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Christianity

Christianity and Women

1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3 “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. 6 Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. 7 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, 8 because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.

As a follow up to my commentary on the Jimmy Carter Center’s forum on religion and women’s rights, I’d like to go where the delegates feared to tread.  I’m going to spend some time discussing women’s role in Christianity, and I’m going to use the Bible as my guide.

The passage I quoted is the beginning of Ephesians 6.  As you can see, it’s about how men should treat their children and slaves.  The text is unequivocal.  Children and slaves are subservient to men.  There is no asterisk encouraging us not to have slaves.  The author of this text is writing plainly.  Men, the children and slaves are yours.  But do try to be nice to them.

Here’s the passage you’re more familiar with:

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

The topic at hand is good Christian families.  Wives are the first topic of conversation, but children and slaves are the next two.  That’s conveniently left out of most sermons.

What is a believer to believe?  There’s no metaphor here.  It’s plain instruction.  If you’re going to be a good Christian family, be in charge of your wife (wives?), children, and slaves.  Wives are lumped in with children and slaves.  This is Paul talking.  The father of  Christianity.  The closest and best link to Jesus.

Notable Female Characters in the Bible

The overwhelming majority of characters in the Bible are male.  When women are mentioned, they’re usually auxiliary characters — someone’s wife, daughter, or slave girl.  Here’s a quick sampling of some of the more notable broads in the good book.

Eve –  The gal who started it all.  Death, sin, expulsion from paradise, pain in childbirth, men breaking their backs in the field… All her fault.

Hagar – The slave pressed into “extra special service” for the father of Israel when he couldn’t manage an heir with his wife.

Lot’s Wife – Turned into a pillar of salt for the crime of glancing back at the old family home.

Rahab – The hooker who betrayed her people to Joshua.

300 Concubines – King Solomon’s playthings.

Miriam – Had the audacity to question Moses.  God made her a leper for a week to keep her from getting uppity again.

Midianite women — good for raping after a hard day’s slaughter of their husbands and children.  IF they’re virgins.  Otherwise, kill em.

Your Brother’s Widow – Your next baby mama.  It’s your God-given obligation, dude.  And she’s hot, so that’s a plus…

Jepthah’s Daughter – Virgin Sacrifice to the Lord God.  Who is also Jesus.  Who Christians worship.  Jesus approves of virgin sacrifices.  Don’t let anyone tell you any different.

Delilah – Poor Samson.

Jezebel – Synonymous with hooker.  A newer, flashier version of Eve, leading her man into destruction.

Some Dude’s Daughter and Concubine – Rape ‘em, kill ‘em, leave em on my doorstep.  Just don’t engage in buttsex with my male houseguest.

Michal – David’s wife.  She got uppity and God punished her by making her infertile.

Tamar – A virgin, raped by her brother and shunned for the crime of being raped.

Pregnant Women – Good for ripping open and performing field abortions.  At God’s command.  Never let them tell you God hates abortions.  He custom ordered them.  And made the abortionist king of Israel.

New Testament Lessons

Mary is Eve’s foil — the full circle completion of the Christian story.  Man was corrupted by a woman.  Naked.  Sexual.  Seductive.  Man was saved by the non-sexuality of the perfect woman.  Covered.  Demure.  Obedient.  Virgin.


God apparently had a bit of a change of heart when he sent himself to earth to sacrifice himself to himself.  The Jesus incarnation of Yahweh wasn’t so much about ripping open pregnant women and killing their fetuses.  But he wasn’t exactly woman-friendly, either.

Jesus forgave a woman for adultery.  It was a nice gesture.  But he didn’t address the custom of stoning women for adultery.  He had the perfect opportunity, but he passed it up.  He also didn’t mention the man who had fornicated with her.  He didn’t mention the unfairness of letting a man go unmolested while killing the woman, which was the law in those days.  He just forgave one adulterer.  Not exactly a crystal clear message of egalitarianism and women’s rights.

Mary and Mary. This is one of the more convoluted Christian messages, but ironically one of the most powerful.  Mary Magdalene has been traditionally regarded as a prostitute, though the precise function of the demons Jesus exorcised from her is never clearly articulated.  Even so, the prostitute label stuck, and she is seen as the “reformed harlot” taken under Jesus’ wing.  There’s an underlying and very misogynist message here:  Jesus was such an awesome dude, so forgiving, so unbelievably wonderful and godlike that he actually let a formerly promiscuous woman hang around with him!  Isn’t that amazing?

Mary the Mother of Jesus is the most revered woman in the Bible.  And what was her claim to fame?  She managed to have a child without defiling herself by having sex.  The “perfect woman” according to God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit is perfect by virtue of not repeating Eve’s mistake and corrupting a man.

Mary and Eve.  Mary is Eve’s foil — the full circle completion of the Christian story.  Man was corrupted by a woman.  Naked.  Sexual.  Seductive.  Man was saved by the non-sexuality of the perfect woman.  Covered.  Demure.  Obedient.  Virgin.  Just look at the pictures.  They tell the whole story.  Eve vs. Mary.  Evil vs. Good.  Sex vs. Chastity.

