Though it is worse for women to preach than seek public office, vote, or compete with men for public work, it is also true that any preacher who condemns the former but is silent on the latter, should be stripped of his office.
The following selections from Der Lutheraner are taken from the 50th and 51st volumes of that publication which appeared in 1894 and 1895. CFW Walther was the editor of der Lutheraner until his death in 1887 after which each issue has the following on its title page:
“Published by the German Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and other states.
Edited by the Faculty of the Theological Seminary in St. Louis.”
The source is indicated at the top of each selection.
Der Lutheraner, 50th Volume, April 24, 1894. Issue. 9. p. 71 (title page article)
What someone is authorized to do, or a service he can require others to perform, is his right, just as that which he is commanded and ought to perform is his duty.
A right of the woman is therefore something she is authorized to do. Now these authorizations are different according to the various fields of law or legal relationships. In her relationship to God, in the area of religion, the woman, if she is a child of God, has the powers that God has granted to all his children on earth, the right to pray, to use the means of grace, to rejoice in God, her Savior, to take comfort in his grace and protection, as such rights were exercised by the Canaanite woman in the Gospel. In the area of family life, a woman has the right in her relationship with her spouse to have love, fidelity, protection, and provision from him; as a mother, she has the right to command her children, as God has granted her such authority in the fourth and sixth commandments, and civil law also guarantees her these and other rights in this area.
But woman is also a member of human and civil society, and the rights she has or should have in this area are what people usually think of when they talk about women’s rights in our time, and which we will briefly discuss in this paper.
Human society is the community of men for mutual service, and in so far as this community is regulated by laws, it is called civil society or the state. But the powers granted or guaranteed to a member of such a society by the existing orders or laws are his rights in this sphere. Now, human and civil society does not exist by chance. When God created the first humans, he said: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.” Gen. 1:28. And also after the Fall and when the waters of the flood had receded, God blessed Noah and his sons, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth . . . Every living thing that stirreth and liveth shall be your meat: as the green herb have I given you all things. . . . Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, his blood also shall be shed by man. . . . Be fruitful and multiply, and be active on the earth, that you may be multiplied.” Gen. 9:1-7. And also in the New Testament, the purpose of the civil order and its God-protected preservation is stated, “that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all godliness and honorableness.” 1 Tim. 2:2. That men may dwell with one another and increase in number and enjoy the goods of the earth, protected in body, goods and honor, enjoying temporal well-being, should be the proximate purpose of all human orders; this purpose should be served by every member of human and civil society for his part, and to this purpose should also be directed the duties and rights of the individual members of society to mutual service. The existing orders and laws, by which the rights of the individual are determined, will therefore correspond most to the purpose of the community if they open up and assign to each member of it the sphere of activity which most corresponds to his capacity for service.
If we now ask where the sphere of activity will lie in which the woman can prove herself primarily as a useful member of society, the answer will have to be: in the home, in the family, with the children, where the man is to cultivate rest and gather strength for the work which is appropriate to his physical and mental constitution. This is already indicated by the body of the woman, which is smaller, more delicate, weaker than that of the man, and thus more suited to the domestic work in the family kitchen, in the nursery, just as in particular the share in the fulfillment of the word: “Be fruitful and multiply,” which is assigned to her alone for all time by God already at creation, makes the protection of domestic seclusion a necessity for her and is incompatible with the exercise of most male occupations. But also the dispositions of mind and spirit, which are predominantly peculiar to the female sex, that woman is gentler, milder, more considerate, more compassionate, more sensitive, more fearful than man, make her more skillful for activity in the domestic circle and less suitable for activity in the harsher environment of commercial life with its many struggles and duties, which call for strength and determination and strong courage and a firm demeanor, in short, a masculine nature. And if we now consider how important for the well-being of the individual, the family, the whole nation is the work that takes place in the domestic sphere, in the education of the children, their physical and spiritual care in healthy and sick days, how great is the influence exerted on the husband by the decent, careful, sympathetic housewife when she remains and works in her feminine vocation, we must admire and praise the wisdom and goodness of God, who in creation has given man such a helper, who is so well equipped in body and spirit for this important activity, without which no nation can flourish, the activity of the woman in the quiet domesticity of the family circle. Thus, the distribution of rights and duties in human society will be the wisest, most wholesome, and also most in accordance with God’s intention, according to which woman is and remains assigned the activity of wife, mother, educator and caretaker of the children, and of the helper loved, nourished, protected, and honored by the man. Such an order of things is then also at the same time the one in which the woman herself is in the best position, enjoys the richest, noblest happiness that this earthly life can offer her.
