It’s pretty hard for me to think about violence against women at the hands of men. I find the notion of violence truly disturbing and that hit, beat, maim and kill women are detestable.
I also have little time for those who seek to find justification for maintaining the patriarchal model in society. The whole concept that women are somehow required to accept that the men are in control and they need to simply accept it, but it’s OK, because we men folk will look after you and respect you, that I find ugly and unnecessary.
I often find that fundamentalist religious people struggle with the whole equality notion. One in particular is David Ould, a fundamentalist Anglican Minister in charge of a small parish somewhere just outside of Sydney. We’ve had dealings before.
He thinks that the ‘headship’ of a family is the right of a man. That’s what the bible says, and his example is Jesus. It was Jesus who sacrified all for his ‘bride’, that’s you and me, and we should follow that example.
Clearly David finds violence against women abhorrent; that’s not in question here. He says he does and will intervene as part of his work. That’s commendable.
However, the patriarchal model is the cause of this scourge in our western society. Christianity has a lot to answer for, from the biblical perspective, and David sums it up well in his recent blog post where he highlights this passage from his ‘gold standard’ book:
Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands
He explores a bit about the term ‘in the same way’ but in a nutshell this is referring to the previous chapter on slaves.
Slaves … submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh… But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? … To this you were called,because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
Read it to get the full context.
To any sane person the suggestion that a wife needs to submit to a husband and endure a beating is crazy talk and surely not appropriate. But there it is, in the bible. Of course, Christians like David insist that the man is to treat the woman with respect, based on this bit of text
Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.
These passages cause David to call into question the real meaning and he needs to do some verbal gymnastics to make it make sense in his world view:
I find this incredibly challenging. What do those of us who want ourselves to submit to the Scriptures make of it?…
But perhaps as we think these things through a little more we need to just stop and consider exactly what we’re saying and who we are seeking to please when we say it.
Again, you need to read it to get the full context of his writing.
I would have thought that the obvious answer to this is very straight forward. The words in the bible are out of touch with a modern world and have no right to be used by modern thinking men.
The whole ‘headship’ ‘submission’ and notion that it’s all for Jesus is wrong. If we can accept that a slavery is wrong and a ‘slave’ has rights and that this passage has fallen by the wayside, then surely it’s time to let go of the other ridiculous passages.
David doesn’t come out and say it, but makes the point that the wife needs to submit to her husband, as he is head of the house, like Jesus is head of the church. He uses the oft used symbol of Jesus as the groom and the church as the bride.
This little gem is the most repulsive bit of justification that I’ve ever read:
None of this means we ought not seek to empower and help her if she chooses to remove herself from an abusive situation. But is it so wrong, was Piper so wrong, to suggest that her choice to submit might have a flavour of “in the same way” and that this might actually be a Godly wise choice?
How to balance that thinking with his earlier statement:
And I think it says something incredibly shocking to all of us.
Yes, it is incredibly shocking. The problem for me is that after putting this all together, doing the verbal gymnastics, rather that decide to ditch the bible as an irrelevant book, he persists in maintaining it as the guide-book for how men and women should be.
By that justification fundamentalists get to maintain their power base of the patriarchy, women are not allowed to be priests, nor the head of the household, nor to tell their husbands what to do. They can choose to stay in a violent situation and the fundamentalist won’t interfere and will probably just shrug their shoulders when death comes and say “What could I do? At least she’s in a better place now”.
No matter how they try to read the words and give them meaning in a modern context, the words will be abused by others because at the end of the day the passage is quite clear. It says you as a woman need to submit and if that means a beating, then your only hope is that it’s given with respect.
While the Christians trip themselves up trying to work out the meaning, they miss the obvious thing right in front of them.
God should have said, with no need to check translations or go back to the old testament or a different book, “It’s not OK to beat or kill your wife under any circumstances”.
Why isn’t that there in plain text for all the world to see? Because the bible is not the word of god, but simply the made up words of a bunch of men written long before a modern understanding of the dignity of each person. The words are either written or translated by men that think women are not equal and need to comply with the wishes of their husbands, because in their reality of 2,000 years ago (or whenever it was translated into English) the men with the dicks are in charge.