Feminism and the Bible – Feel Free to Comment

Original post is below, but find my first response to Annie Laurie Gaylor’s article (also below) here: Women and the Bible – Genesis 3:16, and the more responses to it here: Women and the Bible – Church Roles and here: Women and the Bible – Heroines.

A friend of mine sent me the article below (included after my comments), which accuses religion and specifically the Bible of being the main opponent to women’s rights, and the main proponent of women’s denigration. The friend who sent it to me had seen it because an acquaintance of her’s posted it. She sent it to me out of sadness, wanting to know if I would be interested in helping her refute its claims, not out of a sense of “rightness” but out of a sense of clearing God’s name. Any time I read stuff like this (whether about feminists or gay rights or any of your current hot-button issues) purporting the Bible as a tool of hatred, it hurts me. It mostly hurts because sometimes the accusations about the way people have interpreted the things the Bible says are true, and there ARE people who will take verses in the Bible and use them to undermine a woman’s worth…people who claim Christ as their Savior. People have mis-interpreted a lot of the Bible a lot of the time, but I don’t think their mistakes should be projected onto God or the Bible. My initial thought when I read my friend’s message about helping to answer this article was, “Oh, that’s going to take a lot of time.” When you get to the article below, you will see why. The article states much about historical figures and lists some Bible verses that I have never heard, and others, that I, honestly, have never myself found quite satisfactory explanations of. This is quite a task. Then I thought about my prayers to God lately, which have greatly been about wanting to follow His will and learn His ways and help to grow His agendas. I realized this was a direct, serious answer to this prayer. God, apparently, did not think I was kidding. And so, the research must begin. I was thinking about the best way to begin what seems to be such a large task, and it made me think of my boyfriend. My boyfriend is what you would call a “conspiracy theorist”, although the more you know about the things he learns, the less they seem like “conspiracies”, and the more they seem like “causes”. However, he is one of the few in that circle who presents all theories and knowledge in the light of Christianity. The conspiracy world, as a general rule, chucks God altogether. So, poor thing, he kind of gets it from both sides: the Christians think he’s crazy for his conspiracies, and the conspiracy buffs think he’s crazy for his Christianity. He gets quite a few messages asking him questions and making accusations, etc. He’s coined his responses as “neo-apologetics,” because it is apologetics in the true sense of defending the case of Christ, but taking in consideration information that most main-stream Christians have never even heard, which is necessary when dealing with people in that avenue. He has started just taking each message that he gets, researching each accusation or question, and responding in as much depth as he can to every point. It takes some time, but it also teaches him a lot. I think the same would be true with my friend and I trying to do the same with this article. I was listening to a lecture on intelligent design this morning, and the guy giving the lecture on it was saying that he finally stopped being afraid of science when he realized that every time someone gave him a scientific question from a secular viewpoint, it made him research it, and inevitably would only end up strengthening his point and his belief. He began to realize that he NEEDED the opposing viewpoint questioning him in order to not stagnate in his growth. If we respond to this sort of thing with his attitude, and with the intent not of proving someone wrong, but of proving God loving, I think we could affect a change. So, yes, I said, let’s get after it. Scary…but purposeful. Who better to combat this kind of worldview if not women within the Christian culture? C.S. Lewis says in some of his writings that if you can’t state what you believe in a clear way, then you don’t really know what you believe, or at the very least, not why you believe it. I always feel that I am completely inadequate at stating what I believe AND why, and those statements by Lewis have convicted me. Doing this will definitely aid in changing that. If anyone has any helpful information that would contribute to our understanding of how to best state the truth about God’s view of women, please feel free to comment. I just read this article about an hour ago, so my research has not yet commenced…I have ideas and a few verses in mind, but it is yet a long way to go in any structured form or finality, especially taking in consideration all of the points raised in the article. I’m sure if I read the book written by the article’s author, I would have quite a few more points to study. Ah, well…first things first. Pray for us to be open to God’s wisdom!

