My struggle is largely the part of me that will not accept that I am nothing more to YHVH than a slave laborer and baby maker; that my purpose must always remain inferior to that of a man. I know there are women out there who say they have not been treated like this. I am happy for you. The traditional church has definitely made some headway with respect to women and how they are viewed and this is good. I am not convinced, however, that the roots of the misogyny tree have been pulled up and cast into the fire. These roots go deep and their fruit is still in evidence today. We are subjected to it by misguided men whom I have watched disrespect women by walking out on them when they speak, using them sexually and when it goes south, blaming the ‘Jezebel’, and banging their chests like Tarzan and yelling, “You will not usurp my authority!”
From the text in Genesis, various other places in Scripture, and from many early to late Jewish writings, the intent and position of the woman is shown to be one of equality and honor. (Clearly, some Jewish writings and prayers do denigrate women, but by and large, that is not the case.) Yeshua, himself was especially attentive to women and related to them as he related to anyone else. Did the culture cause problems for women? Definitely! Was it ok with YHVH for women to be treated as property? No. Is our culture any different? Has context been sacrificed for a doctrine that says men are somehow better than and more capable than women?
What follows is not nice. But it must be brought to light if we are to understand where this way of thinking came from and why it persists today. I will start close to Yeshua’s day and move forward to today. Please, google and discover that I am not making this up. (See author's comments in purple)
160-225 CE: Church Father Tertullian: “You [woman] are the devil’s gateway: you are the unsealer of that (forbidden) tree: you are the first deserter of the divine law: you are she who persuaded him whom the devil was not valiant enough to attack. You destroyed so easily God’s image, man. On account of your desert—that is, death—even the Son of God had to die.” So Yeshua, who died for all, died more for women and less for men?
150-215 CE: St. Clement of Alexandria (Greek Father of the Church) : "Every woman should be filled with shame by the thought that she is a woman...the consciousness of their own nature must evoke feelings of shame"
347-407 CE: St. John Chrysostom (Bishop of Constantinople) : "It does not profit a man to marry. For what is a woman but an enemy of friendship, an inescapable punishment, a necessary evil, a natural temptation, a domestic danger, delectable mischief, a fault in nature, painted with beautiful colors?...The whole of her body is nothing less than phlegm, blood, bile, rheum and the fluid of digested food ... If you consider what is stored up behind those lovely eyes, the angle of the nose, the mouth and the cheeks you will agree that the well-proportioned body is only a whitened sepulchre."
347-420 CE: St. Jerome (well known scholar) : "Woman is the root of all evil.
354–430 CE: St. Augustine (Doctor of the Church and Bishop of Hippo) : "I don't see what sort of help woman was created to provide man with, if one excludes procreation. If woman is not given to man for help in bearing children, for what help could she be? To till the earth together? If help were needed for that, man would have been a better help for man. The same goes for comfort in solitude. How much more pleasure is it for life and conversation when two friends live together than when a man and a woman cohabitate?" Augustine’s arrogance basically says that if YHVH were really smart he would not have created woman as his helper.
480 - 524 CE: Boethius (Christian Philosopher) : "Woman is a temple built upon a sewer.”
540-604 CE: Pope Gregory: "Woman is slow in understanding and her unstable and naive mind renders her by way of natural weakness to the necessity of a strong hand in her husband. Her 'use' is two fold; sex and motherhood."
1200-1280 CE: St. Albertus Magnus (Doctor of the Church) : "Woman is less qualified [than man] for moral behavior.
"Woman is a misbegotten man and has a faulty and defective nature in comparison to his"
1225-1274 CE: Thomas Acquinas: "Woman was made only to assist with procreation."
1483-1586 CE: Martin Luther: "Women should remain at home, sit still, keep house and bear and bring up children"
"If a woman grows weary and at last dies from childbearing, it matters not. Let her die from bearing, she is there to do it."
"the wife should stay at home and look after the affairs of the household as one who has been deprived of the ability of administering those affairs that are outside and concern the state…."
"There is no gown or garment that worse becomes a woman than when she would be wise." Martin Luther’s vitriol against women is second only to his anti semitism.
1509 -1564 CE: John Calvin: "All women are born that they may acknowledge themselves as inferior to the male."
1703-1791 CE: John Wesley, founder of Methodist movement (1703-1791), letter to his wife, July 15, 1774: . . .of what importance is your character to mankind, if you was buried just now Or if you had never lived, what loss would it be to the cause of God.
1992 CE: Pat Robertson, Southern Baptist leader, fundraising letter July 1992: The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.
1999 CE: James Fowler, Women in the Church, 1999: The Holiness of God is not evidenced in women when they are brash, brassy, boisterous, brazen, head-strong, strong-willed, loud-mouthed, overly-talkative, having to have the last word, challenging, controlling, manipulative, critical, conceited, arrogant, aggressive, assertive, strident, interruptive, undisciplined, insubordinate, disruptive, dominating, domineering, or clamoring for power. This is character unbecoming to ANY believer, not just women! Rather, women accept God’s holy order and character by being humbly and unobtrusively respectful and receptive in functional subordination to God, church leadership, and husbands.
This is where we are and it is not ok, beloved.