What Does The Bible Say About Women?

What is the Biblical picture of women?

People in our day forget how much of human history has discriminated against women. Within the last hundred years in the United States, there was a time where banks would not give women an account in their own names, nor could women get credit cards in their own names in many places. Women would very often be legally named “Mrs. Henry Jones” or similar. Often this was voluntary, for many women wanted to identify with their husbands as much as possible.Women were not allowed to vote in the US until the twentieth centrury. In the first century, women were often not considered capable of giving testimony in court. Into this context, the New Testament was written. The Old Testament was written over several centuries, and completed much earlier than the New.

Often today we find people lambasting the Bible as being wrong to women. However, this is almost always due to people assuming what is in the Bible and not reading it for what it says. Many critics paint the Bible in an imbalanced way and sometimes invent an attitude against women that is not found in the Bible. In reality, and in contrast to the values of most societies, the Bible lifts up women, protects them from abuse, and sets several guidelines that ensure women’s rights are maintained.

Old Testament Law

  • Women who were indentured servants were not blamed for adultery, since they were considered to have no choice in the matter (Lev. 19:20. This helped protect women’s rights and keep them from being powerless.
  • To keep jealous husbands from irrationally blaming their wives for unfaithfulness that the wives did not commit, the law required a series of tests that would protect innocent women, and only implicate a woman if she had an overwhelming sense of guilt. (Numbers 5)
  • Divorce laws prevented a first husband from re-marrying a woman after she had been married again. This protected women from being passed around like property (Deut. 24)
  • If a husband dies, his brother is to marry the wife. This protected women from being left to poverty. (Deut. 25)
  • Newly married husbands were prevented from going out to war, so that they could stay home and make her happy. (Deut. 24:5)
  • People with money were required to include widows and orphans in their celebrations. (Deut. 26:12)

Old Testament History

  • Deborah was the leader of the country during the time of the judges (Judges 4 – 5)
  • Women were praised for working both inside and outside the home (Proverbs 31:15-16)
  • The book of Ruth tells of Ruth and Naomi, both of whom were blessed by God and blessed due to the laws God gave.
  • The book of Esther tells of how Esther was wise and saved her people.
  • Abigail was a wise and discerning woman who was a leader of the servants. She was praised for taking charge and saving her husband. (1 Sam. 25)
  • The queen of Sheba was a wise and wealthy woman who was able to ask Solomon difficult questions. (1 Kings 10:1)
  • The book of Hosea tells of God’s prophet who was commanded to take a prostitute for a wife, then go buy her back when she returned to prostitution. This is often viewed as God’s love for His people.

New Testament

  • Jesus revealed some of His most important secrets to an outcast woman (John 4)
  • Jesus refused to stone the woman caught in adultery, since she was likely being used by the religious leaders. Instead, He forgave her and gave her sound advice. (John 8)
  • The apostle Paul entrusted his most important book to a deaconess of the church, Phoebe, to take to Rome. (Romans 16:1-2)
  • Priscilla is in joint ministry work with her husband, called a fellow worker of Paul, and often mentioned first when Paul addresses them. She had a church in her home. (Romans 16:3-4)
  • Lydia was a businesswoman who sold purple fabric, likely to the wealthy. She was held up as an early member of the church. (Acts 16:14, 40)
  • Women were mentioned as an equal part of Paul’s ministry team (Philippians 4:2-3).
  • Jesus healed women equally with men. (Matt. 9:20)
  • The apostle Paul commanded that widows with families be taken care of, and widows without families should be taken care of by the church. (1 Tim. 5:16)
  • Husbands were to be understanding and honoring to their wives. (1 Peter 3:7)

These are but some of the passages in the Bible that lift up and protect women. Therefore far from holding women back, the Bible gives women an important place alongside men in ministry work, an equal protection under the law,  and an honoring place of blessing by the Lord Jesus.

Any criticism of the Bible must take into account these many passages that show how women were viewed in the Bible.

NOTE (added 6/2/13): An additional place in the Bible that treats women well is the end of the book of Job (42:15), where Job’s daughters were given equal inheritance as their brothers.

About these ads

About humblesmith

Christian Apologist & Philosopher
This entry was posted in Bible, Culture. Bookmark the permalink.

41 Responses to What Does The Bible Say About Women?

  1. R.Ross says:

    You do realise the ‘good’ or positive ‘teachings’ are merely more enlightened responses to the misogynistic excesses of patriarchy and natural progressions for a primitive and ignorant culture as part of a process of developing?

    In other words they are no different to more enlightened responses to serfs and slaves – and anyone who was subjugated. The Koran has the same teachings and look at how fundamentalist Muslims treat their women. Actually fundamental Hindus, Christians, Jews and Muslims remain shamefully and cruelly misogynistic in this modern age.

