Friday, November 02, 2007

Marriage Advice

Well, the guy is a marriage expert...

Saudi Marriage Expert Advises Men in Right Way to Beat Their Wives.

"Woman, it has gone too far. I can't bear it anymore." I'll have to remember that.

Seriously, though, it is sort of interesting from a sociological standpoint. We post women's-lib Western types hang up on the "here's how a man ought to beat his wife" part, and fail (at least, the author of the article seems to fail) to recognize what's actually going: he seems to me to be attempting to moderate the effects of his culture's acceptance of a man beating his wife. Notice that the "right way" is not to just slap her around for the slightest reason - when she burns your dinner or if she doesn't happen to feel like putting out that evening - but rather to use the beating as a last resort, and to exercise restraint, rather than just hitting her out of anger.

Not that I'm defending him, not at all: I heartily disapprove of wife-beating under any circumstances, for reasons both moral and pragmatic (I've been breathing on my own for a good many years now, and have gotten rather fond of it, to be honest). It just struck me (pardon the pun) that this was an interesting example of how things can seem different to people of different cultures: whereas we tend to react with unadulterated scorn, a deeper look might show that things may be different, if only slightly, than our initial reaction.

This is interesting to me, particularly, in that some of these same factors are in play when we talk about the role of women in the New Testament: passages that make the apostle Paul, for example, seem one way to the 21st century western observer may actually turn out quite different when we look at them within their proper socio-cultural context.

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