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    VBNomad's Avatar
    VBNomad Posts: 65, Reputation: 7
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    #1

    Aug 10, 2006, 09:11 AM
    Gender equality in the mainstream religions
    One of significant shortfalls of the "Great book religions" (IMHO) is their insistence on the inequality of the sexes. Even for those few varieties of western Protestantism that allow women to be priests and bishops, inequality is still fixed into the foundations of the theology. The myths of creation and the 'Fall of Man' are designed to put women in an unequal and very bad light. Weak, inherently sinful, or at best unable to help themselves. The legacy of the Jewish and Christian religions, is to fill social contracts from marriage ceremonies to civil law, with suggestion that women are unequal and wives are tantamount to property of their husbands. You don't have to look very hard at Islam to see the low status given women, including polygyny, "honor rape" and sexuality of young girls (age of consent in Islamic law is 9!). To say nothing of the "50 virgins a night" promise for religious martyrdom. Polygyny is or was OK with Mormons, but polyandry is/was not. How do Jewish, Islamic or Christian parents explain to their daughters that in the "eyes of God" they are just not as worthy as their brothers?

    It seems that the more fundamental a sect's interpretation of their faith, the lower the status of women and the poorer their treatment. A woman's best ways to secure equal status is through education and control of family size. Both of which are always opposed by the more conservative, fundamentalist sects.

    To put it bluntly, why is a penis required for a person to bless a baby, witness a marriage, interpret the scriptures, give wise counsel or turn bread and wine into Christ's body and blood? I don't understand why women and non-chauvinistic men would embrace such faiths and accept this second class status.

    I am not looking for the circular logic of rote quotes. I'm much more interested in what you think about this issue.
    Krs's Avatar
    Krs Posts: 2,906, Reputation: 320
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    #2

    Aug 10, 2006, 09:31 AM
    Just to clarify
    I am a catholic / christian and I don't feel nonethless less important or equal as any man in my family.
    Me as a catholic I was always brought up as an equal no matter to the gender.
    Most catholic's feel the same as me. We are much more broad minded and I'm sure the jewish are too.
    Wives being tantamount to property of their husbands that's not really true!! Im no object... property of my husband.. Im his, yes, and he is mone... we chose that.

    It's the Islam that's like that, like you explained.
    orange's Avatar
    orange Posts: 1,364, Reputation: 197
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    #3

    Aug 10, 2006, 11:13 AM
    Quote Originally Posted by Krs
    Most catholic's feel the same as me. We are much more broad minded and im sure the jewish are too.
    I agree with Krs. I'm female, Jewish, and also went to a Catholic girls boarding school for 4 years. I believe that most modern Catholics and Jews consider women as equals. I don't want to speak too much for Catholics as I'm not one haha, but at Catholic school, the nuns taught that we as young women could do whatever we wanted with our lives. Many were also in favour of women becoming priests, and although that has not happened yet, I think it may happen eventually.

    There are very traditional Jews who have strict gender differences, but these differences apply to the men as much as they do to the women. For example, the men have many more commandments / religious obligations to fulfill than the women do. Orthodox Jewish women often work outside the home as well. While I'm not an Orthodox Jew, my in-laws are Orthodox and I can tell you that the women pretty much run the show, and make all the decisions. The men are just along for the ride basically. ;)

    I think treating women as less than men is a pervasive problem in all cultures and religions, not just the ones based on the Torah, Bible, and Koran... for example among Tibetan buddhists, the female nuns are treated with much less respect than their male monk counterparts. I have a friend who is a dedicated pagan, and she says that even within paganism there are problems with certain men wanting to take charge. I have another friend who worked in India for 2 years, and as a rule, the women were treated as lesser than the men. In many cases, even among the higher classes it is still considered all right to beat your wife. My friend actually worked with a female doctor at a clinic who thought it was perfectly okay for her husband to hit her.

    I agree with you VBNomad that we still have a long way to go as far as women's rights in western religion are concerned, but not all women feel oppressed. I certainly don't. In my synagogue, women are called to the Torah, have Bat Mitzvahs, and can become Rabbis, etc. We are egalitarian.

    Great topic for discussion! :)
    talaniman's Avatar
    talaniman Posts: 54,318, Reputation: 10854
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    #4

    Aug 10, 2006, 11:13 AM
    Hi VB, you know how it is the only way for some men to keep control over a female is through intimidation ,fear, and ignorance. The times may change but the method is the same. I follow no religion but many of their ways give power to the man and keep a woman behind him, in my opinion. Keeping women in their place is the only way that some men can say they are the head of the house/society. It may have been necessary for the male to dominate in the past but now we all know that females are just as capable as men in today's world, some are far superior so change is coming albeit slowly.
    Fr_Chuck's Avatar
    Fr_Chuck Posts: 81,304, Reputation: 7692
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    #5

    Aug 10, 2006, 04:12 PM
    In Christianity ( I can not speak for Islam, Judism, Buddism or others)
    Women have a very high status, and very important roles. Men and women are not the same, women have differnet size organs, different in emotions and all sorts of differences, Men like wise are differnet from women. But when teamed up together the weakness of each are supported by strenghts of the others. They were made to work as a team.

