The Human Truth Foundation

Christianity and Women
Biblical Misogyny and Male Dominance

By Vexen Crabtree 2019


Comments:
FB, LJ

#christianity #christianity_and_women #gender_equality #women

For nearly all of its history, Christianity communities and institutions have demanded male-dominance, and treated women as inferior beings, subject to a wide range of rules and prohibitions that men have not had to bear. Based on canon law, legal prejudice became part of the fabric of Christianized countries, affecting areas such as inheritance and voting rights, and a legacy of cultural acceptance of female subjugation to men.

In particular, the injunctions found in the epistles of St Paul have had negative impact on the legal status of women1. Here are the worst injunctions, although there are many more: Colossians 3:18 states that wives must submit to husbands "as it is fit in the Lord" as does Titus 2:4-5. 1 Corinthians 11:3-9 states outright that women are inferior to men. 1 Timothy 2:11-14 and 1 Corinth. 14:34 has women be quiet and in full submission to men, and should never have authority over men, because Adam was formed before Eve. This is why women had long been barred from positions of power in Christian churches. What should women do instead? 1 Timothy 2:15 states that woman's role is childbirth, and Titus 2:5 adds that women should be obedient and "busy at home" (repeated in 1 Peter 3:1 and Ephesians 5:22-25).

Religious apologists such as Karen Armstrong2 and Moojan Momen3, who normally speak positively of religion in general, both sound warnings when it comes to the effect of religion on womankind. Armstrong says "Christianity does not emerge well from this story of Western women"4 and "in traditional Western Christianity women have been kept out of the male world of action and thought"5. The cause of these issues is that from inception the Bible, and Christian doctrine in general, following on from Judaism, has represented a purely male point of view of family, relations and power disparencies, resulting in an enduring doctrinal subjugation of women.6,7.

In the 21st century, some liberal branches of Christianity are now normalizing their stances, although many conservative wings oppose these moves. The greatest steps forwards have been when secular, democratic governments have removed the influence of Christianity from law, and asserted the validity of gender-neutral human rights, although powerful and well-funded Christian lobbies oppose this wherever they can.


1. The Male Point of View

1.1. The Bible: Written by Men, for Men

#christianity #judaism

The Bible is about men. It is about fathers and sons. It was written by men, for men. Its god is male and the instructions it gives are addressed to men. Its concerns are almost exclusively with patriarchal male concerns. The production, selection and promotion of Biblical texts throughout the history of the Bible is dominated by men. Women are only a secondary, neglected, concern, and in the Bible women are mostly nameless and treated as objects, passed around from male to male as is other property.

In fact only two of the sixty-six books in the Bible bear women's names ... the women in question (Ruth and Esther) are not generally considered to be the original authors of the books and the books themselves are extremely short ... far less than one percent of the total canon. [...] It is therefore not surprising that the Biblical text reflects and speaks the language of such [male-orientated] practices and attitudes ... which, if nothing else, reflect the sort of things it would be expected that the males who recorded the Bible and kept it alive orally would say.

"Sex, Ideology and Religion" by Keith Harris (1984)7

One of the primary claims of feminist scholarship is that this identification of the male with the human in religion is the root problem. [...] Mary Daly's groundbreaking Beyond God the Father: Toward a Philosophy and Women's Liberation (1973) first demonstrated how profoundly this assumption has shaped Judaism and Christianity.

"The Encyclopedia of Religion" by Eliade Mircea (1987)6

1.2. The Epistles of St Paul: Women are to Submit, to be Quiet, to Stay at Home

#bible #christianity #christianity_and_women #gender_equality #paul #women

The teachings of St. Paul are infamously misogynistic and have had an enduring effect on the status of women in the Western world.

After sternly stating the subjection of women to man Ephesians continues with some statements that might be seen as condoning equality (in Ephesians 5:25-33), as it commands husband and wife togetherness, however, this state is always to be instigated by the husband, if he wants it.

2. The History of the Problem

2.1. Adam and Eve: The Shame of Being a Woman. Clothes and Male Oppression

#christianity #christianity_and_women #clothing #islam #religious_clothing #women

This famous story is one of the most well-known parts of Christian mythology. Although today it is only taken seriously by fundamentalists and crackpots, in history the Christian powerbrokers of society looked to it for instruction. It has been used to subjugate, terrorize and even burn and torture women. It started with the very first Christian who preached to a mass audience, St Paul:

A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.

1 Timothy 2:9-15

Likewise in 1 Peter 3:7 women are described as "the weaker vessel". Versus like these did not remain merely part of scripture, they informed the actions, theology and politics of all of early versions of modern Christianity. Women must be controlled by men, because women are weak and prone to sin. St. Clement of Alexandria, a highly influential Christian of the second century, wrote "Every woman should be filled with shame by the thought that she is a woman"9.

