What did life look like for women before Jesus? Here is an excerpt from the Tim LaHaye’s book on Jesus.
“Perhaps the most harrowing limitation of a woman’s freedom stemmed from the Fourth Table of the Twelve Tables of Roman Law. This set of rules known as patria potestas gave the man absolute power over his wife and children and even extended into the area of life and death, which meant a husband could have his wife or child executed if he so desired. Historian Rudolph Sohm, writing in The Institutes of Roman Law in 1892, explains:
[The husband had] full authority to chastise [physically beat] his wife, and, in some cases, even to kill her, in the same way as he might chastise or kill his child.
These laws, which had their beginnings in the fifth century BC, were still in vogue by the year 18 BC when Caesar Augustus reinforced them by issuing lex Julia de adulteriis—a law that encouraged husbands to have their wives or daughters executed if they were found to have engaged in the act of adultery (Muslims still do to this day). Of course, husbands were not subject to the same standard. Men could take their mistresses out in public without having to worry about the threat of death or even raising an eyebrow, for that matter. But all that soon changed …
All Things Made New in Jesus Christ: The concept that women were intellectually and socially inferior to men—an idea that had been passed down from generation to generation for hundreds, if not thousands, of years—was suddenly turned upside down by the arrival of Jesus Christ.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)
The above biblical passage makes it clear that all people regardless of their race, class, or sex were considered equal in the eyes of Christ. No one before Jesus had ever attempted to present such a concept. Scholar L.F. Cervantes wrote in the late 1960s, a time when the feminist movement in America was beginning to heat up, that, “The birth of Jesus was the turning point in the history of women.”[i]
Not only did Jesus Christ come to free women from bondage, He came to free us all from the bondage of sin.
Men who were followers of Christ could no longer, in good conscience, keep their wives secluded or threaten to have them beaten. The teachings and examples of Jesus had proven to be so successful that by the year 374 AD, Emperor Valentinian had the law of patria potestas repealed, which effectively ended more than a thousand years of legal female suppression.
[i] LaHaye, T. (2009). Jesus. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook.
Published on Saturday, April 11, 2015 @ 4:29 AM CDT