Women and The BibleThe Bible and the church have been the greatest stumbling blocks in theway of woman’s emancipation. A famous 19th century feminist named Elizabeth Cady Stanton voiced thisabout her struggle for women’s freedom. Women, considered a lower class than themen, wanted this subjugation changed. Part of the reason for the subjugation ofwomen is that the Bible could be interpreted in many different ways to suit theneeds of the interpreter.
These interpretations of the Bible are in partresponsible for the belief that women are of a lower class than men. The reasonthis belief is present in our society is that approximately 85% of Americans areJudeo-Christian. We see examples of these beliefs when we look at the church,the daily lives of women, and the media. Looking at 1 Timothy 2:11-12, we seewhy our religious society could interpret the Bible this way:Let a woman learn in silence with all submission, and do not permit a woman toteach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. We must look at the historical context of the passage. Writtenapproximately 2000 years ago, many parts of the Bible seem outdated.
The passageportrays a time when women were property and were trained to be weak andfragile. This stopped only about 30 years ago. Before this time, society taughtwomen from birth to be submissive to men. What does this mean to us today? Itmeans that although American Society is no longer training women to besubmissive, the problem is still present in our belief system. Many churches donot believe that women should be part of the clergy.
This is because theyinterpret parts of the Bible, such as 1 Timothy 2:11-12, as saying that only menshould preach. In 1848, women made a retaliation to these sentiments. At theSeneca Falls convention, women (including Elizabeth Cady Stanton) signed aDeclaration of Sentiments. In the declaration it states:He allows her in church, as well as state, but a subordinate position,claiming apostolic authority for her exclusion from the ministry,and, with some exceptions, from any public participation in theaffairs of the church(Declaration 1)The people that these women fought against, including other women,believe that it is the duty of a woman to be quiet and submissive.
I haveexperienced this anti-freedom dogma growing up in the Church of Christ community. I experience this dogma when I talk with my grandmother, a woman who lives bythe Word. My grandmother states that I should be a good girl and keep my mouthshut and clean. She says that if I am quiet and do not tell my opinions, peoplewill like me better that way.
My grandmother tries to teach the same submissivequalities that were taught to her when she was young. We, as a society, also seethis in media. In the November 5, 1996 airing of the sitcom Cybil, the futurestepmother of Cybil’s daughter was giving advice to the daughter. The advice wasthat women should let men win arguments. Cybil, enraged, made told her daughterthat she did not have to submit. Along with the belief that women must be submissive and silent, there isalso the belief that women are the cause of men’s downfall and therefore areevil.
The last two verses we look at talk about the story of the fall of Adamand Eve. In the story of Adam and Eve, God tells Adam and Eve that there is onetree in the garden of which they must not eat. Deceived by the devil, Eve eatsfruit from the tree and then persuades Adam to eat it. This act historicallydisplays the deception of man by woman and has put women in a very bad light.
ITimothy 2:13-14 states:For Adam was formed from Eve, and Adam was not deceived, but the womanbeing deceived, fell into transgression. Meant for a different time, the basic belief that women are the cause ofmen’s downfall is obsolete. Some people say that this belief is not present inour society. I have heard men say that the reason that they are in the messthey are in is because of women’s folly. Many popular Hollywood movies todayreflect these misogynistic attitudes and use themes that portray women as eviland deceiving.
In these films, women want nothing else but to destroy men andthe order of society. One popular movie called Eve of Destruction, portrays awoman named Eve as a mechanical tool of destruction that destroys anything thatgets in her path. The name Eve in this film indicates a link to the Eve of theBible, connotating treachery and deception and seen as a bane to man’s existence. Not all the Bible portrays women as submissive and evil. Many stillbelieve that women must obey their husbands and live a life of subservience. Ifpeople look to this interpretation of the Bible for guidance, women will remaintreated as inferior.
I am not saying that we need to get rid of the Bible, I amsaying that we need to get rid of interpretations of the Bible that arederogatory towards women; like the belief that women are not equal.Social Issues