By Karen L. Garst | 16 September 2015
Most Christians believe that God is omnipotent which means all powerful. Most also believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God with some going further to state that it is the inerrant word of God with every word being true. Given these assumptions, God had a choice in choosing a woman, Eve, to be the person to eat of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, to be the cause of original sin, and to suffer pain in childbirth. Would an omnipotent God choose half of his creation to be maligned, abused, and subordinated throughout most of human history? Couldn’t he have come up with a better story to talk about making the right choices?
Or could Eve have been chosen in this story of Genesis because this book is not sacred or the inspired word of a deity, because it was written by men who believed women were their property, and because it was used to suppress the worship of the Canaanite goddess Asherah? A tree or pillar as well as a snake, often represented Asherah, as well as many other goddesses in other religions. Both of these symbols are found in the Biblical story of Eve lending credence to this latter view.
Deuteronomy 22:21 states the following. If a man married a woman and the “tokens of her virginity” could not be proved, she would be killed. “Then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father’s house and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones.”
A woman’s virginity is lost when she has sex with a man. In this story, nothing happens to the male half of this equation. It is thus the law of God to treat women as inferior to men and to blame them solely for an act that it takes two to commit. In the Bible, only in the case of adultery is the man punished in equal measure to the woman. What untold horror has beset women because of this “law of God?”
In Genesis 19:8, Lot offers his two virgin daughters to the mob threatening to rape the two angels he is harboring. His daughters are used simply as barter.
Is this the story of parental love that you want your children to read? Wouldn’t you do anything to save the lives of your children? Yet this story resides in a book in church pews across the world. What does it say about a religion whose deities would sacrifice a man’s daughters to save themselves (as the angels did nothing to intervene)?
4. Women as cause of a plague
In Numbers 31:17-18, God tells Moses to “avenge the people of Israel on the Midianites.” After the battle Moses rebukes his soldiers because they let the women live. Because they were the cause of the plague, he orders his soldiers to “kill every woman who has known man by lying with him.” He allows the soldiers to spare the virgins and keep them for themselves.
How can this be interpreted as anything less than a lack of knowledge about disease and an opportunity for men to rape virgins? Today we know a virus causes the plague. Why wouldn’t an omnipotent God know that? Why would he let women be killed? Why didn’t he stop Moses?
5. Jephthah’s daughter
Jephthah makes a vow to God to give him the first person that comes out of his house if he returns victorious from fighting the Ammonites. He wins and sacrifices his virgin daughter who is the first person to greet him.
Isn’t this a vow to God? Couldn’t God have told Jephthah to go and sacrifice a lamb instead like he did in the case of Isaac? Why didn’t God act the same when a daughter was involved instead of a son?
6. Sacrifice of Isaac
Abraham is willing to follow the dictates of God to kill his son. Fortunately, in this case, God intervenes and Abraham is allowed to sacrifice a lamb instead.
Should any woman or man believe in a deity that would ask a father or mother to sacrifice their children to him? If this is a test, it is a cruel test indeed. And where is Sarah the mother? She is not present, she is not consulted, and she has no say in the matter. This is a book written by men and for men to justify their power over women. Isn’t it interesting how Sarah is barren and God even takes over the power to cause pregnancy?
7. Harlots and prostitutes
If a daughter of a priest “plays the harlot,” the punishment is severe – “She shall be burned with fire.” (Leviticus 21:9)
This concept of blaming the woman for sex outside of marriage still endures today. Prostitution is not legal in most of the United States and prostitutes are regularly arrested. It is the rare case, where the men who frequent prostitutes are arrested and charged with a crime. Isn’t this just another example of men’s power? Is this really something a loving God would condone? Or is it the means by which men maintain control of women?
8. Mary is a Virgin
Matthew states that Jesus was born of a virgin who is called Mary. Matthew explains in Chapter 1:23 that Jesus’ birth fulfills the Old Testament prophesy – “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son.” This virgin birth is a key tenet of Christianity today.
Unfortunately, Matthew used a mistranslation of Isaiah 7:14 to compose his text. The word in Isaiah in the original Hebrew means young woman, not virgin. The Revised Standard Version of the Bible now correctly translates Isaiah using the words young woman. Doesn’t this lend credence to the fact that men wrote these gospels? Wouldn’t God have known the correct translation? Why didn’t Jesus write down his own story?
9. Men Are in Charge of Women
1 Corinthians 11:3 states that the “head of every woman is the man.” This passage, as well as many others, has been used to keep women in a subordinate position throughout most of the last 2000 years.
Do women support this inferiority today? If they do feel they are men’s equals, how can they square that with the teachings of Christianity?
10. Women Should Be Submissive
In 1 Peter 3:1-2, women are told to be submissive to their husbands.
Women and men should be equal. Religion and particularly Christianity in the United States has been used throughout this country’s history to subjugate women. Even today, men use the Bible to justify their beliefs on issues such as access to birth control or abortion. It’s time for women to acknowledge that this religion, like most others, was created by man and by man alone.
Reprinted with permission from the author.
Karen L. Garst, PhD, is the former executive director of the Oregon Community College Association and Oregon State Bar. She writes at the Faithless Feminist.
Women Beyond Belief: Discovering Life Without Religion
By Karen L. Garst
Pitchstone Publishing (October 1, 2016)
Women Beyond Belief: Discovering Life without Religion
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