In 1 Timothy [...] woman is not just inferior, she is wicked also because of Eve. Eve fell into sin first and led Adam into sin. This is a theme which will recur again and again in the writings of the Early Fathers [...]. The author of 1 Timothy beings his remarks about women with directions about the sort of clothes they should wear. Glancing through the works of the Fathers it is extraordinary how much time they devoted to writing about women's dress - a concern that should have been beneath them. Diatribes [...] up with extreme frequency. One of the first was written by Tertullian in the 3rd century. In a treatise written to his 'best beloved sisters' in the faith, Tertullian glides from affection and respect to an astonishing attack:

"If there dwelt upon earth a faith as great as we expect to enjoy in heaven, there wouldn't be a single one of you, best beloved sisters, who [would fail] to go about in humble garb, and go out of her way to affect a meanness of appearance, walking about as Eve, mourning and repentent, so that by her penitential clothes she might fuly expiate what she has inherited from Eve: the shame, I mean, of the first sin, and the odium of human perdition. In pains and anxieties dost thou bear children, woman; and toward thine husband is thy inclination and he lords it over thee.* [...] The sentence of God on this sex of yours lives in this age: the guilt must of necessity live too. You are the devil's gateway: you are the unsealer of that forbidden tree: you are the first deserter of the divine law: you are she who persuaded him whom the devil was not valiant enough to attack. You destroyed so easily God's image, man. On account of your dessert - that is death - even the Son of God had to die."

Tertullian On Female Dress, I:i
* Quoted from Genesis 3:16.

"The Gospel According to Woman: Christianity's Creation of the Sex War in the West"
Karen Armstrong (1986)10

Tertullian, and the other Church Fathers, quoting scripture where necessary, hold that femalekind is responsible for the fall of humanity from heaven, that the 'first sin', causing all future sin, was that of a woman (Eve) who ate the apple offered by Satan. Satan dare not, says Tertullian, attack God's honourable man, Adam. And for this, all women everywhere must live in shame and guilt, forever, and must never dress nicely, festively, or wear jewellery or makeup. The result of this, the just dessert, is death for all living beings, through disease and old-age. Yet, as I argue in Christian Mythology: Adam and Eve, and the Serpent, in the Garden of Eden, Adam was convinced to sin by a mere Human, Eve, whereas Eve was convinced by the 2nd most intelligent and cunning being in the Universe, Satan, while Adam listened to the snake's conversation and said nothing in objection. This disobedience to God, and their gullibility to the snake, are of course two personality traits that God created for Adam and Eve, making God the actual author of sin. Despite these logical arguments, the Christian Church became founded upon a highly spiteful and misogynistic bedrock, which has harmed gender equality and female rights in the extreme long term.

The incredible escalating rant above started with Tertullian talking about female appearances and clothes. Karen Armstrong notes that this progression from appearances to extreme hostility is the hallmark of fear and guilt. And Tertullian gives away what is really bothering him later: he is not concerned so much about the fruit of the tree, but rather "because she is offering the forbidden fruit of sex"11.

The historical approach of Christian men towards women is similar to the approach found in strict Islamic countries today, with controlling rules on female dress and appearance. Tertullian (160-225CE), the great Church Father, wrote that "having people lusting after you with carnal desire is not a desirable state of affairs but is something execrable. [...] For as soon as a man has lusted after your beauty, he has in his mind already committed the sin which his lust was imagining and he perished because of this, and you [women] have been made the sword that destroys him"12. Tertullian strongly condemns women who dress nicely, and states that it is a requirement for every Christian woman to dress unattractively, a theme which is taken up with his writings such as On the Veiling of Virgins; for example in Book 1 Chapter 1 he warns against women "adorning yourself over and above your tunics of skins".

Already, years before Augustine would finally formulate for the West the doctrine of Original Sin, the emotional trinity which exists at the heart of that doctrine has been formed in the Christian neurosis of Tertullian: women, sex and sin are fused together in his mind indissolubly. The only hope for man is that women hide themselves away - veil their faces from man's lustful eyes, hide their beauty by disfiguring themselves and make themselves ugly and sexless.

"The Gospel According to Woman: Christianity's Creation of the Sex War in the West"
Karen Armstrong (1986)13

Unfortunately, his misogynistic rantings have a good biblical basis. Matthew 5:28 says that "everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart".

The epistles of Paul call out women's hair, in particular, as being the source of beauty. In 1 Corinth. 11:6-7 he says that women must therefore cover their heads when they pray, and if she doesn't, she should be forcibly shaven. Also in 1 Tim. 2:9 he states that women shouldn't have braided hair - or, "gold or pearls or expensive clothes". There are no such equivalent rules for men..

