Christianity tries to convince women they have more freedom as Christians than they would in the other two Abrahamic religions. However, it just isn’t true. Of the three Abrahamic religions Judaism affords women more freedoms. The Law, as Christians refer to The Torah, took special care to protect the tribe’s women. Therefore, Judaism is less sexist than Christianity. This article will explain 5 of the reasons Judaism is less sexist.
1. Judaism is Less Sexist Than Christianity In Sex
The first reason Judaism is less sexist than Christianity is that Judaism recognizes a woman’s need for sexual pleasure. Under Jewish law, a woman has the right to leave her husband if he is not having regular sex with her. In fact, there are specific laws about how often a man is required to service his wife, according to his job. A typical laborer should service his wife at least every Friday. The law specifically states that this applies to women who are barren, pregnant, or too old to reproduce. Therefore, this has nothing to do with procreation. Further, the law states that the husband cannot have sex with a woman against her will or when she is asleep. Clearly, the law is to ensure the woman’s sexual needs are met. Sex and Religion states:
“Judaism regards a husband’s “proper intention” as engaging in sexual intercourse not for the purpose of satisfying his own desire, but rather to provide his wife with sexual satisfaction.”
In Christianity, women’s sexuality is never considered. Christianity has no specific laws about a woman’s right to sexual pleasure. In fact, a woman who enjoys the pleasures of the flesh is often demonized. Sex is meant for procreation. Sex and Religion states:
“Through much of history, Christianity has valued sex chiefly for its procreative potential. Other positive qualities of sex- such as the feelings of intimacy it can foster or the physical pleasure it can deliver- were largely overlooked or disparaged.”
Secondly, Judaism is less sexist than Christianity when it comes to how it treats women’s menstruation. Because Christianity places no distinct laws on menstruation, its women are still expected to work and perform “wifely duties” for the husband, should he so desire. This is despite the fact that menstrual cramps have been medically proven to be as painful as a heart attack. Women are expected to endure this pain, suck it up, and keep working.
However, Judaism says a woman is to be left alone while menstruating and have a full-body submersion bath before returning to society. In addition, her husband should not have sex with her for seven days following. In this way, the woman is given time and space to heal. She is not expected to continue with work while the lining of one of her organs is being shed. Sorry to be so blunt, but it seems people do not understand the severity of what is happening inside a woman during this time. Sex and Religion states,
“Interestingly, in recent years the practice of immersion in a mikveh has been reexamined by some Jewish women both within and outside Orthodox Judaism. These women have reclaimed and reinterpreted immersion in a mikveh as a woman-centered practice that celebrates women in the community, female autonomy, the female body, and female sexuality.”
Jewish and Female says,
“There are two distinct schools of thought on this issue among Jewish women: those who believe that the laws of ritual purity hark back to a punitive blood taboo and reflect male fear and loathing of women; and those who believe that the laws and rituals surrounding mikveh are sensual, spiritual, expressive, allow room for women to experience a symbolic rebirth each month, and in addition link them with a traditional Jewish woman’s activity that goes back thousands of years.”
3. Judaism is Less Sexist Than Christianity In Divorce
The third way Judaism is less sexist than Christianity is in the matter of divorce. Historically, Christian women could not divorce their husbands for any reason other than adultery. This changed when civil divorces became legal for women in the US. However, many churches still encourage women to stay with their husbands and be a light to them, even in the case of domestic violence. However, men have always been allowed to divorce their wives for any reason. Sex and Religion states:
“Tragically, too many times in the past abused women were advised by their Christian pastors to remain submissive to their tormentors, in supposed fidelity to the Bible’s commands.”
On the other hand, even in ancient Judaism women had the right to request a divorce if the man was beating her, if the man had an std or impotence, in the case of adultery, and if the man was not having regular sex with her. Sex and Religion states:
“In some circumstances, including a husband’s affliction with “offensive” physical ailments or his failure to maintain his wife and adhere to the laws of onah, a woman was given the opportunity to petition a rabbinical court to compel a husband to grant her a divorce by giving her a get. Some rabbinic authorities argued that sexual incompatibility and wife beating were also grounds for divorce.”
4. Representation in Holy Scriptures
Divorce is not the only place Christian women have no voice. The New Testament has no books named after women. The Old Testament has two books named after women. Further, women and their stories play a much bigger role in The Old Testament. In the New Testament, women are background characters, but in the Old, they are the stars of their own story.
Finally, Judaism honors its women as mothers and the givers of life, but Christianity views women as property. As such Jewish women’s place in the home life is that of honor. They are seen as the moral compass of their home and family. The house and family are the “woman’s domain.” In this way, she is in charge of her home. She is the spiritual head of her family and responsible for their spiritual health. In fact, Jewish heritage is considered to be passed on only through the mother’s line. A Jewish father does not mean the child is Jewish. Sex and Religion states:
“The arena of the good wife, in Rabbinic Literature, was the domestic realm, where her responsibilities focused on her husband and on the household, including the rearing of children.”
However, Christianity is exactly the opposite. Christianity sees the man as being in charge of the family and responsible for its spiritual health. In Christianity, the children take on the name and religion of their fathers. The father is seen as the spiritual head of the household and the provider. In this system, the female loses all her power. Sex and Religion says:
“Others would call the equality of the sexes illusory, insofar as the man is placed over his wife as “servant leader,” while she is to “submit herself” as his “helper.”
Conclusion: Judaism is Less Sexist Than Christianity
Of the three Abrahamic religions, Judaism has always been the one that gives more power to its women. Christianity and Islam do not think about women’s needs or wants, as they view her as her husband’s property. Judaism, however, has always had laws specially meant to protect its women and honor its mothers.