    The things you cite as support are simply advances which any progressing society should make because their beliefs were not simply wrong they were unjust. Ironically though, given all this support, it took a couple of thousand years for women to actually get justice and even 100 years ago and still within Christian Fundamentalism women were and are regarded as inferior to the male, who, is seen as being ‘closer’ to God. The arrogance of that teaching beggars belief in any age and can only be sourced in a deep and terrible fear of the feminine. You can’t hate something without fearing it, consciously or unconsciously.

    And if the Bible which Christian Fundamentalists hold as an absolute says the Bible ‘lifts up women then why does Christian Fundamentalism still hold that a wife should submit herself unto her husband and that the husband is ‘head’ of the wife – a teaching and belief in the modern age which is so backward and sexist it is astonishing it still exists?

    And why should women need ‘lifting’ up? They were never ‘lower’ merely defined as such by Biblical teachings? No patriarchy, no sexist biblical teachings and no need to ‘lift’. And I can say as a woman that women do not need protecting – not by men, not by religion, not by your Bible teachings. In fact what women most often need protection from is men, and religion and these sort of teachings which can be found in every religious book produced in the last 5,000 years. Or rather re-written in the last two thousand.

    It is bigoted and patronising in the extreme to believe that a woman in this age needs either protection or ‘lifting’ up by any man or any God. And yes, I do feel strongly about this in the same way that people with black skin feel strongly about racism and that is because as a woman I know the true and cruel nature of patriarchy and its inherent misogyny and it appalls me – and most women – that religious teachings defend these human rights abuses at best and atrocities at worst. Remember the Christian witch hunts? Women died at the stake not because of any devil but because they were women and because men feared their powers as healers and as practisers of the Old Religion.

    Bible teachings were the source and justification of long campaigns against allowing women to get the vote and even to be educated, let alone go to university or hold jobs, or go into politics. Through its long history the Bible has been a weapon used to subjugate women and in Christianity it still is. Fundamentalists still believe the man should be the head of the woman and the family and there are no female priests or any chance of them in the Catholic church despite the fact that male priests walk around in ‘dresses.’ The Anglicans are more enlightened but even there, the chances of a woman taking the top job is as unlikely as there being a female Pope. That religion should so discriminate against the majority of people in the world, for women are and always are the majority, nature wisely knowing we need more women than men, is quite simply shameful.

    Any defence of the Bible in regard to women has to take into account the blatantly misogynistic nature of so many teachings and descriptions of women and the latent hatred of the feminine. Even more so with Fundamentalist Christianity, which, and correct me if I am wrong, still holds that the wife should ‘submit’ herself to the husband. In this day and age sane and enlightened men and women find this teaching not only ridiculous but insulting and primitive.

    You might like to explain how that unpleasant and unjust and unenlightened ‘teaching’ can have a place in this day and age!

    I mean the ‘mother’ of Jesus was not allowed to be a real woman, she had to be a virgin and miraculously and impossibly get pregnant – the confidante of Jesus who, if he really existed was probably his lover if not his wife, is a whore – and the Bible is replete, like Hindu, Moslem, Jewish teachings of the evil of women. For heaven’s sake it is a woman who gets the blame in the first place for the ‘sin’ that everyone supposedly carries until they follow a set of man-made rules. And we have a Father, a Son and a Holy Ghost – not only do we get two males, where there might be a female we get a ghost. No look-in for women in the God stakes.

    Although even this trilogy draws upon the ancient Goddess religion which taught that the Mother gave birth to the Son – logical and sensible- and the two created the third – the spiritual – mother representing the source, the feminine and diffuse awareness, giving birth to or creating the son, the masculine or focussed consciousness and then as aspects of the feminine and the masculine creating the third! Or the even older trilogy of the Great Goddess as Mother, Maiden, Crone or Creator, Protector, Destroyer. But I digress.

    Here is what the Bible thinks about women:

    ‘And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. ‘

    There are several in the Old Testament:

    “It is better to plant your seed in the belly of a whore than to let it spill on the ground”

    “If a woman is raped within the city walls and does not call out then she shall be stoned”

    From the New Testament, and one which Christian Fundamentalism still has the gall to demand:

    “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church. . . .” (Ephesians 5:22–23) and “These [redeemed] are they which were not defiled with women; . . .” (Revelation 14:4); and from the Old Testament we find “How then can man be justified with God? Or how can he be clean that is born of a woman?” (Job 25:4) Other relevant New Testament passages include Colossians 3:18; 1 Peter 3:7; 1 Corinthians 11:3, 11:9, and 14:34; and 1 Timothy 2:11–12 and 5:5–6. Other Old Testament passages include Numbers 5:20–22 and Leviticus 12:2–5 and 15:17–33.

