I recently read an article where the author tries to justify the degredation and violence towards women in the Bible by saying that God was just shining light on sin. Completely neglecting the fact that there were a number of passages where that same God didn't have a problem with rape or treating women, particularly virginal women, like cattle. Numbers 31 Moses and the priests instruct their people to kill all but the Midianite virgins, blaming the non-virginal women, men, and children for a plague. Because that's how disease spreads, right? Deuteronomy 20 has the LORD giving a town to the Israelite victors with instructions to kill all the men and take the women, children, cattle, and plunder. "You may enjoy the spoils of your enemies that the LORD your God has given you." Of course, in Deuteronomy you also just have to give silver if caught raping a girl. Meanwhile, if she is found non-virginal at a later date (let's say no one believes her or she keeps it a secret) she can be stoned to death. Zachariah 14 prophesies that a day will come when the LORD will give them women to be ravished, as any good god would do, right?
The article states, "The Bible is also clear: God hates inhumane treatment of women."
But that's just the beginning. These first three paragraphs are setting up for the idea that God loves women by asking them to cover their heads and that in a historical context, there was nothing wrong with it and nothing wrong with it now. When you look at the historical context you will see that almost all women in the area and many men wore head coverings, mostly for practical reasons. It's awfully hot in the Middle East. There is no issue with women wearing head coverings...until you make it a mandate of your religion and suggest that their eternal souls (and virginity) hinge on them wearing it. Although I understand that head coverings in Biblical times had a degree of practicallity, Paul very much made them a religious issue too. The man, who was definitely a man of his times, had some strong opinions about women's role in the church and how they should dress. Notice he never said anything about women wearing short dresses because such a thing would have been unheard of in the time. However, he was dealing with several different cultures, many not of a Jewish background, who did not wear head coverings while praying or in the church. So Paul saw fit to make some rules. And most modern Christians ignore these rules, stating that it was only a specific rule for a specific time. I honestly think Paul would find the modern church extremely disrespectful because he was, despite a big conversion, a man obsessed with making rules. He was after all, the leader of a religious movement, second only to God and a few disciples, some of which he didn't get along with.
Even as a Christian, it never sat well with me this idea that women were subserviant to men. Not only were we considered weaker physically, which is not always the case, but we were also inferior intellectually, religiously, morally, and philisophically. In the Assemblies of God churches I grew up in, women were only allowed to teach children and other women. There was never a co-ed Sunday School class taught by a women to my knowledge. The idea was considered absurd. After all, Paul said, "I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, she must be silent." Again, some churches spin this as meaning that this was just for some specific time, but in context he was writing this letter to his protege, giving the young man advice not just for one community but for building churches in general. In general, Paul who claims authority from a god, is stating that women should not teach or have any authority over men. And this pervasive idea permeated the western world for hundreds upon hundreds of years. Women continued to be nothing more than cattle, a possession to be bought and sold by the men around her.
What I am trying to get at is that the very idea that the God of the Bible cares about women and women's rights in the way we think of in the modern world is absurd. The God of the Bible is not pointing out how depraved (aka sinful) human beings can be, because if he was actually a caring god, there would be explicit passages talking about NOT raping women and how that is abhorrent in the eyes of god. But we know that the reason those passages weren't written is because the men of that time were the ones writing the many parts of the Bible and they didn't give a shit about the other half of the population. They didn't speak out against rape because they didn't have a problem with it. Although some of them knew very intelligent and strong women, this did not change their feelings in regards to being superior. And all those rules that are placed on women in the Bible, like having to cover their heads, can be seen for what it is: An attempt by people of a certain time to continue to assert their authority over a people who had been largely marginalized for a long time. It isn't a lesson about sin, it's a lesson about how people often think that their way of life and their culture are the end all of how things should be done.
This is a personal, but secret, blog archiving my deconversion from a Christian to a non-believer.