by Kelly Pelton (written 02 Feb 2021 to expound on CULTURAL CONTEXT posted 01 Oct 2020)

An educated woman in Roman society 
was to be quiet, not daring to speak her opinions
in public and never with an air of authority
lest the lesser-educated men feel like her minions.

Juvenal's Sixth Satire scathingly attacks such females
who defy expectations of feminine modesty;
ladies were to nod in agreement with their husbands's tales
or, understanding his wit, smile appreciatively.

Livy, the Roman historian, castigated those
women speaking freely in public rather than at home,
echoing his ancestors, lamenting the many woes
of women not under the control of males, free to roam

the streets as were men: "they desire freedom... rather license
in all matters," he moaned, "And if they win in this matter,
what will they not attempt?" Hear the fear, the timeless suspense
from this civilization's misogynistic chatter.

"Could you not have asked your own husbands the same thing at home?"
Hear Livy's irritation at females talking to men
in the Forum about laws, liberated more in Rome
than elsewhere, resented as though they'd committed a sin.

Enter the apostle Paul spreading the news of Jesus:
All else can be sacrificed to teach the message of life;
let's not distract by breaking social norms in to pieces
but embrace temperance as desirable in a wife.

Above all, the gospel must advance; don't be repulsive
to the culture but model the best of their prized virtues
so as to win their trust as you display the attractive
traits they expect. For the sake of the gospel, don't refuse 

to subordinate your freedom in Christ to be winsome
representatives of His kingdom in this world of men.
The forfeiture of equal roles for a time, though irksome, 
was not meant to be a rule for all time, only for then

as the message took root and spread along the Roman roads
and finds us two thousand years later post-feminism,
gender equality a prized ideal, no "household codes"
but collaboration instead of antagonism.

Perhaps the church can show the world the purest version
of this ideal and stop preserving Roman social norms;
it can bestow equal roles without the competition,
the genders reconciled, demonstrating modesty in all forms.

(As The Romans Did: A Sourcebook in Roman Social History by Jo-Ann Shelton, with thanks to Dr. Ken Cukrowski for this source and his tireless efforts toward gender equity in the church.)