1.    The first Christian communities live inserted in the middle of a world of social relations, such as these are in the Jewish and Greco-Roman society of the first century. For instance, dependence relationship: man-woman, parents-children, master-slaves, take place. Now well, if the Christians live everything in the Lord, what does it happen then? Do they assume the social model of the ancient world like God´s word? Or rather, do they live in the Lord the social model that they find? In this case, which changes are introduced? How are those dependence relationship lived in the Lord? What does God´s word say? What does the Gospel say?

2.    In the letter to the Colossians we find the so called mirrors or home manuals, that are domestic regulations of the ancient world: Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as you should do in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not get angry with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, because that pleases the Lord. Parents, do not be too demanding of your children, lest they become discouraged. Servants, obey your masters in everything; not only while they are present, to gain favour with them, but sincerely, because you fear the Lord. Whatever you do, do it whole heartedly, working for the Lord, and not for humans. You well know that the Lord will reward you with the inheritance. You are servants, but your Lord is Christ. Every evildoer will be paid back for whatever wrong has been done, for God does not make exceptions in favour of anyone. As for you, masters, give your servants what is fair and reasonable, knowing that you yourselves have a Master in heaven. (Col 3, 18 – 4,1)

3.    A similar passage, larger, appears in the letter to the Ephesians: Let all kinds of submission to one another become obedience to Christ. So wives to their husbands: as to the Lord. The husband is the head of his wife, as Christ is the head of the Church, his body, of whom he is also the Saviour. And as the Church submits to Christ, so let a wife submit in everything to her husband. As for you, husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her. He washed her and made her holy by baptism in the Word. As he wanted a radiant Church without stain or wrinkle or any blemish, but holy and blameless, he himself had to prepare and present her to himself. In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they love their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves him self. And no one has ever hated his body; he feeds and takes care of it. That is just what Christ does for the Church, because we are members of his body. Scripture says: Because of this a man shall leave his father and mother to be united with his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a very great mystery, and I refer to Christ and the Church. As for you, let each one love his wife as himself, and let the wife respect her husband.

4.    The passage continues: Children, obey your parents for this is right: Honour your father and your mother. And this is the first commandment that has promise: that you may be happy and enjoy long life in the land.  4 And you, fathers, do not make rebels of your children, but educate them by correction and instruction which the Lord may inspire. Servants, obey your masters of this world with fear and respect, with simplicity of heart, as if obeying Christ. Do not serve only when you are watched or in order to please others, but become servants of Christ who do God’s will with all your heart. Work willingly, for the Lord and not for humans, mindful that the good each one has done, whether servant or free, will be rewarded by the Lord. And you, masters, deal with your servants in the same way, and do not threaten them, since you know that they and you have the same Lord who is in heaven, and he treats all fairly. (Eph 5 22 – 6.9; see 1 Tm 2, 8 – 15; 5, 3 – 8; 6, 1 – 2; Tt 2, 1- 10; 1 P 2, 1 – 3, 7)

5.    One thing calls for attention. The affirmation that the man is head (or chief) of the woman appears (such as it reaches us) in several of the Pauline letters (1 Co 11,3; Eph 5, 23; Tt 2, 5) and in the first letter of Peter (1 P 3, 1), but it does not appear in the evangels, that are the law and prophets plenitude. What does this mean? Is that affirmation God´s word or it only reflects the woman social situation, of inferiority, dependency and submission, such as it happens in the ancient world? With the exception of isolated cases, the woman does not carry out any roll in public life. Her instruction is limited to her jobs. According to the Greek philosopher Aristotle (384-322 b. C.), who so large influence has in the medieval Christian tradition, the woman is “like a mutilated man” (De generatione animalium, 2,3)

6.    In the Jewish world, until the twelve and a half years, the father has the full authority over the daughter: “She will always stay under the father’s authority until she goes, with the marriage, to her husband’s dependency”, is said in The Misnah, that includes the Jewish oral tradition until the second century after Christ. (third order, IV, 5). “The woman, says the law, is submitted in everything to the husband” (Josephus, Contra Apionem, 2, 24). The same appears in the letter to the Ephesians: “The women must submit to their husbands in every matter”. (Eph 5, 24). Fortunately, in our times, The Human Rights Universal Declaration (1948) establishes the equality between husband and wife: “man and woman have the same rights before, during and after the marriage” (article 16)

7.    In the letter to the Corinthians, talking about the good order in the assemblies, it is ordered that the woman should cover her head, id est, she must use the veil: I wish to remind you that every man has Christ as his head, while the wife has her husband as her head; and God is the head of Christ. If a man prays or prophesies with his head covered, he dishonours his head. 5 On the contrary, the woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered, does not respect her head. Men do not need to cover their head, for they are the image of God and reflect his glory, while a woman reflects the glory of man. Man was not formed from woman, but woman from man. Nor did God create man for woman, but woman for man. Therefore, a woman must respect the angels and have on her head the sign of her dependence. Anyway, the Christian attitude does not separate man from woman, and woman from man, 12 and if God has created woman from man, man is born from woman and both come from God. (1 Co 11, 3-12).

