Broad Strokes Paint Poor Portraits

I know this has been happening since time immemorial, but in the past year, I have been increasingly disappointed by seemingly rational people casting wide, sweeping generalizations of all sorts over all types, classes, races, religions, and genders of people. The Left is ________. The Right is ________. Gay people are ________. Evangelicals are ________. Millenials are ________. Gen Xers are ________. Men are ________. Women are ________. Feminists are ________. White males are ________. Black Lives Matter are ________. Police are ________. Christians are ________. Muslims are ________.

Things, unfortunately, are not that simple. I think viewing the world through the filter of Facebook has made it feel like a growing epidemic because 95% (this is not a real statistic) of the people on the internet say things that they would never say if even one human being from whatever populace they are discussing were standing in front of them. And therein lies the problem.

Broad strokes paint poor portraits. Anytime you try to categorize people, shove them into a box, make them fit whatever stereotype helps you make sense of the world, you are distorting them as individuals.

Because each of these groups of people is made up of hundreds of thousands of individuals who have hopes and dreams and mostly want good things just like you do. Whether they agree with what good is or go about getting it the same way you do is not the question. Disagreement does not even come into play in this discussion. We’re not discussing ideologies, but humanity and the intrinsic worth and complicated emotions and desires that come with it.

Portraits are unique and distinct. They are nuanced and shadowed and, in good ones, there is something intangible that helps you almost feel like you know the person portrayed. If you could look at the details, the histories, the loves, and the fears of each individual within any person your world view has tried to turn into a cliche, you would find a soul just as worthy as your own.

Our broad strokes are embarrassing. It is like drawing a stick figure and saying it is the spitting image of everyone in whichever subset you are discussing. This is not only rude; it is illogical. It is the thing children do when they are afraid. We are scrawling children’s drawings on people’s faces and turning them into boogeymen instead of human souls.

I am completely aware that some people fit stereotypes. That’s why they exist. But only the ignorant actually judge people by them. Because there are many, many more who do NOT fit the blanket categorization applied to them. No person is just one thing. They are infinite worlds unto themselves that we will never be able to fully comprehend.

Portraits are not something you create overnight. You must be engaged with someone in order to see them fully – to see them around corners and in the dark, behind doors and when the curtain is pulled back. It’s not always pretty, but let’s refrain from painting over three-dimensional people with our flat preconceived notions.

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Women and the Bible – Heroines?

Prior posts on Feminism and the responses to Annie Laurie Gaylor’s article (the article can be found in the first link):

Feminism and the Bible

Women and the Bible – Genesis 3:16

Women and the Bible – Church Roles

In continuing with my discussion on Gaylor’s article, I’m not necessarily going to work in the order of the questions she raises. I find that my adherence to attempting to follow something letter for letter too often results in my not completing a task at all, since what I want to do at that moment (or for this task, what I want to answer) is too far down on the list for me to feel motivated. This is not to say that I am still not planning on attempting to respond to all of the points in question; just that I may skip around a bit, instead of taking Gaylor’s points sequentially from her article.

This post is in response to a statement that she makes about the heroines of the Bible in general. Her quote: “The few [female] 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.”

I’ll be honest here – I’m not sure what Gaylor wants from a heroine. I find a wide variety of heroic female figures in the Bible, and would honestly like to hear how she is able to discount each of them as not worthy of being considered an adequate heroic figure. Also, her assertion that there are “female role models” in the Bible concedes that the Bible does esteem some women. They just don’t happen to be esteemed for something that she wants them to be esteemed for. Now, she has put herself into a difficult position. Because it would seem that she has asserted that women are only worth of being venerated when they fit her mold of heroism, and therefore any respect from the Bible for anything not deemed heroic by her own assessment should be completely disregarded. The truth is that different people find different qualities estimable. Apparently, Gaylor does not believe that 1) obedience and 2) battle spirit are worthy characteristics at all. And this does not even speak to the fact that, as I mentioned above, there are many more qualities than just these two attributed to female figures in the Bible. So, we can agree, by her own assertion, that none of these women have met Gaylor’s requirements for a woman worthy to be recognized as a role model. This seems to indicate that Gaylor’s own opinions of what it takes to be a respected woman are much higher than the Bible’s, and that if I can only find qualities in myself that are found in the Biblical heroines, then she would discount me, as well.

I am going through and listing women that are looked up to and praised in the Bible as well as a few women that were just treated well in general. I will include the Biblical reference, but not necessarily the text, as I’m sure my post will be long enough as it is, and putting in the entire books of Esther and Ruth seems like it would be overkill. So, I will give a very brief synopsis of the woman’s story, and list some qualities I recognize in her. This is not to say that my list will be comprehensive. Feel free to contact me with more if you see something or someone I left out.

