Thursday, 1 March 2012

How Bible teachings seek to control women and deny them equality and how this inhibits development in society..

My Fundamentalist Christian recommended that I read some of the works by a man called John MacArthur if I wanted to understand what the Bible said about women.

Well, I did and all I can say is that it reflected perfectly my understanding of what the Bible says about women and not what my FC believes the Bible says about women. It is also the sort of teaching which saw some nine million, yes, nine million women burned at the stake in centuries past.

I mean how can any educated citizen of a developed society believe things like this:

Now, you'll remember that the first thing he speaks about is their appearance.
How are women to appear in the church? You remember verse 9 says, " that women are to adorn themselves in a proper adorning." In other words, they are to appear in a way that expresses love for God, reverence for His holiness, an attitude of worship. The latter part of the verse indicates that they are not to occupy themselves with outward fashion, they are not to flaunt their wealth, and he refers in the plaiting of the hair and gold and pearls, to a common custom where, since women were so fully clad in that culture from neck the ground, the way they would flaunt their wealth was in their hair. And they would weave gold and pearls and tortoise shell combs would be placed into their hair and this way could, they could show their wealth. They could flaunt themselves. That was the way women adorned themselves in a carnal expression in that time. And what he is saying here is that that the should not happened in the church. The tendency of women to be preoccupied with their adornment is only a manifestation of the carnality of their hearts. Dressing to flaunt wealth, dressing to, a, manifest lust and sexual desire. Dressing to express a spirit of insubordination to one's husband. We went into all of those things in detail in a, a prior message. These are forbidden a woman who appears to worship God.

And this:

But, in terms of role, he qualifies their learning by saying this, "in silence with all subjection." And that defines for us the woman's role. Silence, you'll remember, refers to not teaching. It refers to not teaching. Subjection, refers to not ruling. That is, women in the church are not to be that teachers when the church assembles itself in its constituted worship. Women are not to be the teaching, ah, persons and they are not to be the ruling ones. The context makes it very clear that that's what he has in mind. Because verse 12 says, "I permit not a woman to teach." And therein does he define the kind of silence he is talking about, " nor to usurp authority." And therein does he define the kind of subjection he's talking about. In the assembly of the church, women are not to preach and teach and they're not to rule. Now there's no doubt that that's exactly what he is saying. Obviously, in Ephesus, some were seeking to do both of those things and that's why he has to deal with this.

So, according to this FC God women are not to teach, not to preach, not to rule and men are meant to be their 'heads' in home and church. And this isn't sexism, or misogyny, or discrimination? Nope, God said it, supposedly - if in doubt blame God - so we men say it is right, regardless of the fact that such teachings are so clearly un-Godlike and so clearly, made in the minds of patriarchal men at their worst that it beggars belief anyone living in the First World could hold them as truth.

Most of the people I know, men and women alike would fall about laughing at such things. Sadly, there are many, many Americans who do believe such things and also, living in Africa as I do, there are many of these evangelical Americans who are pouring the same sort of ridiculous dysfunctional thinking into the minds of Africans who are already sexist, misogynistic and prejudiced.

However, this is only the 'tip of the insane iceberg' for Mr MacArthur is a prolific writer on his religion and his God and he takes a particular interest in women. His views on feminism are quite simply, irrational if not insane and evil. I use the word evil not in a satanic sense but in terms of 'evil' being 'live' backwards so that which is negative or destructive to life.

His version of Christianity sees Satan at work in feminism - in other words anything which would have women treated as equals in this world is the work of the Devil. I think that was a pretty solid argument during the Witch Trials - what, some four or five hundred years ago! How little some religions change. The astonishing thing is that people in the modern age still believe it.

Having never trod the realms of Fundamentalist Christianity until now I truly am astonished to find these sort of beliefs promulgated by an educated person living in the First World!! Call me naieve - I thought it was bad but not this bad. The insanities coming out of this current Presidential election in the US are now beginning to make more sense. It also begins to explain why so much is wrong with the States when it should not be.

Anyway, here is the  image for an article or book on Feminism, which really says it all, and an excerpt from someone who is on the 'same page' as MacArthur and who quotes him:

A Godly woman is to be obedient to her husband, and all of this is so that God's Word is not blasphemed. SO THAT GOD'S WORD IS NOT BLASPHEMED! Can you see why Satan is using the feminist movement, deceiving women into walking in rebellion to God? It's so that God's Word is blasphemed!

Ladies, you can turn this around. You MUST turn this around! Feminism is foundationally satanic. It hates women as much as it hates men because it hates God. John Macarthur puts it so succinctly when he says, "Godly women don't impact the world by putting on a suit and by carrying a briefcase; they impact the world by raising a Godly generation of men and women".

Now, I have to say that I was even more shocked as I explored Mr MacArthur's views and have not taken them up with my FC when I  wrote my reply, but this sort of talk is so, well, wrong and dysfunctional that it beggars belief this man has so many followers in the US, which supposedly he does. And it is a bit worrying that my FC, who seems like a really decent, concerned, caring and beyond theological dogma (and bigotry) pretty sane.