    And with Christs words, to love your wife as Christ loved the church, can not give them any higher esteem than one can get.

    But they are different and in religion, no they are not equal, Each have roles and duties they were created for.

    Equal rights is not a christian teaching no matter how much one wants to make it, we are told to be happy in our state or life we are in, and Christianity was a spiritual role in our life, not political, and not in the working world.

    Women held positions of a deacon in the early church. And sorry but just because the world today believes it should be, God has seat up his laws and the way he wants it. When man loves his wife properly and the wife loves her wife property, each work with full respect of the other.

    And just because men and women have different roles, does not make one less than the other, it is only less when people are not happy and do not accept God's will for their life. When Christ is accepted fully in your life and you try to live in Gods will you find that it is only the sin in our world that makes people jealous of others, but we find that living in that true love of Christ we are happy in the roles God though Christ has given to each of us.
    VBNomad's Avatar
    VBNomad Posts: 65, Reputation: 7
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    #6

    Aug 11, 2006, 09:23 AM
    Which comes first? Culture or religion. Which influences the other more? As western culture advances on many levels and paths, it would appear that western religion has lagged behind. We see mainstream religions in crisis (not enough vocations and not able to change to attract more - for instance), and a rise of alternative beliefs. The mainstream sticks to it's doctrine that it is God's plan that women be unequal, yet we modern people know that's just not so. And that paradox brings into question much else of what they say is "God's will". Or at least their ability (infallible they say) to interpret it.
    NeedKarma's Avatar
    NeedKarma Posts: 10,635, Reputation: 1706
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    #7

    Aug 18, 2006, 04:10 AM
    Quote Originally Posted by VBNomad
    Which comes first? Culture or religion.
    Culture by a long shot since children pick up the morality from their parents.
    VBNomad's Avatar
    VBNomad Posts: 65, Reputation: 7
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    #8

    Aug 18, 2006, 05:57 PM
    Exactly, and when women were accepted as little more than property, their place in a culture and the religions that serve that culture would be at least as bad. But as they take their proper place as equals in our culture, sooner or later the religions of our culture will have to catch up. And as a priest of Wicca, I'm proud to say my religion is already there; in practice and dogma.

    In what way can a celibate male priest be of use when the issue is sex, fidelity, menopause, pre or post natal depression, Childbirth, child death? They are grasping in the dark. And not surprisingly digging in their heels as well. These are things that were not an issue of any sort to the religions of the male dominated religions of the last several millennia. But today these are real issues in most women's lives. Religions must evolve or else. When they stop meeting the need of their culture they are abandoned. I'm not saying male priests are totally useless. But when they start with a stated bias that women are not equal, then find scripture to justify that bias, can you really take their concern, or advice seriously?
    Starman's Avatar
    Starman Posts: 1,308, Reputation: 135
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    #9

    Aug 19, 2006, 03:28 PM
    In present modern societies men are just barely tolerated henpecked attachments.
    So what further "improvements" women are after I don't know.
    NeedKarma's Avatar
    NeedKarma Posts: 10,635, Reputation: 1706
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    #10

    Aug 19, 2006, 04:32 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by Starman
    In present modern societies men are just barely tolerated henpecked attachments.
    I can only assume you are speaking of your own marriage. I don't see that at all happening around me. And certainly not in my own marriage.
    talaniman's Avatar
    talaniman Posts: 54,318, Reputation: 10854
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    #11

    Aug 19, 2006, 05:16 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by Starman
    In present modern societies men are just barely tolerated henpecked attachments.
    So what further "improvements" women are after I don't know.
    Your right Starman I'm sick and tired of being used just for my attachments. I do have a mind too you know!
    valinors_sorrow's Avatar
    valinors_sorrow Posts: 2,927, Reputation: 653
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    #12

    Aug 19, 2006, 06:17 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by talaniman
    Your right Starman I'm sick and tired of being used just for my attachments. I do have a mind too ya know!
    You come with attachments Tal? Oooooh, nice! :D
    VBNomad's Avatar
    VBNomad Posts: 65, Reputation: 7
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    #13

    Aug 27, 2006, 06:59 AM
    And here it is, right from one of the richest roots of the "Great Book": religions. This is written in the Hebrew Talmud, the book where all of the sayings and preaching of Rabbis are conserved over time. It says: "Be very careful if you make a woman cry, because God counts her tears. The woman came out of a man's rib. Not from his feet to be walked on. Not from his head to be superior, but from the side to be equal. Under the arm to be protected, and next to the heart to be loved."
    aqua@home's Avatar
    aqua@home Posts: 565, Reputation: 107
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    #14

    Aug 27, 2006, 08:04 AM
    I don't feel that men an woman aren't equal. I think we have different roles in life. I know a lot of people have had women witness their marriages, and I've heard that there are women priests. Personally, in my church, we don't believe this is what we want for us. We aren't going to judge those that do, but we choose something different.

