Religion and Feminism III

I’m on the fourth chapter of my bible study (it is amazing to me now that even though I was born and raised in the church, and have considered myself a practicing Christian for the past 8 years, I’d never actually read the bible end-to-end). As I read this book little-by-little, it blows my mind how twisted and one-sided bible teaching is. I’ve spent 38 years in the church, and I’ve heard, more-times-than-I-can-count precepts about women covering their heads and obeying their husbands, but never-ever-never have I heard the story of Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milkah and Tirzah (Numbers 27: verses 1-10) – a bunch of feminists demanding property rights.

In my study, it seems that it would be completely biblically correct to go over the entire bible with a marker pen, and correct every mention of God as “He” into a “She” or “Ze“, because the word “Elohim” used in the original text is plural. In fact, God says, “Let us create man and woman in our image.” So the ubiquitous “He” definitely seems inaccurate.

It is amazing-horrifying that in all these years, I’ve heard the Sodom and Gomorrah story many times in sermons and elsewhere, and it is used as the linchpin for the church’s anti-gay stance – but have none of these people ever actually bothered to read Lot’s story? Because when I finally read this story, it is impossible to misunderstand – what God condemns in that story is not homosexuality but rape. The context of Sodom’s destruction was their sin – the sin of having an abundance of food and riches but not helping the poor and the needy, and not seeking justice for the poor, the widow, the orphan, and instead practicing abominable deeds (Ezekial 16; Isaiah 1): the abominable deeds refers to raping foreigners (irrespective of gender). So the word “sodomy” should (if-one-was-accurate) refer to ingratitude-uncaring-selfishness-xenophobia-rape; it had nothing to do with homosexuality.

Is there no one to defend religion from this twisting and stretching and perverting by one side? We, as feminists (or as liberals-humanists-anyone-with-some-common-sense), need to claim religion as ours (or at least stop dismissing religion as belonging to the nutcases trying to apply selectively the norms of a different era).


3 thoughts on “Religion and Feminism III

  1. The bible is the perfect book to read to hear what you want to hear. The thing in the bible is it’s about redemption being worked out, not already completed. So it shows trajectories of gender relations getting better, not already perfect from the get go. It doesn’t sugar coat things either.

    Btw, Sodom isn’t even rape… The concensus is that the issue is primarialy a break of hospitality like the tribe of Benjamin story later. It also tires being inhospitable to rape. If God provides than being stingy is inexcusable as much as violating someone… don’t poor people starve and people get hurt by greed? The story ties an extreme action to a seemingly minor one to show its horrible reality.

  2. dear friend, first let me apologize for the long silence. it is not, as it might appear on the surface, because you started talking about religion! but i do have to say i read these posts several times before commenting because i don’t feel i have much to say on this topic. i’m also a little afraid of finding a hard shiny place where we disagree, but i’m going to trust this process and just say what i think. i feel a little bit like you are chastising your co-authors in particular as well as feminists in general for abandoning religion to the misogynists, so i feel like i need to respond. the trouble is that your co-authors are not so much anti-religious people as we are a-religious people, neither of us having been raised in any church or religious tradition. here i can only speak for myself, but i haven’t put any effort in to recovering religion as a feminist simply because i haven’t got any interest in religion. i have no need of it and i find the comfort and meaning it provides you in other places. my worldview, belief system, morality, and sense of the meaning and purpose of life feel to me complete without the presence of a higher power; therefore i do not seek one and honestly i really struggle to understand why others find the need. i’m not just one of those people who doesn’t trust “organized religion.” i’m a person that does not have any realm of spirituality in my life at all. which doesn’t mean that i think it’s inherently bad or antifeminist. i just simply don’t get it. then add to that the tremendous potential and historical track of religion being used as an oppressive force, and it seems dangerous to try to recover it rather than seek that meaning elsewhere. but that doesn’t mean i think you are a bad feminist for being christian. and i’m quite enjoying reading your take!

  3. Dear Friend, Good. I was worried that my ever-growing faith and airing it in my posts would offend. Thank you for reassuring me that this is not the case. And yes, after reading your comment and rereading my posts, I see that it does sound like I am chastising all of you for “abandoning religion”. Yikes! I have to say that it is not what I wanted to do. I respect an a-religious/atheistic stance – It was my stance from approx ages 8-29. And to chastise others taking such a stance was not my objective (although my post does sound like that in places – sorry!). My objective was much more defensive – what I wanted was to stake a claim that there is a role in the feminist community for me (and others like me, who I’m sure are out there but whom I just haven’t met yet). I also wanted to go a step further and claim that I too am fighting the good fight.

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