  • Rahab (several times in Joshua 2; Matthew 1 – genealogy of Jesus; Hebrews 11:31 – woman of faith; James 2:25 – for good works) – a harlot who helped the Israelite spies when they entered Jericho. Because of her actions, she and her entire household was spared when Jericho was destroyed. I have to mention a little more about this story. Gaylor also discusses in her article how women are frequently referred to as harlots. “Harlot” in the case of Rahab is not derogatory, in the sense that she is not being judged or condemned in the text. In fact, it is telling us of her bravery, faith and good works. Not to mention that she ends up being one of Jesus’ forbears. Note that harlotry itself is condemned by the Bible, but so are many other acts that are committed by people who go on to become remembered as heroes and leaders in the Bible. In this case, is simply stating the fact that she is a prostitute. Nowhere in the text about Rahab does it demean her – quite the opposite. The Bible is not a book about perfect people. In fact, I find only one perfect person in it, and that is Jesus, who is the only one acknowledged to be perfect. Instead, the Bible is a book about how imperfect people are not a lost cause, and we see this theme occur time after time in its pages. It’s a story of redemption, and that redemption is open to ALL people. So, any time the Bible does mention someone’s sin, it should be understood that redemption and forgiveness is offered to them. It is their choice to accept it or not. If you doubt this was the case before Jesus’ coming, Rahab is the perfect example. She was a foreigner and a notable sinner, but was granted safety, forgiveness, and ended up in the lineage of the Son of God – hardly discriminatory.
  • Deborah (Judges 4 & 5) – she prophesied and went into battle in order to defeat an enemy of her people. She showed courage, discernment and faith.
  • Jael (Judges 4 & 5) – killed an enemy battle chief, in order to aid the Israelites. She showed courage, ingenuity and initiative.
  • Ruth (The Book of Ruth) – who took care of her mother-in-law with no apparent thought to her own comfort. She showed loyalty, unselfishness, faith, initiative, perseverance and diligence.
  • Hannah (I Samuel 1 and 2) – was barren and prayed to God for a child, promising that she would dedicate the child to the service of God. God answered, and blessed her with five more children. She showed faith, integrity and gratitude.
  • Abigail (I Samuel 25) – righted a wrong that her husband had committed. Her action also kept David from shedding unnecessary blood. She showed courage, wisdom, good judgment, fairness, honesty, humility and foresight.
  • Esther (The Book of Esther) – who saved the Israelite people from death due to a government conspiracy. She showed courage, composure, faith and patience.
  • Mary, the mother of Jesus (namely: Matthew 1 and 2, Luke 1 and 2) – was willing to undertake public disgrace in order to allow Christ to be born to her. She showed courage, peace and humility.
  • The Bleeding Woman (Matthew 9:20-22; Mark 5:25-34; Luke 8:43-48 ) – a woman who had been suffering a bleeding illness for twelve years simply touched Jesus’ robe, and was immediately healed. Jesus, sensing someone had touched him, told her that her faith had made her well.
  • Mary Magdalene (Matthew 27:56&61; Matthew 28:1; Mark 15:40&47; Mark 16:9; Luke 8:2; Luke 24:10; John 19:25; several times in John 20) – Jesus freed her from demonic possession and she was a faithful follower from then on. She showed loyalty, gratitude and the heart of a servant.
  • Mary, Martha’s sister (Luke 10; John 11) – was praised for prioritizing correctly. I have to expound a little bit here as well, and say that the Luke 10 story of Mary and her sister Martha is big relief to me. I think that most women, in general, have a tendency to do – to work and work and always have a list and never feel like everything is complete enough to stop and rest. This story is like permission. It’s not only permission, but stopping to take the time to rest, learn and replenish my spirit is required and respected, whether I think everything is complete or not. Martha was in the kitchen preparing things for Jesus. Presumably, Jesus was willing to do without whatever she was preparing to serve him in order to allow her time to rest and learn. This is a great story about the essence of what Christianity is as opposed to what we have made it. It’s not all about us and how hard we need to work for God. It’s about loving Him, receiving His love and listening to what He says to us.
  • The Samaritan Woman (John 4) – Jesus reached out to this woman when there were three reasons others would not have: 1) she was a Samaritan and Jews did not associated with Samaritans (the woman herself even asks Jesus about this, 2) she was a woman, and the disciples wondered him talking with her when they came back out from the city and 3) she was living in sin, as Christians would call it today, having been married five times, and now living with a man who was not her husband.
  • Priscilla (Acts 18; Romans 16:3; I Corinthians 16:3&19) – was a respected fellow worker with Paul, and referred to as such.
  • Elizabeth (Luke 1) – referred to as a righteous and blameless woman and conceived John the Baptist when she was apparently well past child-bearing age.
  • The Crippled Woman (Luke 13:10-17) – Jesus healed a woman who had been crippled for 18 years. He healed her on the Sabbath day and was reprimanded by the church leaders, whom Jesus answered in turn by calling him a hypocrite for thinking the rules of the law were stronger than the compassion of love – another cry against the idea of false religious piety. For as Jesus said in Mark 12:29-31, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
  • The Adulterous Woman (John 8 ) – a woman caught in adultery was being stoned. Jesus stepped in and stopped those stoning her, asking which of them was sinless. OK, time for another tangent. This is an illustration of Jesus’ points in the Matthew 7:1-5 (and similarly in Luke 6:37-42) where he states:

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

It’s people who have decided to take the job of judgment on; God says we are supposed to leave it to him. Humans were never meant to. The consequences we receive when God is the judge are always just; it’s people who are to blame for all of the shameful acts perpetrated by Christians down through the years:

You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 19:18 )

“To me belongeth vengeance and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.” (Deuteronomy 32:35)

  • The Sinful Woman (Luke 7:36-50) – this woman was apparently a notorious sinner – that’s how she was described – and she came to Jesus to wash his feet with expensive oil and humble herself by drying them with her hair while she wept, presumably from guilt. When Jesus heard someone speaking against this display, he spoke up and defended her. In this defense, he again points out the false religion of the hypocritical church leaders, and stresses the poignancy of forgiveness.

Now, let’s move on to the next point where Gaylor states that Jesus “scorns his own mother, refusing to bless her.” On this one, I’m not sure exactly what she is referring to. The only thing in the Bible that I know if that can be even construed to mean something close to this is Luke 11:27&28 which says, “As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, ‘Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.’ He replied, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.’” If this IS the passage she is talking about, I would say it’s a far cry from Jesus refusing to bless his mother. It is more of a call to the correct perspective. He is saying that someone is not blessed because of a position they hold or because of their particular importance to you; a person is blessed because of their faithfulness to God. You cannot be innately “blessed” simply because of something that you happen to be; it’s a responsibility you must uphold that provides the consequence of your blessedness…or not. In these verses, Jesus does not even say that Mary is not blessed. He is simply using the moment to clarify what “blessedness” really means.

Gaylor goes on to say that Jesus issues dire warnings about the fate of pregnant and nursing women. I am also not quite sure exactly what references she is talking about here. I do find in Mark 13:37 when it is discussing the tribulation in the end times that it says, “But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days!” If Gaylor meant what she said about it being a “warning,” then I agree with her. The entire chapter is a warning to all people. If you read the rest of Mark 13, you would indeed never want to be a pregnant or nursing mother during those occurrences. However, I think she is trying to intimate that this is a threat. But He does not say, “Woe to you because you are pregnant or nursing.” He is simply stating a fact. Whatever is hard for anyone during those times will inevitably be harder for pregnant woman and those with nursing babies. I’m not sure how this is a reflection on what he thinks about women in general.