    I think women are just as important as men. I think we are needed for much different things. That's not to say that they can't share jobs or take turns doing the more "wifely" or "husbandly" duties. I don't think all jobs are interchangeable thought. In our church we have priests, which are positions held my men. I'm okay with that. The men aren't trying to take away my job as the primary child-rearer. Men cannot have babies, they cannot physically have babies. If that was something I could give up in exchange for being able to do some of the more "manly" things in life, well let's just say there is no way in he** I would ever trade that experience.

    I don't want everything to be interchangeable. I don't want to be able to do it all. If I was able to, then one day I might have to. I hope I didn't go too far off topic. I think that was an excellent question.
    valinors_sorrow's Avatar
    valinors_sorrow Posts: 2,927, Reputation: 653
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    #15

    Aug 27, 2006, 08:26 AM
    I think "equal" gets unjustifiably mixed up with "same" about gender whether its in context of a mainstream religion or something else. Relgion is not the only place women have sometimes been treated as less than, not equal. And gender bias is only one of many prejudices we humans have indulged in. But I am with Aqua in that I know we are different-- man and woman. I think our differences mean something and we need to honour that too. Physically, men are taller, stronger, faster and therefore come from a hunter, protector, provider background. Women are smaller, weaker, slower physically and come from a gatherer, nurturer, propogator background. These are no minor differences as I see it, as much as that may dismay my liberated sisters. There are also some mental and emotional diffferences to factor in as well -- how we process spacial information or grief, for just two stunning examples. And sex! (I mean the act of) Couldn't be any more diffferent than that-- given what parts we have! Lots of differences, sure, but in a context where we are still, for all our differences, more ALIKE than not. The same goes for differing people -- they are more alike than not. And differing religions -- they are more alike than not too when closely examined. But more than just religion, mainstream or othewise, is going to have to catch up to these ideas as they are VERY BIG IDEAS! Fortunately they are helped by how the world continues to shrink evey day, enlarging us as its inhabitants so that the "them or us" mentaility we all came from is becoming like a jacket we've overgrown and is too tight to fit us anymore. Competition will reduce, cooperation will increase and the world will benefit by that.

    And I, for one, am glad.

    If you are saying, VBNomad, that your particular faith has caught up, then I am glad about that as well. Very glad.
    talaniman's Avatar
    talaniman Posts: 54,318, Reputation: 10854
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    #16

    Aug 27, 2006, 06:54 PM
    Its not the religion in my opinion, but how some people apply it for their own gain. Whatever skills we bring to the table is for the good of the family. ( Send this mighty hunter for meat for the table I go straight to Krogers)
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    kiwimac Posts: 22, Reputation: 7
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    #17

    Oct 6, 2006, 04:45 AM
    Zoroastrianism is one of the "Great Book Religions" and it has always accepted women and men as equals, Perhaps because the name for God in Zoroastrianism contains both male and Female words.

    Ahura is male and Mazda is female.

    Kiwimac
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    lilthechic Posts: 26, Reputation: 0
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    #18

    Jul 10, 2008, 03:34 AM
    I agree with fr chuck and couldn't have answered any better. We are not lesser sex. God loves us so much and he understands us. We have emotions that are sensitive and He created us that way. It is easy for God to get through to us so we can help out wandering husbands. Yes we are helpers. Without us men are in deep waters and turbulence. Yes we are to submit as the bible says but never did the bible say we are to be doormats. The bible says that humility places us at a higher post.men don't know that. They are ignorant. They think they can use us as they please but it's their fault and shallownss that leads them to misinterpret the word of God. I am a christian woman and nobody can make me feel weak, useless or a doormat because I know who I am and where I stand with God. That should be the most important to you "normad" and stop being bitter and angry at something you can't change. Men are chauvistic and foolish as God had made them so.its our wisdom and love that makes them humane.
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    towatson Posts: 1, Reputation: 1
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    #19

    Dec 3, 2009, 09:44 PM
    Any good texts regarding a vision of gender in religious/spiritual contexts that any of you would like to recommend? Please email me at towatson@hotmail.com--I'm looking for a vision of what this might look like
    Fr_Chuck's Avatar
    Fr_Chuck Posts: 81,304, Reputation: 7692
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    #20

    Mar 6, 2010, 07:07 PM

    Old thread, closed

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