8.     Jewish law backs up the veil’s imposition to the woman. In the Jewish world the woman that went out without covering her head could be dismissed by her husband without any compensation. “These are the women who must be dismissed without any compensation: that who breaks the Moses´  or  the Jewish’s law. Which is the Moses law? If she, for instance, gives food without having separated before the tithe, or if she has sexual intercourse during the  menstruation… Which is the Jewish law? If she goes out with her hair loose, or if she weaves in the square, or if she speaks with any man” (The Misnah, Third Order, VII, 6)

9.    A little later in the letter to the Corinthians, it is also ordered to the woman to keep silent in the assembly: As in all the churches of the saints, let the women keep silent in the assemblies; it is not allowed to her to speak. Let them to be sumise as the law says too. If they want to learn something, let them ask at home to their own husbands (1 Co 14, 34-35). But then, how may they prophesise, as it is said before? (11, 5). How can the letter’s author affirm two contradictory things? Reasonably, it has been denounced here a later interpolation, that alters the Pauline’s text (G. Fitzer, 1963; see 1998´s Jerusalem Bible note: some manuals place verses 34-35 after the verse 40). This new imposition is presented like Lord’s mandate (14, 37). To this respect it cannot be alleged the following passage: Towards your husband will go your appetence and he shall dominate you (Gn 3, 16). Husband’s domination upon the woman is a sin’s consequence. It does not belong to God´s project. In the first letter to Timothy the law of silence and the law of submission can also be found (1 Tm 2, 11-13). According to he Jewish law, “women, slaves and minors (they are not included in the number which is minimum) to make the invitation (to the thanksgiving in common)”: the woman “may not be either teacher of children” (The Misnah, First Order, VII, 2 and Third Order, IV, 13). The submission of the woman limits her freedom in every aspect, in the religious service too.

10.    It is argued, from the second narration about the creation (c. X a. D.), that the man was created first: God formed man dust drawn from the clay (Gn 2, 7), the woman was formed from a rib of the man (2, 22), from man she has been taken (2, 23). Nevertheless, the text in question reflects the social situation of the ancient world. The passage, that comes later and that is assumed by the Gospel, a passage that proclaims the opportune autonomy with respect to the parents, and also the unity and equality between man and woman, is ignored: That is why man leaves his father and mother and is attached to his wife, and with her becomes one flesh. (2, 24). Besides, the first narration of the creation (c. V a. D.) presents the human being differentiated from the sexual point of view. Both, man and woman, are God´s image, not only the man: So God created man in his image; in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Gn 1, 27)

11.    According to the ancient world’s social model, the woman is at home and the man at his job. This roll distribution  is today submitted to a deep revision. The woman (in submission situation) is not the queen of the home, but the slave; the love relationship becomes domination. The job is not a creative and stimulant activity, but a hard, thorny and enslaving reality; the labour relationship degenerates in exploitation (Gn 3, 16 – 18). This is not the world wanted by God. It is a consequence of the human sin.

12.    The woman participates in Jesus´ mission and in the first communities. There are the women who accompany Jesus (Lc 8, 1 – 3). They announce to the eleven and to the rest the Lord’s resurrection (Lk 24, 10; Jn 20, 18), they take the floor in the community: Your sons and your daughters will prophesize (Acts 2, 17; 1 Co 11, 5); many stand out in the service of the Gospel (Col 4, 15; 1 Co 1, 11; Rm 16; Phil 4, 2); there are prophetesses (Acts 21, 9) and deaconesses (Rm 16, 1). Together with the large communities, like Jerusalem or Antioch, there are the small communities, whose leadership could be carried out by the family’s head, male or female (Rm 16, 3-5; Col 4, 15). In Philipus, the community begins with a group of women; they have a predominant roll

13.    Let us see the case of the letter to Philemon, a Christian from Colosas. Paul met Onesimus in the prison, who had fled his master´s home, Philemon. Now he returns him no longer as a slave, but better than a slave. For he is a very dear brother to me.  And so, because of our friendship, receive him as if he were I myself. And if he has caused any harm, or owes you anything, charge it to me. (Phil 16-18). Although Onesimus social condition stays, the relationship changes.

