Why Women And The Bible Don’t Mix
After thousands of years of recorded history, we’re just now arriving at a point where women are starting to receive fair and equal treatment in many societies. It’s an irrefutable historical fact that some of the major sources of this unsolicited oppression were drawn from references of women’s treatment in the Old and New Testaments. This chapter will show that the Bible takes a clear and undeniable stance in its advocation for the unequal treatment of women. Furthermore, I will prove that the authors of the Bible intended for women to play the role of a man’s servant from birth until death. I will consistently and successfully defend this position using the words of God, allegedly speaking through Moses. Through this demonstration, I hope you will see that the incredibly dishonest teachings of Moses arose from an earthly source inferior to an omniscient deity. Subsequent works of Paul and his peers show only how gullible they were in so readily accepting the Old Testament scriptures as fact.
After reading this chapter, I hope you will have a greater awareness of how the Bible instructs men to treat women. More importantly, I hope you will appreciate the lack of divine inspiration behind such commands encouraging this mistreatment. The only alternative is to conclude, yet again, that a deity with desires this immoral is clearly not worthy of observance.
The Rules Of Marriage
Let’s start our analysis at the “beginning.” Everyone has heard the story of God becoming angry with Adam and Eve for eating the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. Although God punishes both for disobeying his directions, the author clearly places the majority of the blame on Eve for tempting her husband. God says to Eve, “thy desire is to be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee” (Genesis ). Since the other suppressing punishments on the couple, such as Eve’s childbirth pains, are still in effect, we have no justifiable reason to think that the servitude punishment applies solely to Eve and not the gender as a whole. If the Bible is the true word of God, this passage demonstrates his desire for women to live life in subservience to men. In actuality, however, someone most likely invented this portion of the patently unreliable story as a justification for the ongoing inferior treatment of women.
Chapter 21 of Exodus provides us with some very detailed instructions from God on women and marriage. For example, in the instance that a father sells his daughter to another man who is not pleased with her, she must be redeemed. Regardless of the amount of satisfaction that the girl provides for the man, God’s rules still allow him to acquire another wife. If he so chooses, the first wife is not allowed to leave unless her master refuses her food, clothing, or other marriage duties (Exodus 21:7-11). These words would later serve as justification for men, such as King David, who had hundreds of wives and concubines. We’ve also learned in this passage that women are to be sold as slaves and treated as sex objects. If you dislike this conclusion and still believe the Bible to be the divinely inspired word of God, you must either unwillingly follow God’s derogatory and dehumanizing orders or take an opposing position against the almighty.
The demoralizing instructions for daughter selling aren’t the only rules of marriage that God sanctions. If a man decides he no longer wants to be married to his wife, he can attempt to have her killed by claiming that she lost her virginity prior to their marriage. Following this accusation, the woman must then provide sufficient physical evidence, such as a bloodstain, to demonstrate that his accusations are fraudulent. In the event that she fails to prove her innocence of this “crime,” she is to be stoned to death because of this utmost act of disgrace. Guilty until proven innocent is the law within God’s court. Any woman who accidentally tears her hymen due to an injury or other non-sexual act is simply out of luck because she could never prove her virginity. Thus, she would be at the mercy of her husband throughout her entire life. If evidence is produced to exonerate the woman in question, the accuser is fined a couple pounds of silver and forced to stay married until death (Deuteronomy 22:13-21). In this case, what does the man really have to lose?
Some rules following the death of a man are relevant to his wife’s well-being. According to the rules of Moses, the deceased father’s inheritance goes entirely to his sons. If he has no son, it goes to the daughters. After that, the inheritance should go to the closest male relatives (Numbers 27:8-11). Not only do the boys of the household have priority over the girls, the wife is also noticeably absent from the will. Instead, God’s law forces her to marry her husband’s brother, provided she doesn’t already have a son with her former husband. However, the brother-in-law has the right to refuse the marriage; the woman does not (Deuteronomy 25:5-9).
