The Bible and ISIS

An Atlantic article talks to ISIS members to understand their world view. They are idealists and want to create a godly land, with free health care and social security for all, where women will be women and men will be men (i.e. men will go kill things and come back to a warm hearth and good food and a servile wife). [Unsurprisingly, this last image makes me horny (Yes! Yes! I am a feminist but unfeminist stuff tends to make me horny, and I cannot do anything about it – the vagina likes what it likes – so quit hazzling me!).]

Back to ISIS – They believe that the apocalypse is imminent, and are waiting for it and are trying to hasten it’s arrival. They follow the Koran to the letter, and are required to kill other muslims and enslave non-muslims, whose lands they conquer. This is all very biblical! The Bible too predicts apocalypse and requires that believers kill all those whose lands are close to the promised land and enslave the women and children of those whose lands were more distant. God punished severely those who did not follow this rule (example, Saul in 1 David).

Biblical scholars talk their way out of the reality of all this biblically-required genocide by choosing to interpret these commands as referring to our sins i.e. we are required to completely destroy and enslave our own sinfulness (not actual human enemies). Interestingly, conservative American preachers don’t do the same trick of abstraction when it comes to Biblical commands about women, and in this they are completely aligned with ISIS (the difference is merely a matter of degree, but both agree that women cannot be leaders over men, and both interpret instances of women prophets (example, Deborah) as signs of the end-times).

The conclusion that these people – Bible & Koran thumpers – are a bunch of kooks seems unavoidable.

In stark contrast to this kookishness, I read in the same publication about how the black churches provided the key institutional framework for the civil rights movement, and continue to support (albeit at a lesser extent) the black-lives-matter movement. They see Jesus as the original revolutionary, dragged off by the powers-to-be, unfairly charged and killed.

Not sure where I am going with all this…

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).