Monday, July 25, 2011

Chauvinism that is called the Bible

The Bible is the Word of God. For non-Christians, the Bible is considered a very good piece of literature.

Recently, I read an article describing the Bible as a chauvinist, thus, it's not the Word of God.

I understand why the Bible is accused as such. The literature focused so much on the Middle East, particularly Israel, only going out during the Church Age or what is called by dispensationalist as Grace Period. Only the Books Esther and Ruth have female Bible book titles, while others either have male names or neutral words (i.e, Genesis, Exodus) for a title.

As a Christian, let not this defense be simply put as blind ones. After all, I have my own share of heartaches in my faith. This is written not by a religiously blind fellow, but by a person trying to balance schools of thought, if not trying to be objective.

The Bible was written in the different era. The Bible merely mirrored the society during those times, and described God’s feelings, actions, decisions on the society’s actions during those times.

Now, about the anti-feminine tendency of the Bible, the Bible may have been anti-feminism, but definitely, the BIBLE IS NEVER ANTI-WOMAN. Numerous accounts in the Bible prove it. Rahab was commended for her act of saving the Israelite spies (and she’s a prostitute by the way). Ruth and Naomi were commended for their acts to return to the true God. The Bible also recorded how God chastised David for committing adultery to Bathsheba. It’s a clear indication that the Bible is never anti-woman.

The word “submit” comes into mind. First, the Bible never stated that women should submit to men. It’s inaccurate to say that. The Bible stated, “Wives, submit yourselves UNTO YOUR OWN HUSBANDS”. Therefore, if the man is not your husband, never submit. Now, maybe it will be contested by this question, “what if the husband is not right?” Now, here’s my question: is your husband wrong all the time for you to ask that question? Chances are, when a wife or a woman asks that question, the underlying attitude is this – rebellion. Besides, reading Apostle Paul’s epistles, women were given the chance to speak or suggest…in their own homes and to their own husbands. Let’s remember that chauvinism is said to be an extreme school of thought…and so does the opposite side of it…FEMINISM. Reading it further, the Bible states more responsibility on men than on women. In the book of Joshua, when Achan committed sin by taking the “accursed thing” from Jericho, he, being the head of his family, was stoned unto death. Not only that, his family was also stoned unto death. The Bible implies that the biggest bulk of responsibility is on the men.

By the way, I forgot to mention that we’re talking about male chauvinism, not real chauvinism. Now, about real chauvinism, the Bible is not chauvinist. If you read the whole Bible, Israel was not normally praised. In fact, it is described as stiff necked people. In other words, the Bible describes Israel as stubborn. The Bible also mentioned that Israel committed idolatry, and this is the reason why God allowed them to be conquered by other nations, empires to be exact. If the Bible is a chauvinist, focusing on Israel, Israel’s wrong deeds will never be written.

Let’s go back to Bible being allegedly advocating male chauvinism. When Dinah was raped by Shechem in the book of Genesis, what happened? He was killed by Dinah’s brothers Levi and Simeon (if I’m not mistaken). However at the end, God through the Patriarch Jacob mentioned that their acts are not right. When Amnon raped his half-sister Tamar, Tamar’s full brother Absalom killed Amnon. At the end, Absalom was himself killed by Joab because of Absalom’s rebellion to David. But David instructed his son Solomon to execute Joab if he started to take over as King of Israel. These parts of Biblical accounts prove that not only the Bible is against man treating woman as trash, but also God being just.

It is never the fault of the Bible why they don’t have the so called gender equality. Besides, in the eyes of God, all have sinned (Romans 3:23). Now, discussion if the Bible is against gender equality is another topic all in all. It is not the fault of the Bible why, during the early times, women were not allowed to vote. It is how the people before interpreted the Bible. Like we said, the Bible mere reflected. Take for example polygamy. The Bible never justified polygamy. The Bible just mentioned that polygamy exists and the Patriarchs practiced them, but that doesn’t mean that it’s okay. In fact, in the book of Genesis, you can see the competition between Jacob’s wives Leah and Rachel. In the book of Samuel, Hannah cried to Elkanah because she has no children, while Elkanah’s other wife, Peninah, have kids (eventually, God gave to Hannah a child named Samuel. You know the story).

To say the Bible is a chauvinist is still, I admit, depends on your attitude towards the Book and your own view of life. However, I believe that the Bible is the Word of God.


David Stern said...

Yes, I agree with almost everything you said. Except I'm Jewish... So I view it as so far more than merely a good piece of literature - the Old Testament anyway. Other than that, you're spot on. In fact, as a sophomore in NYU, I wrote a paper for a class (my first college paper ever, in fact) speaking in detail on this subject, particularly on the non-anti-feminism of the Bible.

I'm now following your blog. Could you perhaps reciprocate the favor? Thanks so much!

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