I’m reading a book titled, Holy Misogyny: Why the Sex and Gender Conflicts in the Early Church Still Matter, by April DeConick. Its revelations on vilification of the female in the first centuries of Christianity would repel even most conservatives today. I had encountered much of this material before but had forgotten the details—who said or did what outrageous thing. The ugly story presents a backdrop to contemporary events and helps to explain the glacial pace of change today in the treatment of women and girls.
[Jerome, translator of the Bible into Latin,] spells out all the details of fostering a virgin whose body would become the temple of God. The girl child must be kept in total seclusion . . . She should be taught such shame of her female body that after puberty she should never bathe again, being humiliated by the mere thought of seeing herself naked. She should learn to mortify her body, to subjugate it and live in deliberate squalor to spoil her natural sexiness.
“unstable, prone to error, and mean spirited.” Death entered the world through a woman’s action. As a consequence, she cannot be trusted or obeyed.
Do you not know that you are an Eve? . . . You 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. . . . On account of your desert, that is death, even the Son of God had to die.
According to Augustine, the “hideous” unwilled erection of his penis was the consequence of sin and woman was its source.
I myself shall lead her in order to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every woman who will make herself male will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
Holy Misogyny 2, November 2
The misshapen views of “Church Fathers” on women cannot be separated from their theology, which reflects their opinions on gender. Imagining God to be entirely male with no vestige of the feminine fits their twisted view perfectly.
Every Hebrew-speaking individual from early childhood was imbued with the idea that God was a masculine deity. No subsequent teaching about the aphysical, incomprehensible, or transcendental nature of the deity, could eradicate this early mental image of the masculine God.
To speak of God (Ifray) with such terms as "he" and "Father" was totally inconsistent with their grammar and went against their whole notion of the creation (after all had a man ever given birth to a child?).
Comedians observe behavior they perceive as discrimininatory or biased and then communicate it to their audiences in a humorous way. A current example is how Stephen Colbert is offering a humorous million dollar challenge to Donald Trump with the same deadline of October 31 that Mr. Trump is giving President Obama to provide information to Mr. Trump. Mr. Colbert implies that his request is just as outrageous (and silly) as Mr. Trump's.
If only we could joke about women's issues, but, unfortunately, as long as we have mostly male legislators who feel they can decide what's best for women's bodies and their healthcare, it's a man's world. We can call it the United States, but it's still ruled by and for men.
On October 13 and 14 I will be at the Women & Spirituality Conference in Mankato, MN to give a presentation and attend other presentations. My topic is Sexist God-talk.
God as exclusively "HeHimHis" describes male power as natural, normal, proper, and right, and female power as unnatural, abnormal, improper, and wrong. In this way, the Christian “Lord” promotes male domination and therefore gender abuse. In fact, it promotes all types of inequality by establishing hierarchy and domination as the essential, even sacred, structure of the universe.
Those of us still in the Christian tradition can help to transform sexist God-talk with its immoral power structure by taking every opportunity to insert inclusive God-talk into liturgical and everyday language. This workshop will suggest many ways to diminish the power of “the Lord” by naming the Holy with feminine and non-hierarchical terms.
Religious God-talk trains people to worship an idol, an imaginary lord god who endorses male domination. It teaches everybody, not only religious people, that females have no status. Real transformation can come only if we allow women to become confident and powerful. This requires cleaning our religious language of God-talk that reduces the Source of All That Is to a lord or lords, definitely male and definitely lording it over others, especially women and girls because female terms for God are forbidden.