It is not just human males that are at risk from the beauty of women. In The Veiling of Virgins Tertullian explains that the angels themselves fall from grace because of the beauty of Human women14, and it is 'because of the angels' that human women must conceal themselves with course and unshapely clothes. He doesn't describe it in terms of the angels being sinful, however, but that this beauty is "driving the angels from their heavenly home" as if it is the women's fault. He lives in a world of compulsion, of complete lack of self-control, of poor moral training during upbringing, where others have to stay out of the way of males and if they don't, it is their own fault! Many other Church Fathers say the same: Jerome (347-420CE) uses the same language, "a woman drove the tiller of Paradise [Adam] from the garden that had been given him"15. In other words, it is male weakness and male guilt for letching at women that is the driver for this hate. This inglorious and hypocritical turning of the blame from men to women has been a common theme throughout Christianity in history, and through Islam in the present.

It is clear that the Christian heritage of gender inequality and marital subjugation has a long past in Christian history, and without expurgating large parts of the Biblical canon, is destined to fester in the background even in modern times.

Links

2.2. Jesus and Mary, His Mother: Not a Single Positive Comment in the Bible

Jesus in Mark 3:31-35 leaves his "brethren and his mother" outside after they call for him; giving no reason at all for shunning them. He instead says that instead of his family, his fans were his brethren and mother. Luke 2:41-49 tells a story of a 12-year-old Jesus; he wonders off for three days and his parents search for him, before finding him in a temple. They exclaim to him that they've been looking for him sorrowfully, and his cold response is covered by the last two verses of that story: "How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business? And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them". In both places a little courtesy would have cost nothing. The lack of respect continues in another story in Luke:

When one of his women listeners was so entranced by his teaching that she cried out 'Happy the womb that bore you and the breasts that you sucked!' Jesus shrugged off this praise of his mother. She was irrelevant: 'Still happier those who hear the word of God and keep it.' (Luke 11:27-28).

"The Gospel According to Woman: Christianity's Creation of the Sex War in the West" by Karen Armstrong (1986)16

Jesus only speaks to his mother three times in the Bible. The first time is the story above, where he reprimands her for not guessing where he was (when he was 12). The second time, at the feast in Cana, Jesus says to his mum, "Woman, what have I to do with thee?". And the third time was during the crucifixtion, when he said to her: "woman, behold thy son". Not a single positive comment from Jesus to his mum17! In "The Woman's Bible" by Elizabeth Cady Stanton18, the author despairs at the misogyny, and asks:

How is it that not one word is said about the death of Mary, not one word about the death of Joseph? How did it happen that Christ did not visit his mother after his resurrection?

"The Woman's Bible" by Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1898)17

2.3. Early Gnostic Christians Did Not Subjugate Women

It was only the later forms of Christianity that developed a harsh misogynistic streak. Pauline Christianity eradicated earlier forms of Christianity, being both intolerant of its own more liberal past, and of dissent.

There were plenty of early Christian groups that did not accept the male-centric version of God nor the concept of male supremacy19. At the time of Paul's writings, women were active, and sometimes even prominent, in Christian ministry. Paul mentions, and sometimes endorses, some such women, e.g. in Romans 16:3-5.

An early group known as the Essenes, many of whose writings have been discovered in the Dead Sea Scrolls, thought of divinity as having a feminine aspect. In the Essene Gospel of Peace, Jesus says, "I will lead you into the kingdom of our Mother's angels..."20. A Gnostic text tells how Eve, the daughter of Sophia who had wished the first heavenly light into the world, gives life to Adam:

...[Eve] said, 'Adam, live!' Rise up on the earth!' Immediately her word became a deed.
["On the Origin of the World" II. 116.2-8 from The Nag Hammandi Library 172.]

[...] Tertullian was appalled at the role of women among Gnostics:

The... women of the heretics, how wanton they are! For they are bold enough to teach, to dispute, to enact exorcisms, to undertake cures - it may be even to baptize! [Tertullian, "On Prescription Against Heretics" Chapter XLI, Ante-Nicene Fathers; Translations of the Writings of the Fathers down to A.A. 325, Vol. III (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1951) 263.]

"The Dark Side of Christian History" by Helen Ellerbe (1995)19

It was only with the rise of Roman-sponsored Pauline Christianity that the tolerance of gnostic Christianity was eradicated, often using St Paul's new writings as a basis for asserting male dominance.

Later writings than Paul also mentioned that women preached alongside Jesus; Luke 8:3 says so, but qualifies this by saying that they ministered in a way compatible with their "substance". Unfortunately, this particular verse is historically dubious and is absent from the original versions of Luke, and was perhaps originally a marginal note by an editor which became implanted in the main text21, making it very hard to work out what Luke 8:3 originally said.

2.4. Women are for Childbearing

In 1 Timothy 2:9-15, St Paul has it that women's role is in childbirth and it is through this that women can be saved.

The Church Father Augustine in De Genesis ad Litteram discusses the manifold weakness and sinfulness of woman and is trying to work out why God made womankind at all, arguing that another man would have been better company for Adam (IX,v,9). Augustine reaches his conclusion that the purpose of women is childbearing only.

