Protecting Sexual Purity
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Shame their Family 184

Woman's Very Weakness

Friends around the TableAn important element in the role of the male patron was the provision of hospitality to those under his protection. It was part of what the client could expect to receive. But the stranger too came under the hospitality of a patron, for otherwise, the stranger had no identity and no status. Receiving a stranger as guest, especially the invitation to a meal, created a bond within the patronage system whereby the stranger was welcomed as kin who was capable of being molded. The host violated the rules of hospitality by allowing the guest to be dishonored or harmed in any way. The guest violated the rules by dishonoring the host or anyone in his household.

Protecting Purity

New Born Baby and MotherCarolyn Osiek and David L. Balch in "Families in the New Testament World - Households and House Churches" assert "the honor of women in the public male world (in the ancient Roman world) consisted in preserving the family's honor by protecting purity. Women were considered in men's eyes, "the mysterious gateway of birth and death." Because they ultimately had the power that provided legitimate offspring, they were to be protected from outsider males and therefore controlled. In this age, women were regarded as the weak members of the family for whom sexuality is irresistible and the sex drive indiscriminate." Contrary to modern Western thought, women were perceived in antiquity to have less ability to control their sex drive than men.✞

Shame their Family

Red and Pink Sunset"But it was women's very weakness that gave them the fearful power of being able to shame their family through its male members by sexual activity with any male other than a legal husband. Virginity before marriage was a girl's highest duty and greatest value. The surest way for a male to dishonor an individual male or family was to seduce or rape its women, for this demonstrated that the males lacked the power of protecting the sexual purity of their vulnerable members. In many traditional cultures, a raped woman was "damaged goods" that would not be able to command a good marriage, and a seduced woman is a pollution that must be eliminated by a father or brother in order to restore the honor of the family."

"Protecting Sexual Purity"
by Ron Meacock © 2017

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