August 2009
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Sexism in the Bible

I have the great P.Z. Myers in my RSS feed, and read his post, Men, Women Divided Over Sex Bill. It’s about a bill that proposes to criminalize marital rape, and it’s opposed by bible thumpers (even a women is quoted) on the grounds that “the woman and the man become one flesh” so marital rape, by definition, cannot occur, it’s abuse of one’s own body. It’s a view that strongly encourages the thinking of women as property, rather than partner.

Reading the objections to the bill reminded me of a conversation that I had with a friend about The Bible and Homosexuality, who claimed that I had misinterpreted the following passage:

  • Romans 1:26-27

    For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
    And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

I claimed that this was the only passage mentioning lesbianism. But apparently this is not true, the real interpretation I would never have guessed because I’m not misogynistic enough.

Apparently the sin of women in this passage, isn’t that they slept with each other; it’s that they refused to sleep with a man (their natural use). And the men sinned in that they disregarded the women for their natural use.

I know that the Bible is awash in passages that treat women as chattel, but, really, this is just too much! I have to agree with Christopher Hitchens when he says that Christianity is immoral. I’m also perplexed by the statistics which show a slightly higher religiosity among women; do people even read their Bible, or are they too busy thumping it?! I think that many of the moral gains achieved by our culture have been made in spite of the Bible. It’s a good thing that our secular culture promotes equality and tolerance; because the Bible sure doesn’t!

4 comments to Sexism in the Bible

  • Darren Davis

    Is it just me or does this sound a bit like the Taliban-influenced push to legalize marital rape in Afghanistan?

    Moderate Christians sometimes portray moral gains as “maturity” in interpreting the Bible, but I don’t think this addresses the issue because the core issue of moral gains’ origin remains unaddressed (and seems traceable to explicit shifts *away* from religion, such as the Age of Enlightenment), nor is there even an argument that the more “mature” interpretation has a better Biblical basis.

  • If the Bible really is the word of God, then why doesn’t it contain a prescription of good, moral behavior that is not subject to interpretation? Why couldn’t God just lay things out in unambiguous terms? This ‘maturity in interpretation’ is hogwash.

    I have a much more parsimonious explanation: Moral behavior isn’t absolute, and can’t be codified. We’re still figuring this stuff out. The ‘maturity in biblical interpretation’ is post-rationalization for how the book says what we now desire to be true. Changing our minds about what’s considered moral behavior is a necessary (but not sufficient) condition for moral progress.

  • Ben Erickson

    oh how i miss hanging out with people that not only think for themselves, but have rational thoughts… these army folk are killing my intellegence

  • Yeah, I would never fit well into the armed services. Even when I was working on Base as a civilian, I could still feel the IQ drain. I sure didn’t come back to grad school because of the money!

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