Sunday, September 29, 2013

Gender Equality In The Bible

I often see silly claims made about the Bible.  We all do.  It's a silly book.  Today's silliness was on the issue of equality between men & women[1].
When I asked him about it, the answer I got was Ephesians 5, specifically verse 21 to the end of the chapter[2].  Of course, I looked up the part he referenced.  Here's what it says[3].
Instructions for Christian Households
21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
The first sentence says to submit to each other.  But that's the extent of the equality expressed.  It tells wives to submit to husbands as they would to Jesus/God.  It tells husbands to love their wives, as Jesus loves his worshipers.  Note the different words it uses when instructing each.  Women are to respect men as their superiors, and men are to love women as their inferiors.  This isn't equality, it's a hierarchy with women below men and men below Jesus.

But he thinks this is where the Bible states men & women are equal[4].
I'm not writing this to accuse him of misogyny.  He didn't say anything blatantly misogynist and did express the opinion that men & women are equals.  However, he is ignorant of what it says in the book he reveres.  But's it's not just that.

He's ignorant of what it says, even after actually reading it.  He simply doesn't see the problem with the Bible here.  Probably because he doesn't want to see any problems with the Bible at all.  And that's the problem.

Too many are unable/unwilling to view the Bible critically.  No matter how vile its contents are, it's beyond reproach.  They've given up their ability to reason when it comes to the Bible, so they end up defending it.

Fundamentalists use the book to justify their bigotry, because the bigotry matches what is in the book.  So-called moderates, while actually trying to condemn the bigotry, end up defending it by revering the book the bigotry is based on.

So, which is worse?  Those who are blatantly bigoted, giving people good reason to not trust the Bible, or the otherwise good people who defend a bigoted book because of their own ignorance?  And how do we get the latter to see what the book really says when they've already read the part they should be offended by?

Sadly, none of this is new.  Just like most other problems related to religion, it keeps coming back up.  Maybe that's why so many atheists are so frustrated when dealing with the religious.  It's aggravating to keep dealing with the same errors, that should be easily solvable, over and over again.

Skepticism isn't just about not believing in things that don't have evidence.  It's about persistence in the face of so many people who do.  Maybe it's a never ending battle to fight against belief in the unreal.  But that's certainly better than the alternative.


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