the Lord God Almighty,” is strictly prohibited. It is now her forbidden fruit. “For” - the root reason is again inextricably intertwined with the creative act – “Adam was first formed, then Eve.” It is not personal disqualification, for inherent superiority in everything belongs to neither sex: but the order in which He created them has revealed God’s design for their relationship; and superiority in status lies with the man, together with natural aptitude for initiative and rule. Nor is it with particular classes of women, such as loose Corinthians, or women in particular localities, as in Ephesus or Corinth, but with women as women that Paul deals; and it is “all subjection” that he commands, that is, complete subordination. “I suffer not a woman to teach”; “be ye imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11: 1) - a commanded imitation, occurring in the very context of the headship of the man, the meaning of which a child, cannot mistake, and the force of which a giant cannot overthrow. Very solemnly our Lord rebukes a church officer for neglecting to enforce this rule:- “I have THIS against thee, that thou sufferest the woman Jezebel to teach” (Rev. 2: 20).* They alone hold the true custody of woman’s honour who counsel her to obey her God.
[* The Angel, like all who yield in the littles, ignored the wise proverb - 0bsta principles: we must choke evil in its fountain, or it grows into an unmanageable flood. How far this lawlessness will push itself is already being revealed “Those who have read the proceedings of the Divorce Court Commission,” says Sir Robertson Nicoll (British Weekly, Jan. 19th , 1911), “know how startling, how revolutionary, how abominable, were some of the proposals laid before that body. It is an ominous and fearful fact that the very worst of these proposals were made by organized bodies of women.”]
But there is a second reason for the prohibition to teach. “For Adam was not beguiled” - that is, he fell with open eyes, and through love of his wife – “but the woman being beguiled” - being caught, being trapped, as the sole direct victim of the Tempter; Adam is nowhere said to have come into contact with the Serpent at all – “hath fallen into transgression” - and so induced the fearful entail of sin upon the race. Because of a misuse so grave God has now explicitly forbidden to the woman an initiative which He had never given her: her interpretation of Scripture in Eden, and her rejection of the Word of God, have permanently disqualified her for the more responsible and prominent functions of teaching. Adam’s sin was the greater, for the prohibition of the Tree he received direct from God, while she received it only from him; and, as a gift put into his hands by God, he was responsible to control her: nevertheless her sin revealed her incapacity for initiative; and so drew from Jehovah the first verbally expressed subordination – “Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee” (Gen. 3: 16).*
[* Yet the second Garden has redressed the balance of the first: first in the transgression, Woman was also last at the Cross, and first at the Tomb. The three Marys around the Cross (John 19: 25) are the triple crown of womanhood.]
The subtlest and deadliest sects to-day spring from repetitions of this primal sin. The bulk of Spiritualistic mediums, who are women; Theosophy, founded by Madame Blavatsky, and propagated by Mrs. Besant; Christian Science, organized throughout by Mrs. Eddy: the New Thought Church, the manufacture of Mrs. Sears: - all these are, or were, Spiritualistic mediums. Woman, again a pliant tool, is listening once more to the reappearing Serpent. But the disability is not eternal. Presumably, in so far as the subordination sprang, not from the woman’s. mode of creation, but from her priority in sin, it will ultimately disappear, together with its sign - travail in childbirth - at the final obliteration of all penal consequences of sin in both sexes; but meanwhile the prohibition of public instruction abides in full dispensational force,* - as is proved by the continuance of travail in child-birth.
[* On the ground of our Lord’s principle (Matt. 12: 7) that when the rule of order clashes
with the rule of necessity or of love, the lesser rule must give way to the
greater, it is possible that, in lonely
missionary stations where male supervision, either native or foreign, is
unobtainable, women’s temporary teaching and oversight may be. legitimate. David can eat shewbread and be blameless: but
shewbread is not to be David's habitual diet. How rapid and appalling is the defection even from all primal law! “There are no fewer than seven thousand ordained women in the
Free Churches of
It is not only loyalty to the Word of God, or a consciousness of perils which history has shown to be far from imaginary, which compels us, at all costs, to enforce the Scriptures; but a sweeter motive wooes and wins – “that we may present every [believer] perfect in Christ” (Col. 1: 28), “giving honour unto the woman, as unto the weaker vessel” (1 Pet. 3: 7) - a sentence which holds in it the whole soul of chivalry; and no honour is so real or effectual as clearing her pathway, by eliciting her own glad obedience, into the heart of the coming glory. For an athlete “is not crowned, except he have contended lawfully” (2 Tim. 2: 5): the regulations for women, as also for men in their sphere, will decide the issue of their coronation: woman’s obedience is essential to her glory. It is lowliness, not publicity, which determines, for both sexes, degree of rank (Matt. 20: 26) in the coming [millennial] Kingdom. So we arrive at the final regulation. “LET THE WOMEN KEEP SILENCE IN THE CHURCHES: FOR IT IS NOT PERMITTED UNTO THEM TO SPEAK” (1 Cor. 14: 34); a Scripture so clear, so decisive, that no one doubts what it seems to mean: let us ponder, therefore, the explanations advanced to prove that it does not mean what it seems to mean - namely, the absolute silence of sisters.
