Why do women worship a misogynistic god? A recent conversation with my mom prompted me to ask this question again. I’ve often wondered why Christian, Jewish, and Muslim women offer such heartfelt devotion to a god who considers them to be no more than an afterthought.
My mom has been a Christian all her life. She loves to read Christian fiction and studies her Bible often. She’s read through the entire Bible a few times, but last week she noticed something she had glossed over several times before.
A woman who becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son will be ceremonially unclean for seven days, just as she is unclean during her monthly period. 3 On the eighth day the boy is to be circumcised. 4 Then the woman must wait thirty-three days to be purified from her bleeding. She must not touch anything sacred or go to the sanctuary until the days of her purification are over. 5 If she gives birth to a daughter, for two weeks the woman will be unclean, as during her period. Then she must wait sixty-six days to be purified from her bleeding. – Leviticus 12:3-5
This is indicative of god’s view of women. They are only good for one thing – making babies. Unfortunately, they’re gross because they bleed every month, nevermind the fact that god supposedly created them that way. When they fulfill their purpose and give birth to a son they are considered unclean for a week, but are barred from worshipping god for more than a month. BUT if they give birth to a daughter they are unclean for TWO weeks and barred from worshipping god for more than TWO months! Why? Because twice the female equals twice the icky. God can’t handle that.
After reading this passage with a more critical view, my mom finally realized that god doesn’t have a very high opinion of women. Perhaps this should have been obvious on the first read-through, but I really can’t fault her for that. I took me nearly thirty years to see how ridiculous the Bible really is. I was happy to (finally) hear her question god’s wisdom. It opened up a conversation about other instances of sexism in the Bible.
We all know that Islam is a misogynistic religion because we see it in practice around the world today. The institutionalized sexism in Judaism and Christianity is somewhat more subtle now than in years past, but it’s still enough of a problem that it should be addressed. So let’s explore the root of misogyny in both the old and new testaments.
Eve Was an Afterthought
God created Adam and all of the animals. It was Adam’s job to name all of the animals. Out of all that god had created, Adam didn’t want to have sex with any of them. So god decided maybe Adam should have a human helper and begrudgingly created Eve (Genesis 2:20-24). After a minor incident involving an apple, god thought he should put woman in her place:
I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;
with painful labor you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
and he will rule over you. – Genesis 3:16
Eve ate the fruit and fucked things up for everyone. But don’t worry, women, you can be saved by bearing children.
And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15 But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety. – 1 Timothy 2:14-15
Lot’s Own Daughters Were Worth Less Than Strangers
Most people are familiar with the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. God noticed that there was a lot of “immorality” in Sodom – commonly believed to be rampant homosexuality. God decided to destroy the city, but Abrahams nephew (or brother depending on which verse you go by) Lot and his family were living in the city at the time. God sent two angels to tell them to get the hell out. They must have been eye-candy because the entire town decided to try and rape them. Lot, being the asshole he was, tried to save the men he had literally just met moments before by giving the crowd his two virgin daughters to be gang-raped. God had no objections. Luckily for Lot’s daughters, the man-crazed crowd didn’t want any icky females.
Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof. – Genesis 19:8
The new testament doubles down ont his story and calls Lot a “righteous man” (2 Peter 2:7-8).
Moses Continues the Tradition
The ten commandments list women as being man’s property alongside his house, slaves, oxen, and donkeys. Hear that women? God thinks of you as being equal to a donkey.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor. – Exodus 20:17
God also gives specific instruction on how to sell your daughter into slavery (Exodus 21:7-8). When selling men into slavery, god stipulates that they must be allowed to go free after seven years. No such luck for women. They must stay slaves forever.
To add insult to injury, Leviticus tells us that female slaves are only worth about half that of males.
Set the value of a male between the ages of twenty and sixty at fifty shekels[a] of silver, according to the sanctuary shekel[b]; 4 for a female, set her value at thirty shekels[c]; 5 for a person between the ages of five and twenty, set the value of a male at twenty shekels[d]and of a female at ten shekels[e]; 6 for a person between one month and five years, set the value of a male at five shekels[f] of silver and that of a female at three shekels[g] of silver;7 for a person sixty years old or more, set the value of a male at fifteen shekels[h] and of a female at ten shekels. – Leviticus 27:3-7
God Creates Menstruation, Blames Women
The Bibles itself refutes the idea of intelligent design. Men must be circumcised because god somehow fucked up and gave them a foreskin, and women are sinful for having a period. If these things are indeed sinful, shouldn’t god take responsibility?
Anyway, women on their periods are unclean and sinful. Anything that they touch is unclean. Anyone who touches anything that they touch is unclean. Avoid them at all costs (and don’t even think about having sex with them!)
If you think Republicans have a bad track record with women’s rights, just wait until you hear what women had to put up with in ancient Israel:
When she is cleansed from her discharge, she must count off seven days, and after that she will be ceremonially clean. 29 On the eighth day she must take two doves or two young pigeons and bring them to the priest at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 30 The priest is to sacrifice one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. In this way he will make atonement for her before the Lord for the uncleanness of her discharge. – Leviticus 15:28-30
Proverbs: Women Basically Suck
I found this list on the Skeptic Annotated Bible website. The author of Proverbs had a lot to say about women and most of it isn’t very nice.