Here is the article:

Why Women Need Freedom From Religion
by Annie Laurie Gaylor

Organized religion always has been and remains the greatest enemy of women’s rights. In the Christian-dominated Western world, two bible verses in particular sum up the position of women:

“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.”–Genesis 3:16

By this third chapter of Genesis, woman lost her rights, her standing–even her identity, and motherhood became a God-inflicted curse degrading her status in the world.In the New Testament, the bible decrees:

“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. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.”–1 Tim. 2:11-14
One bible verse alone, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” (Exodus 22:18) is responsible for the death of tens of thousands, if not millions, of women. Do women and those who care about them need further evidence of the great harm of Christianity, predicated as it has been on these and similar teachings about women?Church writer Tertullian said “each of you women is an Eve . . . You are the gate of Hell, you are the temptress of the forbidden tree; you are the first deserter of the divine law.”Martin Luther decreed: “If a woman grows weary and at last dies from childbearing, it matters not. Let her die from bearing, she is there to do it.”Such teachings prompted 19th-century feminist Elizabeth Cady Stanton to write: “The Bible and the Church have been the greatest stumbling blocks in the way of woman’s emancipation.”

The various Christian churches fought tooth and nail against the advancement of women, opposing everything from women’s right to speak in public, to the use of anesthesia in childbirth (since the bible says women must suffer in childbirth) and woman’s suffrage. Today the most organized and formidable opponent of women’s social, economic and sexual rights remains organized religion. Religionists defeated the Equal Rights Amendment. Religious fanatics and bullies are currently engaged in an outright war of terrorism and harassment against women who have abortions and the medical staff which serves them. Those seeking to challenge inequities and advance the status of women today are fighting a massive coalition of fundamentalist Protestant and Catholic churches and religious groups mobilized to fight women’s rights, gay rights, and secular government.Why do women remain second-class citizens? Why is there a religion-fostered war against women’s rights? Because the bible is a handbook for the subjugation of women. The bible establishes woman’s inferior status, her “uncleanliness,” her transgressions, and God-ordained master/servant relationship to man. Biblical women are possessions: fathers own them, sell them into bondage, even sacrifice them. The bible sanctions rape during wartime and in other contexts. Wives are subject to Mosaic-law sanctioned “bedchecks” as brides, and male jealousy fits and no-notice divorce as wives. The most typical biblical labels of women are “harlot” and “whore.” They are described as having evil, even satanic powers of allurement. Contempt for women’s bodies and reproductive capacity is a bedrock of the bible. The few role models offered are stereotyped, conventional and inadequate, with bible heroines admired for obedience and battle spirit. Jesus scorns his own mother, refusing to bless her, and issues dire warnings about the fate of pregnant and nursing women.There are more than 200 bible verses that specifically belittle and demean women. Why should women–and the men who honor women–respect and support religions which preach women’s submission, which make women’s subjugation a cornerstone of their theology?When attempts are made to base laws on the bible, women must beware. The constitutional principle of separation between church and state is the only sure barrier standing between women and the bible.For more information about the treatment of women in the bible, read the books Woe to the Women: The Bible Tells Me So by Annie Laurie Gaylor and The Born Again Skeptic’s Guide to the Bible by Ruth Hurmence Green.



  1. zephaniah317 said,

    May 9, 2007 at 9:12 pm

    OK, no research here. Just a couple of first thoughts and feedbacks (and mostly opinion). First, a coincidence (NOT!): This Sunday (Mother’s Day), the worship team at my church is performing Keith Urban’s “God Made Woman” in honor of mothers at the beginning of the service. Look up the lyrics. Good stuff.

    Second, on the example of child-birth, it’s merely consequences of the fall, not condemnation from God, as this lady is unfortunately viewing it.

    Third, I’d suggest picking up the book “Captivating” by John and Stasi Eldredge (yes, there’s that author I recommended again, but trust me – good stuff). I haven’t read the book, but it comes highly recommended by female friends of mine. In “Wild at Heart” (same author), which was mainly aimed at guys (which I DID read), Eldredge talks about how the enemy has “brutalized” femininity from the get-go. How as a result, women in many cases become less seductive (which is how God actually wired them), and more demanding as a result of their wounding in life.