(1) It is said that the word here should be translated ‘wives,’ not ‘women,’ and that thus it is a rule for the married only. But the vast majority of women, as of men, are married: this objection, therefore, would give but little relief: the rule would still be binding on the .vast majority of womankind. Moreover, if so, it compels the inference that while godly and mature matrons are enjoined to silence, girls in their teens (as well as mature unmarried women) may rise and teach the Church, a statement which has only to be made, to be rejected.
(2) It is said that the word means ‘chatter,’ and refers only to thoughtless or flippant interruption. But the word is used twenty-four times in this very chapter, and never once in the sense of “chatter” or “interrupt”: it is used throughout of prophecies and inspired utterances: and once (verse 21) of God’s own utterance. The Greek word exactly corresponds to our English word “speak,” covering all utterance, dignified or undignified. Moreover, the Holy Spirit has already said, - “Let the women keep silence”: the injunction is thus wholly unmistakable, for it is affirmed both positively and negatively.*
[“Some writers in England have even supposed that in chapter 14 Paul simply means to forbid women to indulge in the whisperings and private conversations which would break the stillness of worship. But it is impossible so to restrict the meaning of the word to ‘speak,’ applied as it is in these chapters to all the forms of public speaking. Besides, the prohibition, if it had one of these meanings, should have been addressed to men as well as to women. What the passage forbids to women is not ill-speaking or ill-timed speaking, it is speaking; and what Paul contrasts with the term ‘speaking’ is ‘keeping silence’ or ‘asking at home’” (Godet).]
(3) It is said that this is a restriction belonging to the Law of Moses, from which the Gospel has freed women. But Paul says, - “Let them be in subjection, as also saith the law”; that is, on this point, according to the Apostle, the Law and the Gospel are identical. Woman’s ministry in synagogue and temple was wholly unknown and forbidden; though, as nothing to that effect is explicitly recorded in the Mosaic Law, the restriction has actually advanced in definiteness under the Gospel.
(4) It is said that the regulation was for Corinthian women,
accustomed to loose habits, and educated in a lawless atmosphere. But the
Epistle is addressed (1: 2) “to all who call upon the name of the
every Place”: “let the women keep silence”; and not, in the Church at
(5) It is said that these are rules confined to the
miraculously gifted of the
(6) It is said that Paul elsewhere (1
Cor. 11: 5) allows the woman to pray and prophesy, if covered. Obviously the gift of prophecy is for both
sexes; but there is no New Testament example of a woman’s public prayer or
[* Does the regulation cover public prayer also? It would seem so. This very chapter regulates prayer in the assemblies, - “If I pray in a tongue, my spirit prayeth” (verse 14): and then the Spirit says, - “Let the woman keep silence.” Is not audible prayer a breach of silence? and is it not an assumption of some degree of authority in leading an assembly to the Throne? In 1 Tim. 2: 4, 5, the word for ‘men’ is man inclusive of woman: “God willeth that all men [all human beings] should be saved” but in verse 8 it is man as distinct from woman; “let the males pray everywhere.” So, moreover, Alford:- “The English Version [A. V.], by omitting the article has entirely obscured this passage for its English readers, not one in a hundred of whom ever dreams of a distinction of the sexes being here intended.” Even questions, which are no assumption of authority, are (verse 35) forbidden. Collective singing, (Col. 3: 16) is commanded.]