    Tertullian, one of the early church fathers, wrote:
    In pain shall you bring forth children, woman, and you shall turn to your husband and he shall rule over you. And do you not know that you are Eve? God’s sentence hangs still over all your sex and His punishment weighs down upon you. You are the devil’s gateway; you are she who first violated the forbidden tree and broke the law of God. It was you who coaxed your way around him whom the devil had not the force to attack. With what ease you shattered that image of God: Man! Because of the death you merited, even the Son of God had to die. . . . Woman, you are the gate to hell.

    Excuse me but a book, purportedly from a God who clearly hates women, which teaches that women should suffer giving birth – the most wondrous experience on this earth and luckily most don’t, only those who have been taught to fear and hate their bodies because of patriarchal misogyny which has also infected modern medicine and it’s attitude to childbirth…. and that they are the ‘gate to hell’…… simply has no place in a civilized world or needs a serious edit, this time by a woman, not a man.

    As a woman one reason why the biblical God is not to my taste and cannot count as God anyway is because more than half of the population of this world is feminine and we have been subjugated and abused for thousands of years with religious books held up as justification for that abuse. A minority of women in the world today have greater freedom but not absolute gender equality but most women still labour under these sort of hateful teachings and the patriarchal mindset which seeks only to condemn and suppress the feminine – something which is half of their nature anyway, given that men and women contain within them both feminine and masculine qualities.

    I would close by saying that this hatred of women as enshrined in all major religions is destructive even more of men than it is of women. Everyone loses in a world, or with a religion which does not see the beauty, sanctity and equality of men and women as absolute, utter and complete equals.

    • Ryan says:

      The statement “It is better to cast your seed in the belly of a whore than to spill it out on the ground” is not found anywhere in the Bible.

      The Bible actually says this:

      And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, whose name was Tamar. And Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD slew him. And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother’s wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother. And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother’s wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother. And the thing which he did displeased the LORD: wherefore he slew him also.
      Genesis 38:6-10
      King James Version (KJV)

      “It is better to cast your seed in the belly of a whore than to spill it out on the ground” is a phrase people think is in the Bible, but is not actually found in the Bible.

      Onan’s brother died, and Onan had the responsibility of marrying his brother’s wife to provide an heir. Instead, Onan “wasted his seed on the ground in order not to give offspring to his brother.” This passage isn’t even about masturbation; God struck Onan down because he selfishly refused to provide an heir for his brother’s inheritance. In addition, the proverb is inaccurate. In no way would the Bible encourage the use of anyone other than a spouse for sexual gratification. Instead, we are called to not allow physical appetites to control us (1 Corinthians 6:12-20).

      I personally want to sit down and study the Bible more – to read it as a whole, and in context. One of the reasons I want to do this is because there are many assumptions of what’s in the Bible that could be a misconception. Furthermore, if I use this misconception as information I am not truly sharing what the Bible actually says.

      There are many assumptions that are propagated through movies, music and books that misrepresent what the Bible actually says. We can make the Bible say anything if we take versus in isolation. Generally speaking, we can actually present the Bible to justify the very things it teaches against if we assume that it states something where in fact it doesn’t. I’ve been reflecting on this and personally I consider that until I have read the entire Bible I should be careful to assume what it says.

      http://www.gotquestions.org/not-in-the-Bible.html

      I just think it’s important to point this out.

      • Ryan says:

        Apologies – “if we take verses* in isolation”

        • Ryan says:

          Here is what the Bible thinks about women:

          ‘And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. ‘

          There are several in the Old Testament:

          “If a woman is raped within the city walls and does not call out then she shall be stoned”

          From the New Testament, and one which Christian Fundamentalism still has the gall to demand:

          “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church. . . .” (Ephesians 5:22–23) and “These [redeemed] are they which were not defiled with women; . . .” (Revelation 14:4); and from the Old Testament we find “How then can man be justified with God? Or how can he be clean that is born of a woman?” (Job 25:4) Other relevant New Testament passages include Colossians 3:18; 1 Peter 3:7; 1 Corinthians 11:3, 11:9, and 14:34; and 1 Timothy 2:11–12 and 5:5–6. Other Old Testament passages include Numbers 5:20–22 and Leviticus 12:2–5 and 15:17–33.

          I could go through each point one by one, and explain its context – and I plan to do this once I complete my uni assignment

          • Ryan says:

            Just to clarify what I posted before is what is stated as “Here is what the Bible thinks about women”.

            I plan to study the Bible and give a contextual answer to each of these once I complete my uni assignment. That being said, you may be right. it may be that the other verses do state this, but I have to read the verses themselves first and in context.