Menstruation is a natural occurrence in the lives of most women. However, the God of the Pentateuch despises this biologically necessary bodily process and gives instructions on how to deal with these treacherous circumstances. During menstruation, God deems the woman unclean. No one shall have any contact with her for seven days or until the bleeding stops. God deems anyone or anything she touches unclean. If she touches another person, God deems that person unclean until he bathes. In fact, the same goes for anyone who touches something that she previously touched (Leviticus -30). All this uncleanliness is resolved by needlessly killing two doves. Admittedly, there are similar laws for male ejaculation, but men can actually suppress these events to some extent.
Childbirth is another natural event that God deems foul. If a woman gives birth to a boy, she will be unclean for seven days while she undergoes the same ritual for her menstrual period. She must then be purified for thirty-three days and barred from entering worship during this time. If she produces a girl, the sentence of solitary confinement is doubled to fourteen and sixty-six days, respectively (Leviticus 12:1-5). In addition to God unfairly designating women as filthy individuals following childbirth, this passage heavily insinuates that girls are dirtier than boys because it punishes a woman more harshly for giving birth to a female child.
Woman’s Darkest Hour
Rape, the paramount fear of many women, rears its ugly head in the Bible as well. Fortunately, God ensures that the authors list it as a crime under a few circumstances. Unfortunately, God permits the sexual violation of women on more than one occasion. More unfortunately, the fine for committing one of the most heinous acts known to man without God’s permission is only a pound of silver to her father and a forced marriage to the victim if she’s not already engaged or married (Deuteronomy 22:28-29). Yes, God’s idea of justice for the female victim is to be horrendously punished again by forcing her to marry the man who savagely attacked her. This disgusting rule is nowhere near what most people would consider an ethical resolution, and it’s certainly not a decision rendered by any court I’d like to be facing.
If a man rapes an engaged virgin who doesn’t cry loud enough to draw attention, the community should consider the attack consensual if it took place within the city. Thus, the whore must be stoned to death per God’s instructions. It obviously doesn’t matter if the woman is too scared to scream because the law makes no such exception. The man will be stoned to death as well, not because he committed a brutal atrocity against the woman, but only because he “violated another man’s wife” (Deuteronomy ). Note the shamefully sharp contrast in disciplinary action between raping a woman with a husband and raping a woman without a husband: death versus a pound of silver. Since it’s all the same to the woman, it now becomes clear that God feels the husband is the one who is the victim of the attack.
As I previously mentioned, the Bible regrettably provides some situations in which rape is entirely permissible, even encouraged, by the Hebrew god. Recall the rule of marriage specifying how a man can force his daughter to marry and sleep with another man. This in itself is completely reprehensible and rises to the level of rape if the woman is unwilling, but the outlook for women only worsens as we continue our reading.
In the matter of Moses’ war victory over the Midianites, God had previously commanded him to build an army and defeat the enemy. After successful completion of this task, his army takes thousands of war prisoners. Moses then orders his army to kill the remaining men, boys, and women who have already slept with a man, “but all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves” (Numbers 31:17-18). If taking a human war trophy based solely on the prisoner’s gender and sexual status isn’t implied permission to commit rape, I honestly don’t know what is. Even God receives thirty-two virgins as his share of the spoils, but they’re handed over to the priest for obvious reasons (Numbers 31:40-41).
The “women children” mentioned in the passage certainly included young girls. Some female inhabitants of the city had to have been several years away from entering puberty, but don’t pretend these barbaric savages capable of killing defenseless women thought twice about waiting a few years for the girls to mature. Well, what eventually becomes of these foreign women kidnapped in battle?
When thou goest forth to war against thine enemies, and the Lord thy God hath delivered them into thine hands, and thou hast taken them captive, And seest among the captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldest have her to thy wife; Then thou shalt bring her home to thine house; and she shall shave her head, and pare her nails; And she shall put the raiment of her captivity from off her, and shall remain in thine house, and bewail her father and her mother a full month: and after that thou shalt go in unto her, and be her husband, and she shall by thy wife. And it shall be, if thou have no delight in her, then thou shalt let her go whither she will; but thou shalt not sell her at all for money, thou shalt not make merchandise of her, because thou hast humbled her. (Deuteronomy 21:10-14).
