Because Christianity is bigger than Biblical manhood or Biblical womanhood

If you look through dark glasses, everything seems dark. If the Bible is seen through women-are-evil-or-insignificant glasses, every women in the Bible will look that way...

If you look through dark glasses, everything seems dark. If the Bible is seen through women-are-evil-or-insignificant glasses, every women in the Bible will look that way…

Biblegateway.com had, untill very recently, an article blaming Dinah for her rape (Genesis 34). The Bible does not blame her at all! Thank God (and I mean that literally) my Christians for Biblical Equality friends got that one taken down by their response.

Biblegateway still has an article named Bathsheba: The Woman Whose Beauty Resulted in Adultery and Murder“. They blame Batsheba for taking a ritual cleaning bath as Biblically prescribed, at a place where she can’t be seen from any place but the palace and when even the king should have been away at war (not in the palace):

“Had she been a careful, modest woman, surely she would have looked around the easily seen adjacent roofs, and if others had been looking her way, she would have been more appropriately modest in bathing herself…had she been a true wife and a woman of principle she should have refused to obey the king’s summons. As she saw David feasting his eyes upon her, did she have a presentiment of what would happen? If not, then, when before the king, she should have bravely refused to yield to adultery… Bathsheba only added insult to the injury by indulging in her illicit affair with another man … their (David and Bathsheba’s) dark sin…”

The Bible does not blame her at all: When a king, with power of life and death summons you, you go. And a man with such power is not likely to ask her if she wants to go along with what he wants to do.

Biblegateway also criticises Jael (Judges 4) for killing Sisera, although the Bible praises her.(Jdg. 5:24)

To get from Biblegateway to the larger church world, did you know that the Bible does not blame Eve for sin entering the world? According to Romans 5:12-19, Adam is to blame. And that nothing in the Bible says Mary Magdalene was a prostitute? Rahab may not have been a prostitute, either.1 It is possible that Salome’s dancing was not salacious at all, that she was just a little girl obeying her mother in what to ask of Herod.

Then there are the Bible women who cannot be demonized, so they are ignored. The story of the prophetess Huldah teaching King Josiah about God’s law would be a great representative Bible story of the period when the law of God was completely forgotten. Yet, in 23 years of teaching Sunday school to children with various curricula, I never saw it used. Much of Luke is written in male-female pairs – and the story of the mustard seed (planted by a man) is better known than the story of the yeast (worked in by a woman); the story of the lost sheep and the male shepherd better known than the story of the lost coin and the woman searching for it; the story of Naaman that Jesus refers to better known than the story of the widow in Zarephath.

It breaks my heart when even the most respected of Bible commentary sources have an extreme sexist bias. It is not just our Bible knowledge and the reputation of our long-dead forebearers who suffer – it is also the examples we get of how we can live, how we should live, and how God sees us.This is not from God. This is not the Bible. This is what happens when our eyes look through the glasses of patriarchy: everything gets distorted.

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1Bible Gateway, unsurprisingly, simply dismiss the idea that Rahab may have been anything else than a harlot, without even commenting on the likelihood that the other word that would have consisted of the same Hebrew consonant letters could have been implied. This is in keeping with their treatment of other Bible women.

scales-man-woman-11783392Egalitarians believe men and women are equals before God. Complementarians believe they are equal, but have different roles. The majority of secularists in the Western world will say they believe men and women are equally worthy as people, but they would not add the “before God” part. If you want to see if your community really believe this, there is a simple test you can do: Read the rest of this entry »

I do ask my husband!

Some people disagree with me on the kind of topics I present here. When that happens, some of them tell me I should ask my husband to teach me about these matters. They base this on their understanding of 1 Cor. 14:35: Read the rest of this entry »

bible_open3Often, you find what you want to find. I once made up a whole spoofing “doctrinal statement” on why women should lead, showing that women-on-top hierarchy can be “proved” from the Bible with hardly any more effort than man-on-top hierarchy. (Admittedly, the effort that went into man-on-top interpretations have been done for centuries. It thus takes less effort now from the one asserting it, than to think up interpretations for the opposite.)