If anyone finds my information incorrect or my logic lacking, please let me know. My only desire with these thoughts is to defend a loving God against the common misconceptions about Him. I’d love to hear thoughts.

 

Women and the Bible – Church Roles

If anyone remembers, a friend of mine and I took on the task of combating the accusations in an article by Annie Laurie Gaylor, which can be found in the following post: Feminism and the Bible. I’ll be the first to admit that both of us got seriously side-tracked from this project, as you can see from the date of that post, a little over one year ago. I could make excuses, but I won’t. Let’s just work on into the article by Gaylor.

Other posts related to this issue:

Women and the Bible – Genesis 3:16

Women and the Bible – Heroines?

After her comments on Genesis 3:16, and the consequences for women she based on this, which I covered one of the the posts listed above, the next issue Gaylor brings up is I Timothy 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. For Adam was first formed, then Eve, and Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.”

Ouch. Admittedly, that is one of the most difficult Scriptures pertaining to women in the entire Bible, and I am not going to pretend to have the definitive answer on its meaning. I have read commentaries and conjectures on what it may mean based on cultural interpretations, but I have not heard anyone (who was credible and whose logic was viable) who gave an explanation of it, claiming to have the final word. Pretending like you understand something just so that you have an argument to present does not make you look more intelligent, nor does it grant any redemption to your viewpoint. Everyone sees through conjecture, and so I am not going to do it. I will state some facts, give some opinions, and try to delineate between the two.

What I believe it does NOT mean is this: that a woman is to sit quietly and never speak in church because she has nothing to offer. The two main reasons for this belief are this: 1) the literal translations of some of the words and 2) inferences from other Scriptures.

The literal definition of the word used for silence used in both instances in this verse means something more like desistance from bustle or language; peaceable, undisturbed. The connotation is one that is more of resting, being still and teachable rather than just keeping your mouth shut.

Bear in mind that it also says, “But I suffer not a woman to…usurp authority over the man….” That’s kind of a no-brainer. It’s a pretty Biblical precept that one is not to usurp authority at all. The definition of the Greek word used there is this: to act of onself; dominate. If you have not read my post on Genesis 3:16, now would be a good time. In it, I discuss a portion of the consequences of sin that are listed in that passage. The woman’s “desire” for her husband in that passage is an unhealthy “stretching out after” (literal definition), and by giving in to the nature of pride that Satan exploited in Eve’s deception, it seeks to elevate one’s own self over another by control or domination. That “stretching out after” has occurred in our broken system from then until this day, and is wrong no matter who the perpetrator is.

I mention that many people often use cultural interpretations to explain this passage away, but this does not mean we should not look at it through the appropriate cultural lens. We should simply never use it as a means to twist what is there. I do believe that the discussion of “submission” in the I Timothy passage should be viewed through this cultural lens. The education of women common in that day was severely lacking. Most women who were not in the aristocracy were only given a lower education, and that was basically focused on learning the duties attributed to wifedom or on the things they needed to know in order to educate their own children in basic knowledge or sometimes in something that could be turned into a trade. Even the education for the women in the aristocracy, though somewhat different, was focused on educating them for the purpose of being more satisfying partners for their husbands, studying things such as literature and music. Though their studies extended longer than the lower classes, it still ended far before their male counterparts, and left out education innately for the respect of a woman’s intellect. So, the discussion of women learning at all in I Timothy is a statement that women should be allowed to continue their education, giving no stipulations as to age or status or the purpose it would serve to men. So, while distasteful to us, it was probably necessary for the women to “learn in submission” at this time, being less educated than the men doing the teaching. They had some catching up to do. Perhaps this was part of the problem being addressed – that the women, though not considered inferior, were less knowledgeable, and trying to take over teaching before they were sufficiently prepared. Admittedly, there is some conjecture in this paragraph, and I could never represent this theory as fact. It is, however, a logical deduction based on the times.

Let’s also speak to the fact that if the author of I Timothy was speaking to the lack in the women’s education, this does not mean that he was stating that the less educated have less rights. A child is less educated than an adult, but may, in fact, be far smarter than said adult, and no one would say that a child should have less rights; just that their rights are more supervised until the time they are learned and mature enough to be responsible with them. Anyone in a learning stage on any particular subject needs supervision in order to grow.

I think it is also important to note that God does not view importance and worth in the same way we do. I Corinthians 1:27 states, “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.” It also says in Luke 14:11, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted,” and in Matthew 20:16, “So the last shall be first, and the first last….” We should be able to recognize that in the Bible, most of the figures that God uses to do mighty works are in the most unlikely of vessels – weak, broken, sinful. As Christians our place is to humble ourselves, regardless of gender. And by this, I mean not attempt to assert our own importance over another’s. Unfortunately, that is not in our human nature. But, honestly, women have the advantage here, being, albeit unjustly, pressed down by most societies, we are more readily open to being the humble vessel God can use, unless we let this brew bitterness in us instead of true humility. We can still stand up for what God has called us to (and more successfuly so!) without becoming embittered, angry and defensive.

I cannot move on without addressing the verses preceding the portion that Gaylor included in her article. Verses 9 and 10 of I Timothy 2 speak to a woman’s modesty: “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array. But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.”

Just to clear something up before continuing, “shamefacedness” here means something like awe or reverence. One can infer fairly conclusively from this passage that the women were attempting to substitute high fashion for good works. If this were the case, it would obviously be distracting to an atmosphere of learning, and would further validate the need for their subjection mentioned in verse 11. The writer of I Timothy could have simply been trying to get their priorities straight.

So, you viewed I Timothy 2:11&12 based on these views, in modern English, it would read something more like this:

Let the woman learn, undisturbed, with humility. But do not allow a woman to teach taking authority away from a man, but to learn in peace.