          • R.Ross says:

            I shall look forward to reading what you post but I would merely make the point that of course there is context – it is just a context which is a few thousand years out of date if one is to interpret it literally – and has no place in a modern world.

            A metaphorical/symbolic approach could bear different fruit but I don’t think there is ever any context – beyond the misogyny of the times in which it was written – which could make ‘wives submitting’ relevant to a modern and enlightened world.

            Although if I were to have a stab at it I could take this:

            Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church. . . .”

            and read it as:

            ‘wives’ (a literal interpretation of) really meaning the feminine, submit (a literal interpretation) really meaning acknowledge, ‘unto your own husbands’ (a literal and patriarchal assumption and interpretation), really meaning the masculine qualities (which exist in men and women), as unto the Lord – really meaning the Christ or spiritual nature which is a part of all of us – ‘for the husband’ – the masculine qualities – is the ‘head’ – really meaning the focussed consciousness which can lead the way from diffuse awareness – of the ‘wife’ really meaning the feminine, the source, from which the masculine draws forth in consciousness – all of which applies equally to men and to women.

            I do believe the bible is meant to be read metaphorically and symbolically for it is only when it is that it is sensible, intelligent and just. So much cruelty and suffering arises from literal and patriarchal religion that one can only believe they have something very, very, very wrong.

      • R.Ross says:

        Thanks for the explanation Ryan. It really just proves my point that the Bible has been translated, re-translated, edited and re-written so many times that interpretation is highly subjective.

        In your version it is still a pretty unpleasant god – slewing and adivsing to marry the brother’s wife and then because he doesn’t want to he gets killed. I am not sure either is better than the other.

        And the situation is sourced in patriarchy. A man dies and the woman is given to his brother. This still happens in Africa and India and within fundamentalist Islam.

        You said: I personally want to sit down and study the Bible more – to read it as a whole, and in context. One of the reasons I want to do this is because there are many assumptions of what’s in the Bible that could be a misconception. Furthermore, if I use this misconception as information I am not truly sharing what the Bible actually says.

        A lifetime’s work Ryan and one at which you would excel if you keep an open mind.

        You said: There are many assumptions that are propagated through movies, music and books that misrepresent what the Bible actually says. We can make the Bible say anything if we take versus in isolation. Generally speaking, we can actually present the Bible to justify the very things it teaches against if we assume that it states something where in fact it doesn’t. I’ve been reflecting on this and personally I consider that until I have read the entire Bible I should be careful to assume what it says.

        I would not disagree with you on this. What it comes down to is how important one believes the Bible is. I see it as one source of spiritual/religious teaching – not the most important and not the only one.

        I just think it’s important to point this out.

    • humblesmith says:

      R. Ross, you again make a series of accusations without any references or system of supporting your position. Your statements are mere opinion and accusation without supporting argument. For example, you again throw out the accusation that the Bible is mistranslated, but again provide no support for this opinion.

      As expected, people do not respond to the large number of Bible passages that support women, but bring up a few pet verses and emphasize them out of context and out of balance. I will respond to these inevitable criticisms in the next post.

      • R.Ross says:

        Humblesmith, I ‘throw out the accusation that the Bible is mistranslated’ because it clearly is.

        Even Heidi agrees, to quote from her post:
        All the overlays of poor translations and interpretations are from human influence.

        Quoting out of context as you put it would be relevant if you could demonstrate that the Bible in this modern age has been and is instrumental in supporting equality for women – I mean full equality. What any man can do in any church so can any woman. We both know that is not the case. Therefore context of what was written to right egregious patriarchal wrongs, well, a few of them, thousands of years ago is meaningless.
        What matters is today – what is the Christian Church, in all its versions, doing today to ensure that whatever a man can do within the religion so a woman can do exactly the same.

        • humblesmith says:

          Again, you throw out broad-brush accusations about translations, without a shred of comment about the original languages or citation of a language scholar to support your claims. After repeated unsupported assertions on your part, I can only conclude that you do not know what you are talking about, and don’t know Greek from Hebrew, let along a a hiphil from an aorist.

          What humans have done with the scriptures was not something the post was dealing with. If humans have failed, it only supports what the Bible teaches in Romans 3:23, which says that all people are sinful. I was merely showing that the Bible has a much different view of women than is commonly thought by many people.

