Staying Ahead of the Times
His most provocative belief in first-century Rome? That women deserved an education as much as men. Two of Musonius’ twenty-one surviving lectures (That Women Too Should Study Philosophy and Should Daughters Receive the Same Education as Sons?) come down strongly in favor of treating women well and of their capabilities as philosophers. This was not a conventional view, but then again, the right thing rarely is. It should not surprise us that Musonius held it or that he had the courage to argue it at a time when most believed that women were no more than property. A core precept of Stoic training is independent thinking, and here Musonius was illustrating an ability to see what was just, outside the context of his times.
~Lives of the Stoics, Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman
When we consider the context in which Musonius was teaching and writing, these lectures are remarkable. There are still some pockets in today’s world that don’t look at women with this type of respect. And here we are, looking at a respected teacher and philosopher from the first century, who was arguing something that went against the cultural norm.
As a pastor, there are a lot of things that I’ve had to deal with in my time in ministry. But no matter how bad it got, one thing I never had to deal with was issues surrounding my gender. I’ve never had people tell me that I don’t belong in ministry because of my gender. I’ve never had people tell me that my call is invalid because of my gender. I’ve never had people leave my church because of my gender. Yet, so many of my female colleagues have dealt with such things… on top of, and in addition to, the regular stuff that pastors have to deal with. I can try to empathize, but I can never fully understand.
I saw a video of a young lady talking about how she felt a call to ministry from a very early age. From her early teens, she felt a call to stand and teach the Word of God. But over and over again, people told her that she couldn’t. Because she was a woman. From what I picked up, this young lady is no longer part of any church because of the rejection she felt when trying to respond to this call in her life. My heart broke for her.
Of course, as you probably know, we aren’t exactly out of the woods on this yet. There are still some parts of the world where women are treated very much in the same way they were 2,000 years ago, when Epictetus was teaching. He was a man ahead of his time, that’s for sure.
It makes me wonder: what is going on today that people will look back on in 20, 50, 100, even a 1,000 years from now and say, “What was wrong with those people?”
So, let me encourage you to start thinking about this in your own circles of influence. How can you stay ahead of the times? What are the things that are happening now that eventually we’ll look at and say, “That’s not right”? And how can you do something about it?