by Bruce Gerencser cross posted from his blog The Way Forward
Why would any woman want to be a Christian? If the Bible is the Word of God, inspired by God, and every word is true, why would any modern, thinking woman ever darken the door of an Evangelical church?
Over the past hundred years women have continued to gain rights and privileges kept from them by men, law, and social propriety. The right to vote. Equal pay for equal work. The right to use birth control. The right to have an abortion. The right to divorce. While women do not yet have equal rights and privileges in this country, huge progress has been made to that end.
Why don’t women have true equal rights and privileges in America? Don’t deceive yourself into thinking they do. There are still places in our society where the signs say Men Only.
The primary reason women are denied basic civil rights and social privileges is the teachings of the Christian Bible. While we rightly criticize the patriarchy movement, the basic tenets of the movement were common practice a hundred years ago.
Christianity teaches that women are inferior to men. The Bible calls women a weaker vessel. The Bible teaches women are to be married, keepers of the home, bearers of children, and sex partners for their husband. (unless the husband goes Old Testament and has multiple wives and concubines). Quite simply, the Bible teaches that the world of women revolves around husband, food, children, and sex.
If the Bible is meant to be taken as written, women have no part in the governance of society or the church. Women are relegated to teaching children, and, as women age, they are given the task of teaching younger women how to be a good wife.
1 Timothy 5:14 says:
I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.
Titus 2:2-4 says:
That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
The Bible teaches women are to keep silent in the church:
For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church. 1 Corinthians 14:33-35
Let the woman 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. 1 Timothy 2:11,12
The Bible regulates how women are to dress and wear their hair:
In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. I Timothy 2:9,10
But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.
For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. 1 Corinthians 11:5,6
Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering. 1 Corinthians 11:13-15
The Bible teaches that women are to be in subjection to their husband:
The Bible teaches that having a wife is a sure way to avoid fornication:
For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement. 1 Peter 4:5,6
But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. 1 Corinthians 11:3
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 he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Ephesians 5:22-24
Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. 1 Corinthians 7:1-3
Women were created for men:
Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. 1 Corinthians 11:9
And this is just the New Testament. The Old Testament portrays women as chattel, not much different from livestock. Women should be thrilled to have all the liberties the New Testament gives them. (this is sarcasm btw)
Liberal and progressive Christians try to make all these verses go away by saying they are no longer applicable or that they must be interpreted in their historical context. Fine, let’s do the same with Jesus. A case can be made for Jesus being no longer applicable and surely we must interpret the teachings of Christ in their historical context. Of course this would result in Jesus being more irrelevant than he already is.
Millions of women attend Christian churches that believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God. The church they attend proudly claims to be a bible-believing church. Some churches follow the above mentioned verses to the letter while other churches pretend the verses are not in the Bible. The latter are bible-believers lite. If they taught these verses as written there would be empty houses and beds by nightfall.
Many Christian women, those not brainwashed by literalist pastors and husbands, ignore the verses I mentioned. They tend to love Jesus and say screw the rest. While this viewpoint is rationally inconsistent and contrary to the teachings of the Bible, I certainly understand women doing this.
Most Christian women are not into theology. Theology is what men do, they are told. Women are not educationally proficient enough to “do theology”. Best to let men do the hard thinking. Women embrace Christianity and continue in the church because of the social and family connection they have with others in the church. They are willing to put up with being considered second class citizens as long as they can maintain the social and family connections. I suspect this is due to the maternal instinct that most women have.
Some Christian women realize they have been taken captive by the Bible, a book that men use to dominate and control them. Remember the “hell hath no fury” line that talks about a woman scorned? Once women realize they can be free from the control and domination of men…watch out.
Many women, once free, leave Christianity altogether. Others make their peace with God and the church. If their marriage survives, they adopt an egalitarian way of life. Marriage becomes a joint, a shared relationship. Gone are the religious and social strictures meant to keep women in their place.
For those who have left Christianity, how did your marriage and your relationship with your husband change?
For those who are still in the Christian church, what changes have you made to your beliefs and practices to reflect your rejection of the Bible verses above?
Perhaps you still embrace the Evangelical/Fundamentalist teaching on women. Your comments are welcome too.
Comments open below
Bruce Gerencser spent 25 years pastoring Independent Fundamental Baptist, Southern Baptist, and Christian Union churches in Ohio, Michigan, and Texas. Bruce attended Midwestern Baptist College in Pontiac, Michigan. He is a writer and operates The Way Forward blog. Bruce lives in NW Ohio with his wife of 35 years. They have 6 children, and nine grandchildren.