Unlike other Christian writers, I often use sarcasm. As a Christian feminist, it feels like it is a given – at times – that I will do so. In theology school, I lost count of the number of times that one of the male, ordained professors would sort of muse out loud in front of the whole class why women even bothered studying theology. We can’t be ordained – like them. Why bother?
Indeed. For that matter, why don’t women leave the faith altogether? Why do so many of us continue to wait by the table for whatever scraps “they” decide to let fall to the floor? (Answer: because we’re not waiting.)
For example, Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body: one of the most audaciously sexist works that I have ever read. It is – among other things – prima facie sexism to simultaneously describe 1) gender difference as Really Important and 2) women as equal to men while 3) presuming to tell women how to be women.
Sexist doesn’t mean you are evil. It does mean you are (at least partially) wrong.
The Bible is both sexist and deconstructive of sexism. Some of the earliest parts are based on oral, (probably) matriarchal traditions. Thats why it has so many stories that not so subtly mock men for believing that women only exist as property, pawns to be fought over, used, and discarded. If you miss the eye-roll sarcasm, I can see how these stories might read purely as examples (for men) of what not to do. But the text doesn’t really stop there.
People seem to think when God forgives us, God magically forgets whatever it was we did. If only life could be that simple. If only God could be like – there was no serpent, no fruit. I saw nothing.
Sin has consequences. Whatever caused us to do the bad thing, whatever harm we may have done to another person, none of that magically goes away – unless of course we all go magically away, ie. into oblivion.
The Bible critiques the culture in which it is being written. That’s not feminist re-reading. It’s a central theme that goes like this:
God is good. People are sinful. God loves us anyway. Because, God is good.
I say a lot of crazy things, I know. I also know that men say a LOT of crazy things.
For example, we don’t (often) call Dante Alighieri crazy for imagining a hell, purgatory, and heaven that was first and foremost a place for him to work out his own personal vendettas and wish fulfillment fantasies. (Honestly, what else are we going to write about if we can’t write it like that? )
Total honesty? I imagine a world where all the willfully ignorant, sexist guys get torn down once and for all. I like to picture the looks on their faces when they discover that God was not, in fact, falling for their B.S. the whole time. For a second. Then, I spend forever being happy, not thinking about them at all.
In my forever home, no one gets defined purely by their gender (or race or ethnicity or job.) Women are not defined by marital status or the kids they’ve had, if any. In my world, men stop thinking they can control other people’s bodies – and minds – and selves. I don’t need to explain the connection between rape and bodily autonomy to yet another CIS-male who feels entitled to say what the rules are.
God knows, we have fought much harder battles. They will lose. That is a given. I’m tired of pretending that they are even worth our time. So, I won’t. Because, they are not.
Honestly, it was one thing to be sexist back before we knew about things like electricity and that women are people too. Now, it is embarrassing as well as wrong.
One thought on “A Modest Proposal”
The Bible absolutely must be read with an understanding of its original historical context. For the time in which it was written, compared to other religious traditions that existed in that era, the Bible is an incredibly forward thinking book. I mean, the Bible does say you can own slaves, but you can’t own them forever and you have to treat them with dignity and respect. For the time, that was a real step forward.