Wednesday, July 2, 2008

P4E.078 Abigail Adams

My wife, Gwen, and I experience and observe what we call "Life Partners" moments ( These are moments that we recognize as relevant to marriage relationships. It might be that we are in a restaurant and observe how a couple ignore each other while they eat or how friends resolve a conflict in front of us.

One such moment happened for me recently. I was watching the PBS documentary "Liberty! The American Revolution." (BTW, Happy 4th of July!) The documentary highlights the relationship and written correspondence between John Adams, founding father and second President of the United States, and his wife, Abigail. Abigail wrote to John in this way:

"Dearest Friend,

In the new laws which you will be writing, please remember the ladies. Don't put unlimited power in the hands of the husbands. Remember, all men would be tyrants if you give them a chance. If you don't pay attention to the ladies then you can't expect us to obey any laws in which we don't have a voice or representation."

And later she wrote:

"I'm sorry, but I still find it odd that while you are proclaiming peace and good will to men and emancipating the nation, you still insist on retaining the absolute power of husbands over their wives. Remember, John, arbitrary power like everything else that's hard and brittle is easily broken. In spite of all your wise laws, we too have it in our power to free ourselves."

These lines were written by a woman back around the year 1775. In a way, it's a sad reminder that in over 230 years we haven't come very far. Am I a tyrant? Do I lay down laws in my home in which Gwen has no voice or representation? Do I exercise arbitrary power? God help me to change if any of these are true.

Your Ally in the Pursuit of Christlikeness, Kim


  1. Kim,
    I like very much your thoughts here, and the letter from Abigail Adams to her husband John, is quite telling.

    Yes, men and women are different but equals, and we'd better believe and awaken to that fact. The old patriarchical world is part of the old world, and not of the new come in Jesus, I believe.

  2. Thanks, Ted! Yes, it seems that many are aware of the relationship between John and Abigail Adams. I feel like I'm late coming to the ball on knowing of their relationship. Oh well, better late than never.

    I honestly never realized how much controversy there is in the Christian community about men and women, husbands and wives and their roles. But I sure have stepped into it now!

    Peace, brother Ted, Kim

  3. How sweet her letters. And how firm and intellectual. She must have been something of a philosopher. As I recall, he ultimately disappointed her in this matter. Sad.

  4. Kim,
    Abigail Adams sounds like a woman who knew her place. She was a true helper.

    As a wife, I'm always inspired by the courage of women who truly wanted to help their husbands.

  5. LL, I've just become aware of her. I don't know the whole story. I'm hoping you're wrong! I want to find out more.

    Madame, She sure does sound like a real help. I want to find out more!