Martin Luther, the founder of Protestantism, taught the same. The following statement epitomizes the Christian approach to female welfare: "If they become tired or even die", Luther wrote, "that does not matter. Let them die in childbirth - that is why they are there"22. Her place, to use the famous phrase invented by Luther, was "in the home".

2.5. Women are Defective (12th-15th Century)

The great and influential Christian Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274CE) has a potential reason for the existence of womankind; fair enough, she was good for childbearing, but why was she also so corruptive and dangerous? Why was womankind the Devil's gateway?

As regards the individual nature, woman is defective and misbegotten, for the active force in the male seed tends to the production of a perfect likeness in the masculine sex; while the production of woman comes from a defect in the active force or from some material indisposition, or even from some external influence.

Thomas Aquinas Summa Theologica IV, Part I. Quaest. XCII, art 1,2.
In "The Gospel According to Woman: Christianity's Creation of the Sex War in the West"
Karen Armstrong (1986)23

So the answer is that womankind is a defect and a biological mistake. Karen Armstrong summarizes it as "The norm is the male. Every woman is a failed man"23. There is one worrying addition to that idea - the last two words: external influence. This means one thing: demonic and Satanic influence. It was Satan who corrupts the seed of man to create woman.

Martin Luther (1483-1546CE, the founder of Protestant Christianity, wrote in 1553 that "Girls begin to talk and to stand on their feet sooner than boys because weeds always grow up more quickly than good crops."24.

The vitriolic comments did not just form a background of grumpy misogyny. They came to inform Church law, Christian doctrine, canon law, and became the rules and regulations of society itself enforced by the Church with great aggression. I'm about to quote from the Malleus Maleficarum which, as we will see, became one of the greatest tools of enforcement used against women:

And it should be noticed that there was a defect in the formation of the first woman, since she was formed from a bent rib, that is, a rib of the breast, which is bent as it were in a contrary direction to a man. And since through this defect she is an imperfect animal, she always deceives... and this is indicated by the etymology of the word; for Femina comes from Fe and Minus, since she is ever weaker to hold and to preserve the faith.

Malleus Maleficarum (1486CE), p.44
Quoted in "The Dark Side of Christian History" by Helen Ellerbe (1995)25

This monumentally influential book became one of the key texts behind the Inquisition and the Witch Hunts, together responsible for the extermination of untold numbers of women 'witches'.

2.6. Women Must Wear the Right Clothes and Not Excite Men

#christianity #christianity_and_women #clothing #islam #religious_clothing #women

The historical approach of Christian men towards women is similar to the approach found in strict Islamic countries today, with controlling rules on female dress and appearance. Tertullian (160-225CE), the great Church Father, wrote that "having people lusting after you with carnal desire is not a desirable state of affairs but is something execrable. [...] For as soon as a man has lusted after your beauty, he has in his mind already committed the sin which his lust was imagining and he perished because of this, and you [women] have been made the sword that destroys him"12. Tertullian strongly condemns women who dress nicely, and states that it is a requirement for every Christian woman to dress unattractively, a theme which is taken up with his writings such as On the Veiling of Virgins; for example in Book 1 Chapter 1 he warns against women "adorning yourself over and above your tunics of skins".

Already, years before Augustine would finally formulate for the West the doctrine of Original Sin, the emotional trinity which exists at the heart of that doctrine has been formed in the Christian neurosis of Tertullian: women, sex and sin are fused together in his mind indissolubly. The only hope for man is that women hide themselves away - veil their faces from man's lustful eyes, hide their beauty by disfiguring themselves and make themselves ugly and sexless.

"The Gospel According to Woman: Christianity's Creation of the Sex War in the West"
Karen Armstrong (1986)13

Unfortunately, his misogynistic rantings have a good biblical basis. Matthew 5:28 says that "everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart".

The epistles of Paul call out women's hair, in particular, as being the source of beauty. In 1 Corinth. 11:6-7 he says that women must therefore cover their heads when they pray, and if she doesn't, she should be forcibly shaven. Also in 1 Tim. 2:9 he states that women shouldn't have braided hair - or, "gold or pearls or expensive clothes". There are no such equivalent rules for men..

It is not just human males that are at risk from the beauty of women. In The Veiling of Virgins Tertullian explains that the angels themselves fall from grace because of the beauty of Human women14, and it is 'because of the angels' that human women must conceal themselves with course and unshapely clothes. He doesn't describe it in terms of the angels being sinful, however, but that this beauty is "driving the angels from their heavenly home" as if it is the women's fault. He lives in a world of compulsion, of complete lack of self-control, of poor moral training during upbringing, where others have to stay out of the way of males and if they don't, it is their own fault! Many other Church Fathers say the same: Jerome (347-420CE) uses the same language, "a woman drove the tiller of Paradise [Adam] from the garden that had been given him"15. In other words, it is male weakness and male guilt for letching at women that is the driver for this hate. This inglorious and hypocritical turning of the blame from men to women has been a common theme throughout Christianity in history, and through Islam in the present.