More Old Testament Atrocities
One other mistreatment by omission should come to mind upon completion of reading the Pentateuch: the failure to mention the explicit impermissibility of sexual relations between fathers and daughters. The only such instance that comes to mind is the record of Lot’s daughters getting him drunk to become pregnant by him (Genesis 19:30-38). However, the author tells the story using disturbingly tranquil commentary. Had God considered this a reprehensible act, one would assume that it would be noted in some way for its distastefulness. In fact, Moses provides a long list of people with whom we are not to have sexual contact in Leviticus 20:10-21, but noticeably absent from this list is the debauchery of a father with his daughter. We also know from previous analyses that daughters are the sole property of their fathers. Finally, we can safely assume that these father-daughter relationships existed thousands of years ago, as they secretly do now. The omission of this regulation can only lead to the conclusion that it was permissible, or at least somewhat condonable, for a father to rape his daughters.
The historical books, Joshua through Esther, begin the popular trend of multiple-wife lifestyles. Among those who have several wives and/or concubines are Gideon, Elkanah, David, Rehoboam, Abijah, and Solomon, who I believe is the winner with 700 wives and 300 concubines. Even so, divinely inspired biblical authors wholeheartedly claim that God looks upon these men favorably. Would we expect God to view these individuals in a positive light if this lifestyle was displeasing to the almighty?
We find several more cruelties perpetrated against women in these historical books. Such atrocities include a woman given away as a prize (Judges 1:12-13); a woman offered as a sacrifice (Judges 11:29-39); married daughters given to other people (Judges 15:2); rape, murder, and mutilation by a mob; (Judges 19:22-30); abduction of virgins (Judges 21:7-23); purchasing of wives (Ruth 4:10 and 1 Samuel 18:25-27); and God punishing David by allowing his son to sleep with his wives and concubines, an act for which the women were later imprisoned (2 Samuel 12:11-12, 16:22, 20:3).
If you read the book of Proverbs, you will find more sayings than I care to list that reiterate how women can be evil, strange, adulterous, foolish, contentious, etc. The book concludes with an observation on the rarity of a virtuous woman. According to the author, if you find one such woman, she’s worth far more than rubies (Proverbs 31:10). Enlightened readers, on the other hand, should quickly realize that all humans are more valuable than material possessions, regardless of their sex, color, or creed.
The books of prophecy, Isaiah through Malachi, have the most vivid images of God tormenting women. Some examples of God’s actions not previously covered include the giving away of people’s wives (Jeremiah 8:10), justifying a woman being raped (Jeremiah 13:22), making men “become as women” (Jeremiah 50:37), denouncing menstruation (Ezekiel 18:6), telling Hosea to acquire a wife that he knew would be purchased (Hosea 3:1-2), aborting children in their mothers’ wombs (Hosea 9:11-12 and 13:16), ridiculing an army by labeling them women (Nahum 3:13), and taking part in a war concluding with women being raped (Zechariah 11:4). Again, I don’t feel there’s any reason to worry over such matters because none of this will ever happen due to direct intervention by the fictitious version of God depicted in the Old Testament.
New Testament Atrocities
The outlook doesn’t substantially improve for women in the New Testament either. The author of Ephesians insists that wives should submit to their husbands in everything (5:22-24). While it’s true that the author later instructs men to love their wives and treat them well, what does a devout Christian woman do when her husband decides to break the bounds of his instructions by asking her to embrace something she knows is evil? Remember, the woman has no right to divorce the man. In addition, the author fails to mention the existence of any out clause for her in such a situation. It would appear as though she has no choice but to comply with his orders if she is to obey the words in the scripture.
The authors of Colossians, Titus, and 1 Peter all agree that women should submit to their husbands (3:18, 2:5, and 3:1, respectively). The books of Peter also forbid women to wear any type of decorative jewelry to adorn their bodies (1 Peter 3:2-6), refer to women as the weaker vessel of the couple (1 Peter 3:7), and deem Lot to be a righteous man even though he once offered his daughters as a suitable alternative for homosexual rapists surrounding his house (2 Peter 2:8 referring to Genesis 19:4-8). A man with the immoral qualities of Lot cannot be regarded as righteous unless you discount the inherent rights of all people, more specifically, the inherent rights of women.