(7) It is said that God has set His seal of approval on woman’s ministry, at least in evangelism, by granting conversions under her words. But nothing that can occur, not even conversions, can unsay what the Holy Spirit has said: only a rescinding order from the Spirit Himself, verbally expressed, can authorize disobedience. The kindred fact that conversions can occur under an unregenerate preacher is no Divine authorization of an unconverted ministry, but merely demonstrates that the life is in the Seed, not in the hand that sows it. The Word of God is liable to convert from any mouth. Moses may strike the rock, “rebelling against the word of the Lord,” yet the waters flow (Num. 20: 11-24) for the Holy Spirit will flow forth to parched lips from the smitten Christ even when disobediently invoked.*
(8) Finally - (and this exhausts the objections known to me; objections, I may add, never advanced, so far as I am aware, by front-rank commentators) - it is said that exceptional women have been raised by God above this rule. The answer is obvious. God is sovereign, and may make what exceptions to His own rules that He chooses: but I may not make them. And is it certain that there have been any such exceptions in this dispensation as will stand the searchlight of the judgment Seat of Christ? There is a Deborah in the Old Testament: there is no Deborah in the New. No female pastor, apostle, ruler, or evangelist, - no head or teacher in any church except Jezebel (Rev. 2: 20) - is named throughout the New Testament.
[* One purpose of prophecy was the conviction of unbelievers (1 Cor. 14: 24, 25): nevertheless prophets, never prophetesses, are here named throughout; and women, whether prophetesses or not, are enjoined to silence. Whoever believes sane, catholic-hearted Paul guilty of sex-prejudice, a sex-prejudice which he has embedded deeply in Holy Scripture, not only tramples underfoot the doctrine of inspiration, but is spiritually incompetent to comprehend the Apostle.]
But God has not left us to human reasoning, however loyal, or
to human scholarship, however careful and competent: it is most startling to
observe that He has made obedience to this rule one discriminating test between
Heaven and Hell, Himself assuming full and final responsibility for the
decree. For the Apostle, foreseeing the
strongest opposition, challenges the Church at
But the matter is graver still. The attitude of all inspired persons on this
church regulation infallibly reveals the source of their inspiration. “If any man thinketh
himself to be a prophet or inspired,
LET HIM ACKNOWLEDGE” - as a test of the source of his
inspiration - that they are the commandment of the Lord.” It is most remarkable that the prophets and
the inspired at
[* Christian women need to realize the fearful perils of the spirit world. The sole exception to the man’s authority lies in her control of her head-covering. “The woman [was created] for the man: for this cause” - i.e., because she was made for man and for no other race of beings – “ought the woman to have authority over” - see, for parallels to the Greek expression, John 17: 2, Rom. 9: 21, Rev. 2: 26, 6: 8, etc. - her head, because of the angels” (1 Cor. 11: 10). The Nephilim (Gen. 6: 1‑4) are again in the world. “Christian Scientists,” says an ex-Scientist, (My Experience of Christian Science, by a student of the Moody Bible. Institute), “claim that marriage is not necessary for reproduction, and I have heard of at least three children that have been born without fathers.” Even in private prayer the woman is to be covered in the presence of God: “is it seemly that a woman pray UNTO GOD unveiled?” and no husband or father has the power to forbid her this veil. “The seeming contradiction between the passages [1 Cor. 11: 5, and 1 Cor. 14: 34] disappears if we take into account that in Chapter 14. it is the public assembly of the congregation - the whole Church - that is spoken of (verses 4, 5, 12, 16, 19, 23, 26, 33). There is no sign of such being the case in 1 Cor. 11: 5” (H. Meyar). Spirits are as surely silent witnesses of private as of public worship.
** The French Revolution, in the person of Condorcet, gave birth to the Woman Movement, which later took shape in the ‘Ligue des Droit des Femmes’ in 1867, and now encircles the globe, - perhaps of all movements thus far the most symptomatic of the revolt from primal law. Theosophists largely officer the Movement; and it is the Perfect Way (p. 154), a masterpiece of Theosophic deceit claiming supernatural inspiration, which lays down this Theosophic fundamental:- “The curse will be removed, Paradise regained, and the second Sabbath of the Golden Age achieved, only when woman is again invested with her rightful supremacy over man.”]
