“The great unmentionable evil at the center of our culture is monotheism. From a barbaric Bronze Age text known as the Old Testament, three anti-human religions have evolved – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. These are sky-god religions. They are, literally, patriarchal – God is the Omnipotent Father – hence the loathing of women for 2,000 years in those countries afflicted by the sky-god and his earthly male delegates”

– Gore Vidal


  1. Ellis


    I haven’t replied to a post of yours in a while, but I had to reply to this one. I, too, am appalled at the treatment of women in the American church. What troubles me the most is that I do not believe that a Christian can justify masculine superiority with the Bible for several reasons.

    1. In referencing Paul’s statement that women should be quiet (1 Cor. 14:34), many Christians have taken the verse out of context. Paul isn’t saying that all women should be hushed. What he is saying is that if conflict rises amongst a group because a woman is speaking, have her sit down, and allow a man to speak, in order that the gospel reaches the people’s ears. Contextually, women were looked down upon in that society, and many men were going to be upset with a woman speaking. Paul is saying that if this becomes an issue in a group, he tells the woman to sit down, and has a man speak. For Paul, it was more important for the group to hear the gospel’s message than to take issue with the cultural chauvinism of his day–something he saw as secondary, and something that wouldn’t be transformed in a single meeting.

    2. Other points in Paul’s letters point to the equality of all humans in Christ. For example, in Galatians 3:27-8, Paul says, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

    3. In Romans 16:1-2, Paul talks about Phoebe, a deaconess in the church at Cenchrea. He says, “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deaconess of the church in Cenchrea. I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been a great help to many people, including me.” This is hardly a misogynistic attitude towards this woman, and it appears her role is important in the church in Cenchrea.

    4. Rationally, keeping women quiet in the church worldwide doesn’t work. In Japan, for instance, the Christian church is comprised by and large by women. If the women sit around waiting for a man to show up and do the good, nothing will get done. Are misogynist Christians willing to admit that churches in places such as Japan are to remain idle until a man happens along? Sounds silly to me.

    5. While I consent that the majority of similes for God are masculine, He’s also described in scripture in feminine terms, i.e. a Mother Hen.

    6. There are lots of woman in the Old and New Testament used by God for his purposes, they have books named after them. Too many to discuss briefly here.

    While I concur with Vidal that the oppression of women in exists in the monotheistic faiths, Christians cannot support such a fundamentalist idea with scripture. The idea must be carried out ignorance, touting verses out of context, and with an agenda in mind.

  2. gray

    i would say the subjugation of women is less religiously based, and more biologically based. men are larger, faster, and stronger than women, therefore they became the providers while women were the nurturers. men saw their role in society as “more important” than the woman, and thusly, the woman became the second-class citizen.

    certainly, the worlds’ religions were then later concocted to bolster this opinion, as they were written by men (as opposed to transcribed from the heavens or something) and would by their very nature support the assertion that men dominate the world. seems pretty clear cut.

    but arguing the bible and it’s many different (and conflicting) verses is a moot point, especially when responding to an atheist. i don’t doubt ellis’ research of the scripture is sound and correct, but when quoting a text that is neither sound, nor correct (at least to the atheist…or historian…or scientist) that research does not serve the argument. why not quote greek mythology? it would sound the same to the person you are trying to make your point to.

    not that what i’m saying will have any bearing on your (ellis) life, but since you took the time to craft such an exhaustive response, i figured someone at least owed you a counter.

  3. Ellis


    Thanks for your response. I always enjoy the discussion, and I feel that I can learn a lot from skeptics/agnostics/atheists.

    I agree with you that the Bible has a good many inconsistencies. I’m a Christian, and I’m still figuring out how I am supposed to respond to the Bible, when at times it appears to be counteracting itself. God breathed, but penned by man. Perfect or imperfect or perfect in its imperfection? I honestly do not know. Any copy of the Bible with good commentary in the margins will point these issues out. For me, this is kind of wonderful. I like the mystery of these inconsistencies, and I like the fact that archaeology and scholarship is still informing us about these texts. Theology, like any area of study, isn’t worth anything if there isn’t any mystery. To quote the great G.K. Chesterton: “Mysticism keeps me sane. As long as you have mystery you have health; when you destroy mystery you create morbidity.” Richard Dawkins immerses himself in his work because it is fascinating, because there is territory to discover, and despite this mystery he places all of his faith in the notion that science will give humanity all that it needs. To quote Chesterton again: “If [the mystic] saw two truths that seemed to contradict each other, he would take the two truths and the contradiction along with them. His spiritual sight is stereoscopic, like his physical sight: he sees two different pictures at once and yet sees all the better for that.” For me, Biblical inconsistencies lead to a search for truth. I, like any true mystic, am more concerned with Truth than consistency. I am also aware that the search will be far from exhausted long after my bones return to the earth.

    To respond to your point about using the Bible for my argument, I quoted the Bible because that was the source Vidal was referring to. Even if the Bible was fiction, I believe there’s enough evidence for the edification of women in the text to counteract fundamentalist ideology. Had Vidal attacked Greek mythology, I’d have used that source.

    As always, I thoroughly enjoy the discussion, and it is refreshing to see people reading, thinking, asking questions, and being discontent with the status quo. In the words of Modern Life is War: “Churches and bars are full, but the library is vacant.” It’s a shame.


  4. why dont you just kick her ass since you are “larger, faster, and stronger”? speak for yourself by the way, i think most women could chokeslam me…

  5. Ellis


    Yeah, I know, I’m a parrot. Not such a bad thing if you’re the shoulder of an especially badass pirate. Pushead anyone?


  6. Gray


    I don’t “get” the Pushead reference. Maybe you are confusing your skateboard graphics and meant to reference Kevin Staab instead? Maybe my mental catalog of Pushead imagery is missing some nautical pieces. Who knows?


    “Why don’t you just kick her ass…”? Really? I don’t think even the Bible would tell you that women are worthless, or that they should be removed from society, or even physically harmed. I mean, who would do my laundry? Thank you.
    Also, if you are under constant threat of being chokeslammed by a woman, that might explain your prowess (or lack thereof) on the badminton court. Pitiful. This tarnishes my victories over you, and jeopardizes my Olympic status. Thanks a lot.

  7. my net is still up!!!

    im sure jeff could find the passage that says something about how killing a woman with your thumbs is ok… or something like that.

    all i need is the golden rule… and some earplugs.

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