    So, what I see at first glance in the article is a woman who has probably been so damaged emotionally that she has forgotten (if she ever knew) how God wired women to be. She’s definitely seeing God and the Bible through the eyes of someone who is demanding more out of God for a woman’s role in life than God ever designed her to get. My pastor continually brings up the saying “mutual submission with deference to headship”, meaning that, yes, the man in the relationship makes the final call, but out of LOVE for the woman, not to DOMINATE her. God has a place for men and women in this world, and the woman’s place was never meant to be the SERVANT of the man, but the HELPER. And, the man’s role is to support, love, care for, and make decisions that are in the best interest of the relationship, God’s plan for her/their lives, etc.

    The Bible is not a book about demeaning women or subjecting them to slavery or stripping them of identity. When women live their lives as God originally intended, and men don’t take advantage of their submission and also submit to their wives, GREAT THINGS HAPPEN.

    Hope this helps somehow…sorry for being long-winded.

  2. Stuart said,

    May 10, 2007 at 2:29 am

    again, no research, but one thing stood out to me in the article… the verses they pick are one side of the story (and yes, a partially true side) but there is so much on the other side as well.

    The whole book of Song of Songs came into my mind… it’s a man and a woman celebrating each other. When I read this bit of their article:

    “The most typical biblical labels of women are “harlot” and “whore.” They are described as having evil, even satanic powers of allurement. Contempt for women’s bodies and reproductive capacity is a bedrock of the bible.”

    and then Song of Songs, something doesn’t add up 🙂
    Of course you still have to address the verses and points they give, but they either don’t know or choose to forget the significant portions of the Bible that DON’T scorn women.

    One more example (because I think there’s a lot but i want to be succint), they say that Jesus scorns his own mother, but forget about the abundance of others He also scorns. Very selective use of passages, i suggest…

    I love the attitude you’re bringing to this ‘assignment’. May God give us wise and honest hearts!

  3. May 21, 2007 at 11:50 pm

    […] feminism, God, Religion) So, if anyone’s wondering what’s happening with the study on Feminism and the Bible, here’s the latest.  First off, let me say that I have not gotten very far on actual […]

  4. June 15, 2007 at 10:45 pm

    […] This is my first installment of response to the article written by Annie Laurie Gaylor found in my Feminism and the Bible blog.  I have found that I am not good at writing anything short.  So, as it pertains to […]

  5. Lucettavx said,

    March 19, 2008 at 6:37 am

    i am gonna show this to my friend, brother

  6. Lucille Gayle said,

    July 6, 2008 at 2:25 am

    Once a woman marries she is under the jurisdiction of the husband. The law of this land protects the husband, not the wife. A woman, on the Oprah show,had a restraining order placed on her husband and the judge lifted that order. The husband doused the wife with gasoline and set her on fire.UNBELIEVABLE I feel that it is about time to protect ourselves from abuses of every kind. Man is not loving or kind. It is now time for GENDER EQUALITY.

  7. tastethesea said,

    July 6, 2008 at 9:31 am

    Thank you for your comment. I have actually seen that episode of Oprah’s show, and I just wanted you to know that I fully agree with you, and I in no way support gender IN-equality. My heart goes out to that woman and the countless others who have experienced similar injustice. I hope you could capture that from my writings. I acknowledge that governments and societies have horrifically discriminated for years against minorities in general, not just women, and that this discrimination continues today. My writings on this subject are only meant to show that the Christian faith is not the cause of it. The twisting of this faith by individuals is notorious, and they have used it to advance their own agendaa. This certainly happens to the detriment of women and many of these same minorities, but Jesus himself would never have condoned these actions. My belief is that true equality is achieved through actually applying the precepts of Christianity, and that this equality does not require a woman to enter a “man’s world” in order to prove her worth. She may enter it, but that should be secondary. Her importance and equality should be established by her being recognized as a valuable member of the human race whether she chooses to or not. My hope is that all women would be esteemed and respected and treated with the love God intended for them to be, whatever role they may be in.

  8. July 19, 2008 at 2:36 am

    […] the accusations in an article by Annie Laurie Gaylor, which can be found in the following post: Feminism and the Bible. My first installment can be found here: Women and the Bible – Genesis 3:16. I’ll be the […]

  9. July 19, 2008 at 8:53 am

    […] Feminism and the Bible […]

  10. July 30, 2008 at 9:56 pm

    […] Feminism and the Bible […]

  11. sandrar said,

    September 10, 2009 at 8:21 am

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

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