The Apostle closes with a word of practical counsel. Foreseeing an opposition which no reasoning or Scripture can silence, and which no authority can overawe, he says, “If any man is ignorant”- professes his inability to pronounce whether these regulations are from God or not – “let him be ignorant.” State the truth; obey the truth; within our sphere, enforce the truth: then, if the opposing disciple remains obdurate, be silent; and leave him to the wise, tender, and righteous judgment of his Lord. So again, “if”- after the statement of Old Testament facts, and the Holy Spirit’s New Testament exposition of the facts – “any man seemeth to be contentious” - if any arises who appears to dispute the matter, who seems not satisfied with the reasons given by Paul, but is still disputatious (Alford) – “we” - we Apostles, whose authority is final – “HAVE NO SUCH CUSTOM” - enough has been said to satisfy all wise and good men – “neither the churches of God” (1 Cor. 11: 16), including the holiest women of nineteen hundred years. Pictures in the Catacombs reveal the man always with shortened hair, and the woman with the, palla, a handkerchief falling over the shoulders; and the fact that the Church has never varied in this attitude for nearly two millenniums is an extraordinary proof of the truth, and of the control of the Church by the Holy Ghost.*
[* It is difficult to understand how a heart loyal to Scripture can reach any other conclusion on the whole subject. “No other legislation, human or divine, has such a mass of sanction from nature, reason, revelation, argument and sentiment in its behalf” (Nathaniel West, D.D.). “Though the distinction of the sexes is abolished in Christ (Gal. 3: 28), as far as the offer of and standing in grace is concerned, yet for practical purposes, and for order and seemliness, it subsists and must be observed” (Dean Alford). “The wit of man cannot really devise a passage through these barriers which the Holy Ghost has thrown up. All public speaking of Christian women where men are present is naked disobedience to the Spirit of God” (R. Govett).]
The related question of Divorce is a question which, in one way or another, touches us all, for it brings us into direct contact with the State as a matter of law; it goes to the roots of family and national life; it may involve a grave collision, as it has in past ages, between State law and Church law; and above all, it is a question on which our Lord has spoken with extraordinary clearness, and laid down one of the most profound and far-reaching of all His commandments that bind the Church.
The Jews put the testing question to Christ: “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?” (Matt. 19: 3) - for any cause whatever? May a man dissolve his marriage simply as he would a private terminable contract? Our Lord, in answer, goes back behind the Law of Moses and even behind the patriarchs among whom polygamy was first practised, to the root design of creation. “Have ye not read” - for Holy Scripture is the sole and constant source of all spiritual knowledge - “that He Which made them, from the beginning made them a male and a female” - one male and one female; thus excluding both polygamy and divorce, a creative design of God extraordinarily maintained in nature by the practical equality of the sexes ever since. “And said” - for marriage is not only an institution of nature, but also a law of revelation – “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother” - abandoning one relationship for another as holy, and far more binding and exclusive – “and shall cleave to his wife, and the twain shall become ,one flesh. So that” - as a consequence of both creation and revelation – “they are no more twain, but one flesh”: not necessarily one in spirit; but merged into one, so long as they are ‘in the flesh.’ So our Lord, in His answer, goes back to creative bedrock. As the woman was not a separate creation, but was taken from the man, so by .marriage they merge back into one again: “what therefore” - for the unity is now a “what,” a single pair – “God hath joined together” - for every marriage is a God-made union, not a private contract – “let no man” - no earthly tribunal whatsoever – “put asunder.” That is, the binding nature of marriage does not depend on the will, or the general conduct, of the married, but on God’s creation of marriage, and His re-uniting, in every wedding, what He separated when He took Eve from Adam. God designed single pairs; God designed the lifelong faithfulness of the single pairs; God so designed marriage as to leave no holy reason for divorce. In creation God severed the one into two; in marriage He reunites the two into one.*
[* This in no way affects, for those whose “gift” it is the Spirit’s dispensational counsel of celibacy, in either sex, for fuller devotion to Christ as the supreme ideal (1 Cor. 7: 26).]