It is therefore an ominous sign of the times when, in our day, precisely in the world of women, there is a noticeable exodus from the sphere of activity of women which God has assigned to them and which has been granted to them by a sensible order of social life. This happens when women crowd into the hustle and bustle of public life, into the courtrooms and department stores, onto the oratory stages and the battlefields of political parties, or into various workshops of male craftsmanship; when the girls, instead of helping housewives as servants in the kitchen or as parlormaids and nannies, and at the same time undergoing a good school of training and experience for their own later vocation as housewives, go in droves to work in factories and commercial businesses, where they often perish in body and soul; when women take up the practice of legal advocacy or go about the country making speeches for political or social agitation. One example may illustrate the extent of this trend. The report of the Labor Commissioner in the State of Michigan of 1892, a volume of 472 pages, contains 189 pages of statistics on women wage earners in that state and lists 137 branches of labor and 378 types of employment in which women and girls work. This does not include teachers, writers, book agents, and many others who work on their own account. It is also noted that employers are looking to hire more and more women workers, as they find advantage in the average weekly wage of $4.81 they pay them. Thus, women are competing with men in industrial life, while they are more and more removed and alienated from their female sphere of activity. With the growing number of women in business, they come to feel of their own accord that they are an element in industrial life that must be concerned about its rights. They say, for example, “Equal work, equal pay!” And since industrial life is interwoven with political life in many ways, especially in this country, the next step is to claim political rights for women, political voting rights, the right to hold political office, and thus to join the ranks of men in political life. This is quite consistent with the fact that quite a few of the spokeswomen of this movement for the assertion of so-called women’s rights are already seriously advocating the introduction of a women’s costume that comes closer to men’s clothing. Everything is designed to turn woman, as holy scripture (Col. 3:18; Eph. 5:22, 33; 1 Tim. 2:9-15; 5:10, 14; Tit. 2:4-5; 1 Pet. 3:1-6; Prov. 31:10-31) so sweetly describes her, into a repulsive distortion, a woman without femininity, a creature that does not want to be what she should be, and cannot be what she wants to be, that has thrown away her crown to reach for another one, but instead she receives a fool’s cap and does not even notice it.
But how should we Christians behave in these times? Answer: we should be the salt of the earth and seek the best of the city, (Matth. 5:13. Jer. 29:7). But when the Savior continues Matth. 5: “But if the salt becomes dull, wherewith shall one salt?” he shows us to consider that we should first of all guard ourselves against the perversities of the world, which we should then counteract in the world. Our Christian women and girls should first of all recognize their own vocation and let it be dear and valuable to them and be content and faithful in it as in the circle in which they can primarily serve their neighbor and thus be pleasing to God and valuable to people. And Christian fathers and mothers should encourage and educate their daughters to this end, and not send them with preference to factories or department stores instead of letting them serve with domestic work at home or as servants in respectable, if possible Christian families and learn and and become fond of housework. This does not mean that a Christian girl may not temporarily pursue an occupation in which, for example, she learns to sew efficiently or to deal with the sick, or that there may not be circumstances in a family that make it necessary or desirable for the daughters to seek other than domestic work. In such cases, it will be necessary to choose primarily those occupations with which women and girls can best serve other women and girls, and of which it is therefore desirable that they remain in women’s hands, the businesses of dressmakers and other seamstresses, cleaners, saleswomen in stores where women are the main customers, and the like. In general, however, the rule should be kept that our growing daughters should not be removed in the long term from domestic work, if we want to set a good example for our part and especially educate our daughters to become women who are willing, skilled, and capable of domestic work and who would know to treasure the rights of the housewife as the highest, noblest earthly rights of women, instead of looking down on them with contempt, as is unfortunately the way of so many American women thinking that they strive higher when they seek other kinds of occupation. It would certainly be good if, especially in larger cities, suitable individuals took it upon themselves to help such girls who would like to work as domestic servants find suitable positions; and in cities where we have several congregations, an intelligence agency led by a Christian widow, for example, where employers and job seekers, including girls from neighboring rural areas seeking employment in the city, could turn to, would be of great benefit in this regard.
Then, however, in the event of a referendum on the admission of women to the political vote, as has occurred in Kansas this year, we Christian citizens will seek the best interests of the city and the state by casting our votes unanimously against such pernicious mischief, and thus do what we can on our part to put a dam against the unfounded so-called women’s rights movement, which is being carried on by fanatical women and politicians speculating on women’s votes. A[ugust].G[raebner].
Der Lutheraner, 50th Volume, April 24, 1894. Issue. 9. p. 76
Women’s emancipation. Judge Weand stated in the case of Miss. Richardson in Montgomery County, Pa. that the superior court in Philadelphia had ruled that women could practice as attorneys in Pennsylvania, and then went on to say, “We would be compelled by propriety and courtesy to neighboring courts, as well as to the superior court, to allow such woman attorneys to practice their profession here as have been admitted there. By so doing, we would grant to the women of other counties rights which we deny to the female inhabitants of our county. If, on the other hand, we refused to admit women from other counties, other courts might turn the tables and exclude our lawyers from their courts. Women are now preaching God’s word, leading teaching institutes, practicing medicine, serving as school directors, public notaries, justices of the peace, and serving in many other capacities from which they were excluded only a few years ago. Twelve women have been admitted to practice law in the Supreme Federal Court and have also been recognized by the Superior Court of this state, as well as by some county courts. Besides, women have been admitted to the bar as advocates in Maine, Massachusetts, Ohio, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, California, Texas, Oregon, the District of Columbia, Wyoming, Washington, Utah, and probably other states, and Montgomery County cannot be left behind in a movement which will open to women a new and honorable field for the acquisition of their livelihood.” This perversion of the divine and natural order of things, where men become women and women become men, and misjudge and despise their wonderful vocation in the family, will avenge itself in dreadful ways, and, if the same becomes more and more widespread, must finally bring about the spiritual and physical ruin of the people in its wake. F(riedrich). B(ente).