- God warns us about the dangers of “strange women.” Strange men are OK though. 2:16-19
- The feet of strange women “go down to death,” and “her steps take hold on hell.” 5:3-5
- Watch out for those evil, strange, and whorish women who lie around waiting to trap innocent men. 6:24-26
- A woman that seduces a man is evil — the man is just an innocent victim. 7:5-27
- We are warned again about “foolish women” who are “simple” and “knoweth nothing,” who drag their guests into “the depths of hell.” 9:13-18
- A fair woman without discretion is like a golden jewel in a pig’s snout. 11:22
- “A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.” 12:4
- “It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house.” 21:9, 25:24
- “It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.” 21:19
- “Strange women” have “deep pits” for mouths into which fall those whom God hates. 22:14
- “Whores” and “strange women” lie around waiting to trap innocent men. 23:27-28
- Don’t even look at any “strange women.” If you do, you will utter perverse things. 23:33
- “Contentious women” are like “a continual dropping on a very rainy day.” There are no contentious men. Well, maybe there are a few, but they are like sunny spring days. 27:15
- One of the four “wonderful” things is “the way of a man with a maid.” 30:18-19
- Adulterous women eat, wipe their mouths, and say “what a good girl am I.” 30:20
- One of the three or four things that the earth cannot bear is an odious woman when she is married. 30:21, 23
- Don’t give your strength to women. 31:3
- “Who can find a virtuous woman?” Virtuous men are much more common. 31:10
Jesus Was a Total Dick to His Mom
Jesus track record with women isn’t much better. Yes, he hung our with a prostitute, but he didn’t let her touch him because women are icky and might “defile” him – whatever that means (John 20:17).
When Jesus’s mom – you know, the Blessed Virgin Mary – came to visit him, he decided to be a dick and refused to see her. He acted as if she were insignificant and the crowd he was preaching to was much more important than the woman who gave birth to him.
Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” 48 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers.” – Matthew 12:47-49
As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.” 28 He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” – Luke 11:27-28
Not cool, man! She was raped by god, traveled to a small town in the middle of nowhere, stayed in a freaking barn, and went through hours of pain to bring you into this world and you dismiss her like she’s nothing.
Jesus also encouraged men to leave their wives and families to follow him (Luke 18:29-30).
The Apostle Paul Wishes Women Would Just Shutup
Paul was largely responsible for the explosive growth of Christianity. Without his influence, it likely would have remained an insignificant Jewish cult. He also spread sexism and misogyny. Paul pretty much hated women and wished they’d just shut their mouths.
He preferred that men not get married and never have sex. But since dudes were having sex anyway, they might as well marry for that purpose alone.
Now for the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” 2 But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. – 1 Corinthians 7:1-2
But remember, ladies, if you get married then your husband is your boss (1 Corinthians 11:3). After all, woman was made for man and not the other way around (1 Corinthians 11:8-9). Always submit to your husbands, that’s what god wants (Colossians 3:18).
He has some nasty thoughts about women in church as well. He says that women must cover their heads when they pray. If they don’t cover their heads, they might as well shave their heads! A bald woman is a shameful thing and a woman praying without a covered head is a disgrace (1 Corinthians 11:5-6).
Women are not allowed to speak in church. A woman speaking in church is a disgrace! If she has a question, she can keep her mouth shut and ask her husband when they get home. God doesn’t want to hear from the ladies. Ever.
Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. 35 If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church. – 1 Corinthians 14:35-35
Women should not wear fancy clothes, have nice hair, or wear jewelry. That would be indecent.
I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes. – 1 Timothy 2:9
Paul will permit women to come to church as long as they keep their traps shut. They’re fine as long as they learn in silence. However, a woman WILL NOT be allowed to teach a man. How dare a woman presume to assume authority over a male!
A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. – 1 Timothy 2:11-12
Sorry, but it’s right there in the Bible. I assume after reading this, women ministers and Sunday School teachers will be resigning en masse. Obviously, they somehow missed this verse.
Several years ago my dad invited Christian author Elizabeth George to speak at his church. Her only condition was that no men be allowed to attend. She took 1 Timothy 2:12 (also known as the dictum of St. Paul) very seriously and would only teach other women. He hid in the sound booth and listened anyway. She’s probably going to hell now.
The truth is that a lot of churches have evolved past the sexist prescriptions of the Bible. They see that women are not the property of men, to be silenced and marginalized. I’ll give them credit where credit is due. At the same time, you can’t ignore the fact that their holy book and the god they worship is a dismissive, misogynistic piece of shit. I’ve only commented on a small fraction of the sexist verses in the Bible. How women can read this book and still be Christian or Jewish (or Muslim) is beyond me. I can only be thankful that my mom is finally waking up.