Here is a description of how women were treated in the first century. It describes the world to whom Paul wrote Ephesians five on marriage. “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved his church and gave himself up for her.” Ironically, our culture blames Christianity for the abuse of women. Go figure! Throughout history, without the proclamation of the gospel there has been no social or political liberty for the female sex.

“The most severe deprivation of a Roman woman’s freedom and rights had its roots in table 4 of the Twelve Tables of Roman law that originated in the fifth century B.C. Table 4 spelled out the law of patria potestas, which conferred rights of paterfamilias on the married man. In his role as paterfamilias, the man had supreme, absolute power over his children even when grown, including grandchildren. He alone had the power to divorce his wife, and he also possessed the power to execute his children. He could even execute his married daughter if she committed adultery in his or in her husband’s house. This latter right was reinforced by Caesar Augustus when he issued lex Julia de adulteriis in 18 B.C. A man’s wife was also subject to her husband’s power of life and death. He had “full authority to chastise his wife and, in some cases, even to kill her, in the same way as he might chastise or kill his child.” To kill his wife for a nonadulterous offense, the husband ordinarily required the consent of an extended family tribunal, but in the case of adultery no such consent was necessary.”[1]

Here is a description of the way Korean women were treated when the first missionaries arrived at the end of the 19th century.

“All her life long she has been in ignorance and virtual bondage, scarcely as valuable to her husband as the ox that ploughs his field, rising in the dark to cook the meals for her lord and master, eating whatever remains after he has finished, toiling, often with a baby on her back, not only in the house, but frequently in the field with the men. Unwelcomed at birth, unloved through life, and with no hope of a better world beyond, she lives continually in fear of the demons that populate earth and sky; afraid to live and still more afraid to die.”[1]

[1] Blair, William & Hunt Bruce, The Korean Pentecost, (Edingurgh, Banner of Truth, 1977) pg. 14

[1] Schmidt, Alvin J.. How Christianity Changed the World (Kindle Locations 2411-2420). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.