Archive for September, 2012
In Luke 10:27 Jesus tells the lawyer that the summation of the law is contained in “loving your neighbor as yourself”. The lawyer then proceeds to query Jesus and asks “who is my neighbor?” to which Jesus replies by reciting the parable of the Good Samaritan, implying that anyone regardless of race is your neighbor. This answer is a much more expanded interpretation of neighbor then one finds in the Old Testament version, which only applied to ones Hebrew brethren. Now, to carry the meaning of neighbor one step further we need to ask if women were included in the general idea of ones neighbor. Did loving your neighbor as yourself apply to women? I think the answer is obviously not, because nowhere in the Bible are women treated in the same manner as men would want to be treated.
Jesus might very well have included women in his understanding of neighbor, but we know for certain that neither Paul, nor Peter did by the words that they wrote in these verses.
1Cor.11:3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.
Eph.5:24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
Col 3:18 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.
1 Tim. 2:11-14 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
Titus 2:4-5 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
1Peter 3:1-7 Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands;
Under no circumstances would men feel they were being treated in a manner equal to loving one neighbor as oneself, if the roles were reversed and those verses instead read “Husbands, submit yourselves unto your own wives in everything”. What a far different society we would live in today if the Golden Rule of treating ones neighbor as themselves had been taken to apply equally to women as well as men. My motive in bringing up these questions are to try and encourage people to look at the religious teachings they so blindly follow and find out what their sacred texts really contain. I believe most people –especially men – would be very surprised to know just how biased the Bible really is.
I have a dream that someday all women wherever in the world they live and whatever religion they practice, will stand beside men in equality. For far too long man’s religion has governed and ruled what the role of women should be, leaving the woman herself out of the equation. As a woman, my heart longs for the day when my sisters can breathe the fresh air of freedom as partners with their brothers, instead of gasping to breathe the polluted and stale air of inequality that is suffocating them. No matter how advanced our civilization becomes, or how egalitarian our governments are the Bible can never change its words, because they are forever frozen in the era in which they were written. That is the grave error in limiting and confining a creator to the pages of an ancient book, without room to change and grow. The words of Paul will forever constrain a woman to be in subjection to a man and keep her from expressing full human equality with him, and say that it is better for a man not to touch a woman, but to live a life of celibacy (if one wishes to view the Bible as inspired by God).
Looking back at Christian history through the eyes of men who shaped its views, one finds that it is littered with hatred and disgust for women…from the words of Clement of Alexandria in the second century AD, “Every woman should be filled with shame by the thought that she is a woman“, to the words of Martin Luther in the fifteenth century “The word and works of God is quite clear, that women were made either to be wives or prostitutes.”, it is quite clear how Christian men have perceived women. Great insight is given into the intent of Scripture when men throughout the ages have interpreted them in a similar manner when it comes to the rights and equality of women. Having religious texts that purport to be inspired by a deity, is the main reason that religions remain mired in primitive thinking, the only way to escape their grasp is to simply ignore large portions that are outdated. A true deity would never be locked into a mindset that is limited by the whims of the human intellect, which is why a dark shadow is cast upon the credibility of the biblegod being real. The only way women can be freed from this ominous cloud of religious oppression, is to use their wisdom and reject myths that keep them in bondage to the tyranny of men who wish to control their lives.
All history attests that man has subjected
Woman to his will, used her as a means to
Promote his selfish gratification, to
Minister to his sensual pleasures, to be
Instrumental in promoting his comfort; but never
Has he desired to elevate her to that rank she was created to fill.
He has done all he could
To debase and enslave her mind;
And now he looks triumphantly on the ruin
He has wrought, and say, the being he has
Thus deeply injured is his inferior” ~ A.K.
There is no excuse that will ever justify the status that the Bible has placed upon women of being denied equality with men. No matter how much good people say the Bible has done to elevate women’s roles from those of non-Christian nations, and supposedly how much better they are treated than their non-biblical counterparts, women are still relegated to “second place” in Scripture. It’s on par with saying “it’s okay to have slaves as long as they are treated well”…I say: NO it’s not okay to own another human being no matter how well they are treated by their masters.
If the Constitution of the United States, written by men has contained within its declarations that “All men are created equal” (which I know had to be worked out to get into men’s heads that the words All Men meant both men and women), I see no reason why a book that is supposed to be inspired by God, could not have had within it pages an equally powerful statement. Instead what do we find at its very beginning? A decree from its god that men are to rule over women…Gen.3:16 “Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.”, that tells me that the founders of this country had much higher standards than what was attributed to the biblegod.
The harm that has befallen women because of the license that the Bible has given men to dominate them and own them as property is beyond measure. History would have taken an entirely different course if men and women could have stood side by side as partners developing ideas that would shape a common future. Instead of allowing women to choose their own path and make their own choices, the Bible gives men the right and free reign in running women’s lives and since it tells men exactly what they want to hear in terms of having power and control they adamantly say it must be from god. An old Chinese proverb says that “Women hold up half the sky”, it is time that the female gender rightfully take their place as equals beside men, and that men acknowledge a woman’s rightful place as their equal in all areas of life.
“The truth is male religious leaders have had, – and still have – an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the later. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world” ~ Jimmy Carter