Religion’s Outdated Notions of Gender

Treat women as if they live in the 21st century

“Lead, follow, or get out of the way” is attributed to Thomas Paine. When it comes to treating women as prescribed in ancient holy books, I would shorten Paine’s quote to “Get out of the way.”

I’ve long wondered how any 21st century woman (or man) can continue to believe in a religion based on books written some 2000 to 3000 years ago. These texts contain many vile portions affecting women, and they reflect the misogynistic and patriarchal cultures of their times. Even those who take literally their holy books find ways to ignore passages like Exodus 22:18: “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” However, some of the faithful still follow passages whose only saving “grace” is that women are not put to death.

According to the Jewish tradition, a woman is unclean for one week after giving birth to a male and two weeks after giving birth to a female (Leviticus 12). A male is unclean for a day if he touches any menstruating woman.

In the Christian tradition, women were made for the sake of man (1 Corinthians 11:9). Furthermore, they should keep silent and have no authority over man (1 Timothy 2:12)), and the head of every woman is a man (1 Corinthians 11:3).

Passages in the Koran say or imply that women must obey men, that a man can beat a woman if she causes him trouble, and that women must be covered in public and never go out alone.

Continue reading (via "On Faith")

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