And though this will be unpopular, I will reiterate what I spoke in my discussion on Genesis 3:16. I do believe that there is an order of authority that God intended, and we broke it with our choice to step outside of His will, which also takes us outside of His protection. I believe wives are actually to be in submission to their husbands, but not in that pandering, servant-like way that we imagine today. Their submission is first to God, and the submission to their husbands is a responsibility of helping. God says in Genesis 2:15 that He is making Adam a “help-meet”, which means counterpart or to view from the other side. It does not say anything about servant. God wanted Adam to have someone who could look at the other side of things along with him, challenge him, encourage him. And again, if you understand what God asks of husbands, which is to “love your wives even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25) and to “love their wives as their own bodies” (Ephesians 5:28). Submission hold absolutely no fear when you are submitting to someone who loves you in this manner. It is not a punishment, but a gift of love, a gift of someone who is commanded to love you more than he loves himself. And based on this explanation, I maintain that even if the passage is referring to submission, it is not the kind of submission you have any reason to be offended at.

Let’s move on to verses 13 and 14 of this passage. I will also be including verse 15, as I believe they are all needed in order to grasp a few important things.

“For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.”

So, “Adam was first formed.” What does this mean for us? I don’t, personally, think it means much. I could be wrong, but I just think it means that he was formed first. It may have something to do with the order of authority I mentioned above (which in the Biblical sense is in NO way discriminatory), but “first” should never be confused with “better”. Going back to the adult/child reference, is an adult “better” than a child because they came first? Not in the sense of being more important, that’s for sure. The adult may be better at playing chess or better at balancing a checkbook, but “better” in the sense of a higher being, no. So, men may be better at some things than women, but women are also better at some things than men. And “first” is just first.

I think now is a good time to integrate the meanings of “equal” and “same”, as well. Our society, as a whole, confuses the two. People think that because someone may be different, they deserve less – or more – rights. Different is feared and looked down upon. Therefore, our tendency is to try to make everything equal by making it the same. This is a huge mistake. Women should not have to prove their worth as people by showing how like men they can be, and this is, if I may interject an opinion, what the feminist movement encouraged. It maintains that women should be treated equals, and tried to attain this goal by proving that women can do everything that men can do. This does not heighten the importance of women, but simply creates more man-like figures in the world. It is, in a sense, stating that women are innately less important, but answering to that something like, “But, look! If we do all of the things that men can do, we can make ourselves just as important!” I maintain that women should be treated as equals because they are human, not because they are the same. Because they are not the same. No one can, in reality, pretend that they are. I am not trying to imply that they should be limited in their pursuits by outside forces denying them rights and privileges, because they are “different” and not suited for some tasks. This is what discrimination does, as a whole, to any minority. I am, however, stating that a woman’s nature is something beautiful that should be taken into consideration when life decisions are being made, and that this choice has actually been taken away by the feminist movement. I agree that women should be allowed to join the work force, and that before the feminist movement, this was unjustifiably looked down upon. However, the end result is that women, by and large, no longer have the option to choose. Most families require both incomes for a family to manage their finances. The women who do not feel the emotional need to enter the workforce and have a desire to care for a family instead are largely denied that option, resulting in many women who are over-worked, dissatisfied and under excessive stress. The “equality” we have gained is not equality, as statistics will show. Even in two parent homes where both parents work full-time, the most recent figures from the University of Wisconsin’s National Survey of Families and Households show that the wife does 31 hours of housework a week, while the husband does only 14. That’s hardly equal in my book. Note that the men have never pushed for the same type of “equality” that women did, which entails the “privilege” of taking over all of the opposing gender’s responsibilities. I would have been happy to stick to my own responsibilities, thanks. The point is that both roles are necessary. One person was never meant to have to do the work that was intended for two, and without roles or “job descriptions”, no union, relationship or business runs smoothly. You can redefine the job descriptions as you like to suit personal preferences in your own marriage and family life, but there still must be roles, and “equal” as “same” has simply muddied the waters.

I got a little off track there, so let’s get back to the Bible. Moving on to I Timothy 2:14, “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.” This verse cannot be used to imply that Adam did not transgress, because he did, and was given the consequences of his choice, just like Eve was. In fact, if you look at it logically, is it not worse to choose to sin knowingly, rather than being deceived into thinking it is a good idea? Eve had a good excuse; Adam just followed the crowd.

And then we are up to Verse 15, “Notwithstanding she shall be saved [preserved, healed, made whole] in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.” Verses 13, 14 and 15 when taken in context with one another are obviously sort of a shadow referring to Genesis 3, because he incorporates the fall, and then the woman’s consequence because of it. However, the writer is explaining that the consequence can be undone and redeemed. He is, in no way stating that women must have babies in order to be granted salvation in the Kingdom of God. He is stating that despite the transgression, childbearing does not have to be thought of as that negative consequence, but that a woman will be preserved in it through her faith and love and holiness and sobriety or “soundness of mind”. He is encouraging women not to revel in their misfortune, but to grow in God’s truth, and redeem their circumstances. He could just as easily say the same thing to men about their travail in the work world – and He does, in more generic terms all throughout. “Wherefore we labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:9) If we do labor, man in work or woman through childbirth (referring back to the consequences in Genesis 3), if we do it for Him, the burden of it is lifted. Verse 15 is a promise, not a punishment.

And now that we have worked our way through my commentary on the verses, I will list some Bible verses from which we can determine what I Timothy 2 does not mean.

Judges 4 and 5 – Deborah is identified as a prophetess and listed as a judge over Israel and even goes to battle. This is most definitely a position of authority, and she was respected enough by the leader of the battle (Barak) that he said he would not go into battle unless she would accompany him. I am uncertain whether she actually fought in the battle.

Acts 18:26 – Aquila and his wife Priscilla are equally mentioned as instructing a pastor named Apollos more perfectly in the way of God.

Acts 21:9 – in which four young women prophesied (defined as: “speaking from inspiration”), so, clearly, speaking is allowed.

Romans 16:1 – Phebe is referred to as a minister or deaconess, using the feminine form of the same word used to refer to male deacons, so she was even serving in a position.

Romans 16:3 – Aquila and his wife Priscilla are addressed equally as Paul’s helpers, which is translated “fellow worker”, which denotes no lower connotation for Priscilla.

