Repent To God For Being a Woman

cross.jpgIn my early twenties I worked at my Full-Gospel church in the role of receptionist. Our church counselor, a woman I came to love and admire, was a strong Christian woman I’ll call Kay.

Kay was warm and kind and “full of the holy ghost.” Those who counseled with her would report answered prayer, healing, and an overwhelming sense of god’s love through her. She was, to me, the most remarkable woman of god I’d ever known.

Hearing Kay praying behind her office door was a daily event. Her compassion was evident as she cried over sin and suffering, beseeching god on the behalf of those in need. My! How I had hoped to one day be as mature, wise and spiritual as Kay.

Three years after beginning my job, my time as the church receptionist came to an end as my husband and I packed up our belongings to head for seminary and then, on to the mission field. Kay promised to undergird me with prayer and keep in touch. Years later, when my husband and I returned, I immediately made arrangements to meet with Kay.

I’d missed her so much and I wanted to thank her for her prayers but, even more importantly, I wanted to confide in her. As a minister in our church, I felt she could shed some light on my ongoing struggle.

It was becoming apparent to me that my emotional state was deteriorating. The more I sought answers to god’s patriarchal organizational structure of the body of Christ, the more I slipped down the hole of depression.crying-woman.jpg

  • Studying the bible only increased my pain … as god’s word was clear on the role of women.
  • Prayer led to further frustration … as god remained silent on the issues.
  • Studying apologetics only added more questions … as arguments turned into a game of maddening semantics.

Kay let me talk for nearly a solid hour as the pain poured out. I flipped through the pages of my bible to scripture after scripture, passage after passage where women were limited in their role, where they were abused, raped, sold and subjugated. I made my case with real life examples from the mission field and from the Christian ministry in which I’d worked while at seminary.

Women consoling.jpg“I’ve been seeking after the god of love and freedom,” I lamented, “but instead, I’ve found a god of oppression and sexism and I feel so alone. Am I the only woman  who struggles with this?”

She sat in front of me with eyes full of compassion and tears and with a deep breath, she squeezed my hands and said something I’ve never forgotten: You’re not alone…

“I once repented to god for being a woman.”

 

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9 thoughts on “Repent To God For Being a Woman

  1. Hi Ms. Way. I would like to recommend that you read Jacques Ellul’s book entitled “The Subversion of Christianity.” In particular, please read Chapter IV entitled “Moralism.” This whole Gordian knot about women in Christianity, which has had you in such a bind for so long, will be unraveled in about 10 minutes of reading. If you fail to read this book, you may die poorer in Spirit and knowledge, having lost in this life all that could have been by having your soul totally freed from what remains of your concern―forever.

    Jacques Ellul was not an American. He was French. He was a Christian, but he was not a gospel writer like these people who fill Christian bookstores to bursting with their fundie trash here in the United States. He was very different, and I think he was a man blessed with extraordinary spiritual insight. Ellul was Professor of Law and the Sociology and History of Institutions at the University of Bordeaux in Bordeaux, France. His books have been translated from French into English, and they are probably available through Amazon, which I feel sure Amazon could get for you. Below is a series of excerpts from Chapter IV in “The Subversion of Christianity. The notes in brackets are mine:

    [Creation in the Bible goes from the simplest creatures first to the most complex creatures last, and we have whole libraries in evolutionary biology and genetics that pretty much verify that this sequencing is true. That which is created last is the culmination, the end result, the pinnacle of all creation―and the last thing created in Genesis 1 was Eve.]

    Here are the Ellul excerpts in logical order as set forth in the book:

    “More theologically, if we return to the Genesis text, we are astonished at the usual misunderstandings: Eve is inferior, it is said, because she is created “after” Adam. This superb logic makes Adam inferior to the great Saurians after which he was created. Creation is in fact an ascending act, and Eve, who is created last, comes at the climax as its crown and completion. Again it is said that Eve is inferior because she is not made out of primal clay but out of a part of Adam. This is equally absurd reasoning, for Adam, who carries the name Earth, is made out of inanimate matter, but Eve, who carries the name Life, is made out of animate and hence superior matter.”

    “There remains, of course, an argument that is repeated again and again in later Judaism and some branches of Christianity. Eve, it is said, was the first to sin. She gave sin an entry into the world. She is thus guilty and must be subject to her husband. Again, this is absurd reasoning, for it is hard to see how Adam can have any claim to superiority when in this test he shows himself unable to rule his wife, falls into the simplest of traps, and is in no way worthy to be the head. But was not the woman tempted first? Indeed she was. And this leads to the invoking of absurd arguments according to which she is less intelligent, easier to seduce, weaker, etc.”