But here is (a part of) how I actually read the Bible when not joking around. Here is (a part of) what I see when looking for the real message: Read the rest of this entry »

11 They dress the wound of my people
as though it were not serious.
“Peace, peace,” they say,
when there is no peace. Jeremiah 8:11

It is the big scandal that Americans are discussing on the Internet right now: Reality TV star Joshua Duggar have admitted to molesting 5 girls, four of them apparently his sisters, when he was a teen. The hypocrisy stinks more than any abattoir, because this family marketed themselves as knowing the perfect system for keeping children behaved, and for keeping girls safe.

The idea behind “Christian” Patriarchy is that women should just keep quiet and serve first fathers and then husbands, and in exchange men will protect them and they and their children will be save from the harsher realities of this painful world. This, so say the “Christian” Patriarchalists, is how God ordained men and women to complement one another.

Except that it don’t work. A world where women have to keep quiet, and men have all authority, is not a world where women are safe. Bill Gothard was one of the two most prominent leaders in this movement – he had to resign after molesting several teenage girls and young women. Doug Phillips was the other one – he had to resign for sexually abusing his children’s nanny. Why did this not come out sooner? Well, Gothard and Phillips had power. Their voices counted. The women/ girls did not have power. Their voices did not count. Read the rest of this entry »

I recently read an article with (very gendered) advice for Christian wives, that was accompanied by this photo:

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The article was the usual one-sided “do X for your husband, do Y for your husband” stuff, much of which would actually be great if both spouses did it for one another (praising and appreciating your partner) and others that are terrible advice (never telling him when he does wrong, as you are not the Holy Spirit). Such articles appear to have no notion of mutuality, of spouses treating each other as you yourself would like to be treated. This time round, though,  I noticed the picture, not just the article. Read the rest of this entry »

How would “Submit(ting) to one another” (Eph 5:21) look in real life? Should pastor Jim and elder Pete and saved 10-year old Eric obey Sunday School teacher Jane, while Sunday school teacher Jane obey pastor Jim, and Pete and Eric too, while Pete also obey Jim and Eric and they obey him, while Eric and pastor Jim obey one another? And what if Pete and Jane give conflicting messages – who should pastor Jim submit to then?

It is obvious that submitting, in Bible language, does not mean obeying everything that other people say. Submission is for all believers towards one another, and all believers cannot obey all others. It could not mean putting the other one in a hierarchy where he has the right to lord it over you, because Jesus said that those who want to be great in his kingdom has to be servants, and his followers should not be like the worldly kings who “exercise authority”.

As such, submitting as to Christ (Eph 5:22) simply cannot not mean “obeying every order as you obey the orders of Christ.” If it did, Paul would have contradicted both Jesus, and his own train of thought, in Eph 5.

Here is what I think it could mean.

What submission to Jesus is like:

Jesus came to earth as a human, and people (some of them, at least), submitted and followed him when they saw that Jesus

a) is superior in power and wisdom

and

b) had their best interest at heart/ loved them and gave His life to save them.

What male/ female relations in the ANE was like:

In the world the New Testament was written to, women had less opportunies to learn, and less opportunities to earn money, than men. Men married at about age 25 to 30 after they were established financially, women as teens. As such, men were richer and knew more than their wives.

What submitting as to Christ would mean, to such a wife:

When your husband knows better and asks something out of love, co-operate. It is sensible to co-operate with love, wisdom and power, and foolish to go against it.

After such a statement to wives, the passage seems to be written from the assumption that the husband already have knowledge and power (two things Jesus have more of than us). The passage tells husbands to have the other thing Jesus have in abundance, love. The husband should love his wife as much as his own body, that places her needs as highly as those of himself.

The start of submitting to Christ is seeing what Christ is. The start of submitting as to Christ should then be seeing Christ in who she is asked to submit to.

(In today’s Western world, of course, the situation is not as unequal, and women are as likely as men to have more knowledge and not that unlikely to have power or money. Which means that husbands, too, will often be wise to submit as to Christ.)

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