          • R.Ross says:

            I merely made the point that Heidi made a reference which supported my points in regard to ‘poor translations and interpretations.’
            As to what I know, that for you and anyone else here, other than those who know me personally, and even then to some degree, is limited – as is what I know of you. I however am prepared to take you and your knowledge base at face value for the purpose of this exercise. I don’t accuse you of a lack of knowledge because you take a different position to mine.
            And I was merely showing that what you say the Bible ‘says’ about women is not a support of women but an attempt to control women and what Christians have done, and some still do, about women, in other words, the actions, not the words, supports my view of how the Bible sees women and what it teaches about women, not your position.
            You did not answer my questions as to whether or not your version of Christianity still teaches that men should be the ‘head’ of the family and neither did you answer when I asked, why, if your case is correct, misogyny, sexism and patriarchy are still such forces at work in Fundamentalist christianity and to varying degrees in all forms of Christianity.
            I mean you cannot have it both ways. You argue that the Bible supports women – although I notice that you do not say it sees women as equals (because of course it does not) but the evidence for your argument simply does not exist.
            If in some fundamentalist religions all senior people are male and followers are taught to see the male as ‘head’ (as in superior to the female) of the family and in other forms of Christianity there are no female Popes, Archbishops, priests etc., then clearly, if the Bible teaches women are equal with men, then the interpretations are wrong, or, those who lead these Christian churches are flagrantly disobeying the will of God.
            But of course, from my reading, that to which you refer in the Bible is not about gender equality – it is about ‘setting’ women in a position, ‘lifting’ is the term you used – where they can safely be no threat to male superiority and yet still be managed.
            That may well have been of value thousands of years ago when male minds came up with Biblical teachings but it has no relevance in a modern world where women have the right to be seen as absolute equals with men on every count.

  2. R.Ross says:

    From the Washington Post:

    ‘Then I began to learn about religion. It wasn’t just the Catholic Church not allowing women to be priests. It wasn’t just about Muslim women in some countries being forced to cover their bodies, or faces or heads. It was far more prevalent than that. It was a history of Hindu women committing sutee (where the wife throws herself on the husband’s funeral pyre) or being burned to death by their families for greater dowries. It was Buddhist nuns being treated badly by monks. It was Protestant women not being allowed to hold high positions in the church and , in the case of Katharine Jefferts Shori, the presiding Bishop of the Episcopal church, being shunned by some theologians. It was Billy Graham’s daughter Anne Graham Lotz, who was demeaned by a of group male congregants who stood up and turned their backs on her when she began to speak in church. It was orthodox Jewish women not being allowed to be part of a minion (a group of 10 men who can pray together) or having to sit apart from the men in the synagogue or having to get a “get” from their husbands in order to get a divorce.

    Long before Jesus’s time, Eve was the temptress, Adam the unwilling dupe. Mary had to be a virgin. Joseph did not. Even the Apostle Paul, who had women work with him, was overruled by the church leaders less than 20 years after his death.’

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/on-faith/post/does-god-hate-women/2011/04/26/AFt7wBqE_blog.html

    • humblesmith says:

      The British, under Christian influence, outlawed the burning of widows on the funeral pyres. As for Catherine Jefferts Shori, if she had not expressed heresy, the Christian theologians would not have shunned her. I have the quotes in my files where she expresses theology that is decidedly non-Christian. As for the other comments, I never claimed individual Christians were unanimously tactful or correct, but only that the Bible has a very high and respectful view of women.
      As for church leaders and Paul, it is again impossible to respond to broad-brush accusations which are not cited. It is unfair to lob such accusations based upon your pre-conceived biases and no Biblical support.

      • R.Ross says:

        Actually it wasn’t Christian influence which led to the outlawing of Suttee but I am prepared to admit that the ‘best’ aspects of Christianity, a small ‘tip’ of a large iceberg of ‘worst’ have been instrumental in many fights for justice. It’s just a pity it wasn’t applied to the role of women in the Christian churches.

        I repeat, the only thing which matters is how the Churches treat women today – there is not, in most versions of Christianity anything approximating gender equality and that means the religions are quite simply backward.

        I suspect when you use the term ‘high’ for how the church sees women it is the ‘high’ of an unreal sanctified woman who needs to be looked after by a man because she is not capable of looking after herself. Women don’t want to be ‘high’ they want to be equal! in the modern age that is common sense and it has always been their right.

      • R.Ross says:

        Humblesmith, to put it simply, in the modern age women don’t want respect they want equal rights!! Terms like ‘high’ and ‘respect’ are patronising and are used to disguise the lack of equality for women in Christianity in particular and society in general.

        • humblesmith says:

          Well, if you don’t want respect, that’s your business. Meanwhile, I’ll do my best to treat you with respect anyway.

          • R.Ross says:

            Nice try HM but you have ignored what I actually said. I don’t need or want respect as a woman but like you and everyone else, I am deserving of respect as a human being. And for that reason alone, of course you will treat me with respect as I treat every other human being, regardless of their race, creed or sex!

