Friday, September 5, 2008

Benjamin M. Palmer's Ontological Subordination of Women: "The Derivative Image of God"

Ontological subordination of women, a doctrine that views women as creatures that are of lesser essence than men was well described by Palmer in this 1876 publication, re-published by Sprinkle Publications in 1991. The Reformed teachers associated with CBMW did not create this doctrine but derived it from these strict hierarchical interpretations of male headship which they viewed as critical arguments that also supported the divinely ordained hierarchy of slavery.

The Family in its Civil and Churchly Aspects: An Essay in Two Parts”

Pg 57:

Just as the law of labour imposes upon fallen man only the industry which was a duty from the beginning, so the law of obedience imposes upon the woman only the subordination which existed from the moment she was created. In the one case, the employment intended only for recreation has deepened into toil; in the other, submission intended for repose is changed into discipline; but in both alike the curse becomes a blessing through the patience which willingly accepts it. She was at the first builded out of man; she must now build upon man. Nature itself teaches that the rib must find its place in the side from which it was taken. The wife only obeys an original instinct in the voluntary submission, which sweetly expresses the harmony of two distinct personalities, and nothing more.

Pg 68 - 69:

AS IT IS FIT: This subordination of the wife is urged upon the ground of its meetness or propriety. The duty is thus laid upon her conscience, and is not left simply to the operation of instinct. At the very first, the woman did not separately exist. When God executed His counsel to “make man in His image and after His likeness,” He created Adam alone. The woman existed as yet only potentially in the man; and was formed afterwards, by what may be termed a secondary creation, out of his substance. According to nature, then, her being is never to be viewed as apart and by itself; for immediately upon her creation, marriage is instituted, but which, in a higher, because moral sense, she is incorporated with him again… It is “fit,” therefore, that the woman should recognize her subordination, as taught in the history of her own creation; for anything else would be unnatural, monstrous and grotesque.

Pg 77-79:

The authority is lodged with the male, as generically including the female, by whom, by derivation, she was at the first created. In marriage, by its fundamental law, she is again integrated into the man from whose substance she was taken by the voluntary coalescence of her own will.

Pg 102-103
The woman, by the law of marriage, is reintegrated into the man, from whose side she was originally drawn. She never exists afterward as an independent person. By her voluntary act she is merged, civilly and legally, into the man. With her office in the household perfectly defined, her status in the same is determined by her relation to her husband. All her privileges and rights flow from her association to her head. It is demanded of her, therefore, a blending of the will, which shall, so to speak, make the two organically one. There must be, on her part, a cleaving to him, which shall, in some sort, mingle together their distinct personalities.