The Jews now press the Lord Jesus with a further probing question. “Why then did Moses command to give a bill of divorcement?” Our Lord answers: “Moses, for your hardness of heart” - choosing the lesser of two evils, and saving the wife from possible murder – “suffered you” - he never commanded it – “to put away your wives: but from the beginning IT WAS NOT SO” - divorce never entered into the design of God. Here is an absolute abrogation of the Law of Moses: here is our LORD obviously legislating for His new and heavenly people, the Church: here is the mightier Lawgiver rescinding, even for the whole world, all exceptions and exemptions of God’s primal law of marriage. For what is our Lord’s tremendous new enunciation? “I say unto you” - both believer and unbeliever, both Church and world, were gathered before Him – “WHOSOEVER” - of all men everywhere, but much more of those within the Church of Christ, “shall put away his wife, except for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery” - will appear before the bar of God, whatever civil or ecclesiastical law may have sanctioned the divorce, as ADULTERERS. So the Holy Spirit also through Paul:- “If, while the husband liveth, she be joined to another man, she shall be called an ADULTERESS” (Rom. 7: 3). Since marriage is a God created union, “what God hath joined together,” only God can dissolve; and on two grounds only does God dissolve marriage - fornication and death; for in both of these the fleshly union is dissolved, and the marriage ceases. So our Lord makes one exception: “Whosoever shall put away his wife, except for fornication, committeth adultery”: other sins may be very grave, but they do not destroy the marriage itself: fornication is not so much a ground of divorce, as it is divorce itself - a dissolution of the marriage tie, a death of the bond, a separation as complete as the marriage was a union.
So, therefore, we arrive at the Divine Law for the Church, binding us for ever. Let us summarize. What exactly do we mean by ‘divorce’? Not merely separation; but separation with the legal right to marry again: divorce is lawful re-marriage in the lifetime of the former husband or wife. Now separation, if adequate reasons are forth-coming, is not forbidden. “If the unbelieving [husband or wife] depart, let him depart: the brother or sister is not under bondage in such cases”: but this is separation only: “if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband” (1 Cor. 7: 2, 15). But does our Lord allow the innocent party in a righteous divorce - for example, a man whose wife has been divorced as an adulteress - to marry again? (Among obedient Jews this question could not arise, for adulterers and adulteresses were put to death.) The Roman and Anglican Churches answer, No; the Greek and Reformed Churches answer, Yes: it is probable that the Greek and Reformed Churches are right. For if marriage was a union in spirit, death would not, and could not, dissolve it; and therefore re-marriage after the death of one would be adultery; so, therefore, as death releases for re-marriage, so also must a divorce granted on God’s one marriage-dissolving ground. It is, moreover, the natural inference from our LORD’S words: “Whosoever shall put away his wife, except for fornication, and shall marry another, commitleth adultery”: therefore whosoever shall put away his wife for fornication, and shall marry another, doth not commit adultery; that is, he is free to marry again. But this is not the grave situation with which we have to grapple: the situation which we have to face is much simpler - may people marry again who have separated on any ground less than fornication? May they agree to separate for three years, and then be at liberty to marry elsewhere? Our Lord answers with tremendous force: “WHAT GOD HATH JOINED TOGETHER, LET NOT MAN” - no parliament, no emperor, no church, no pope – “PUT ASUNDER:” for “whosoever shall put away his wife, except for fornication, and shall marry another, COMMITTETH ADULTERY”: and therefore will appear - if a believer, at the Judgment Seat; if an unbeliever, at the Great White Throne - an adulterer. No Scriptural minister could conduct a service, or invoke the Divine blessing, on a union which our LORD declares to be adultery; no Scriptural Church in which a member has contracted such a marriage, since it is pronounced fornication by Christ, can have any option but to excommunicate (1 Cor. 5: 11).
For before Whom is it that we bow? Our Lord, with extraordinary wisdom, solves a problem of great difficulty, and silences His extremely subtle critics, by laying bare God’s creative design; and then - without a moment’s hesitation, and with all His habitual calm and ease - revokes Jehovah’s law, with an authority superior to Moses, and equal to God. “The Law and the prophets were until John”: what, then, is the new law? “Every one that putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery” (Luke 16: 16, 18). The Lord Jesus never had to go up into a mountain, like Moses, to fetch the Law - He simply spoke it: He never had to prostrate Himself on the dead, like Elisha - He simply said, Come forth: He never had to consult the Urim and Thummim, like Aaron - never baffled, never making a mistake, He simply uttered words God-thought, God-created, and God-expressed. For “the Word was with God, AND THE WORD WAS GOD” (John 1: 1).
Exquisitely does the Apostle sum up the entire relationship of the sexes. “Howbeit neither is the woman without the man, nor the man without the man, in the Lord”; the Christian Faith requires both, two halves of one whole, in which one is chief, joint-heirs of the grace of life (1 Pet. 3: 7): “for as the woman is of the man [in creation], so also is the man by the woman [in birth]”; “but all things are of God”- all their relations and interdependences come from God as from their true causal fountain and origin (Ellicott). The woman was dependent upon the man for her creation, but the man is dependent for his very life upon the woman; they have been redeemed at an equal cost, and may attain an equal blessedness: God made humanity to be one throbbing whole of sympathy and grace and love.