I Corinthians 11:5 – This verse addresses the apparel of a woman, and is a disputed passage among some denominations. However, it clearly states that a woman will be praying and prophesying in church.

Galatians 3:28 – I will quote this one, as it is more of a broad statement than a specific example of one thing. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” If this verse does not promote equality on all faces, I don’t know what would.

I think this will do for now. I will end with the repeated disclaimer that I am not the final word on any of this. This knowledge and these opinions have been gathered from various sources, and I have attempted to represent everything as accurately as I can.

My closing thoughts are as follows: Through other verses and reading, I still have some idea that there may be limits to the leadership roles a woman should take. However, I have not found anything that can clearly delineate what these limits may entail. There are so many times when women were the vessels through which Christ was made known, and the Great Commission is clearly for every believer. Here, Jesus commands: Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you….” (Matthew 28: 19-20)

What I do whole-heartedly believe is that if there are, in fact, limitations, viewed from God’s point of view, they are not meant as restrictions, but as gifts, much in the way that submission to someone who loves you above his own well-being would be no sacrifice.

Women and the Bible – Genesis 3:16

This is my first installment of response to the article written by Annie Laurie Gaylor found in my Feminism and the Bible blog. (The second installment can be found .)I have found that I am not good at writing anything short. So, as it pertains to Gaylor’s very first issue, I have written a very succinct nine page response. There will be more installments to follow in time. I also can’t claim exclusive rights to the ideas in this blog; many of the best points were unearthed in discussion and debate with others whom I respect.

Other related posts:

Women and the Bible – Church Roles

Women and the Bible – Heroines?

I know I don’t have all of this together. I feel like I have barely even scratched the surface on researching this, but I have solidified some mindsets that I was not certain of before. I will warn readers that I am going to be treating the validity of Christianity as a fact because I believe it to be one. Besides this, because the accusations made were directed at the Bible and Christianity, I must, logically, use the Bible and the tenets of Christianity to refute them. I cannot use a different philosophy to refute this philosophy. If the refutation of it cannot be found within itself, then there is no refutation. Therefore, I will probably make some points that people who are not believers will think inadequate because they depend on the character of God, the truth of the Bible and the action of Jesus’ death and resurrection as it pertains to redemptive power. The proofs of these issues would be entirely different subjects. If their validity is in question, then there is no reason to even be interested in this discussion. Who would care what the Bible has to do with women if the whole Bible is invalid to begin with? The point then would be simply to invalidate the Bible itself, and all doctrines that you believe to be false within it would follow. My point is that this argument is simply a response to Annie Laurie Gaylor’s accusation that the Bible and organized religion have almost solely propagated women’s oppression. Her references to organized religion seem almost exclusively focused on the Christian faith, so that is where the focus will lie.

First, I would like to point out that in the opening statements of her article: “Why Women Need Freedom from Religion,” Gaylor gives us two verses. She believes that these verses sum up the Bible’s position on women. There are literally hundreds of verses that mention women and groups of women generically and even more if you take into consideration events and happenings recorded about specific women. The Bible is a large, complex work, and there are many more verses that would have to be taken into consideration before you would be able to “sum up” its position on women. In addition to this, she states that there are over 200 verses in the Bible that belittle and demean women. She does not cite these references in the article. Perhaps she does in her book. I would like to know which verses she is referring to and see them in their context. I can’t respond to the “200 verses” if I don’t have the list. However, when I get down to this section of her article, I do plan on looking at each and every verse that I can find referencing women, and doing a comparative study of these verses. Based on the rate of study I am following now, this will come at a much later date, but it will come, nonetheless. In any case, I am responding here only to the first specific charge she made in her article.

Now, I’m not a Hebrew scholar. I’ve tried to research the words in these verses in my handy Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, which lists every time every word is used in the Bible, shows the actual original word used, whether in Hebrew or Greek and all of the interpretations for this specific word. I have also tried to research interpretations by those who ARE Hebrew and Greek scholars and have looked at various commentaries. I pray that nothing I state is false. I ask that you will also pray over all of the information I disseminate here in a spirit of discernment, and hope that you would take the time to do your own study for any verification or rebuttal. II Timothy 2:15 (WEB) says, “Study to show thyself approved to God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Please do this, because God is the final authority.

We’re dealing with Gaylor’s first point of contention in this segment – Genesis 3:16: “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.” (KJV) Gaylor’s take on this is that it is a curse, and that by the third chapter of the first book of the Bible, it has taken away a woman’s rights, standing and identity, and that motherhood was given as a part of this curse. Now, the truth is, I partially agree with her in the aspect that women lost much of their true standing and identity. However, I believe the same is true for the men. Sin, by nature, does this automatically…not because of any “curse,” but because it is propagated by Satan, the Father of Lies, whom the Bible says comes to “steal, and to kill and to destroy.” (John 10:10, WEB)

Let me point out that in the actual text of Genesis, the word “curse” is only used when referring to the serpent and the ground. God does not use this word when, after cursing the serpent, He then turns to Adam and Eve. All of His animosity was directed at the deceiver, and then He turns his attention to the plight of the victims of this deceit. This is not to minimize their guilt, but it is more like God is stating the consequences for their behavior. We have to understand that Adam and Eve had been forewarned that disobeying God’s one rule would have some negative results. They did not heed the warning, thereby “activating” their own punishment. You could argue that eating the fruit off of a certain tree does not seem like ample cause for these consequences, but if you study the text, you come to understand that the sin was a combination of things, including, namely, pride – a pride that made them believe God was withholding knowledge from them for the purpose of limiting their potential. They wanted to elevate their status in relation to Him.

I want to talk just for a moment about the concept of pride I am discussing, because it comes up again later, and I don’t want my intent misconstrued because of any lack of clarification. This concept encompasses the entire human race, and I am in no way saying that it is specific to women. When I say that pride is negative, I do not mean that women (or the entire population) should go around groveling in self-effacement. I also do not mean that measures should not be taken to return our society to the system of equality God designed it for. The real oppression of any people group should be combated with perseverance. What I am speaking of is that particular pride that seeks our own good at the expense of someone else’s. It is not wrong to want good for ourselves, but it is wrong when the want for the good is simply based on comparison and the desire to be ranked higher than someone else. It is not wrong to want to win, but it is wrong to extend beyond that to hoping that someone else loses. The Bible says to “love your neighbor as yourself.” (Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 19:19, Matthew 22:39 and others, NIV) This is what we have lost, and anything opposite to this concept gives the negative context of pride that I am trying to get across. There are all sorts of ways pride is misused in our society, but here I just wanted to touch on what I mean when I speak of it.