The author of Timothy also follows suit with his bigoted opinions of women. Like Peter, he says that females shouldn’t wear decoration or try to usurp authority over their husbands. Instead, women should remain silent and fully submissive to them. As he also declares that Adam was not the one who was deceived in the Garden of Eden, Eve is clearly the party implicated as being responsible for the downfall of man (1 Timothy 2:9-15). This author isn’t particularly kind to widows either. He says we should leave these women in need because their rewards will arrive as an answer to prayer. A widow experiencing pleasure while she’s still alive, on the other hand, is already dead in the afterlife. In the author’s eyes, the only respectable widows are at least sixty years old, have had only one husband, and have been well known for their positive accomplishments in life. In contrast, younger widows aren’t worth assisting because they eventually remarry, become idle, or venture from house to house with their gossip (1 Timothy 5:5-15).
As we discussed near the beginning of this book, Paul is no doubt the single most important figure in getting Christianity to where it is today. Unfortunately, he is also one of the most sexist people you’ll find in the New Testament. Paul is very adamant in his belief that women aren’t useful for much more than sexually satisfying their husbands. He even remarks that it’s good for a man to refrain from touching a woman, but he realizes the need for a man to have sexual contact and permits each to have a wife (1 Corinthians 7:1-2).
Paul also tells a story in his letter to the Romans about men “leaving the ‘natural use’ of the woman” to have sexual relations with other men (Romans 1:27). The passage is more or less saying that the natural use of a woman is to function as a derogatory sexual outlet for a man. He continues to spread his bigoted beliefs in a letter to the Corinthians by unambiguously declaring the man to be the head of the woman, similar to the way that Jesus is the authority figure for men. Paul also says women, who are the glory of men, were made for men, who are the glory of God (1 Corinthians 11:3-9). The clearly implied chain of importance goes Christ first, man second, and woman last.
Paul also establishes a few ground rules before the men can bring their women to church. The women are to choose between concealing their heads and having their hair completely shaven. Later, Paul takes away the latter choice by declaring a shaved head to be a disgrace in need of covering (1 Corinthians 11:5-7). He also doesn’t permit women to speak in church because that also is a shame. If they have a question concerning the material, they must ask their husbands at home. Paul also reminds us once again, “they are commanded to be under obedience” according to the law (1 Corinthians 14:34-35). If you ever attend a Southern Baptist church, you will notice that its members tend to remain clung to these values in some fashion. Unfortunately, some ultra-conservative members continue to take these biblical guidelines into their homes.
Are Women Equal To Men?
Dozens more examples of cruelty to women exist throughout the Bible, but I feel this will be sufficient in making my case. Women had suffered terribly for thousands of years because of what men, not any god, wrote in the Bible. To some extent, women still endure coarse treatment stemming from their own religious beliefs and those observed by their husbands. I hope you realize that the authors of the Pentateuch were not divinely inspired to write declarations of women as the sole property of men. Instead, the books should once again read as though some group is depending upon the gullibility of the people to serve their own desires. In essence, the Old Testament authors misled the New Testament authors into believing that they actually recorded the “wonderful” and “loving” God’s authentic orders. Not knowing any other society than the one in which they were raised, the New Testament authors felt compelled to endorse these regulations.
Many Christians continue to adhere to these cruel, senseless, and morally bankrupt codes, but most have illogically reasoned their way out of following God’s eternal commands. Many Christians have declared that the Old Testament regulations died when Jesus arrived, but three key verses can once again tell us that this simply isn’t a valid deduction. “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil” (Matthew 5:7). “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18). “And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail” (Luke 16:17). Furthermore, as the New Testament instructions postdate Jesus’ life, the failed suggestion doesn’t even attempt to resolve the problems created by New Testament authors. Even if we allow the repeal of these old traditions, does this act justify centuries of biblical oppression? For the reasons presented in this chapter, I urge all men to use their intrinsic common decency, not the Bible, when deciding how to treat a woman.