“Wives, submit yourselves unto your husband”

This is Women’s History Month and the tendency is to search for what might be called proto-feminists from the past and present them as models. But most eighteenth century women, even those who were intelligent, well educated and knowledgeable, did not envision or laud equality of the sexes. Martha Laurens Ramsay was such a one.

Her husband, David Ramsay, writing in the introduction to Memoir of his wife that he published after her death, remarked on her view of conjugal duties. Even though she was well educated and familiar with those pressing for equality of the sexes, she believed she was subordinate to her husband. He wrote: ” [S]he yielded all pretensions on this score, in conformity to the positive declarations of holy writ . . . which . . . in her opinion outweighed whole volumes of human reasoning.” He went on to quote scripture which dictated her behavior. “In sorrow, thou shalt bring forth children, and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. (Gen. iii. 16.) And: “Wives, submit yourselves unto your husband as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church; and he is the Saviour of the body. Therefore, as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husband in every thing.” (Eph. v. 22, 23, 24.)

The quoted passage can be found HERE.

posted March 12th, 2015 by Janet, CATEGORIES: Marriage, Ramsay, Martha Laurens

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