(This is a transcript of Al Stefanelli’s “Voice Of Reason” segment on my American Heathen® Internet Radio Show)
It does not profit a man to marry. For what is a woman but an enemy of friendship, an inescapable punishment, a necessary evil, a natural temptation, a domestic danger, delectable mischief, a fault in nature, painted with beautiful colors – St. John Chrysostom
I’ve written a lot lately about the issues in our media regarding the religious right’s attack on women, their reproductive systems and the misogynist comments made by religious leaders and politicians here in these United States. It’s not difficult at all to find them because misogyny is rampant in our society. Just consider the almost endless coverage of fetal personhood bills, laws restricting abortion and the plethora of other stories we read every day that make us shake our heads.
Misogyny is the sole reason why there exists gender inequality in almost every area of life, and it almost always comes back to Christianity’s doctrines that surround guilt about sex, the insistence on female subjection and the dread of female seduction. I have had many Christian men and women tell me that their religion is not misogynist, and that they revere women and that their religion fosters a respect for the female sex for a variety of reasons.
This, of course, is complete bullshit…
Misogyny is fundamental to the basic writings of Christianity and most of the Christian women that I know freely admit that they are subject to the authority of their husbands. In the bible, women are basically commanded to accept a role of inferiority and to be shameful for the simple fact that they are women.
Misogynist bible verses are so common that if one opens a bible to a random page, the odds are pretty good that you’ll find one close to wherever your finger lands. To add insult to injury, many Christian women will defend these passages with apologetics that were written by misogynist Christian men.
The most common one is that women are equal, but have different roles. This, of course, reeks with the Orwellian “some are more equal than others,” which is a common theme that many of you have read or heard me use many times before.
Wives, Submit Yourselves…
The book of Ephesians, chapter five, states,
“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. . . .”
Yes, there is the second part about men treating their wives as Christ treats the church, but it seems that part is largely ignored. I know plenty of Christian men who use this passage to justify some pretty bad behavior.
In fact, I have been privy to many conversations where Christian men joke about how they order their wives around and treat them like complete shit, refer to the above “submission” verse, and have a good ol’ laugh-fest.
Also in fact, I have found that there is a lot of conceptual accuracy to this, among Christian men. Women have always and largely continue to hold subservient positions in Christian churches. Most denominations do not allow a woman to be clergy, particularly the role of pastor. Christian men will argue that the church has made many advancements over the years, but the patriarchal church still views women as property and this is glaringly obvious with respect to the control a woman has over her own body. The bible is rife with misogyny and degrading passages about women. It relegates them as equal to slaves. It treats them as property, to be traded for a variety of things in ways that can only be described as prostitution. It is very clear that the life of a woman does not hold the equal value to men.
From The Horse’s Mouth…
The bible is filled with all kinds of other wonderful tidbits such as Revelation 14:4,
“These are they which were not defiled with women”
And who can forget Job 25:4,
“How then can man be justified with God? Or how can he be clean that is born of a woman?”
Tertullian, one of the early church fathers, took misogyny to new heights when he 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”
Christian men have a long history of treating women as chattel, and up until recently, it was still legal for a man to beat his wife, and those husbands who beat their wives were largely exempt from prosecution. We won’t even get into the five-hundred year long period of Church history that saw the unending and perfectly legal torture and murder of “witches” because Exodus 22:18 says,
“Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live”
That, by the way, was a mistranslation. The word “poisoner” would have been a more accurate one.
God Hates Women…
I have assembled the following passages from Protestant and Catholic versions of the bible, to further illustrate my point:
“No wickedness comes anywhere near the wickedness of a woman…..Sin began with a woman and thanks to her we all must die” (Ecclesiasticus 25:19,24).
“A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I don’t permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner” (I Timothy 2:11-14).
“The birth of a daughter is a loss” (Ecclesiasticus 22:3).
“Keep a headstrong daughter under firm control, or she will abuse any indulgence she receives. Keep a strict watch on her shameless eye, do not be surprised if she disgraces you” (Ecclesiasticus 26:10-11).
“As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.” (I Corinthians 14:34-35)
“When a woman has her regular flow of blood, the impurity of her monthly period will last seven days, and anyone who touches her will be unclean till evening. Anything she lies on during her period will be unclean, and anything she sits on will be unclean. Whoever touches her bed must wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he will be unclean till evening. Whoever touches anything she sits on must wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he will be unclean till evening. Whether it is the bed or anything she was sitting on, when anyone touches it, he will be unclean till evening” (Lev. 15:19-23).
“If a man takes a wife and, after lying with her, dislikes her saying, ‘I married this woman, but when I approached her, I did not find proof of her virginity,’ …and no proof of the girl’s virginity can be found, she shall be brought to the door of her father’s house and there the men of the town shall stone her to death. She has done a disgraceful thing in Israel by being promiscuous while still in her father’s house. You must purge the evil from among you.” (Deut 22:13-21)
“A bad wife brings humiliation, downcast looks, and a wounded heart. Slack of hand and weak of knee is the man whose wife fails to make him happy. Woman is the origin of sin, and it is through her that we all die. Do not leave a leaky cistern to drip or allow a bad wife to say what she likes. If she does not accept your control, divorce her and send her away” (Ecc 25:25).
“Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God…A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head” (I Corinthians 11:3-10).
“They called out to Lot and said, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Send them out to us so we can have sex with them! Lot went out to them at the entrance and shut the door behind him. He said, “Don’t do this evil, my brothers. Look, I’ve got two daughters who haven’t had sexual relations with a man. I’ll bring them out to you, and you can do whatever you want to them. However, don’t do anything to these men, because they have come under the protection of my roof.” (Genesis 19:5-8)
Misogyny has been responsible for some of the most heinous crimes against women in history. As long as our society upholds the bible as a moral guide, misogyny will exist and women will continue to be disrespected by never-ending sexism, objectification and discrimination in almost every area of life.
Pastors, Preachers and Priests all across the nation continue to advise abused women to stay with their husbands and Christian children are taught misogyny to be perfectly acceptable every week in Sunday schools across the nation.
These children grow into adults who continue to perpetrate this dogma toward their wives, mothers, sisters and daughters.
The misogynist would like nothing better than to keep women at home, in the kitchen and subject to the authority of their husbands with little or no thought of pursuing a higher education and “interfering” with things that are better left to the “men folk.”
(This is an exerpt from Al Stefanelli’s new book “Free Thoughts – A Collection Of Essays By An American Atheist.”)