I must admit that when one of my subscribers sent me the link to the website Biblical Gender Roles, I thought it might just be one person writing about how gender roles had been defined in the Bible… in the Iron Age… when patriarchy was alive and kicking. But no, it is not only a website that posts regularly on how women and men should act TODAY based on the Bible, but it also has lots of followers who leave comments that usually are in agreement with the articles written.
Since undertaking a study of religion and mythology before I wrote my first book, Women Beyond Belief: Discovering Life without Religion, I have been literally astounded by the conservative, fundamentalist, and extreme practices of Christianity that exist today in the United States. I grew up in Bismarck, North Dakota in the 50’s and 60’s. My family attended Trinity Lutheran Church. But the ideas and Bible verses listed below were rarely, if ever, brought up in a sermon. At home, my mother was the one who had received a college education, not my father. She had been his high school English teacher when they fell in love. She was very smart and encouraged us to learn and be successful at whatever we did. “Good, better, best, never let it rest, until the good is better and the better best” was a phrase I still remember today. She took me to the Bookmobile every week in the summer when school was out to get books to read. She encouraged me to study hard at school. There was never any doubt that I would go to college and prepare for a career. If she and dad or anyone else disagreed on something, she brought out the Lincoln Library, a hefty one volume encyclopedia, to resolve the issue. She was usually right, I might add. Even my father, who was deeply religious and read the Bible every day, never told me that as a girl I was limited in what I could do. He was always proud of me. When I became valedictorian of my high school, he told everybody he knew. I simply cannot imagine him teaching me the precepts in this article.
I’ve selected a few of the admonitions about how women are supposed to behave according to the Bible from the website, but please check out the article entitled “How to Help Women Learn Their Place” for all of them. After these citations, I include some of the responses from women on the site and outline some action steps, so please read on.
“I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.” – I Timothy 5:14 (KJV)
“Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” – Hebrews 13:4 (KJV)
“The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.” – I Corinthians 7:4 (KJV)
“The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.” – Deuteronomy 22:5 (KJV)
“It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.” – Proverbs 21:19 (KJV)
“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.” – Ephesians 5:22-24 (KJV)
“Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.” – I Peter 3:7 (KJV)
“And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.” – I Corinthians 14:35 (KJV)
“Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.” – I Corinthians 11:9 (KJV)
“For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands.” I Peter 3:5 (KJV)
Today, fathers, mothers, pastors, and priests are teaching young girls to ascribe to these tenets. What a tragedy! Imagine where our world might have been today if we had always allowed girls to learn, to go to school, to become scientists or mathematicians like the great Hypatia of Alexandria. Would we be a more peaceful nation without an all powerful male deity telling us to kill our neighbors? Would we have solved climate change because we valued nature versus thinking we had dominion over it? Would we have eliminated diseases? Would religion be only a part of our deep past?
Yet there are women today who embrace the tenets listed above. Here are just a few comments on this article from women. I have only taken a few sentences from each.
Wow, this is great, BGR, such a comprehensive list! I feel like it’s always good to be reminded of all these things.
I’m a 27yr old single lady and I have been praying for marriage and asking God to prepare me for the wifely role. This post has given me more insight as to what I should be praying for and working on as I wait on the Lord for marriage. The feminist world we are living in certainly gives no regard to God’s will as regards a woman’s place in the home. Your article is a bitter truth to some who have lost this insight.
This is a well written article, and I’m grateful that someone out there is getting the word out about how to be a Biblical wife! … Thank you so much for taking the time to instruct women on how to be Biblical wives! I respect what you are doing!
My husband printed off this article and encouraged me to read it. I read it, with a lot of pain, over the years that I wasted in trying to be all things that the World expected. Early in our marriage, I tried to be a successful working woman and a mom, and a wife, and a friend to all of my church friends, and the school volunteer of the year. God eventually broke my heart and my husband’s heart about our family and that the family of 3 girls and 1 boy God gave us was the most important.
If you are as troubled by this article as I am, speak out about your lack of belief in a god that would make women second class citizens. We must continue to reveal religion for what it is – a myth, a myth created thousands of years ago that aided and abetted the ascendancy of patriarchy, that kept women confined to the narrow roles described above, and that still today influences our politicians at the state and national level to pass laws restricting women’s reproductive rights and to destroy our public education system with vouchers. Please, speak out about your skepticism, don’t be shy. Maybe you will encounter one of these girls and open the world for them.
Karen L. Garst
The Faithless Feminist
The Forgotten Nones: The High Cost of Fleeing Fundamentalist Religion
Speaking my Mind
Anti-Women Cults Established in the Name of Religion
What if You’re Wrong?
Women v. Religion: The Case Against Faith – and for Freedom