Christian Mysogyny: Alive And Well In America

It is a fact that if you tell someone for a long enough period of time that they are inferior, then they will come to believe it of themselves.  In modern psychology, treatment is available for people with an inferiority complex. Through therapy, the patient can regain their sense of self-worth and equality and re-emerge into society with a sense of equality and a drive for success in whatever area of life the purse, because their definition of self will come from within.  A healthy sense of self-worth, self-respect and self-awareness will usually result in the individual holding a high regard and acceptance for other individuals.  It will result in the individual respecting the choices, lifestyles and personalities of others.  It will result in the awareness that just because another individual is different from them, that they are not a lesser person. These qualities are exemplary and in our society they are most apparent in free thinking people who are largely unfettered by traditions such as religion.  These individuals are generally the ones who are most responsible for paradigm shifts in societal norms, usually at the behest of traditionalist, particularly religionists.

If one considers some of the main leaps forward that our society was dragged forward, sometimes kicking and screaming, it becomes apparent that there is a battle between those who would prefer that humanity stagnate in the realm of “this is the way we’ve always done it” or “because god said so” and those who would see our society advance toward a time where there was no inequality, prejudice, bigotry and misogyny.

Which brings us to the topic of today.  Misogyny, which is defined as a hatred, contempt, dislike or distrust in women – especially by a man. In American society, misogyny is rampant and is the sole reason why there exists gender inequality in almost every area of life.  And it started with and continues to revolve around the dominant religion of our country, Christianity, and its guilt about sex, its insistence on female subjection and its dread of female seduction.  The sole instigator is man identified as Paul of Tarsus. St. Paul’s epistles contain such outright misogynous statements that many modern scholars have come to the conclusion that he was probably either overtly or latently homosexual.

I used to wonder why any reasonable woman would choose a religion that would immediately put her in a position of subjugation to another human being. But after thinking about it for a while, it became apparent that many of these women have been either physically, mentally or verbally abused by their husbands, fathers or other influential men in their lives, or have been abandoned by them.  Having been taught that Christ will never leave them or forsake them and has nothing but pure love for them, some of these women have replaced their abusive husbands with Christ and fathers with Yahweh.  Others have come from deeply and traditionally religious families where it was taken for granted that women were viewed as unequal to a man, or equal but with different roles.  This, of course, reeks with the George Orwell’s famous line from “Animal Farm” that “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others”.  Of course, the entire Christian faith is based on credulous servility. 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.  Well, I am sorry, but I am going to have to call ‘bullshit’ on this.

The simple and unarguable fact is that misogyny is fundamental to the basic writings of Christianity and it is such an intricate part of religious society that entire movements have been undertaken to make the advances that women have achieved in recent US history.  The right for women to vote, testify in court and own land are more recent than many people are aware.  Women are still paid less than men who hold the same jobs 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.   Misogynistic biblical verses are so common enough that if opened a bible to a random page, there odds are pretty good that you’ll find one wherever your finger lands.  What makes me shake my head is that Christian women will defend these passages, and many times will use apologetics that were written by misogynist Christian men.  They easily justify it by trying to reason in various ways, but in the end, it always comes down to ‘because god said so’

This is especially true for the first part of a passage in Ephesians, chapter five, that 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, which is largely ignored.  This is probably a good thing because Christ has pretty dim view of his church. But I will leave that to another installment here.

The bible is filled with all kinds of wonderful tidbits such as “These are they which were not defiled with women” from the book of Revelation (14:4), and “How then can man be justified with God? Or how can he be clean that is born of a woman?” from the book of Job (25:4)  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, like it or not, 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 husbands who beat their wives were exempted from prosecution. We won’t even get into the five-hundred year long period of Church history that saw unending and perfectly legal torture and murder of “witches” because Exodus 22:18 says, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live”

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. Even the denominations that have acquiesced to women pastors, they are few enough far and in between to be seen more than just tokens. Christian men will argue that the church has made many advancements over the years, but this is simply untrue.  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 Catholic Church still has reservations about contraceptives and has put considerable time, money and energy into supporting further restrictions on abortion laws.

