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The doctrine of woman the origin of sin, and her subjection in consequence, planted in the early Christian Church by Paul
1 Timothy ii.
13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve.
14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.
The doctrine of woman the origin of sin, and her subjection in consequence, planted in the early Christian Church by Paul, has been a poisonous stream in Church and in State. It has debased marriage and made both canon and civil law a monstrous oppression to woman. M. Renan sums up concisely a mighty truth in the following words: “The writings of Paul have been a danger and a hidden rock–the causes of the principal defects of Christian theology.” His teachings about woman are no longer a hidden rock, however, for, in the light of science, it is disclosed to all truth seeking Minds. How much satisfaction it would have been to the mothers adown the centuries, had there been a testimony by Mary and Elizabeth recording their experiences of motherhood. Not a statement by them, nor one about them, except what man wrote.
Under church law, woman’s property, time and services were all at the husband’s disposal. Woman was not rescued from slavery by the Reformation. Luther’s ninety-five theses, nailed upon the church door in Wittenberg, did not assert woman’s natural or religious equality with man. It was a maxim of his that “no gown worse becomes a woman, than that she should be wise.” A curious old black letter volume, published in London in 1632, declares that “the reason why women have no control in parliament, why they make no laws, consent to none, abrogate none, is their original sin.” The trial of Mrs. Anne Hutchinson, in the seventeenth century, was chiefly for the sin of having taught men.
To-day, in free America, a wife cannot collect damages for injury to her person by a municipality. Legally her husband owns her person; and he alone can collect damages if the wife is injured by any defect or mishap for which the administration of the municipality is responsible. This was tested in the Court of Appeals in New York in 1890. The judges decided that “the time and the services of the wife belong to the husband, and if she has received wages from him it was a gift.” Thus the spirit and the intent of the church law to make the wife a servant of the husband, subject to and controlled by him, and engrafted in common law, is a part of statute law operative in these United States to-day. Blackstone admits the outgrowth of common law from canon law, in saying: “Whoever wishes to gain insight into that great institution, common law, can do so most efficiently by studying canon law in regard to married women.”
No more stupendous demonstration of the power of thought can be imagined, than is illustrated in the customs of the Church for centuries, when in the general canons were found that “No woman may approach the altar,” “A woman may not baptize without extreme necessity,” “Woman may not receive the eucharist under a black veil.” Under canon 81 she was forbidden to write in her own name to lay Christians, but only in the name of her husband; and women were not to receive letters of friendship from any one addressed to themselves. Canon law, framed by the priesthood, compiled as early as the ninth century, has come down in effect to the nineteenth, making woman subordinate in civil law. Under canon law, wives were deprived of the control of both person and property. Canon law created marriage a sacrament “to be performed at the church door,” in order to make it a source of revenue to the Church. Marriage, however, was reckoned too sinful “to be allowed for many years to take place within the sacred building consecrated to God, and deemed too holy to permit the entrance of a woman within its sacred walls at certain periods of her life.”
SOURCE: THE WOMAN’S BIBLE-By Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Revising Committee