Servitude vs. slavery

In looking at the responsibilities of men and women according to their biblical gender roles, it is often thought that submission means slavery.   Submission is about servitude, not slavery.  A woman is called to serve her husband, to be submitted to and obedient to him, but there is NOWHERE in the Bible that this is suggested to be a master/slave relationship or that a man is to treat his wife like a slave.    The expectations for women were different than those of a bondservant.  Indeed, a man was expected to provide for his wife’s material needs: food, raiment, and shelter (she would naturally be expected to dwell wherever her husband did in order to provide him with sexual intimacy unless he was rich enough to build her a separate house).

Woman’s role was always expected to be the keeper of the home.  This is expressed throughout the Bible.  Even in Proverbs 31, where she takes things to the marketplace, it is not implied that she is doing menial labor, for it is mentioned that she has maidservants.    Women did often do work related to making clothes, making cloth, and they would take these things to the marketplace and sell them, but the work was performed within the context of taking care of the home.   It is never suggested that a woman was performing a full-time external job in addition to her duties as a housewife.

Our society has become largely dependent on women working outside the home.  Whether this is absolutely necessary is a matter for a larger study, and biblical principles suggest that the ideal is for a woman to be a homemaker, so a husband should do everything he can to support his wife without her working an external job, unless it is necessary for their survival.

If a man requests his wife to work external to the home, he should consider whether she can adequately perform this work in addition to her homemaking duties without completely exhausting her energy.    Physical exhaustion can lead to a wife not having the energy to provide for sexual intimacy as well as the care of children.   When my father asked my mother to work outside the home, he provided her with a domestic servant to care for his children and keep the house.

If a wife finds herself in the position that her husband expects her to hold a full-time job, keep the house, care for the children and provide for his intimate needs, she should discuss the matter with him, and let him know her concerns.  A reasonable man and loving husband would care about the condition of his wife’s burden and it is his biblical responsibility to care for your material needs.   Authority over one’s wife is not license to treat her like a beast of burden.

Pamela Parizo © 2017