Posts tagged ‘women’
I’ve come to the conclusion once and for all that a male god, especially as presented and defined by fundamentalist Christianity (or any other religion) is not good for women’s mental health. Millions of men swear by the good ole boy in the sky, but I can’t. I think millions of women are just like me, too. I sincerely believe that we concoct our own gods out of our various upbringings. Roopster’s Creation Story pretty much sums up what I believe happened with religion over the centuries. The gods are of our own making. Therefore it makes sense that the myth makers in history, being mostly male, concocted the god of their choosing.
Coming out of fundamentalist religion, which is completely patriarchal, is very hard, emotionally. The threat of hell and punishment is everywhere in the corners of your psyche. The god of fundamentalism is portrayed in the bible and in church and in all the literature as a punishing daddy who wields a rod of chastisement like nobody’s business. Oh the preachers all say god is merciful and loving, but that’s just double-speak. It’s to prevent reasonable people like you and me from running from the church. This god found in the bible and in church is the idol of every fundie parent’s eye and the supreme model for punishing their own children. I find this abhorrent. For every child out there suffering under the rods of their fathers and mothers steeped in fundamentalism, perpetuating the god as father image is tantamount to spiritual and emotional abuse of the worst order. To hold out this god as the ideal husband and father is abusive in itself…
Even as I answer some male comments on this and other blogs, I feel that niggling worm of doubt, the one in every woman’s brain, telling me, “don’t offend them” “be a good girl” “don’t make the men mad” and then I began to realize that I’ve been so brainwashed by patriarchy that I fear my own thoughts! My gender has been brainwashed so well, that I don’t realize I’m self-censoring until long after the fact. I then think, “whoa! wait a minute! What do I care what a bunch of hypocritical mega-pastors or male pastor wanna-be’s or fundie male mouthpieces for the big P are going to think about me or what I post here?”
I mean, the self-censoring impulse is scary because it is so ingrained and unconscious. For those who never have to censor their own writing (ALL YOU big P(atriarchy) and F(fundie) C(hristian) MEN OUT THERE), they just wouldn’t understand what that means…
I have not always been so strongly affirming of women’s rights. In fact, I grew up in a very conservative religious home where, even though my mother was a single parent, the expectation to conform to the ideals of the church was very evident on a daily basis. I did rebel, though not in the way most would think. I didn’t go out to drink and party. I rebelled by my rejection of 1) the ideals and notions of the church concerning women (and many other points as well), and 2) the notion that everything the church had to say was truth. In fact, if I didn’t reject the infallibility of the church I would have never been able to reject its dogma.
So from a young age I rejected the social values set for me concerning traditional feminine roles. I wouldn’t accept that I was any less intelligent or capable than the males around me. It just simply was not part of my make up. I didn’t even entertain those ideas long enough to let them flourish. Instead, I would get upset each time an outward manifestation of these expectations was displayed. It would infuriate me when I was put down so that a male could be honored – simply because he was a male and I was not.
One of the primary roles of any good atheist is to dispel the many, many lies and misconceptions perpetrated by the patriarchal religious systems. Like the fact that women should be subject to men, are the weaker sex, and are not worthy of participating in religious leadership. There are many such untruths that ruled for thousands of years and still keep women in chains in various parts of the world. These ideas have convinced many women that they are second class citizens.
These lies and misconceptions have even spilled over into what we are taught of the origins of humans from a secular point of view. Therefore, when I come across information that can forever change the way women view themselves, I am obligated to share that information.
An article in the March 19 issue of Newsweek contained an interesting article on the origins of humankind entitled, “Beyond Stones and Bones.” The article had a very telling statement about how anthropologists are now changing their view of the means by which humans were able to thrive in the hostile prehistorical times.
Christians are often told that the Bible is God’s Word and that they must read it daily in order to maintain a close relationship with God. Only God’s Word should be allowed into our minds because Satan will work in what we see and read and will cause us to doubt God. One morning, I came across this article and this article. Both hit me quite hard and got me thinking once again about the nature of scripture. I believe that there are some good passages in the bible, which filled me with purpose and gave meaning to my life when I read them. Other scripture, however, caused me to recoil in horror and I questioned the goodness of God. So what happens when the bible does more harm to your mental health than good?
One can’t help but see that the bible, as a collection of myths, poetry, letters, and prophecies are valuable as literature and we spent many hours discussing aspects of this in university mythology classes. But, the bible, especially the Jewish scriptures, shouldn’t be taught to anyone with regards to morals, much less teach them to our children in Sunday school (and they say television and video games are violent!). These scriptures were aimed specifically at a peculiar people at a critical juncture in history. They tell us nothing really but how Israel set up an exclusive, monotheistic religion after wiping out whole tribes standing in their way with God’s blessing.
In my previous blog, “Christianity and the Role of Women – A Woman’s Place,” I wrote on the phrase – “the woman’s place is in the home.” In it, I quoted a minister who used these two Bible verses to show that a mother should not work outside the home:
1 Timothy 5:14 “I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.”
Titus 2:4-5 “That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the Word of God be not blasphemed.”
These verses are also used to perpetuate the old adage mandating a good wife to be “barefoot and pregnant,” an even more humiliating phrase. It reduces women to nothing more than a tool used for producing a son to carry on the family name or for working in the field.
I don’t claim to ever have communed with “God,” as stated in my previous blog “Prayer: Communion with yourself,” but I got to know myself pretty well, especially as a woman.
As any woman can tell you, hormonal cycles are part of life and affect much of our thinking (please take note; I’m not arguing biological reductivism here, this is my personal opinion only). Some women are aware of their cycles in more concrete ways than men are and we are also aware of the changes in our thoughts and feelings during such times. We become attuned to such changes and work around them, with them, or against them. I found that my feelings of freedom from patriarchal thought and my feelings of genuine power came during these natural cycles, particularly during menstruation (I can see the men fleeing from the room already!). I slowly began to realize why men are so afraid of menstruating women (or even discussing it), why the scriptures have a lot to say about this natural phenomenon, and why patriarchal religions throughout the centuries have always forced the menstruating woman “outside the camp” during her cycle. They fear our power of life and death symbolized by the shedding of blood…