    “There is in fact a better theological reason for her [Eve] being tempted first. If she is the supreme achievement and perfection of creation, it is through her that the serpent must attack the rest. She does not resist. But neither does the man. We may simply recall the famous Chinese proverb that it is by the head that the fish decays. We should consider this to get the point of the story. But was she not also a temptress? Indeed she was. But to understand and evaluate what this means, we ought to refer to two other elements. In the first creation story there is no distinction or hierarchy between the two (Adam and Eve], who are two in one or one in two. We do not have on the one side the female temptress who is the source of evil, etc. No, we have only “one” being, and if evil is done, it is done by this one being, no matter by which aspect it commences. The woman is not without the man, nor the man without the woman, as Paul reminds us.”

    “The second basic truth is that the woman, as the same Paul also reminds us, is the glory of the man (1 Cor. 11:7). This passage has often been misconstrued as teaching a hierarchy from God to man and man to woman. But this is not its point or purpose. The question of that is the relation between powers, and of mediation. The text I want to focus on here is the one about glory. Following Barth (and others), I have often recalled that glory is revelation. God glorifies himself when he reveals himself as he is. Jesus Christ glorifies God when he reveals him to us as the God of love who is also the Father. We ourselves are called upon to be the glory of God as we are his image, as we show by what we are who is the God to whom we bear witness. In this passage Paul then adds that the woman is the glory of the man: she reveals him; she shows what a human being truly is.”

    “If we relate this to the temptation, we learn that by what she says the woman brings to light the fundamental reality of Adam. She shows him to be weak, undiscerning, fluctuating, ambitious, desirous of equality with God, etc. She simply reveals this. Both are equally at fault, and the condemnation (as commentators and theologians should remember) is more severe for the man, since he is given no hope, whereas the woman has a double promise and carries a double hope, namely, that she will transmit life and that her posterity will crush the serpent. It may be noted, too, that although the status of women is generally positive in the Old Testament, a few texts, on which we need not dwell, do arouse suspicion, such as those that relate to impurities. Yet, we should not forget the many passages that also deal with male impurities.”

    “Insistence has often been placed on the positive attitude of Jesus toward women. Jesus receives both men and woman on equal footing. He cures sick women as well as men, and does not repel the adulterous woman or Mary Magdalene. Naturally it has been noted that he chooses only men as his disciples. But to this one may make the radical reply that he first reveals his resurrection to women. Both in the Synoptists and in John, women are the first to receive this supreme revelation. Women become the “evangelists” of this resurrection by carrying the news of it to the disciples [men]. Women receive the first witness to eternal life. This is theologically consistent, for it is a fulfillment of the name Eve and of the promise about [her posterity crushing the head of] the serpent. Compared to this, all else is secondary.”

    Now, watch these two video and see what the rest of world Christianity was doing from 32 A.D. up to about 1920 when Christian fundamentalism was invented here in the United States and took on the lie that it is historic Orthodox Christianity. It most certainly is not and never was Orthodox except in the minds of some deluded men who lived in the regions surrounding the Great Lakes states in the late 1800s and early 1900s. If they never taught any of this to you in seminary, it was because they wanted to hide it from you and pretend that a wider and better truth never existed. Here are the two lectures:

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  2. Hi Dover1952! Thank you so much for stopping by and for taking the time to comment so robustly!

    I appreciate the book recommendation. I’m familiar with the arguments made in the excerpts you included here. At one time, this perspective was a salve to an open wound. I imagine that was your motivation for posting them here and if that’s correct, I find that a very kind and thoughtful gesture on your part.

    Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE) published extensive papers echoing Jacques Ellul, that creation order put Eve at the pinnacle: as God’s crowning glory. At the time, I devoured these papers and drew comfort until I further reasoned it out …

    God beamed with pride over his best work yet – Woman – His crowning glory. But then He proceeded to ignore, allow, and at times demand mere men, his lesser creation, to rape, murder and ravage her? To tear her babies from her womb? To perpetuate brutal acts of sexual violence toward her over and over and over again? Then He goes on to place his Pinnacle Creation under the authority and rule of the inferior male made of dirt?

    I didn’t buy it then, and I don’t buy it now. But I do appreciate the effort to equalize the playing field.

    To quote the author, “It may be noted, too, that although the status of women is generally positive in the Old Testament, a few texts, on which we need not dwell, do arouse suspicion, such as those that relate to impurities.”

    BROAD brushstroke here, but his viewpoint makes me think of how women and men prepare differently for a first date: the woman carries mace – the man carries a condom.

    We simply do not approach the offending portions of texts regarding women from the same vantage point. To say that the “status of women is generally positive in the Old Testament” is simply untrue from my perspective. Ellul’s statement implies that the suspicious scriptures aren’t all that bad or important. As a woman, I disagree and I disagree “Yuge”! They ARE that bad and not just because the bible is a supposed reflection of God’s character. But because it justifies the abuse and subjugation of women and categorizes them as property. God’s pinnacle, God’s crowning glory, God’s best work relegated to the same plane as the beasts of the field, while men of dirt own them. And this is God’s doing. Hmm.

