Friday, March 28, 2014

Religion: Man Made. For Men.

Troll Question:
Why does God hate women?
The meme misquotes and misinterprets what's going on.

For example, in Leviticus we are dealing with someone who is an indentured servant (this was not lifelong slavery but a way to work off debt). It's not treated as adultery on her part because she is engaged. It's not dealing with rape because there was a specific word for forcible sex and it's not used here. Both are punished because both have committed a sin. Also, it doesn't say he was her master. It could have been anyone.

In Exodus, it's also not dealing with rape; she's coming into the household with a marriage in mind, not to be raped.

If no one has slept with her, but they decide a marriage should not take place, she goes free. If not, she's married by the father or son. The reason she does not go free (meaning leave) is because she is married. She is given the rights of a daughter.

So it seems this meme was created by someone who is misreading the Hebrew Bible, and unfamiliar with Ancient Near Eastern law. Rather than assuming the bible promotes one univocal message about men and women, it may be better to consider that there are multiple perspectives within its pages. Given this poor treatment of the Bible, it is fair enough to assume the other religious texts quoted have likely been misconstrued as well. I have not explored those texts, but I am interested in hearing any Buddhist, Jainist, or Muslim interpretations of them.

Much controversy.
I should mention that Christians that are complementarian and teach male headship do not look to the Old Testament to support their interpretation, but look to Paul's second letter to Timothy. However, historical and cultural context tells us much about what Timothy was dealing with in Ephesus. Paul gives us certain clues that Artemis mythology pervaded the church there, and he chose to use Genesis counter-narrative to address it. If male headship feels patriarchal and 'un'complementary, that is probably because it is. Paul's letters were written in submission to laws of a culture under Roman occupation after all.

I think it's important to recognize that human history is deeply patriarchal, regardless of our true equal nature. So seeing egalitarian themes in ancient texts, especially the Old Testament, can appear nuanced and subtle. It was Jesus who really set the stage for female equality in leadership, and it was only a seed that was planted at that. We have limited material from the early church, but we do have reference to Lydia, Junia, Priscilla & Phoebe as influential women in high leadership positions, even instructing men. It should also be noted that the first witnesses of the resurrection were women - Mary & Martha. This is important because utilizing women in a culture that suppresses women gives a massive amount of integrity to the historicity of the resurrection claim. And it would seem the apostles received this message.

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.~ Paul, Galatians 3:28

Jesus gives us all proper status as equals. If we truly love Jesus, we need to elevate women and give them equal human status like Jesus did.

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