Marriage elevates women’s statusMonday, February 6, 2012
Have you ever wondered why the improvement of the condition of women has occurred mainly in Western civilisation?
Answer: Historically, the West has been the “least tolerant of homosexuality”, writes Dennis Prager.
Before the Jews were placed in the Ancient Near East, the pagan world was a sexual free-for-all that debased women, boys, and religion itself in the service of male lust. Every aspect of life was sexualized. The pagan gods engaged in no-holds-barred sex, and so did the people. Homosexuality had almost unquestioned acceptance in the ancient world.
So what happened in a society that promoted sexual license and devalued marriage?
Brown University philosopher Martha Nussbaum tells us the central distinction in ancient sexual morality was between active and passive roles. Because boys and women were on the receiving end of sexual activity, they were “very often treated interchangeably as [simple] objects of [male] desire”. Not surprisingly, then, women were relegated to the sidelines, important for giving birth and running the home, but not important as real and equal partners to men, who had other sexual options — with boys and other men.
In a culture of free sex, Judaism’s claim that God created sex only for a man and a woman in marriage was revolutionary. Prager says the sexual revolution initiated by Judaism and later carried forward by Christianity “forced the sexual genie into the marital bottle”. It ensured that sex no longer dominated society and began the arduous task of elevating the status of women.
In his book Truth and Transformation, Vishal Mangalwadi says “Few sociologists will dispute the fact that the West became stronger than other civilisations because something liberated and empowered Western women. This was an important conclusion reached by the celebrated French magistrate Alexis de Tocqueville, who visited America in 1931-32 and wrote the classic account Democracy in America…The problem with polygamy, permissiveness and divorce is that they undermine the most potent idea behind Western civilization—the dignity of women, men, and children”.
One man-one woman marriage helped elevate the status of women. This definition of marriage gave Western women unique power over their husbands and children. Physically, intellectually, socially and morally strong women nurtured strong children, strong men, strong communities and strong nations!
As Chuck Colson says, the point is simply this: God instituted marriage for the good of man (restraining and channeling his sexuality), for the protection and dignity of women, and the flourishing of human society.
Western civilisation, the greatest ever, took this to heart, but forgets it now at its own peril.
Read Chuck Colson’s commentary here.
Dennis Prager’s original article “Judaism's Sexual Revolution: Why Judaism Rejected Homosexuality” can be found here.
- Marriage and sexuality