Mar 06

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.

shoesI 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.



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Aug 15

When a sentence that starts with I’m not…(fill in the blank) and goes on with but… (insert justification), it is often an indication that you are the person you claim you are not.

“I’m not racist, but ”

“I’m not sexist, but”

“I’m not homophobic, but”

Here’s today’s real life example for you.

A man who has served as 17 years as the musical director inside a catholic church got the sack because he announced his engagement on Facebook.  His church held a “Town Hall Meeting for Listening and Respect” (whatever) so people had a chance to “voice emotions” about the decision.  The church authorities had known of his sexuality for sometime and appeared to have been OK with it.

That sends the message that as long as you don’t flaunt it they don’t mind.  If you then make a public declaration, you’re out.

Those that serve as ministers of the church, including worship ministers, are expected to conform their lives publicly with the teachings of the church.

I do wonder about the churches’ teachings on forgiveness, and the notion that the church welcomes everyone.  But that is a discussion for another day.

But some supported the church’s decision, such as Frank Girjatowicz of Hoffman Estates.

“I am not against homosexuals,” he said. “But their style of life, according to human nature, is not acceptable.”

So, you’re not against homosexuals but it’s not acceptable?  So you are against homosexuals living their lives as they please, according to their nature?

In the upcoming TV show, Living With The Enemy, Michael and I go head-to-head with an Anglican Minister, David Ould.  I’d call him a fundamentalist, he’d probably prefer conservative.  David isn’t a homophobe or a bigot.  In an article written for News Corp:

Ould says he doesn’t hate gay people or wish to see homosexuality become illegal, but he doesn’t want gay people to be able to marry.

There was never any sign of David being anything other than welcoming of us into his family and his life for those five days.  I think that’s a really important point to make in the lead-up to this show.  The crux of the whole program was around marriage equality.

David also makes this statement in the article.

“You cannot underestimate the hurt some of these men and women feel. That’s one of the things I learnt,” Ould said.

I’m glad that he learned something during our time together.  The implied but part of the sentence would be something along the lines of “but, the bible says that homosexuality is wrong, and even though I know that some people are hurt by that, I’m going to continue to preach that it’s detestable.”

I made those words up, David hasn’t said that.  Just to be clear that I am putting my imagined words into his mouth!

He is able to recognise that there is hurt, the cause of some of that hurt is the words that are used as a justification to continue to marginalise gay people the world over.  David even said the words to our faces, in his church, in his ‘safe place’

“Do not have sexual relations with a man…that is detestable”

That’s in the NIV Bible.  Many of us much prefer the King James version.

“Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.”

Abomination is so much more powerful than detestable.

When we track back why people are opposed to marriage equality, when you strip away all the silly reasons that are offered, you know, breakdown of traditional family unit, denying children the right to be brought up by both parents, and so on, the reason driving all of this is their religion.  The basis of that belief is the book of Leviticus, written by authors unknown for a bunch of people wandering around the desert looking for the promised land.  Or at least that’s what we are lead to believe.

I reject that outright.  The bible does not hold any truth for me at all.  It simply does not apply to my life.

David also says in the article:

it’s a role of the Church to make sure there’s “proper, mature debate” about gay marriage (which can only be changed by government legislation.)

“One of our roles is to say look we believe that God made the world and the lord Jesus Christ is king of all things and he actually knows best.”

The assumption that the church has a role ‘to make sure’ something happens in our society is quite frankly arrogant.   The church as it stands does not represent the majority of Australians, David’s brand of church certainly isn’t the majority and it lost its moral authority decades ago, about the time that the rest of society worked out that ministers are people just like everyone else, able to lie, steal, cheat and some of them abuse children.  David and his church can have a say in the affairs of the world and here’s the but, it’s not the role of the church to make sure of anything other than its own in-house standards.  Why?  Because there is no god that made everything, there is no king of all things and to suggest that some fictional character, Jesus, knows best is laughable.

Stop using the rules of your religion to tell me how to live my life.

That’s my quote.


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