Back to the point, I do not think that God suddenly turned on Adam and Eve because of their disobedience, and pronounced this evil curse in response. I believe that there are natural consequences designed for all evils so that there will be boundaries we can recognize. These are not boundaries for controlling or containing us, but boundaries designed for our own safety and happiness – like a fence around your yard so that your children do not run out into the street. You put it there on purpose, because you love them; you want them to be able to see the fence and know that within the fence they are safe, but that outside the fence there are dangers such as busy streets and strange dogs, etc. You would never will that your child walk outside the fence and get hurt. You would also hope that no evil stranger comes along and convinces them that you are limiting them and trying to keep them down by telling them to stay within this fence. You would be devastated if your child believed a stranger telling them these lies, exited the confines of this fence and was hurt in the process. And in the case of the evil stranger, you would undoubtedly be aware that he wanted to lure your children out of their safety so that he could harm them. This was Satan’s plan; the fence God set up was impenetrable to him, but once God’s children willingly stepped outside of it, we put ourselves in direct danger as it relates to all evil. Just as God warned of the negative consequences that would result from Adam and Eve’s disobedience, you would have warned your child of the dangers outside of the fence. God gave us the fence in order to safeguard us against these dangers. This verse is just God’s explanation of the jeopardy in the street – the street that His children had knowingly walked out into the middle of. I believe that He was greatly saddened by Adam and Eve’s actions, as any parent would be.

Now, there are times in the Bible where it seems that God adds His own extra punishments to evil, such as the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and the plagues on the Egyptians for not releasing the Israelites from captivity, etc. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen; just saying that it is the exception and not the rule of the natural laws of action and reaction that God set up as it correlates to sin and its consequences.

Continuing with this concept, I definitely believe that sin produces its own consequences. There will be some who believe that this is not true. To put my explanation as succinctly as possible, I believe that God put all of our physical laws into effect with these natural fences set up, as I said, to guide us by showing us that when we go outside of them, things don’t go so well. When you overeat, you get fat or you get heart disease or diabetes. When you do drugs, your health and your mind begin to deteriorate. When you are selfish, you have trouble in your relationships. These things are not cruel punishments from God. They are the obvious, natural consequences of misbehavior, and my belief system is formed on the foundation that almost all consequences fall into this same category. This is not to say that all consequences are repercussions of our own misdeeds. Unfortunately, as John Donne stated in his famous quote, “No man is an island.” I’m afraid that you can suffer for my misdeeds and vice versa.

OK, let’s get back to what Eve’s consequences actually are. (We will briefly cover Adam’s further on, but since this is a rebuttal to an accusation relating to women, we will obviously concentrate on Eve’s portion.) I’ll begin with the bit about children: “I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children…” (KJV) Now, the original Hebrew words used for sorrow here (two different words are used in the one verse) can both be interpreted pain. I see no contradiction in God’s character simply because pain (in whatever capacity) is a consequence of sin. I happen to believe that all pain (and death: Romans 6:23) is a direct result of sin. Pain or discomfort in the process and condition of pregnancy or in the act of childbirth is just a segment of this – a segment that happens to be exclusive to the woman.

To begin discussing this, I think I need to first go back to the curse given to the serpent. It states that “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” (NKJV) This “Seed of Woman” mentioned is not only speaking of her offspring generically; it is also the first prophecy of Jesus coming in the form of the virgin birth (also prophesied in Isaiah 7:14). It says, “HE shall bruise your [the serpent’s] head.” (NKJV) So, although, the woman was deceived and she sinned, in the curse on the serpent, God immediately states that the He will ultimately defeat Satan and the repercussions of Satan’s deceit and this victory will come through the woman. She has a share in her own redemption, in a sense. Note that the man is not given any part in this share. Motherhood is not given as a curse, but becomes the path to redemption for all mankind.

In her article, Gaylor states, “Contempt for women’s bodies and reproductive capacity is a bedrock of the bible.” (I will touch on this more later, but I just have to breeze over it now because it is such a key element in this prophecy and the fulfillment of this prophecy.) If the reproductive capacity was so contemptuous to God, I doubt He would have sent His Son, Jesus down through ONLY a woman, using her reproductive system. After all, He could, seemingly, have sent Jesus down here as a grown man or used any other method He so desired; any method you can imagine. But, He didn’t. He sent Him down singly using the role of motherhood. Pain in pregnancy or in childbirth, although I have never experienced it, cannot be compared to the value of being the tool through which God would send the Savior of the World (I John 4:14). Even if this pain is a direct result of God’s anger, I still maintain that it is a pain given for our ultimate redemption. As a parent sometimes must make decisions that seem cruel to a wayward child, knowing that in the end it is the only way the child will learn, God allows us the difficulties our decisions have afforded us as a tool in order to bring us back to the relationship with Him that He designed us for. We may not be able to comprehend how this particular pain will ensure our eventual good, but there are not many children who can understand every punishment he or she is given. As it states in Psalm 30:5, “For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (ESV) This verse is also very parallel to the act of childbirth. I have heard, more times than I can recall, that the joy you feel at the first glimpse of your child makes all of the pain of labor worth suffering, and the Bible even spells out this exact scenario out in John 16:21: “A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come, but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.” (NKJV) There is another verse that is a picture of this prophetic concept as it relates to Jesus. Psalm 126:6 says, “He that goes forth weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.” (RSV) I am aware that the verse says “He,” but believe this is not exclusive of women, and simply the literary style. The woman is given the bearing of this seed in sorrow, but in the end the result of it is salvation and the foundation for survival and redemption. Christ is called the “Bread of Life.” (John 6:35, John 6:48 and John 6:51) The seed, sown in labor, is harvested and turned into the bread that sustains us eternally.