Note on Dr. Katherine Bushnell’s Works.
It is always a relief, but also a tragedy, when the seeds of error burst into their final bloom: a relief, because all eyes are opened to the evil at last; but a tragedy, because when an error comes in all its naked hideousness into the open, it is generally because its battle is won, and it can now afford to drop the mask. Dr. Katharine Bushnell’s works, which may be taken as a fair sample of much that is being taught to Christian women to-day, and which are presented by her admirers as “nothing short of a revelation direct from God,” reveal, as by a sudden flash of lightning, the ultimate goal of practices which, to many sincere and simple souls, appear innocent and even laudable. A pound of fact outweighs a ton of precept in disillusionment.
1. THIS TEACHING STRIKES A DEADLY BLOW AT PRIMAL LAW.
The Scripture says:- “I permit not a woman to teach, nor to have dominion over a man: for” - here is the bedrock reason on which the prohibition rests – “Adam was first formed, then Eve; and Adam was not beguiled, but the woman being beguiled hath fallen into transgression” (1 Tim. 2: 12). That is, the prohibition of a woman’s public teaching, or exercising any sort of authority over man, is prohibited on the ground of the order of creation, and also on the ground of her prior fall; both the priority given to the male by prior creation, and Eve’s disastrous misuse of initiative, are made, by the Holy Ghost the grounds of a forbidden public ministry. Now Dr. Bushnell’s divergence is radical and profound. Humanity (according to her) was originally, as (sic) the Deity now is, bi-sexual, so that both were created by a simultaneous act: the sexes appeared when Adam was divided into two, man thus having no priority over woman: Eve never fell, never sinned herself, though she got involved in the fall, and Adam was already fallen when she was sent to restore him: had Eve not hearkened to Adam, she might have reversed the Fall: that birth-travail was imposed as a penalty of the Fall is “a wicked and cruel superstition”: God warned Eve in Eden not to obey her husband, and it was her obedience to her husband which was the Fall: the subjection of woman in church and home had its origin in the woman-hatred of the Rabbis, and its perpetuation by priestcraft: therefore also, as the Fall was woman’s subjection, so the social salvation of the race will follow woman’s emancipation. And how does Dr. Bushnell arrive at these astounding results? By giving a fresh translation to nearly every Scripture involved. Our versions, both Authorised and Revised, wherever passages on woman’s status occur, are cast contemptuously aside as man-made translations, which “would have been of a much higher order had women had a place on the translation-committees”* and the true meaning of the Holy Ghost, after a burial of nineteen centuries, has now been unearthed by Dr. Bushnell.
[* It may be taken as an axiom that the writer who pronounces both our Versions incompetent in an entire department of translation at once puts himself out of court with all serious thinkers, and ruins even the truth which he may really present by an initial blunder so colossal. Dr. Bushnell’s alterations are exceedingly daring. The knowledge of good and evil becomes the knowledge of pleasure and pain (Gen. 2: 17) - in Gen. 3: 16, ‘desire’ becomes ‘turning,’ and ‘conception’ a ‘snare’; Sarah’s obedience and calling Abraham. ‘lord’ (1 Pet. 3: 6) becomes Sarah calling him ‘Sir’ and Abraham obeying Sarah (Gen. 21: 12); the man’s ‘headship’ of the woman (1 Cor. 11: 3) means ‘support’ only, and involves no control. 1 Tim. 2: 12 is confined (conveniently) to the age of Nero; ‘made’ (1 Tim. 2: 13, 15) means, not ‘created,’ but socially developed, and ‘childbearing’ has no reference to the ordinary birth of children; Paul’s words – “Is it seemly that a woman pray unto God unveiled?” (1 Cor. 11: 13) become – “IT is seemly that a woman pray unto God unveiled”; and so forth and so on. (All quotations are from Gods WORD TO WOMEN AND ONE HUNDRED AND ONE QUESTIONS ANSWERED).]