14.    In the letter to the Galatians, the letter of the Christian freedom, Paul says:  There is not any more neither Jewish nor Greek, neither slave nor freed, neither man nor woman, since all of you are one in Christ Jesus (Ga 3, 28). The Gospel questions the circumcision and the Jewish law, the slavery and the submission. For the gentiles converted to the Christianism, the council of Jerusalem means the liberation of the Jewish law (Acts 15, 18). This is Paul’s fight: All of you who look for justice in the law have broken with Christ, you have departed from the grace (Ga 5, 4). Then, how are explained the laws about the submission of the woman, the veil and the silence? It looks to us that there is interpolation, added later to Paul’s letters, carried out, besides, by adversaries (judaizers). Paul was seeing it coming: I know that after I leave, ruthless wolves will come among you and not spare the flock  (Acts 20, 29). At the end of the first century, in period of the second persecution, a grave crisis divides the community of Corinth, according to the letter of Clement Roman.

15.    In the second century the Cannon of Muratori presents a list of Paul’s letters: “To the Corinthians, the first; to the Ephesians, the second; to the Philippians, the third; to the Colossians, the forth; to the Galatians, the fifth; to the Thessalonians, the sixth; to the Romans, the seventh; although that to the Corinthians and to the Thessalonians he repeats for correction…Also one to Philemon, one to Titus and two to Timothy, (written) by affect and love; but sanctified by the honour of the catholic Church”

16.    During all the Middle Age and the Renaissance, Ambrose, Jerome and Augustine are cited like Paul’s presenters. Nevertheless, neither Ambrose nor Jerome write the works that are attributed to them. Their authority is used. The one who impersonates Ambrose is unknown, he is called Ambrosiaster.  The one who impersonates Jerome is identified as Pelagius, and Irish monk  who originated the pelagianism. Both presenters give a very “roman” vision of the Pauline texts: “practical, juridical and in some way rationalist” (J, Sánchez Bosch, Pauline writings, Ed. Verbo Divino; Estella, 1998, 96). Official support is supposed.

17.    The critic specialized in the Bible unanimously supports the Pauline authenticity of these seven letters: Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians,  Philemon. The Pauline authenticity of  the other six is discussed, and they may be attributed to apostle’s disciples: Ephesians, Colossians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus. Of course, the ancient tradition of the Muratori Cannon, that cites the thirteen letters of Paul, has its weight. The non Pauline contents, that appear in some of them, should not provoke their global rejection. It would be only necessary to detect and denounce the possible interpolations.

18.    All this assumed, in human life dependence relationship take place: conjugal, familiar, social, labour. In certain sense, husband and wife love mean mutual dependence. Until the emancipation, the children’s dependence is natural. “The child, due to his lack of physical and mental maturity, need special protection and care, including the due legal protection, before his birth as well as after it”, says the Child Rights Statement (1959). Social cohabitation, just and pacific, also means a dependence: we are dependents everyone one of the others. Our rights must be blended with the rights of the others. It is what happens every day in the labour relationship. In the communitarian relationship, even more, we are members each one of the others (1 Co 12, 27).

19.    The Church, says the Vatican Council II, “has the permanent duty of scrutinizing the signs of the times, and to interpret them in the light of the Gospel”, being obliged to discern in the today world deep and quick changes the signals of the times that express the action of the spirit of God: “Today, the human race is involved in a new stage of history. Profound and rapid changes are spreading by degrees around the whole world”. (GS 4), “the traditional local communities such as families, clans, tribes, villages, various groups and associations stemming from social contacts, experience more thorough changes every day. The industrial type of society is gradually being spread, leading some nations to economic affluence, and radically transforming ideas and social conditions established for centuries.(GS 6), As for the family, discord results from population, economic and social pressures, or from difficulties which arise between succeeding generations, or from new social relationships between men and women.” (GS 8), “the woman, where she still has not got it, demands equality in right and fact with the man” (GS 9), “In our era, for various reasons, reciprocal ties and mutual dependencies increase day by day” (GS 25), the common benefit “today takes on an increasingly universal complexion”, “consequently involves rights and duties with respect to the whole human race.” (GS 26)

20.    The fundamental equality among everybody is signal of our times discerned by the Council like action of the spirit in today’s world: “every type of discrimination, whether social or cultural, whether based on sex, race, colour, social condition, language or religion, is to be overcome and eradicated as contrary to God's intent”, “human institutions, both private and public, must labour to minister to the dignity and purpose of man. At the same time let them put up a stubborn fight against any kind of slavery, whether social or political, and safeguard the basic rights of man under every political system.” (GS 29), “Women now work in almost all spheres. It is fitting that they are able to assume their proper role in accordance with their own nature” (GS 60), “as in our days women participate more and more in all the life of the society, it is important that their participation equally grow in the different fields of the Church’s apostolate” (AA 9); many times, the associated work of the men is made “in detriment of some workers”, “it happens too often, however, even in our days, that workers are reduced to the level of being slaves to their own work”(GS 67)
•    Dialogue: About what seems more important for us

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