  3. If one digs deeply and long enuf, one finds that Judaism and Christianity are inherently egalitarian (and while I haven’t studied Islam, I see it as a huge step forward for women at the time it was written). All the overlays of poor translations and interpretations are from human influence. I spent 5 years studying women in the Bible, including the Hebrew and Greek and the cultural contexts, and put it all in a book, published as “Hidden Voices” by Smyth & Helwys http://www.helwys.com/books/hidden_voices.html. Ryan, you might find some helpful information in it.

    • humblesmith says:

      Don’t confuse them with the facts, their minds are settled. Who needs years of research and language investigation when a stereotype or twelve will do just fine?

      • Ryan says:

        wow humblesmith – “Don’t confuse them with the facts, their minds are settled?” Who do you mean by “them”? that sounds almost bitter to me, or maybe Im just misinterpreting you. What do you mean by this? If your suggesting what I think your suggesting then I don’t think you know “us” quite well enough to make such a sweeping accusation. I know I am not the “best” witness myself, but writing something like this doesn’t seem to be done to care for the other person. I am suprised by this. I know we’re talking about personal beliefs, and because of this this can trigger personal responses, but “Don’t confuse them with the facts, their minds are settled. Who needs years of research and language investigation when a stereotype or twelve will do just fine?” that is hurtful. It would be unfair of me to say this to you.

        • Ryan says:

          My mind is personally “settled” that the Bible is true – if you read my last posts I was trying to make sense of scripture and trying to find out what is in the Bible and what is not. It is not fair or useful to accuse people on a blog. You don’t actually know how much study anyone posting on this blog has done. I actually assume you have done extensive study on the Bible, after reading your blog, I also assume you have done study on cults, and church history and of course Thomism. however I am only seeing small glimpses into your life, you are not two dimensional. It would be unfair of me to dismissing you of relying on “stereotypes”. I could merely assume that the position you have “settled” on is the same position other Southern Evangelical Seminary Christians have “settled” on so therefore I can dismiss your beliefs. That would be unfair, I don’t actually happen to believe this :) and I think that your genuine study has directed your beliefs. No one appreciates being dismissed.

        • humblesmith says:

          I apologize if it came across rude. Please forgive me.
          But years of listening to out-of-context quotations of a couple of Bible verses, compounded by preconceived stereotypes of Christians has left me a bit frustrated. No harm intended; my sense of humor gets a bit out of hand sometimes.

          • Ryan says:

            thats ok :) no worries

          • R.Ross says:

            I think Ryan has said it very well but I would say, yes, I can understand the frustrations but my views are hardly sourced in stereotypes but experience and extensive reading.
            Such discussions are difficult because I have no doubt your views are inherent to your sense of Self, in a way that mine are not when it comes to religion in general, but are when it comes to the treatment of women by religion/s.

            When we care deeply, and as a woman I care deeply about the abuses and subjugation of women for millenia, in all religions, then I too will respond with more passion than may be wise at times and I apologise for that.

            What frustrates me is that yes, Christianity does have much of value but the negatives have been allowed to distort the positives and in regard to the position of women in particular I think and feel that everyone loses and the religions lost most of all. The only way to ‘save’ such religions is to demand that people abide by teachings as a matter of faith and commitment even when those teachings are nonsensical or unjust. And that threatens the future of Christianity and any religion and prevents it from being what it should be – the best it can be and a vehicle which offers an opportunity for people to travel a spiritual path in a particular way – men and women in absolute equality as individuals and as members and leaders of the Church.

        • R.Ross says:

          Articulate and well said Ryan.

    • R.Ross says:

      Heidi perhaps you might throw some light then on to why, given so much enlightened teachings, women throughout history have been subjugated, abused, murdered and tortured in the name of the Bible.

      And why, given the progress of humanity, those religions which draw upon the Bible still refuse absolute equality to women? I mean, why, if it was such a huge step for women at the time it was written, and the historical evidence is there for that, has it not continued to develop?

      Where did this enlightenment go? That is my point. If the Bible has done so much good for women then why does history provide evidence of the absolute opposite and why are women not equal with men in all versions of Christianity today?

  4. Ryan says:

    I have to say though that I want to study the Bible to understand it. Just because my mind is personally “settled” that the Bible is true doesn’t mean its personally “settled” on church doctrine, teaching, denominations and sermons. I figure its best to study the source.

    • R.Ross says:

      I think you are wise on that count Ryan. It is a long time since I have read the Bible and the reason for that is after years of Anglican and then Catholic Bible Study, as well as other reading, as I said, I decided that the problem with the Bible and Christianity was that we did not know how to read the Bible.
      So I set about expanding my knowledge of things which would allow me to read the Bible in a metaphorical way – astrology, numerology, mythology, symbolism, anthropology, physics – anything and everything – on the basis that when I felt I had the foundation for a metaphorical reading and interpretation of the Bible I would return to it when time allowed for such careful, reflective reading.

