I am trying not to watch the statistics here. If I post something angry and despairing, I can get hundreds of hits. If I follow the scriptures — which is what I should be doing, particularly with the lectionary posts — few read.
There is a reason there are three parts: Lectionary refers to the fact I’m looking at the Lectionary as I write, Daybook is stuff that annoys me enough to post, and Reading is generally interesting papers I find. Preferably ones that are not copyright, or available on a public database.
I’m going to spend most of this morning in the electronic version of the library, behind paywalls, in the hope that what I write can be in a more open journal.
Anyway, this is one of the less popular parts of the Bible. Paul sons like Li Tso: he is telling us not to have a revolution in the traditional way of living.
18Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly.
20Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is your acceptable duty in the Lord. 21Fathers, do not provoke your children, or they may lose heart. 22Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything, not only while being watched and in order to please them, but wholeheartedly, fearing the Lord. 23Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters, 24since you know that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you serve the Lord Christ. 25For the wrongdoer will be paid back for whatever wrong has been done, and there is no partiality. 1Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, for you know that you also have a Master in heaven.
2Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving. 3At the same time pray for us as well that God will open to us a door for the word, that we may declare the mystery of Christ, for which I am in prison, 4so that I may reveal it clearly, as I should.
5Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time. 6Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone.
Slavery is a very human institution. It has never been that just, and under the Romans it was harshly unjust. The Paterfamilias literally had the power of life and death — he could kill any child or slave of his with impunity (in fact he would be praised for doing so if the child was impugning his dignitas. Yet Paul tells us to stay within the institutions.
But he has clear instructions to husbands — to love their wives. For without the love of her man, a woman becomes desperate. He is also told to not provoke his children, and leave them with hope.
Now, we do not do this. Instead we remove the father from the family, and wonder why women are lonely and children despairing. We need to recall that the other thing about the Roman family was that wives were fungible. You were expected to divorce your wife on command if a better connection between families came up. (This eventually destroyed marriage and decreased the birth rate among Roman Citizens.
We are expected to behave in this manner regardless of the laws and customs of our nation or our time. This teaching is unpopular. Preaching it is more unpopular.
But it is our duty. So let us be even more unpopular.