Beyond the physical pain discussed in this verse, I believe that Adam and Eve’s consequences encompass another type of sorrow. Before they sinned, everything was in harmony; every relationship was in harmony. Afterwards, everything had (and still has, because we have all continued to follow in their footsteps) the capacity for evil, which is naturally divisive. Any good mother will tell you that watching your children make poor decisions, even just knowing that they could possibly make a poor decision, is one of the hardest things for a mother to bear. There is a constant, nagging fear and worry over how your children will live their lives. And if (when) they do make bad choices, it rips a mother’s heart out to have to watch. This is definite sorrow, but it is also a natural consequence of introducing the capacity for sin into the world.

On to the next phrase of Genesis 3:16, which is definitely a sore subject: “…and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” (KJV) Yikes. Again, I’d like to point out that before Adam and Eve sinned, their relationship was in harmony. The main issue in this verse is that this will no longer be true, which, as I also said before, is the natural result of allowing evil into your life; nothing works quite like it was intended to. First, I would like to say that Eve (and Adam as well) deliberately took her desire away from its proper place. We were created for God to be the fulfillment of our desire, and everything else to be a sort of bonus, but when Eve was deceived, she turned her desire from God and to her own desire for personal elevation (think back to the concept of pride I discussed earlier). The desire spoken of in this verse is simply God stating that this desire for personal elevation was now something that she would have to war with, and specifically in relation to her husband. She had embraced it, and it would now be her constant companion and a source of contention in her relationships. The Hebrew word for “desire” here, in its literal translation, means a sort of “stretching out after.” The exact word is only used in two other places in the Bible. The first of these is discussing sin’s “desire” for us in Genesis 4:7. The type of desire that sin has for you is not an uplifting, wholesome type of desire. It is the desire that seeks to control. This verse is stating that now, woman will desire to control her husband and his response (as an also fallen man) will be to “rule” over her in a way that God never intended. God’s design was for the husband to be a guide with the woman’s best interests always in mind in such a way that conflict would never even arise because of his sacrificial love. (Ephesians 5:15) Now between her desire to put herself over him (and others as well), and his sinful nature (also wanting to be elevated over others) responding to that, both of their roles are subverted and distorted. The system set up to preserve order is now a broken system prone to chaos, primarily because of the egocentric natures they allowed into their lives through the first sin.

The second and last other use of this same word for “desire” is in Song of Solomon 7:10, where it is used in a sexual manner. It is an entirely different context, but I would feel remiss if I did not mention that there is a different type of usage here. I do not know what the popular scholarly thoughts on connecting this to the Genesis uses would be, but I can give you a personal idea. Perhaps since it is used sexually here, it means a literal, physical “stretching out after,” thereby implying none of the negative grasping/controlling that is connotatively seen when used in its more abstract form. This is just an idea to consider, as I was not able to find any commentaries specifically comparing and contrasting the use of this word in these two very different situations. Perhaps it is a word that can be used both positively and negatively.

There is another valuable excursion we need to take, and this is to remind the world that Eve was not the only one who faced consequences. Adam’s consequences are delineated in Genesis 3: 17-19: “…cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground…” (KJV) Now, I am not going to expound on this because our study is focused on women. However, I did need to bring the specifics of it to light for a couple of reasons: 1) so that we can see that woman was not alone in her plight of sorrow and 2) so that we can hit on how the consequences play out in society. Man’s sorrow as indicated here seems to be predominantly found in his work…the duties of provision are suddenly much more arduous than God seemingly intended.

The thing I want to point out may ruffle a few feathers, but be that as it may, these are thoughts I’ve had and, if nothing else, I would like opinions on them. There is something that I recognized several years ago that immediately made these “curses” seem more real to me. Now, these ARE generalizations, which I try to steer clear of, but they are so widespread, it would just be silly to pretend they don’t exist. I am not claiming they are across the board irrefutably true, but here goes: one day I suddenly came to the (very obvious) realization that when I conversed with my female friends about their biggest struggles, those struggles were nearly always relational. “I want a man; I’m having trouble with my man; I wish I had children, but I can’t get a man, or can’t conceive, etc.” When I conversed with my male friends about their biggest struggles, it was almost always about their career. “I can’t get ahead; I can’t get a break; I can’t pursue what I love and make enough money; I don’t want to be a failure, etc.” In our fallen world, a large majority of women seek to solidify their identity through a relationship and a large majority of men seek to solidify their identity in a career. Neither of these methods of fulfillment will work. It is a direct result, as I said before, of turning our desire away from God, and fixing it on something else: in these cases, a part of our person-hood that was meant to be a crucial, but non-defining aspect of our roles in this world. Our society has convinced us that work and career is what makes you worthwhile and what makes you who you are. It has convinced men AND women of this, but it is true for neither. Everyone is searching for something to validate his or her existence, and until you find it in the person of Christ, you will constantly be seeking it in some other venture.

I do believe that God created us with very definite roles, which I realize will not be popular, but here is my reasoning. Adam was created for maintaining the order of all of the things God created; speaking of the garden, “to tend and keep it.” (Genesis 2:15, NKJV) In other words, he was created for work. Eve was created as Adam’s companion… because “it is not good that man should be alone.” (Genesis 2:18, NKJV) In other words, she was created for relationship. These assertions are not meant to be taken to the extreme. I do not mean that women cannot work or that men cannot have relationships. (Although people have and still do take it to mean things such as this.) I simply mean that God created us with a natural inclination towards these functions. A partial, and very observable defense of that is what I was saying above about noticing the primary struggles in a person’s life and how they seem largely defined by gender. Neither role is more or less important than the other. Without either, society, as a whole, cannot function.