2.7. An Example Diatribe from a French Bishop

It has to be seen against the misogyny of the 12th century as the period also saw Christian hatred of Woman the Enemy rising to a crescendo. Thus a French bishop of the time wrote that all women without exception were whores, who, like Eve, were the cause of all the evils in the world: women came between old friends, separated lovers, set children against their parents, destroyed villages, cities and whole peoples. A Benedictine monk, Bernard de Moraix, said flatly in his poem De Contemptu Mundi that there was no good woman on earth. The English monk, Alexander Neckham, said that because a women was sexually insatiable she would often have to drag some poor wretch into bed with her to satisfy her on the spot, if her husband wasn't instantly available. [...] The myth of women's voracious sexuality was so well established that by 1621 Robert Burton could refer to it as a universal complaint. [...] The terrors and neuroses of the Jeromes, Tertullians and Augustines had been stamped on the consciousness of Western Europe.

"The Gospel According to Woman: Christianity's Creation of the Sex War in the West"
Karen Armstrong (1986)26

2.8. 15th-18th Century: The Malleus Maleficarum, Witch Hunts and Anti-Midwifery

#christianity #france #germany #greece #italy #portugal #spain #switzerland

The 300-year period from the 1450s onwards has been described by R.H Robbins as "the shocking nightmare, the foulest crime and deepest shame of western civilization"27 as the Inquisition and other Christian authorities attempted to strictly enforce Biblical misogyny in society at large.

In Germany, Christians were terrified that men were becoming impotent and that wives could no longer bear children. Pope Innocent VIII revealed the official answer of the Christian church in his Bull entitled Summa desiderantes: secret female witches were the cause. He brought together two Dominicans, Jacob Sprenger and Heinrich Kramer, and between them they produced the notorious Malleus Maleficarum ('The Hammer of Witches'), "which was a handbook to help Inquisitors in the investigation of witchcraft. [... It] became a major text of the Inquisition, going through nineteen editions".28

The Malleus Maleficarum taught that women are much more likely to become evil magicians29. The witch-hunts were thusly primarily instigated against women30. These witch-hunts saw the pious seeking out any woman who did not fit the Biblical stereotype of the good, submissive wife. The methods of torture and murder used as punishments by the Christian institution were particularly and infamously cruel and barbaric, even at a time when Europe was otherwise emerging from the dark ages.

The great Witch Hunts did more than give a name to a curious and disturbing Western phenomenon. They have profoundly damaged the relationship between the sexes in our society. [...] The Witch Hunts were a religious phenomenon and were engineered by the Church and supported both by the beliefs of devout people and the fears of the 'witches' themselves. [...] It was an exclusively Western phenomenon. The parts of Eastern Europe and Greece which came under the aegis of Orthodox Christianity (which had always been a little more sane about sex and women) were quite unaffected. The panic was equally intense in Catholicism and in Protestantism. Some parts of the Europe suffered more badly than others: Spain, Italy, Portugal and Holland had only limited and sporadic witch hunting. [...] The craze was worst in Scotland, France, the German States and Switzerland.

"The Gospel According to Woman: Christianity's Creation of the Sex War in the West"
Karen Armstrong (1986)31

Contemporary accounts hint at the extent of the holocaust. Barbara Walker writes that "the chronicler of Treves reported that in the year 1586, the entire female population of two villages was wiped out by the inquisitors, except for only two women left alive."

"The Dark Side of Christian History" by Helen Ellerbe (1995)32

Some scholars have claimed that as many people died in the Witch Hunts as died in all European wars up to 1914. In some Swiss villages there were hardly any women left alive. It is impossible to estimate numbers with any real accuracy, but it seems that the numbers were horrifyingly high.

"The Gospel According to Woman: Christianity's Creation of the Sex War in the West"
Karen Armstrong (1986)30

Many women imprisoned or tortured during the witch-hunts era were simply old folk who had managed to learn non-Christian methods of healing - medicinal practices - that the Church had banned and suppressed for not being in accordance with Scripture.33. Christian institutions used versus such as Genesis 3:16 to reject midwifery and actively suppress it. Their activities were seen as a "direct affront to the divinely ordained pain of childbirth" and, according to a Scottish clergyman, "vitiating the primal curse of women"34. For the same reasons, "when the great American discovery of anaesthetics was applied in obstetrical cases, it was discouraged [because] it was an impious attempt to escape from the curse denounced against all women in Genesis iii. 16" - Draper (1881)35, also told by Stanton (1898)36.