The bible is rife with misogyny and degrading passages about women.  It relegates them as equal to slaves.  It treats them as property and chattel 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 same value as that of a man, and that men are the only ones who are to hold any positions of authority. The Christian views the bible as the inerrant, infallible and sometimes literal word of their god. For the life of me, I cannot understand why any self-respecting woman would choose to be a Christian.

I have assembled the following passages from “the good book”, Protestant and Catholic versions, to 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.” (Deuteronomy 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” (Ecclesiasticus 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, and in many ways the Christian misogynist not so dissimilar to his Muslim counterpart. As long as American 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. Pastor’s 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 misogynists would like nothing better than to take this country back to the days of television “Father Knows Best” and “Leave it to Beaver” which kept 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 menfolk.

  15 comments for “Christian Mysogyny: Alive And Well In America

  1. true relationship with God
    August 28, 2010 at 11:26 am

    A “relationship” with Jesus Christ is TOTALLY different than the “religion” of christianity.

    Religion is man-made. True relationship through the Spirit of God is God-made or God divinely initiated.

    Religion represents bondage and limits of “man”

    Relationship represents freedom and liberty, which is what Jesus Christ’s true message was all about.

    Which is better?

    • August 28, 2010 at 1:09 pm

      Neither, they are both delusional. You are having a relationship with an imaginary being. You are not free, but a prisoner of your own mind, where there is no liberty.

      • Leslie
        October 14, 2012 at 8:31 pm

        This is absolutely, hands down, the best article i have read in my enitre life. However, Al, this comment was just uncalled for and cruel. Please dont act just like the christians.Lets all have some respect and civility.

  2. November 27, 2010 at 11:58 am

    I keep telling those claiming to follow Christ how badly they fail at it, esp. in this issue, but power is intoxicating, and slavery is viewed as safety by many (sounds like the political climate right now, but I digress).

    I follow Christ; I revere the Bible as God’s Word. But I read the Greek and see a very different Bible than what the translations have conveyed. And I wrote about it, if anyone wants to see egalitarian/mutualist writings from a Christian: http://books.fether.net/index.php?theBook=1

    This is a huge and complex issue, but I don’t do proof-texting and won’t accept it from anyone else. And I keep confronting the misogynistic teachers, as do many others. We’ve shown up their lies and ridiculous logic, and their lame, 1st-year Greek “scholarship”. But they forge on.

    FWIW, I refuse to support any org. that promotes even the mildest misogyny, and know that those who speak of the Constitution from one side of their mouths will take away women’s rights with the other.

  3. November 27, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    I’m one of those Christians that has been shown how some people who claim Christ as their God manipulate scripture for their own control issues. Paula has been one of many voices that has helped me see the difference between bad “scholarship” and responsible Bible scholarship.

    And, to be fair about the apostle Paul, I have also read his “letters” to the specific churches dealing with specific issues, with specific people and he has been WAY misrepresented. There are plenty of us who have read his writings in the New Testament that see him supporting women and their equal place in society. He was actually bucking the Roman/Jewish trends. Again, what Paula said about the translations being corrupted by agenda-driven men (and women) seems to be coming more to light. Thanks to the internet, we have much more resources to check history, backgrounds and actually original languages than ever before. There’s a groundswell of people who are learning without the help of authoritarian leaders with control issues. Yay! us!

    I agree, though, with your general discontent and how you’ve viewed the christian religion. I think that Jesus really would be/is grieved how people have abused his words. Actually, his words in the Gospels tell a different story than what you may hear in many church services today that focus on gender “roles”.

    Check out Paula’s website for her links and research. I’ve also got some on my blog, if interested. There’s a wealth of resources that point to a better way and Christians who believe in the equality and respect of women.