Paul.  There is precious little reference to women in the New Testament besides Mary and Mary.  Paul instructs women to keep their damn mouths shut in church.  He recommends that men not marry, if possible.  Sex with women is presented as a necessary evil.  Jesus backed him up on this, recommending that those men who are able should just cut their balls off to remove the temptation completely.

And this brings us back to our original passage.  If you have to have sex, and have to get married, be sure to get some slaves, and treat your wife (wives?), children, and slaves as your subordinates.  But try to be nice to them.  And if you need examples of how God treats women, just open your Bible.

Discussion

6 thoughts on “Christianity and Women

  1. Hamby,
    You continue to quantify and qualify the questions I’ve been asking for years. Unfortunately, I’m still astounded daily at seemingly functional people who not only believe such fallacies, but actually spend much of their time worshipping nonsense.

    Posted by Nonya | April 18, 2011, 8:43 pm
  2. I remember making a girl cry in college. How? She told me that homosexuality was wrong, and picked up her bible to show me. I said, “give me that” and promptly pointed out most of the references you gave here.

    This was the daughter of a preacher in Texas who’d never been questioned on her beliefs before.

    Posted by Aldonza | May 11, 2011, 2:47 pm
  3. That’s great, Aldonza!

    Reading the bible carefully makes baby Jesus cry, too.

    Posted by Living Life Without a Net | May 11, 2011, 3:33 pm
  4. It’s easier to believe in a religion if you don’t question it. Sexism is huge in the bible, but modern times have seemed to ignore those passages. I’m not saying sexism is right, but the pagan-based religion has been changed so much over the years that it’s original intent seems to only be to follow it blindly. People just need to question their own religions, and everything they are taught including in school. Not just religion vs science, but philosophy, inner self, other religions, history, and the like.

    If Jesus Christ was a person then who was Mithra, who was Chrishna?

    Posted by Humanunkind | July 19, 2011, 12:34 pm
  5. Why Was The Christian Sent To Prison For Life…He Was Doing God’ Will?:

    The US Government FORCED these poor religious people to change their very belief’s, if the wanted to be part of the Union of the United States of America:

    “The official Mormon church broke with the practice of polygamy in 1890 under pressure from the federal US government which made renouncing the practice a condition of granting statehood to Utah.” (1)

    “…the Mormon church disavowed the practice in 1890. The FLDS, however, maintains that a man must have three wives to reach the highest realms of heaven.” (2)

    Some of the beliefs this church has, does not fall far from the tree, as Michelle Bachmann, T-Bag favorite, Conservative Christian, Presidential hopeful who utilizes Socialism while demonizing anyone else who does is known for supporting the belief that God demands woman be submissive to their husbands:

    Mormon church: “Prosecutors played a recording of a 1997 lesson in which Mr Jeffs said that obedience was key to good marriage. “Give yourself to him, that means full obedience to righteous principles. No halfway, no holding back,” he said on the tape. (3)

    Versus:

    Michele Bachmann: “The Lord says be submissive. Wives, you are to be submissive to your husbands.” (4)

    I don’t see any difference.

    Michelle Bachmann also came out loud and proud that she was against the US Census (6)….She was just following the Bible, (5) however, she didnt fulfill her duty, she didnt kill seventy thousand people. Maybe she was having a migraine when her god was sending her that message.

    But, what about religious freedom? Do Mormons not have the same rights to have the power to change laws, be exempt from laws, and get political power like people from all other denomiations of Christianity?

    I’ll pass on a a few things the Christian god demands of wives. (7)

    Eph. 5:23-32 – For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of his body, the church; he gave his life to be her Savior. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives must submit to your husbands in everything.

    1 Peter 3:1-5, 7 – In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands, even those who refuse to accept the Good News. Your godly lives will speak to them better than any words. They will be won over by watching your pure, godly behavior.

    1 Corinthians 14:34 – Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.

    Titus 2:5 – To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

    Romans 7:2-3 – For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.

    1 Timothy 2:9 – In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array.

    Proverbs 31:13-27 – She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar. She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms. …

    1 Corinthians 14:35 – And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.

    =-=-=-=-=

    NOTES:

    1. Fundamentalist sect leader jailed for life for sex with child brides: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/aug/09/warren-jeffs-jailed-life-sentence

    2. He was as God to us, woman tells court at sect leader’s rape trial: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/sep/15/religion.usa

    3. He was as God to us, woman tells court at sect leader’s rape trial: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/sep/15/religion.usa

    4. The Submissive Michele Bachmann: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/07/10/michele-bachmann-s-bible-submissiveness-is-it-a-problem.html

    5. Rep. Bachmann Refuses To Fill Out 2010 Census: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-5095844-503544.html

    6. God kills 70,000 innocent people because David ordered a census of the people: http://www.evilbible.com/ – (1 Chronicles 21: http://www.evilbible.com/July.htm#July%209)

    7. Bible-Topics.com: Wives: http://www.bible-topics.com/Wives.html

    Posted by cpmondello | August 9, 2011, 10:08 pm
  6. Thanks, CPMondello!

    Great info, and very ironic comparison.

    Posted by Living Life Without a Net | August 10, 2011, 1:29 pm

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