3. The Argument that Paul's Laws on Women Only Applied to Corinth

Here is Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who summarizes this argument and its rebuttals:

A most laudably intended attempt to excuse Paul for the inexcusable passages attributed to his authorship has been made by a clergyman, who, accepting them as genuine Pauline utterances, endeavors to show that they were meant to apply, only to Greek female converts, natives of Corinth, and that the command to cover the head and to keep silent in public was warranted, both because veiling the head and face was a Grecian custom, and because the women of Corinth were of notoriously bad character. In support of this theory our modern apologist quotes the testimony of numerous writers of antiquity who denounced Corinthian profligacy. But, setting aside the fact that the men of Corinth must always have been, at least, as bad as the women, and that a sorry case would be made out for Paul, if it were on the score of morals that he ordered Greek women to subject themselves to such men, there are yet two serious impediments in the way of this theory. In the first place, that wealthy and luxurious Corinth to which the writers quoted refer, was no longer in existence in Paul's time. [In 146BCE] it was conquered by the Romans, who killed the men, carried the women and children into slavery, and levelled the dwellings to the ground. For a whole century the site of the once famous city remained a desolate waste. [In about 46BCE] it was colonized by some Roman immigrants, and a Romanized city, with Roman customs, it was when Paul knew it. Now, not only did the Roman women go unveiled, mingling freely in all public places with men (a fact which Paul, as citizen of a Roman province must have known)... [...] This is sufficient refutation of the argument of the clergyman who strives to clear the character of Paul at the expense of the character of the women of Corinth.

"The Woman's Bible" by Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1898)1

4. Modern Times

4.1. A Lasting Legacy of Gender Bias

#canada #christianity #germany #mexico

"The Mosaic code and customs plainly degrade[s] the female sex, and their position in the church to-day grows out of these ancient customs"37.

1918 saw the end of the Canadian government's attempts to bring voting equality to women, after a long stretch of strong and serious opposition from Christian institutions. MP Jean-Joseph Denis was amongst those who opposed it, and he stated that: "I say that the Holy Scripture, theology [and] Christian philosophy ... all seem to indicate that the place of women in this world is ... in her home"38. That year finally saw a bill passed that ended the absolute prohibition on the women's vote in Canada. Without the influence of Christianity, the injustice would have been ended decades, if not centuries, beforehand.

Germany in 1976 saw Christian neighbours burn down a suspected witch's house, burning her and killing her dogs, who they said were her familiars39. In 1977 "Pope Paul VI still explained that women were barred from the priesthood 'because our Lord was a man'"40. "In 1981, a mob in Mexico stoned a woman to death for her apparent witchcraft which they believed had incited the attack upon Pope John Paul II"39. Versus from the Bible and continued statements from major Churches that women are inferior to men (and can't be ordained, etc) only fuel such irrational superstitions, occasionally with deadly consequences.

Women have achieved impressive advances during the last century, but progress has been uneven across the world. The main impediments to attaining equality have often been a combination of culture and religion. In North America, women have approached near equality in commerce, business, the military, etc. The main hold-outs in North America have been conservative religious denominations, of which the largest are the Roman Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

OCRT, "The status of women, now and throughout history" by B.A. Robinson (2006 May 29)41

Imagine the positive effect if instead of condemning women for mankind's sins, Churches used their influence on society to preach tolerance and equality. If that was the case, it would have been the churches fighting for human rights and society being led forwards. Unfortunately, in the modern era the Churches have strongly resisted the equality of women, and is dragged forward only slowly by moral society.

4.2. Christian Divorce Rates and Wifebeating

#atheism #christianity #theism

Divorce statistics are sometimes a shock for Christians. The average divorce rate for born-again type Christians (27%) and others (24%) are both higher than that for atheism, which is 21%42. Empirically, atheists are more devoted to each other and commit to more stable relationship patterns than theists, yet the theists are the ones who say they stand for family values. Christian theologians have themselves expressed concern over their own rates of divorce and other marital problems such as wifebeating, which are mostly the same as the rates of non-Christians - and stricter Christians have worse rates43. There is a saying that those who shout loudest are the least capable. The Christian Churches shout loudly about love but... atheists are more capable. Seriously though, perhaps it is that atheists only get married if they're sure, while Christians feel pressurized so sometimes marry prematurely in relationships that aren't permanent. Christian culture can exert unnatural pressure on relationships.

