Here we are at Sunday again. Sunday is for worship! Yeah, I wish.
I can’t wrap my mind around the idea of going to church, worshiping the Christian God, and not fully accepting who the Bible says he is.
I don’t get it.
I keep trying to figure out a way to justify going to church every Sunday and worshiping because I miss the community and social aspect of it. There just doesn’t seem to be a way to be honest and do that, though.
I mean, the God of Christianity – both Biblically and in church practices today – seems misogynistic, among other things. I know that sounds blasphemous and even as I type it I start thinking, These are not words that you will ever allow other people to read because they could get you harmed or killed, either by God or his followers.
Misogynistic is an adjective that means “strongly prejudiced against women.”
The women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church. (I Corinthians 14:34-35)
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:22)
But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. (I Corinthians 11:3)
Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control. (I Timothy 2: 11-15)
In Leviticus, chapter 12, a woman is told that she’s “unclean” for seven days after giving birth to a son. But if she gives birth to a girl? She’s now “unclean” for two weeks. Why?
When I tentatively raised my questions about why women seem to be treated so unequally, I was always told that I should realize the historical context within which the bible was written. I was told that women were treated better in Israel than they were in other cultures of the day.
Turns out, that’s not true.
Even if it was, though…
Let’s say all the people on the planet other than the Israelites for the entire time of the Old and New Testament were being treated as property, raped, beaten, shut out of public places, unable to speak in their places of worship, unable to marry and divorce as they saw fit, etc. Isn’t it reasonable to expect that a loving God who shows up and declares one particular people to be “His” people, is going to set a new standard for them that actually does treat women as being of the same value and worth as males?
Instead, all of those evils I just listed are exactly what is in the Bible, happening to and reality for Israelite women throughout scripture.
The Bible does NOT have a verse that says, “Blessed be the woman, whose body grows and gives life to generation after generation.”
That’s something that the OTHER religions of that day practiced, according to the archaeological record of their art, sculpture, jewelry and everyday living items. (See Chapter 2 of Riane Eisler’s The Chalice and the Blade)
The Bible does NOT have a verse that says, “Behold the woman, who goes down to the underworld and returns with life, bringing fertility and abundance to the land.”
That is descriptive of the goddess Inanna, worshiped 4500-1900 B.C. in Sumeria and later known as Ishtar by the Assyrians and Akkadians and Sauska by the Hittites. All of those peoples are identified in the Old Testament as enemies of Israel – at the very time they were worshiping the female alongside the male.
So, no, it doesn’t seem that all the peoples around Israel treated women horribly and the God of the Hebrews made things better for women. It seems like the opposite is true. The people around Israel worshiped goddesses alongside gods. They revered female and male.
The Bible doesn’t do that – right from the start! It opens with the story that makes the female responsible for the death of all mankind (eating the forbidden fruit) – and that story takes a further swipe at religions of the day because she is told to do so by a snake.
Throughout the time of the bible, snakes were symbols of life, fertility, renewed life, and regeneration. (Snakes shed their skin and emerge as fresh creatures of growth.) They were a symbol, though, that usually appeared with the female – since life comes from her body. Females were worshiped as givers and bringers of life. People of the biblical days had stories and worship rites about a woman laying down her life for people to have new life. The stories’ symbols included a woman, a bird, and a snake.
So, with the opening salvo, the bible wipes out both female life-giving awesomeness and a symbol of life (snake) that was associated with her. Pretty clever if you’re trying to create a religion that makes male dominant over female.
This is the kind of info that goes through my head when I wonder every Saturday night if I should get up the next morning, get the fam ready, and head to church.
I can’t raise my hands and bow my heart and mind to the god whose book tells me – purely because I’m a woman – to be silent in his house while the men talk.
It doesn’t feel healthy for me to teach my daughter or son that warped idea, either.
My son needs to know that females are equal to him because I’m raising him to be a good husband, father, and all around human being. In a country where 1 of every 3 women experiences sexual violence, my daughter needs to know she is equal to a man and her voice can be heard in every place that his can.
Is there a church for people who acknowledge there is something Greater, and want to worship that Greater and be in community with like-minded people in seeking out more about the Greater, but who eschew misogynistic parts of scripture and god-character?