    • November 27, 2010 at 4:13 pm

      Fancy meeting you here, Kathleen! And thanks 🙂

  4. genevieve blais
    February 14, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    I’ve shared your opinion for a long time, and it is not difficult to see the effects of religion in the contemporary treatment of the female. While many feel as though religion is archaic and a thing of the past, overturned by secular science, I feel it still provides a moral fabric for our society and its values (albeit false) are imbued in the collective psyche.

    Great entry, I really appreciate the examples you’ve provided, and I’m interested to see your thoughts on other topics!

  5. Judy Bechteli
    July 8, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    Excellent article! I feel that christianity and the buy bull reeks of misogyny. It basically wants women to be slaves of men. I don’t understand the attraction for women to these religions. Many people say that the bible doesn’t really mean what it says, that people take it out of context. Wll, if it doesn’t mean that women should be slaves (submissives)to their husbands, why does it say it. If it doesn’t mean that women are unclean, why does it day it. Women need to run from chrisitanity and the buy bull. That is precisely why so many women have inferiority complexes. The buy bull specifically say that women are inferior. From my understanding of the buy bull, women are below all the animals.

  6. October 23, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    An excellent article. I would like to add that story of The Virgin Mary is another example, of misogyny in the bible and Christianity. Many Christians cite her as proof that their faith loves women, as she is a person who is “revered” in their holy book. This might be true, however, when one considers that the *ONLY* reason she is revered is because she produced a child without actually having sex, and that she was a virgin, one can see that the story of Mary is nothing but utter patronisation of women. She is the most praise worthy woman in the faith, but only because she was a mother [to Jesus]. Thus its adding to the idea the sole purpose of women in society is to produce children.

  7. November 10, 2011 at 11:39 am

    What amazes me is female politicians who seem to underwrite the misogynist agenda, often citing religious beliefs for their support for paying women less than men for equal work, not promoting women to positions of leadership, hiring men in preference to women, and so forth. The christian nationalist party (aka – the GOP) seems replete with females who are outspoken advocates for discrimination against women! Does that not speak to the power of the christian misogyny?

    • Hal Day
      May 5, 2012 at 9:04 am

      The GOP is the Christian Nationalist Party. Hmm. Christian Nazi-ism? Heil Christos!

  8. Emma
    March 17, 2012 at 11:26 pm

    Actually, one of the key teachings of the Bible is the respect for women – Jesus treated the women he encountered with a love and respect that was almost unheard of in those days (for instance, the Samarian woman he spoke to at a well).
    Secondly, many of these passages have been grossly taken out of context; for instance, in the passage that speaks of Lot’s willingness to turn his virgin daughters over to the crowd, this is shown as 1) an example of how living in a wicked city corrupts even those who are not wicked to begin with and 2) an act that is disgusting and unjust.
    Here are some examples of how the Bible exalts women:
    Ephesians 5:25
    Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. (NIV) (Jesus died for the church because he loved us so much)
    Proverbs 31:28-31 Her children arise and call her blessed;her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

    • Common Sense
      July 8, 2012 at 1:27 pm

      Emma get your head out of your ass. You believe in fearing a myth!!! Grow up little girl mind!!! Do you want a lollipop little girl? Men support this shit because they like the idea that they can be in charge and be the man. You are gullible!!!!
      Nobody walks on water and turns water in to wine or has a snake talking to them unless they are bipolar and or schizophrenic.
      There are several parallel myths as in Mithras, Zeus, Dionysus and Bacchus who turned water to wine; had 12 followers and were born virgin which existed before the myth of Jesus.
      And if you believe in the following as quoted in the New Testament you are an imbecile (moral idiocy).
      “Let the women learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.” (I Timothy 2:11-14
      Subjection: Bring, make under domination or control, esp. by conquest.

      Truth Be Known http://www.truthbeknown.com/origins.htm

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