5. Not Just Christianity: The Unhappy Role of Women in Religion in General

#buddhism #christianity #gender #hinduism #islam #judaism #morals #new_age #paganism #politics #religion #religion_sex #satanism #sexuality #wicca #women

Most religious traditions have subjugated womankind44,45,6,3. The religious restrictions and taboos on womankind have ranged from the openly oppressive and inhumane, to subtle limitations. Women have been barred from leadership, prevented from religious learning and even from secular education, forbidden to hold power, denied fair inheritance and land ownership, denigrated, physically dominated, and sometimes even forbidden to speak46. All in accordance with holy texts, religious laws and guidelines. The Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, Islam have been the worse; but also Hinduism and Buddhism have played roles in the long-term subjugation of women. In Elizabeth Cady Stanton's "The Woman's Bible" (1898)18 she bemoans that "all the religions on the face of the earth degrade her, and so long as woman accepts the position that they assign her, her emancipation is impossible"47. The much more neutral scholar of comparative religion, Moojan Momen, normally writes positively on nearly all aspects of religion, but when it comes to women, even he is forced into a multiple-page criticism of the historical role of religion3. Although some of this stems from ancient cultural sources before it happened to be codified in world religions48, organized religion has clung on to patriarchalism long after secular society has liberalized. Feminist groups have frequently been anti-religion simply because it is religion that has presented itself as the most consistent oppressor of womankind. The problems from traditional religions are not just historical: even today, religious organisations and powerful international religious lobbies hold back gender equality across the world49.

There is good news. The most readily accepted cure for both intolerance, religion and superstition is widely shown to be education. The position of women improves as education improves and as traditional religions lose their grip on society. Modern society has come to either ignore their traditional texts (as most Christians do) or to abandon religion (as many Westerners have done). Also many new religious movements and alternative religions such as Paganism, Wicca, the New Age and even Satanism practice full gender equality. As long as traditional religions continue to decline and secular society and new religions both grow, the situation of women continues to improve.

Link: Religion Versus Womankind.

Current edition: 2019 Nov 19
http://www.humanreligions.info/christianity_and_women.html
Parent page: Christianity

All #tags used on this page - click for more:

#atheism #bible #buddhism #canada #christianity #christianity_and_women #clothing #france #gender #gender_equality #germany #greece #hinduism #islam #italy #judaism #mexico #morals #new_age #paganism #paul #politics #portugal #religion #religion_sex #religious_clothing #satanism #sexuality #spain #switzerland #theism #wicca #women

Social Media

References: (What's this?)

Book Cover

Book Cover

Book Cover

Book Cover

Book Cover

Book Cover

Book Cover

The Bible (NIV). The NIV is the best translation for accuracy whilst maintaining readability. Multiple authors, a compendium of multiple previously published books. I prefer to take quotes from the NIV but where I quote the Bible en masse I must quote from the KJV because it is not copyrighted, whilst the NIV is. Book Review.

Armstrong, Karen
(1986) The Gospel According to Woman: Christianity's Creation of the Sex War in the West. Subtitled: "Christianity's Creation of the Sex War in the West". Published by Elm Tree Books/Hamish Hamilton Ltd, London, UK. A hardback book.

Clarke, Peter B.. Peter B. Clarke: Professor Emeritus of the History and Sociology of Religion, King's College, University of London, and currently Professor in the Faculty of Theology, University of Oxford, UK.
(2011) The Oxford Handbook of The Sociology of Religion. Originally published 2009. Current version published by Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK. A paperback book.

Draper, John William. (1811-1882)
(1881) History of the Conflict Between Religion and Science. 8th (Amazon Kindle digital edition) edition. Published by D. Appleston and Co, New York, USA. An e-book.

Eliade, Mircea
(1987, Ed.) The Encyclopedia of Religion. Published by Macmillan Publishing Company, New York, USA. 16 huge volumes. Eliade is editor-in-chief. Entries are alphabetical, so, no page numbers are given in references, just article titles. A hardback book.

Ellerbe, Helen
(1995) The Dark Side of Christian History. Published by Morningstar & Lark, Windermere, FL, USA. A paperback book.

Harris, Keith
(1984) Sex, Ideology and Religion. Subtitled: "The Representation of Women in the Bible". Published by Barnes & Noble. A hardback book.

Hawthorne, Sîan. Hawthorn is Lecturer in Critical Theory and the Study of Religions and Chair of the Centre of Gender and Religions Research at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, UK.
(2011) Religion and Gender. This is chapter 7 of "The Oxford Handbook of The Sociology of Religion" by Peter B. Clarke (2011)1.

Momen, Moojan
(1999) The Phenomenon Of Religion: A Thematic Approach. Published by Oneworld Publications, Oxford, UK. A paperback book. Book Review.

Mumm, Susan
What it meant and what is means: feminism, religion and interpretation (2001), chapter 3 of "Religion and Social Transformations" by D. Herbert (2001)2.

NSS. The National Secular Society, London, UK.
Newsline. Weekly news letter. See: "Secularism" by Vexen Crabtree (2011).

OCRT. Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance. Website on www.religioustolerance.org.

Robinson, B.A.
(2006 May 29) The status of women, now and throughout history. Date last accessed 2017 Jan 26. An Article in OCRT. Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance. Website on www.religioustolerance.org.

Ruthven, Malise
(2007) Fundamentalism. Originally published 2005. Current version published by Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK. New edition now published as part of the “Very Short Introduction” series.