Der Lutheraner, 50th Volume, June 5, 1894. Issue. 12. p. 99
Women in the preaching ministry. A news article reports: “A female Baptist preacher, Mrs. Munns in Dawson, Kentucky, was recently licensed to perform weddings. She is thus the only woman in that state who is authorized to officiate at a marriage in the official capacity of a minister.”–When women become doctors, lawyers, and politicians, common sense tells everyone in general that it is not appropriate for the female sex. But if women push themselves into the office of public ministry, they have God’s express word against them, for St. Paul says in 1 Cor. 14:34, 35: “Let your wives keep silence among the congregation; for they shall not be permitted to speak, but to be subject, as also the law saith. But if they wish to learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home. It is evil for women to speak among the congregation.” And again 1 Tim. 2:12: “But I do not suffer a woman to teach, neither will I suffer her to be the master over man, but to be quiet.”-The sects do not care for these clear words, as for so many others, because they do not suit their purposes. But whoever wants to accept from holy scripture only what suits him and fits him, basically accepts nothing at all from God’s word, because he accepts even what he accepts, not because God says it, but because it suits him. F(riedrich).B(ente).
Der Lutheraner, 51st Volume, February 26, 1895. Issue. 5. p. 40
Should women be ordained? Under this heading, the “Christliche Botschafter [Christian Ambassador]”, the organ of the “Evangelische Gemeinschaft [Evangelical Association]”, discusses the recent negotiations of the General Conference of the Free Methodists on this point. After long and heated debate, the motion to ordain women was defeated. The “Ambassador” hopes that this question will not come before the General Conference of its association and that it will “remain so for a while,” “as it is God’s order according to the view of our church”; that the women would like to be “so absorbed in their own, God-ordained profession”, “that they would not feel like competing with the man even in the pulpit.” He recalls the words that the German Emperor recently spoke publicly: “I could wish nothing better for the men of my nation than that women follow the example of their Empress, and devote themselves, as she does, to the three great Cs: the church, children, and cooking.” L[udwig].F[ürbringer].
Der Lutheraner, 50th Volume, May 22, 1894. Issue. 11. p. 91
The Women’s Rights Movement has again occupied many tongues and pens in recent times. In English pulpits it has been preached for and against, in ecclesiastical and secular journals it has been written for and against, in meetings it has been spoken and voted for and against, with petitions and signatures it has been agitated for and against. In an English newspaper we read: “Women’s suffrage has never been so popular in any time or country as it is today in the United States. The slow growth of the movement has been replaced by powerful pressure; frequent victories are being reported, and to all appearances the power of women will soon become an important factor in the settlement of all contentious social and political questions. Catholics and Protestants are equally in favor of it, and in the ruling circles of society advocacy of the movement will be the rule, not the exception as heretofore. The adoption of women’s suffrage meets with little opposition, since the same apparently bears the stamp of a desirable blessins.” From these and similar statements it is sufficiently clear how necessary and timely it is for us Lutherans to make known our position on this contemporary disease and to counter the assertion that “Catholics and Protestants are equally in favor of it” with the declaration that we are decidedly against the establishment of a social order which would be a disorder, would have its source in a disregard for the divinely intended world order, and would bear its fruit in many a mischief and disruption of domestic and civil life. A[ugust].G[raebner].
page 14 Women emancipation
Der Lutheraner, 50th Volume, January 16, 1894. Issue. 2. p. 14 (title page article)
Women’s emancipation is also making good progress in Germany, as it is in this country. A German magazine entitled “Frauenwohl [Women’s Welfare]” recently declared itself against the church’s marriage rite, stating: “The church, the ruler of our conscience, which likes to call itself mother, has done everything to alienate a large part of its noblest, best and thinking children. We women would have an endless number of things to complain about. The word: ‘Let the woman keep silence in the congregation’ has almost become a curse. We will be silent no longer. Paul’s saying was authoritative for that time, not for us anymore. We claim the right to withdraw from a compulsion that wants to restrict our conscience, all the more so since, to all appearances, the oldest form of association, marriage, seems to be approaching a change. But the church does quite wrong in sanctioning a completely unequal distribution of duties for both parties in the wedding; for while the man is to accept the wife ‘out of God’s hand,’ the woman is admonished to be ‘subject to the man in the Lord.’ What a sad regression to the false humility of woman, to servitude, to presumption on the part of the church, which wants to put a stop to the free movement and development within womankind!”