2. THIS TEACHING STRIKES A DEADLY BLOW AT HOME LIFE.
The Scripture says:‑“Let a woman learn in quietness with all subjection” (1 Tim. 2: 11): “as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives also be to their husbands in everyihing” (Eph. 5: 24): for “the head of the woman is the man” (1 Cor. 11: 3). All obedience and even subjection in woman or wife are, wholly denied. God, says Dr. Bushnell, “never ordained the governance of woman by man: He has forbidden it among believers”: Eve fell under Adam’s rule, “but this is not God’s will; this is the fruit of her wrong choice; let the choice cease. Where this state of bondage reigns, whether the bondage of a slave or a wife to a husband, the kingdom of heaven has not yet come.” “Lordship of the husband over the wife is Satanic in origin.” How profoundly different God’s ideal! The Holy Ghost is careful to insist with equal emphasis on two things - the husband’s love, the wife’s obedience (Eph. 5: 24, 25): where these two are, there is the perfect home. As a woman herself has put it, tenderly and beautifully:-
Her seat is endless ministry; her crown
The need and worship of some man whose love
She o’er her pride and self-desire folds down
And sets in mastery her own heart above;
Her sceptre is a little child’s weak hand;
Her orb, humility; her mantle, prayer;
Her right divine, to be, at Heaven’s command,
Man’s mother, mate, and help-meet past compare.
3. THIS TEACHING STRIKES A DEADLY BLOW AT CHURCH ORDER.
The Scripture says:- “Let the women keep silence in the churches; for it is not permitted unto them to speak; for it is shameful for a woman to speak in the church.” (1 Cor. 14: 34). No interpreter is present, the speaker in tongues is to KEEP SILENCE: if a seated prophet has a sudden revelation, the speaking prophet is to KEEP SILENCE: the women, without exception, are to KEEP SILENCE. Twenty times in fifteen verses ‘to speak’ means to address the public assembly. I confess that I turned with great curiosity to see how an acute intellect would attempt to storm an impregnable citadel. Will it be believed when it is stated? Dr. Bushnell says the words are a quotation - a quotation from Jewish Rabbis and woman-haters; that in these words Paul is quoting what he is opposing with all his might; that it is a quotation which he is attacking, not a truth which he is asserting: “Paul is uttering a strong protest against this sort of opposition to women.” One falls back aghast. Surely what the Holy Spirit calls ‘wresting the Scriptures’ (even though, it may be, with sincere motives) could go no further. “The teaching,” says Dr. Bushnell, “that woman must perpetually keep silence in the church, be obedient to her husband, and never presume to teach or preach, blights the doctrine of the Atonement, and robs Christ of glory.” But this interpretation carried with it a very valuable inference. If Dr. Bushnell sees only the quotation from an antagonist in the command of silence it is because she abandons in despair all hope of reconciling that command with woman’s public ministry: her grotesque conjecture is a final acknowledgment that the passage cannot be squared, by any ingenuity of human skill, with anything but silence. Grave church disorder will enter in through disregard of a rebuke of our Lord in one of His last utterances to a church on earth: “Thou sufferest the woman Jezebel TO TEACH” (Rev. 2: 20).
4. THIS TEACHING STRIKES A DEADLY BLOW AT WOMAN'S SAFETY.
The Scripture says:- “Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man: for this cause ought the woman to have a sign of authority on her head, BECAUSE OF THE ANGELS.”(1 Cor. 11: 10). Dr. Bushnell appeals to the Montanists of the third century, whose ‘inspired’ were almost exclusively women, and among whom, appointed by that ‘inspired’ utterance, were women pastors, women evangelists, women deacons, and women bishops. No appeal could be more fatal. Montanus was a man who claimed to be the Godhead incarnate; and the whole church, with a un-animity rare even then, refused Montanism as a manifestation of unclean spirits.* Montanism is exactly what reveals woman’s peculiar peril, and God’s wise placing of her within natural and holy family and church safeguards. The vast majority of the ‘inspired’ among the Montanists, the Camisards, and the Irvingites were women, AND EACH OF THESE ORIGINATED WITH WOMEN; witches all down the ages have been proverbially commoner than wizards; in every large American city to-day there are hundreds of women mediums; and most modern demonisms (including Spiritualism itself) have had women founders, from Ame Lee and Joanna Southcote to Madame Blavatsky, Mrs. Eddy, Mrs. Besant, and Dr. Julia Sears. As all history shows, woman herself is the worst sufferer from the outbreak of lawless passions, whether from the unseen world or from men; and her sole safety and only genuine emancipation lie in loving and loyal obedience to the exact letter of every Word of her God.