The consequence of sin is that these roles got harder. We are unwilling or unable to see the beauty in these roles because our models were broken. The only place we can see it perfectly is in the person of Christ, who calls the church His bride (Isaiah 61:10, Isaiah 62:5, Jeremiah 2:2 and many others), and does love her with a pure love, which caused Him to sacrifice Himself (Hebrews 10:12) for her good. God tells us all through His Word that He is our lover, pursuing us as He has Hosea pursue and love Gomer in the book of Hosea. (Check that book of the Bible out if you do not know the story.) In the same way that Adam was created for work, this is also God’s role; He wanted us for a relationship, as His bride. I realize this is a very church-y concept. I hope it doesn’t put anyone off, but it is a very prominent theme in the Scriptures and one I believe to be relevant here. I am saying it to state that although the roles I mentioned above, of “work” and “relationship,” are valid, I do not want anyone to be confused and think I mean that is where we gain our identity. I mentioned it above, but I want to reiterate after this paragraph that our identity and fulfillment is found only in a relationship with Jesus Christ. (John 15:15-19, Romans 5:11, Romans 5:17, Romans 8:37, Colossians 3:3 and many others)

I do still have a few questions relating to this subject, and am open to dissenting opinions on anything I have stated. One thing I definitely would like input on is the consideration that according to the consequences for the woman in Genesis 3:16, a single, childless woman has no specific consequences. However, it seems that the consequence given to the man also encompasses the women in the sense of causing work to be more laborious. Thoughts?

Update on the Study and Literary Arrogance

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 points.  My friend and I were going to attempt each taking the article point by point and researching one at a time each.  (She’d take one; I’d take one – then we’d both discuss and conclude that segment.)  This was a very naive outlook on how we could manage this.  If only it were that simple.  First off, you find that everything you hunt on one point inevitably leads to really good information on a different point.  Secondly, the very first task is to solidify what we do believe God’s outlook on the role for women is.  Again, naive in thinking that is simple.  A few examples:  Does God approve of women teaching in the church?  I feel like He does and, needless to say, I want Him to, but this is not about feelings or wants.  I’m trying to get a solid understanding here.  I’m trying to get to truth in a way that anyone can grasp it, even if they don’t agree with it.  I’m even prepared to find out that answers to questions like these are not what I wish they were.  I think that if the answer is that God does not want women to teach men or in the church or however you interpret I Timothy 2: 11-14, that there will be a reason (if we can grasp it) that makes me OK with that.  (But then we also get into the question of who decides what ‘teaching’ means.  I’ve seen some pretty ridiculous lines drawn since looking into this, as in “Women can ‘share’ but not ‘preach.'”  Huh??  And also, “Women can ‘talk’ in church as long as they don’t stand behind the pulpit.”  Ummm, OK.)  However, back to the point: as in the submission of wives to their husbands (Ephesians 5:22-29), I’m not ruffled by this statement, because it also tells men to treat their wives as Christ treats the church.  I’m good with that…Christ gave everything of Himself for the church and did everything for her benefit and well-being.  If a man is going to treat me like that, unconditionally, as Christ did with the church, I think I can handle a little thing like submission.  (Although, I’m still wrestling with the questions: “Do you still have to submit to a husband that is not following Christ, and if not, who decides when they are not following Christ?” and “Do you only not have to submit if a husband is asking you to do something specifically against God’s commands and if so, who decides that as well?”)  My elusive point is that I feel there would be good, satisfactory and understandable “footnotes” for God’s decision even if that decision was that a woman is not supposed to teach a man or in the church.  I’ve got to tell you, though, finding a really solid answer to this debate is not simple.  I didn’t think it would be an easy task or even a short task, but I will say that I did not expect to find so many poor arguments for people’s interpretations (and not just for this one Scripture).  I’ve seen a lot of things that make me understand why people often think that Christians are uneducated…interpretations that use poor logic to explain something away or use an argument that fights against itself.  It saddens me.  I guess maybe the question is harder than I think, and I shouldn’t be so disappointed in the Christian community. 

So, I’ve said a lot of nothing about what I haven’t learned.  Let’s talk about what I have.  I’ve learned a lot about myself.  It seems God leads you to study things that maybe you need to know for your own personal reasons in addition to the reasons you study it (in this case, for the defense of His truths). 

Here goes.  I am reading a book someone recommended in my comments, “Captivating” by John and Stasi Eldredge.  The friend I am working on this project with bought it, and gave it to me to read first, as she had some other reading material she intended on starting out with.  Well, I apologize, zephaniah317, because I really did NOT want to read this book.  I’ve heard of it before, and never had any inclination to read it. 

First strike: it’s about girls.  I’m a girl.  OK.  I don’t need anyone to tell me about the fact that I am a girl or about feminity.  Or how not to be a silly girl.  Or how not to be a naggy wife (girlfriend, in my case).  I’m pretty good at those things.  Or am I?  We’ll see, but the fact is that anything “girly” turns me off in the first place.  I don’t like pink.  I don’t like lacy, frilly things.  I hate to get my nails or hair touched by any stranger.  I don’t like massages.  This book is inherently girly.  That’s its whole premise. 

Second strike: it’s also very popular within the Christian subculture.  I have only just now realized how deeply my literary arrogance runs.  This book could not be worth my time because it is “popular” and anything that the general public could enjoy is probably too stupid for me.  Wow.  That’s really how I thought.  What a jerk am I.  I’m sorry, John and Stasi Eldredge, for thinking you were all silly, fluffy things and rhetoric. 

I don’t have a third strike, so we’ll just say that’s the only reason it made it through to the “read anyway” pile.  I’m not through with the book yet, but it has already made me severely aware of three separate very valuable issues. 

One of them was, indeed, my severe case of literary arrogance.  God didn’t cure me of that even by teaching me something important through the book.  (I retained a little bit of my reticence after learning the first lesson because of the fact that the book did not spell it out; it just showed me some other things that led me to a conclusion.  So, really, I figured it out on my own, right?  I still didn’t need the silly book.)  Wrenching my disgusting snobbery out of me did not come until I realized that I was acting patronizing to another individual who had genuine interest in this book, that they could probably tell I was being patronizing, and that it probably made them feel a little bit stupid.  Again, what a jerk am I.  God did manage to cue me into this, and make me feel like I wanted to hide from Him because of my pride in this nominal intellect I have.  I did not hide, but I did repent, and not only to Him, but to the individual. The other two things that God taught me through this book really deserve their own blogs.  And since I’m tired, maybe I’ll give them each one another day. 

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.