Stanton, Elizabeth C.. (1815-1902)
(1898) The Woman's Bible. Amazon Kindle digital edition produced by Carrie Lorenz and John B. Hare. An e-book.

Starr, Tama
The "Natural Inferiority" of Women (1991). Published by Poseidon Press, New York, USA. Via "The Dark Side of Christian History" by Helen Ellerbe (1995)3.

Stenger, Prof. Victor J.
(2007) God, the Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist. Published by Prometheus Books, NY, USA. Stenger is a Nobel-prize winning physicist, and a skeptical philosopher whose research is strictly rational and evidence-based.

Footnotes

  1. Stanton (1898). p337.^^^
  2. Armstrong (1986). p68-69.^^
  3. Momen (1999). p439-440.^^
  4. Armstrong (1986). Introductory page p. xi.^
  5. Armstrong (1986). Introductory page p. vii.^
  6. Eliade (1987). Volume 15 entry "Women's Studies".^^^
  7. Harris (1984). p26.^^
  8. Raine Eisler, The Chalice and the Blade (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987) 132-133. In "The Dark Side of Christian History" by Helen Ellerbe (1995)50 p8.^
  9. Starr (1991) 45. In Ellerbe (1995) p114.^
  10. Armstrong (1986). p54-55.^
  11. Armstrong (1986). p55.^
  12. Tertullian On Female Dress II,ii. In Armstrong (1986) p54-55^^
  13. Armstrong (1986). p57.^^
  14. Armstrong (1986). p56. Cites Tertullian On the Veiling of Virgins VII.^^
  15. Armstrong (1986). p58. Cites Jerome, Letter lii (to Nepotian).^^
  16. Armstrong (1986). p10-11.^
  17. Stanton (1898). p328-329.^
  18. Stanton (1898) .^^
  19. Ellerbe (1995). p8-9.^
  20. The Essene Gospel of Peace, edited and translated by Edmon Bordeaux Szekely (San Diago: Academy of Creative Living, 1971) 7. In Ellerbe (1995) p9.^
  21. Stanton (1898). p138-319.^
  22. Armstrong (1986). Quoted in chapter "The Result: Eve" p62. Also quoted by Ellerbe (1995) p136.^
  23. Armstrong (1986). p62.^
  24. Luther quote in Starr (1991) 36. In Ellerbe (1995) p99.^
  25. Ellerbe (1995). Chapter 7 "The Final Solution for Men: The Witch" p94.^
  26. Armstrong (1986). p70.^
  27. In Ellerbe (1995) p114.^
  28. Armstrong (1986). Chapter "The Final Solution for Men: The Witch" p93.^
  29. Ellerbe (1995). Chapter 8 "The Witch Hunts, 1450 - 1750 C.E." p115.^
  30. Armstrong (1986). Chapter "The Final Solution for Men: The Witch" p90.^
  31. Armstrong (1986). Chapter "The Final Solution for Men: The Witch" p88-89.^
  32. Ellerbe (1995). Chapter 8 "The Witch Hunts, 1450 - 1750 C.E." p136. quotes Barbara G. Walker in The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets published by Harper & Row, San Francisco, USA. p444.^
  33. Ellerbe (1995). Chapter 8 "The Witch Hunts, 1450 - 1750 C.E." p132.^
  34. Ellerbe (1995). Chapter 8 "The Witch Hunts, 1450 - 1750 C.E." p132,135-136.^
  35. Draper (1881). p318.^
  36. Stanton (1898). p354.^
  37. Stanton (1898). p77.^
  38. Debates April 11, 1918; 643. In www.elections.ca article "A History of the Vote in Canada" chapter 2. Accessed 2013 Dec 27.^
  39. Ellerbe (1995). Chapter 8 "The Witch Hunts, 1450 - 1750 C.E.".^
  40. Ellerbe (1995). p8.^
  41. Robinson (2006 May 29) .^
  42. Ontario Consultants for Religious Tolerance "U.S. Divorce rates" accessed 2002 Aug 23.^
  43. Stenger (2007). p194-195. Christan theologians Michael Horton and Ronald Sider are two such voices. Added to this page on 2011 May 17.^
  44. Hawthorne (2011). Author states that this is the opinion of scholars in general, regarding a variety of religions, and that the 'invisibility of women within religious traditions' is a real concern.^
  45. Armstrong (1986). P.X. She wrote that "Most religions have been male affairs and have kept women in a subordinate position".^
  46. Ruthven (2007). Chapter 4 "Controlling Women" p71.^
  47. Stanton (1898). p15.^
  48. Mumm (2001) p120-121.^
  49. Newsline (2015 Mar 08) article "Religious lobbying threatens European Parliament vote on gender equality".^
  50. Ellerbe (1995) .^

©2019 Vexen Crabtree all rights reserved.
This site uses the HTF Disclaimer (as linked here)