  5. Ryan says:

    I admit that believing the Bible is true is an act of faith, I can’t garuntee what I’ll believe once I have finished reading the Bible as a whole, but I think this is very important to do. In fact anyone involved in discussing Christianity should read the Bible, since it doesn’t make sense to have a discussion where people have not actually taken the time to read what is being discussed. Its like having a discssion about existence of water without ever actually taking the time to actually go to view waters edge, let alone jump in.

    • R.Ross says:

      Belief in anything is an act of faith. People constantly believe all sorts of things about science and medicine which are acts of faith because they do not have the foundational knowledge to more accurately assess truth or possible truth.

      I don’t actually believe you have to believe something is true to find it useful – you just need to believe that you will find some truth in it. As you will – everything contains aspects of truth.

      The Bible has smatterings of historical fact and at times great beauty and insight but it is also weighed down by misogyny, bigotry, fantasy, fable and propaganda. Which is hardly surprising given its age. The Koran, Torah and Hindu and Buddhist religious writings are no different – all suffer from the curse of the human ( most often male) mind and pen – so finding the truth requires a lot of sifting.

      And of course within Christianity there are wonderful spiritual writings which have come from the minds and pens of women – they are however in the minority and they have had little impact on the patriarchal nature of Christianity in the main … at least in terms of the Churches and their male dominated systems.

      But these women drew also upon Biblical teachings – it is just that their voice was, and in the main, is less heard.

      You are insightful and analytical and I have no doubt that reading the Bible – whether you begin from a position of holding it as an absolute truth or a partial truth – you will find within it and yourself a greater truth which will sit comfortably with who you are and how you choose to live your life.

      The only thing I would suggest is that before returning to the Bible you read the best spiritual teachings from all versions of Christianity for to approach the Bible faithfully, one must, I feel, have knowledge of and honour for, all interpretations of the Bible which have so far come into being.

      There are many ‘versions’ of Bible interpretations, sourced in many versions of
      christianity and in the many minds, thousands throughout history, mostly men but many women, whose ‘search for God’ has been recorded and has survived.

      The spiritual path is the most wonderful journey and one of mythic proportions – it is in essence the source of both myth and fairytale. The archetypal journey of the Hero and i use that term for both male and female! It is, if nothing else, a great adventure.

    • R.Ross says:

      Ryan,

      In terms of this comment: What is the Biblical picture of women? People in our day forget how much of human history has discriminated against women. Within the last hundred years in the United States, there was a time where banks would not give women an account in their own names, nor could women get credit cards in their own [...]

      In terms of gaining equal rights for women, although there is still some way to go, the suffragette movement was not sourced in Christianity – quite the opposite – conservative Christians opposed it on the basis that gender equality or rights for women ran counter to Biblical teaching.

      The suffragette movement was in fact a reaction to the misogynistic and patriarchal nature of Christianity which so repressed women.

      The suffragists had a saying: ‘No Gods, no Masters.’ Their battle for justice was waged more against the Christian Right than society in general – most people seeing the justice of women being treated as the equals of men. If any system of belief fuelled the suffragettes it was Humanism, and that system was sourced in a reaction and response to the iniquities and injustices of patriarchal religions – which all of the major religions were and are.

  6. Ryan says:

    I am going to read the entire Bible with the belief that it is true, and see where this takes me (After I finally finish my uni). Which means I have to go :)

  7. Sundae5 says:

    wow, I knew there were many ignorant people in this world, but to that extend… Not only quoting things that are not part of the Bible, but not even knowing what it means. I started to read the Bible because of ignorant people like you who used to say that it degrades women. And when I read it all and checked both hebrew and greek versions (yeah I am cultivated unlike you to go to the original versions of the bible), I realized that the Bible is the only book (and God the only deity) who cares about women. I am a woman and I gained confidence about my sex after I read the Bible! Now, I have NO men walk over me and treat me like crap! For God respects me and said in His word that I was to be respected!

    1. Nowhere it says that if she is raped and does not cry out that she needs to be stoned. It says if a man sleeps with a woman who is engaged and that she did not cry out they will BOTH be stoned because it means she deliberately cheated on her fiance because she was not being raped! It only talks about rape in the subsequent passages. And for rape there is no light mesure. In those days (and even in our foolish industrialized countries), women who were raped were not wanted. Women were also dependent financially. So God said that if a virgin not engaged was raped the rapist had to pay that virgin and marry her (but the father of that woman could refuse the marriage according to Exodus 22 v 16-18) the rapist still had to pay the bride-price if the father did want the marriage so at least she is secured in case of no man wanting her. Now if the rape happened to a woman who was engaged, the rapist is put to death. Now tell me which society cares about raped women? Some of you are being so hypocrite in saying the Bible is discriminatory! When no where in history and in society there is such protection of women! Now you learn how to read properly!