However, I replied to his recommendation that I read MacArthur:

I had a look at this and found a paper by MacArthur. This sort of thing was preached from the pulpits a century ago when men considered women's brains were too weak for too much study and that women's emotional nature made them unfit for public office.

I have to say though, I do find it fascinating, that such beliefs should still be held in the modern age. I mean, you can find the same sorts of beliefs strongly held, in most villages in rural India and Africa, less strongly held in the cities, and it is both surprising and interesting to find them held by clearly intelligent, educated, travelled -( although that is an assumption given that 80% of Americans do not possess a passport), -articulate, aware, concerned and no doubt compassionate people in the developed world.

I do realise that Americans are more religious than any other developed nation and a lot of it - not sure of percentages - is sourced in what would be called Fundamentalist Christianity, but these sorts of beliefs are so at odds with a modern and more enlightened world that I can only wonder what it is that keeps them in place at a time when most people in the developed world, and certainly most women, would consider them to be utterly sexist if not misogynistic.

I find the good Mr MacArthur, and I am sure he is good or works very hard to be good, a bit 'out of touch' with enlightened thinking and would call him disingenuous although I don't think he is; I suspect he really believes what he is saying no matter how prejudiced and unjust it might be.
In essence he sees the 'divinely ordained role' for women as that of wife and mother - how convenient for husbands and sons (you know that is no different to the position of women in India and Africa and much of the Third World) - and as 'supporters' for the Church (in other words doing all of the work with none of the power).

He does do a quickstep though and here disingenuous is probably the right word - men and women are equal as spiritual beings but not in this material world. The argument for this is the old propaganda push that women are evil; snake, garden, temptation etc., that the Old Testament had women who were active, but not leaders. 

 Gosh that is convenient. In the eyes of God we are spiritual equals but here in this world you as a woman are inferior and I, as a man, get to tell you what to do! No God worth believing in could come up with such injustice - only the mind of a man could concoct this sort of iniquity.
And yes, Jesus did treat women better but heaven forbid they should take any leadership role. This bit is also patriarchal concoction. Then again there is no physical evidence that Jesus even existed and these teachings emanate from the more ancient Goddess religion so they have probably been 'cut and pasted' to fit the Saviour/Redeemer myth. Not that it did much for women.

MacArthur's paper, The Role of Women, is pure apologist propaganda for keeping women subservient to men not only in Church and Religion but in Society. What astonishes me is that anyone in this day and age could support this kind of backward thinking. For it is backward.

I have no doubt that if you grow up being taught this sort of thing, with parents who believe this sort of thing, and you attend churches which teach this sort of thing, it may not seem unreasonable unless you are a very, very independent thinker. I grew up in the 60's - admittedly in Australia where there is a lot less religion in general and little of the fundamentalist Christian variety - but I know without a doubt that if I showed this particular paper to any of my friends and family - ranging in ages from teens to seventies, some of whom are committed Catholics and Anglicans - most would find it laughable. As would most people in the developed world, men and women alike.

I simply cannot understand how intelligent people can believe this sort of thing in this day and age. It runs counter not only to democratic principles but it runs counter to common sense and reason.

Why if God really does see men and women as equal in their spiritual natures should women be discriminated against and subjugated in this material world? And here's the other thing - it is a known fact that those nations which have the least gender equality also have the least development on all counts. In other words, those nations which have the greatest gender equality are the most successful - you only have to look at the Scandinavians to see the evidence for that. The more equality women have, the better the society works! And the more success is the nation.

Given the prevalence of fundamentalist Christianity in the United States and no doubt the prevalence of such views, which limit the ability of women to function to their full ability and capacity, is there perhaps an argument that this sort of belief - has been a factor in creating the situation where the US, despite being the richest developed nation, has the worst quality of life for its average citizen than any other developed nation: with the highest levels of poverty, illiteracy, semi-illiteracy, crime, incarceration, murder, and fiscal inequality of any modern democratic nation. (And yes I do know that strictly speaking the US is not a democracy.)

I don't know percentages on how many Americans would hold views like this but I do know that the American political system is greatly influenced by Fundamentalist Christian lobby groups, and as I write this response, I make a connection which may of course of no validity but which may well have a great deal of validity. With all of its money and opportunities (even factoring in the trillions wasted on unnecessary wars) the US should offer its citizens the best, not the worst! There is a reason for everything and there has to be a reason for this. Perhaps this particular Christian teaching/s is what holds America back.

Any nation which discriminates against women - in other words, any nation which does not have gender equality - will be impacted  negatively in some way. There is no doubt that Scandinavians aside most developed nations have some way to go in creating true gender equality but there is also no doubt, given the influence of such Christian beliefs in the US, that other developed nations are in much better shape than America is.

Anyway, just a thought. Preach male superiority in this material world but there will be a cost and the price may be much higher than those who do so, realise. It would certainly explain why the United States despite its wealth and power has more of its citizens living in Third World conditions than any other developed democracy.

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