Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A Woman's Independence and Marital Rights ("The Jewish Way")

Comparing patriocentricity to the practice of Orthodox Judaism according to Rabbi Maurice Lamm in “The Jewish Way in Love and Marriage

I've mentioned my prior experience with the now familiar expression of “Submit to me, Woman” in previous blog posts. This phrase and example, more than any other in my judgment, reflects the servile tendencies that the patriocentric teachings promote with marriage. I've overheard husbands say this thing to wives when I've been on the phone with friends, and my friends have also lamented about how this served as the ultimate “trump” in arguments with their husbands. The submission doctrines of the Shepherding/Discipleship movement and the doctrines of Bill Gothard promote the concept that a husband does not have the duty to submit to his wife (under the New Testament doctrine of submission one to another) – his own flesh through the marriage covenant. When they marry, couples are taught that the husband has no duty to submit to his wife when they disagree so that it is always the role of the wife to acquiesce to her husband's wishes under all circumstances. I believe that this degrades into a type of scapegoating within patriocentric circles which allows husbands to develop servile attitudes towards their wives who are often treated like objects to be possessed.

The submission doctrines of the 1970s and many of the gender teachings that are prevalent today embrace the concept that Christians possess no personal rights. In order to resolve conflicts, in accordance with Philippians 2, Bill Gothard teaches that a Christian must humble themselves and make themselves of no reputation, thereby transferring all personal rights to God. By laying aside all rights in both attitude and in practical considerations, all interpersonal conflicts can likely be resolved. Combined with the authority hierarchy concepts that are central to the patriarchy movement and these submission doctrines, many women become predisposed to a range of unpleasant, miserable and sometimes harmful circumstances within their marriages.

This quote from Lamm promotes a very different concept concerning the rights that Jewish law bestows upon a woman within a marriage for her well being and her protection. According to Lamm, the law guarantees women certain, specified marital rights while mentioning no specific rights for husbands. Jewish law only details a husband's marital responsibilities and assigns absolutely no marital rights to him within the marriage.

From Pgs 155 - 157:

Woman’s Independence
No individual can acquire possessive rights of another individual. Judaism believes in the sacredness and hence independence of the human personality and it acts on that belief. Owning another human being could be a form of slavery. Be’neh Yisreal avadai hem ve’lo avadim le’avadim –“For the children of Israel are My servants, and not servants of servants.” Children are not the servants of their parents, wives are not servants of husbands, nor husbands of wives.
It cannot be overstated that acquisition in marriage is absurdly construed by some to mean ownership of a mate. This is nothing short of calumny. The Torah speaks of woman’s rights (ishut); it says nothing of a man’s rights, only of his obligations. It says nothing of a wife’s obligations, although the Talmudic Sages developed scripturally- implied mutual obligations and rights. Biblically, men had obligations because they had the funds and the power, while women’s influence, though often considerable, was at that time exercised indirectly...

When the Talmud asks whether barter (chalippin) might be used as a mode of acquisition in place of money, the commentators are quick to point out that there was never an assumption that marriage is to be equated with property, and it cannot be construed as another form of kessef.

In the next post:

Under Jewish law, sex is a married woman's right and a responsibility of the husband, not the other way around. In a Jewish marriage, the husband's sexual desires fall secondary to the sexual desires and needs of his wife.

Copyrighted material quoted here
under fair use for educational purposes from
by Maurice Lamm. San Francisco, CA: Harper and Row, 1980.