    2. A woman who was sold by her father (because they could not afford to keep her) was to marry the master or his son! She had to receive the basic rights, that is food, clothes and marital rights (Exodus 21 v 7-11). She even has the right to leave the master after six years if he does not provide those basic things! And that society has no right to marginalize her after she decides to leave the husband! Where do you find anywhere in the world where women servant or slaves have those rights?????? Actually, where do you find societies where servants have ANY rights????

    3. As for woman to be silent in the church, go take some reading lessons and greek lessons too! First they are talking about WIVES and their HUSBANDS in that passage. NOT women in general! THEN the verb used in the original version is laleo and NOT lexo.laleo is verb speak used in the context of what is being said is not making sense. Lexo is verb speak in the context where what is being said is intelligible. It says women should not laleo, in other words not gossip or say unnecessary things! Those wives were disrupting their husbands about un-necessary things during the service and Paul says that to not LALEO and if you want to do so do it at home!

    4. Submission from the greek word means RESPECT! NOT BEING SLAVES! Stop reading the Bible as if it was written in our times, but read it as being written in the time it was, in the language it was and in the context it was! In english (or French, the language in which I read my Bible) be aware that we do not always have the proper similar words! In French we have two ways of saying LOVE depending if it is to a friend or a lover. In greek there are FOUR different words for LOVE depending on if it for a friend, family, lover, or altruistic way. In english we have ONE word that applies to all! SO it is the same way for many other words. Submission is in the same category, our language is so limited that we cannot even translate the words in a more accurate way!
    Go do some reading in psychological studies. Men rather be respected and women being loved. And that is exactly what the Bible says Women need to submit (respect) her husband and the husband needs to love his wife the same way Christ loved the Church. This is what is written about Husbands:
    “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[a] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself ” (Ephesians 5 22- 33).

    Honey, the man has it harder! All we are ask is to respect him as a human being, but in exchange they have to do it ALL to please us!

    5. I could go on and on about all the biblical passages on women. But I have no more time, and anyway, if those points do not make you change, I will know for a fact that it is not that you do not understand the Bible, but rather that you REFUSE to see it as being good and that you content yourself in being angry against it!

    • rosross says:

      You do realise that the Bible was ‘recited’ and then written in a time when most women had no more rights than slaves and yes, as a work which was trying to be socially relevant, just like the Koran, it seeks to address the sexism and misogyny of the times.
      One might ask if the Bible and other religious writings were so inspired by God why are there so many sexist and misogynistic writings in them and why have men used them to subjugate women for nearly 5,000 years?
      In addition, if the Bible preaches equality for women then why are women not equal in Christianity? Why are all versions of Christianity sexist and patriarchal to varying degrees? The Anglicans are doing best so far in terms of equality but even they are still not perfect and every other version of Christianity is way, way behind.
      Women make up just over 50% of the world’s population and only some 6% of world leaders are female. In addition, women make up the majority of the world’s religions and most of them are run by men. I, like many women and any enlightened men find that not only odd but unjust.
      As to your thoughts on rape: I don’t know where you live but trust me it is only in the industralised world where a raped woman is not rejected. In the less developed world she still is – not only that she is often imprisoned or killed. Just as happened in the days when the Bible was being collated and written by a bunch of men.
      I am a student of psychology as well as spirituality and I know from my reading and life experiences that men and women want the same things: men want respect and love and women want respect and love. It is called being human.
      The notion that men want respect and women love is old-fashioned and something which people of past generations have believed and still do in the less developed world, but something which no intelligent person living in a First World country has believed since the 1960′s – unless they are programmed by religious belief to believe it.
      No woman needs to submit to anyone and no man needs to submit to anyone – a relationship between equals is what makes a healthy marriage and I would add, a healthy relationship with one’s spirituality, however that may manifest.
      I am glad you find your Bible comforting. I believe it is a book meant to be read metaphorically not literally. And I am not the least bit angry. The Bible is not relevant to me beyond it being a book of symbolic spiritual and religious teaching – like all such books.
      In my culture anyway, fundamentalist religion is not common – thankfully – and men and women continue on the path toward true gender equality where love and respect in equal measure carry them through.

  8. Pingback: The Gospel of Thomas vs. The Bible | Thomistic Bent

  9. Pingback: The Gospel of Thomas vs. The Bible | A disciple's study

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s