[* Montanus said:- “I am the Lord God Almighty dwelling in man: I am the Word, and the Spirit, and the Power.” A temporary writer, quoted by Eusebius, says:- “This arrogant spirit taught them to revile the whole and every particular church under heaven, because this spirit of false prophecy received no honour or countenance from it.” Montanism, Eusebius adds, “was held in abhorrence by the whole Christian brotherhood throughout the world.”]
5. THIS TEACHING STRIKES A DEADLY BLOW AT DIVINE INSPIRATION.
Paul’s utterances, taken as they stand in our Versions, are - in Dr. Bushnell’s words – “puerile sophistries,” “pitiful, puerile, and ego-centric.” The entire fabric of Scripture reels if one brick is thus found utterly rotten; and the catastrophe is only to be averted, on Dr. Bushnell’s own showing, by the Church repudiating the scholarship of two thousand years, and adopting her own versions. It is a colossal claim, and it is exceedingly impressive and will, to most, close the controversy, that, if our Versions are correct, the Church’s age-long attitude on woman’s status is proved Divine, Dr. Bushnell herself being the judge. The instructed believer who nevertheless welcomes the modern woman’s ‘emancipation’ from all the restraints of nature, custom, and revelation, must (and does) accept the Woman Movement, alone among the vast world-movements of to-day, as Divine in origin and impetus; that is, he impales himself on an impossible intellectual dilemma, and must either ultimately broaden out into an acceptance of the awful parallel world-currents and so be swept into apostasy, or else detect one more stratagem whereby Satan is ensnaring the world. The Holy Ghost, foreseeing such assaults as these upon His ambassador, couches His protest in words of uttermost solemnity: “If any man thinketh himself to be a prophet, or spiritual [inspired], let him acknowledge [as a discriminating test among the miracle-gifted, to whom alone this test applies, discriminating Divine from Satanic supernatural action and utterance] that the things I write unto you [the silence of women being the last command immediately preceding] are THE COMMANDMENT OF THE LORD” (1 Cor. 14: 37).
The gravest and most startling fact still remains. IT IS A FACT OPEN TO ALL TO VERIFY THAT THIS TEACHING IS GIVEN (PROBABLY FOR THE FIRST TIME TO THE MODERN WORLD) IN ONE OF THE MOST SATANIC BOOKS OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY. The perfect Way was written by two powerful Theosophists, Dr. Anna Kingsford and Mr. Edward Maitland, who claim for every word of it (I doubt not correctly) inspiration from the unseen world. Every point quoted from Dr. Bushnell in my second paragraph is here with this difference - that Paul’s words are not translated away, but, accepted as the whole Church and the whole world have always understood them, are openly flouted and scorned. Man was Originally, as God now is, bi-sexual; the Fall was no sin of Eve, but Adam’s; the woman’s subjection to man was the Fall – “Eve, having rejected God, falls under the sway of Adam, and perfection is lost”; the prohibitions of woman’s publicity and initiative are importations from woman-hating Judaism and Rabbinism, which have been perpetuated by the churches and by priestcraft; “Paul accepts in all its gross, impossible crudity the fable of the apple and the snake,” and, declaring that for Eve’s transgression her daughters must suffer silence and subjection, “appeals to the Law (1 Cor. 14: 34), which at other times he repudiates and denounces, and forges its chains anew”; and so the world’s redemption can be wrought only by a reversal of the process – woman’s restoration to equality, and even exaltation to superior dignity.* “The final redemption of the earth is to be found in the exaltation on the universal, fourfold planes, physical, philosophical, psychic, and celestial, of the WOMAN”: ** “The Woman shall be first in rule and highest in dignity: so that men shall say, Oh that we had been born women!”*** And the Theosophic paradise is summed up in an absurd (but also sinister and wicked) utterance attributed to our Lord in one of the Gnostic ‘gospels’: “The kingdom of heaven shall come when you women shall have renounced the dress of your sex.” **** He is bold indeed who imagines that a truth of the Holy Ghost, which has lain buried for nearly two millenniums, was first unearthed to the modern world in a book embodying the quintessence of Theosophy.
[*The Perfect Way, pp. 185, 186; 270. ** Ibid., p. 167. ***Ibid., P. 313. ****Ibid., P. 273.]