Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Excellent Slave

Do you think people used to write guide books about how to be a perfect slave in, say, the old Athens with its many slaves? And if they did, would it contain stuff like this:

Those priorities may include rising early to feed the owner's family, being available anytime to satisfy the owner's desires (barring a few "ungodly" or "homosexual" acts), seeking his approval regarding work, appearance, and leisure, and accepting that he has the "burden" of final say in arguments. After a slave has respectfully appealed her owner's decision—a privilege she should not abuse—she must accept his final answer as "God's will for her at that time," Peace advises. The godly slave must also suppress selfish desires (for romance, a career, an equitable marriage), practice addressing her owner in soothing tones, and maintain a private log of bitter thoughts to guide her repentance. "If you disobey your owner," Peace admonishes in The Excellent Slave, "you are indirectly shaking your fist at God."

That's not a real quote. I changed the word 'wife' to 'slave' and the word 'husband' to 'owner', but otherwise left the message as it stood in the original article which is based on a book about Biblical Womanhood and the Quiverfull movement. As far as I can figure out, the concept of biblical womanhood equals the concept of willing slavery. It puts no demands on the way the owner should behave and it gives the slave no other support except to learn to love the chains that bind you. Or bite you.

I do get very upset when I read about all this. I do. Note that it's not only about the women who reallyreally want to be slaves; it also applies to the rest of us wimmin:

Their concerns extend to questions—on Christian marriage counseling; on women speaking in church or exercising authority over men as, say, teachers or cops—that are nearly as divisive in conservative churches as gay marriage is in mainline denominations. "A lot comes into this," Peace tells me. "Not just husbands and wives, but women as pastors, women in church. It's not a matter of 'Good Christians can differ on the issue.' This is a slippery slope they're on. It's like wherever the world goes, 30 or 40 years later, the church goes, too."

The reference to women as teachers or as cops has to do with the belief that no slave should ever wield power over any owner.

It's striking how similar all this advice is to the advice I have read from extreme Islamists. Peas in the pod, these religious nuts are, to mix my food metaphors.