To His Wife by Tertullian
Chapter V.--Of Sin and Danger Incurred Even with a |Tolerant| Husband.
|But some husband does endure our (practices), and not annoy us.| Here, therefore, there is a sin; in that Gentiles know our (practices); in that we are subject to the privity of the unjust; in that it is thanks to them that we do any (good) work. He who |endures| (a thing) cannot be ignorant of it; or else, if he is kept in ignorance because he does not endure (it), he is feared. But since Scripture commands each of two things -- namely, that we work for the Lord without the privity of any second person, and without pressure upon ourselves, it matters not in which quarter you sin; whether in regard to your husband's privity, if he be tolerant, or else in regard of your own affliction in avoiding his intolerance. |Cast not,| saith He, |your pearls to swine, lest they trample them to pieces, and turn round and overturn you also.| |Your pearls| are the distinctive marks of even your daily conversation. The more care you take to conceal them, the more liable to suspicion you will make them, and the more exposed to the grasp of Gentile curiosity. Shall you escape notice when you sign your bed, (or) your body; when you blow away some impurity; when even by night you rise to pray? Will you not be thought to be engaged in some work of magic? Will not your husband know what it is which you secretly taste before (taking) any food? and if he knows it to be bread, does he not believe it to be that (bread) which it is said to be? And will every (husband), ignorant of the reason of these things, simply endure them, without murmuring, without suspicion whether it be bread or poison? Some, (it is true,) do endure (them); but it is that they may trample on, that they may make sport of such women; whose secrets they keep in reserve against the danger which they believe in, in case they ever chance to be hurt: they do endure (wives), whose dowries, by casting in their teeth their (Christian) name, they make the wages of silence; while they threaten them, forsooth, with a suit before some spy as arbitrator! which most women, not foreseeing, have been wont to discover either by the extortion of their property, or else by the loss of their faith.