    I simply cannot take that seriously.

    But there are those who take every word in the Bible seriously. And many use the bible and those suspicious texts to abuse members of their flock, as you well know. Women are subjugated and mistreated in the name of the Lord every day across the globe. Men cite scripture and verse to make their case and women who fear eternal damnation are forced to endure it. In time, they may even come to appreciate it as victims sometimes do.

    God’s Word … THAT is the crux of the issue for me, Dover1952. Clearly, you put stock in it and therefore, Jacques Ellul’s book holds merit for you and for this reason, you wish to pass it on to me. But the bible doesn’t hold the place in my life that it once did. It is not the word of God. Not infallible. Not god-breathed. Not a reflection of God’s character, nor a roadmap to life. It is NONE of those things.

    But it is dangerous.

    Your recommendation appears to come from a place of concern and kindness stemming from a desire to bring light and help to someone who has put her hurt on the page. Your effort isn’t wasted in that it matters to me that you would take your valuable time to extend something you believe will help me. That’s just plain nice. Thank you!

    But I’ve found the medicine for my wounds. It is to break my white-knuckle grip on my religious notions. By fearlessly embracing my doubts, and turning loose of my bible beliefs, I’ve found peace I never thought possible.

    I don’t write this blog because of a persistent pain. My pain in this regard is gone. I write it because I know that there are women out there who are confused and frustrated with their imposed, “bible gender role” because it doesn’t fit them and it doesn’t feel fair. But they feel stuck as I once did.

    Maybe they aren’t as stuck as they think. Maybe their doubts are a healthy thing. And maybe this will help them see that.

    Thank you so much for your comment! I hope we can dialog more!

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  3. Hey there. I understand your position, and I was not trying to change it per se—only to say that there are other ways of looking at scripture. Quite frankly, I am a male feminist—even if that might sound a little odd. I do not believe the Bible is inerrant. Also, when I read something in the Bible, I do it through my Jesus filter by asking myself if this statement, command, action, requirement, etc. is something Jesus would say or do. If it is not, I have to assume it is the human part of the Bible talking rather than its divine part. I cannot in my wildest imagination believe that God/Jesus/Holy Spirit actually said, did, commanded, or required the “spit on women” parts of the Bible. However, I can easily see some ancient Pat Robertson writer of a Bible book wrongly concluding that God/Jesus/Holy Spirit did something and wrongly writing that they did in the Bible. As an old Southern Baptist minister I know once said, “Jesus is God’s answer to the bad reputation that the writers of the Old Testament gave to the members of the Holy Trinity.”

    Have a good day!!!

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    1. Hi again Dover1952! I’ve been noodling your comment further and wanted to ask a question of you based on this quote from your comment:

      You said, “…when I read something in the Bible, I do it through my Jesus filter by asking myself if this statement, command, action, requirement, etc. is something Jesus would say or do.”

      This seems like a very difficult task. I say this because the only things we know about Christ are limited to scripture itself – which you and I agree – is not without its errors. Other than the fraudulent texts of Josephus, there are no other historical documents accounting for Jesus. Not even the crucifixion. There are also no first hand eye witnesses to Jesus, which brings into question the accuracy and reliability of the biblical accounts of him.

      So, I’m just wondering, given our limited knowledge of Jesus, how do you arrive at your final conclusions when making assessments about what Jesus would say or do? And with what level of confidence?

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      1. What is the point of this questioning? If you choose to not believe in Jesus, is that somehow my problem? You are free to believe in whatever you wish and so am I. Evidential facts and empiricism are pretty useless in matters of faith.

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      2. You posted a comment on my blog and it sparked curiosity, therefore I responded with a question. I allow comments on my blog for open dialog with anyone who wishes to engage. When someone posts a comment, I believe its quite safe to assume that they’re open to discussion. When I visit other blogs that have no place for comments, I know that the blogger doesn’t wish to engage. Fair enough.

        Based on your comment on my blog, I’m curious about how you arrive at your final conclusions when making assessments about what Jesus would say or do? And with what level of confidence?

        You used the term “Jesus filter”. I am curious about that. Genuine question.

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  4. We had a really good friend, a Catholic brother. He was very down-to-earth and thought outside the Catholic box. One time, he told us he heard a priest suggest that in heaven, we are all perfected and that therefore, women become men. That’s by no means an official position of the Catholic Church. But it does show how harmful anti-women messages can be.

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  5. Wow! I’ve never heard that one! I can see how that particular station in the church could jack with a man’s ego, but to that extent? That’s quite disturbing. One would hope that particular thought isn’t pervasive among priests.

    Thank you for visiting and commenting!

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