Saturday, 15 June 2013

Updated Version: Is the "Traditional" View of Women a Biblical View?

(*Note: This post has been edited from its original format.  As I'm exploring online sites and learning more about the "do's" and "don'ts" of blogging (yes, there are rules in the world of blogging) I wanted to add more of my own content to this post while sending you to Sallie's site for more on her post. )

I am touched by the numerous gifted women who are courageously using their voices to speak out about the issues and concerns close to their hearts.  Let me just shout out my sincere gratitude to each of you whose blogs have had a visit from me in the last little while.  You are an inspiration to me!!  I may not necessarily agree with everything I read yet there are times when something just resonates with my own heart and I know I need to share it.

That's how I felt when I stumbled upon this post "The Complementarian Argument from Historical Precedence" by Sallie Schaaf Borrink.   Sallie has taken quotes from  "Ten Lies The Church Tells Women: How the Bible has been misused to keep women in spiritual bondage" which describe how prominent leaders in Church history viewed the role of women.  They are shocking reflections of the twisted theology that resided in the minds of many men as a result of the cultural and patriarchal influences surrounding them:

Out of respect to the congregation, a woman should not herself read in the law. It is a shame for a woman to let her voice be heard among men. The voice of a woman is filthy nakedness.
From The Jewish Talmud
No wickedness comes anywhere near the wickedness of a woman… Sin began with a woman and thanks to her all must die.
Apocrypha, Ecclesiasticus 25:19, 24
Do you not know that you are [each] an Eve? The sentence of God on this sex of your lives in this age; the guilt must of necessity live too. 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.
Tertullian (155-220)
Men should not sit and listen to a woman… even if she says admirable things, or even saintly things, that is of little consequence, since they came from the mouth of a woman.
Origen, Early Church Father (185-254)
What is the difference whether it is in a wife or a mother; it is still Eve the temptress that we must be aware of in any woman… I fail to see what use women can be to man, if one excludes the function of bearing children.
St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430)
Take up a stick and beat her, not in rage, but out of charity and concern for her soul, so that the beating will rebound to your merit and her good.
Friar Cherubino in Rules of Marriage on what a medieval husband should do if his wife does not obey his verbal correction
Woman was evil from the beginnings, a gate of death, a disciple of the servant, the devil’s accomplice, a fount of deception, a dogstart to godly labours, rust corrupting the saints; whose perilous face hath overgrown such as had already become almost angels. Lo, woman is the head of sin, a weapon of the devil, expulsion from Paradise, mother of guilt, corruption of the ancient law.
Salimbene, Franciscan Monk (1221-1288)
Woman is defective and misbegotten, for the active power in the male seed tends to the production of a perfect likeness in the masculine sex, while production of woman comes from defect in the active force.
Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)
The woman is subject to the man, on account of the weakness of her nature, both of mind and of body. Man is the beginning of woman and her end, just as God is the beginning and end of every creature. Woman is in subjection according to the law of nature, but a slave is not. Children ought to love their father more than their mother.
Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)
[A woman] is more carnal than a man, as is clear from her many carnal abominations. And it should be noted that there was a defect in the formation of the first woman, since she was formed from a bent rib, that is, a rib of the breast, which is bent as it were in contrary direction of a man. And since through this defect she is an imperfect animal, she always deceives… Since [women] are feebler both in mind and body, it is not surprising that they should come under the spell of witchcraft.
Dominican Inquisitors Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger in a 1468 tract in which they argued that women are the source of all witchcraft.
Women are ashamed to admit this, but Scripture and life reveal that only one woman in thousands has been endowed with the God-given aptitude to live in chastity and virginity. A woman is not fully the master of herself. God fashioned her body so that she should be with a man, to have and to rear children… No woman should be ashamed of that for which God made and intended her.
Martin Luther, 1524
Men have broad shoulders and narrow hips, and accordingly they possess intelligence. Women have narrow shoulders and broad hips. Woman ought to stay at home; the way they were created indicates this, for they have broad hips and a wide fundament to sit upon, keep house and bear and raise children.
Martin Luther
Woman must neither begin or complete anything without man: Where he is, there she must be, and bend before him as before a master, whom she shall fear and to whom she shall be subject and obedient.
Martin Luther
It is an ascertained physiological fact that the actual capacity of the average male brain is considerably greater than that of the female.
M. Burrows in an 1869 article that argued against allowing women to attend college in England
Women have no creative power, inventive genius, or originality. Rather [they are] creatures of instinct and imitation, beautifully adapted to what nature intended.
Anonymous British Doctor, in an 1869 pamphlet opposing women medical students
Many women will be so busy about voting and political office that the home and children will have no attraction for them, and American mothers and children, like Christian charity, will be a rarity.
The Lutheran Witness, in an 1894 editorial opposing women voting
                                                           *     *    *    *    *
In reading the Friar's advice to husbands, "Take up a stick and beat her",  I trust you made the connection to my previous post The Gospel Coalition, the SGM, and the Subject of Abuse.  It should come as no surprise that within the psyche of some "traditional" men there may still be remnants of such thoughts which would legitimize a man's entitlement to exert, what he perceives to be, necessary power and "correction" over an "unsubmissive" wife.

When we continue to hear conservative churches complaining about the feminist movement and how it undermines the "traditional" views (which many believe are more "biblical" than the current trend towards egalitarian relationships), I'm left wondering what exactly about these quotes would make any of us want to go back to the not so "good old days"?

These  quotes are a stark reminder that the "reformation" often associated with Martin Luther did not address biblical reform as thoroughly as it should have.  In so many ways, relational and social "reform" did not even begin until certain courageous women were willing to lay their lives down so that you and I would know what FREEDOM in Christ was intended to look like, and feel like.  (Sallie's post goes into greater detail of how women in the early 1900's were tortured for wanting to be considered "persons", wanting to cast their vote, and simply wanting to own their own property).

"The greatest social revolution in the history of humankind has occurred in this century.  It is not so much the scientific, nor technological, nor any political revolution, but rather the radical change in the status of women relative to men." (A Woman's Place" by S.S Cowles)

I am so appreciative for the exhaustive work of individuals like Mimi Haddad,  and organizations like Christians for Biblical Equality, who have equipped many of us with solid theological teaching on the subject of gender issues within the Evangelical Church.  It has been such a blessing for me to glean from CBE's wealth of material and information over the last 15 years and I am looking forward to attending my first CBE Conference in Pittsburgh with my husband this summer.   

It's because of so many Evangelical leaders within the Body of Christ that woman are finally learning to see themselves as God sees them, through the redeeming and transforming work of Jesus upon the Cross.  The "traditional" veil was lifted as surely as the temple veil was ripped apart!!  God has made a way for all of us to enter into the very holy of holies where previously only the High Priest could stand.  The Royal Priesthood of ALL believers ( 1 Peter 2:9) includes BOTH men and woman and there is NO "New Covenant Priesthood" that belongs exclusively to men.  Woman in Christ everywhere are experiencing immeasurable joy as our hearts taste the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Free at last... and not ashamed!!!

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