Collard Greens Fear and Sex

(Matt) #21

Sure, I think that’s a pretty fair analysis. But I notice that you didn’t disagree with any of my other claims. I don’t think the idea that women were in a secondary, subservient position in the ancient near-east is surprising or controversial among historians. These societies were all built from the ground up through a patriarchal lens. What I’m claiming is 1) that this is morally wrong, and 2) Yahweh’s laws themselves helped to cement these immoral ideas about genders in ancient Israel, and subsequently throughout history and down to our own ideas about sex and gender today.

EDIT–Actually, after considering your response for a bit, and noticing @niteguy2’s reference to agriculture and pregnancy, I’m not sure this line of thinking does work as a defense against sexism in Leviticus 27. In fact, I think it further illustrates my point.

You’re certainly correct that ancient societies like Israel put a premium on agricultural work. But even if we adopt the ancient gendered views that men should perform agricultural work and secure food, and women keep the home, prepare food, care for and deliver children etc. I still fail to see how Yahweh’s valuing of agricultural work over “women’s work” is anything other than sexist. It’s the same thing that men have done throughout history. We value the things we do more than the things women do, even if both sets of tasks are equally necessary to a society’s wellbeing. You can’t tell me that agricultural work is more important to an ancient agrarian society than bearing and caring for children. Without women performing these tasks, how would society function at all? It couldn’t. And yet women (and their “usefulness” before Yahweh) are considered to be worth 3/5ths of the man and his work product. I dunno, that still seems pretty sexist to me.

In fact, in this area I think we might be able to provide evidence to show that other Canaanite nations of the time may have been more equitable. Fertility cults were common, and often elevated the role of women in a society, revering them for their ability to bring life into the world. Instead of celebrating this, Yahweh’s law codifies the biological functions of women’s bodies as ceremonially unclean. And, of course, pagan fertility beliefs were stamped out by the cult of Yahweh wherever they were found. Just do a quick Bible search on Asherah poles to get an idea of what Yahweh and his representatives thought of these views.

(Carrol Grady`) #22

What about the idea that God met people where they were in their cultural worldview and gradually tried to raise their values? He knew that they wouldn’t/couldn’t respond to a total reset of their understanding, so he worked gradually.

RE: the low sex drive, a fair number of people, especially as they get older, take meds that affect their sex drive.

(Matt) #23

@carrolgrady Yeah, the old “progressive revelation” angle just doesn’t work at all for me. It’s simply false that Yahweh only gave Israel commands and instructions that fit their present worldview. According to the text itself, monotheism was HARD for them. It was not the prevailing religious view of the time, it was weird, and the whole OT is a record of how often they failed to live up to God’s requirements. And more than that, most of the ceremonial laws were also odd for the time. Everything from not eating pork to cutting off part of your son’s genitalia.

So it’s not like God’s requirements for Israel were in-step with the prevailing culture of the time, in fact, the whole premise of the covenant is that Israel was to be a people apart, uniquely called to represent Yahweh and his character in the world. Under this paradigm, the sexism and cruelty toward women seems particularly odd. The concept that we should only reveal moral truth when we believe people will follow or accept it seems odd. Plainly, that is not what Yahweh did according to the OT.

What would the moral foundations for this view even be? What would we say of the parent whose top instructions to their child were to worship God, obey mom and dad, do the dishes, clean themselves well in the bath, and, say, never wear blue clothes. Yet when the child goes to school and regularly beats up other kids when they disagree, the parent says nothing, or even makes rules about exactly how they should beat up and force their will on other kids. Sure, son, take that kid home and force him to do your chores through threats of violence! But remember, don’t wear blue shirts! That anyone could think that was moral or part of a healthy moral development is just nuts to me.

I might be able to accept that an all-good deity would reveal moral truths gradually, but the priorities of the OT are completely wrong. Why put so much emphasis on blood purity, shellfish and circumcision, and yet approve of slavery and set up a code of laws that treat women as property? That’s morally wrong, and it simply doesn’t work at all for me as the instructions or will of an all-good deity.

Yahweh says a woman touching a strange man’s genitalia while physically defending her husband meant that woman needed to have her hand cut off! Yet when an unmarried woman is raped, does the man get his penis cut off or something? Oh no, because it’s not a crime against the woman. It’s a property crime against her owner, her father. So the penalty is simply paying for the damaged goods and then taking her as a wife so the father isn’t stuck with an un-marriable daughter. Literally a “you break it you buy it” arrangement. That is NOT a legal code from an all-good deity. It’s cruel to women, and wrong. No matter the time, and no matter the context. Fallible people can be excused to some extent, because we ARE evolving morally as a species. But Yahweh, supposedly, is both all-powerful and all-good, and these laws are claimed to come from him. I don’t see how all three of those things can be true simultaneously.

(Carrol Grady`) #24

Matt, you seem to be very cynical. I guess I’m not there. I still believe that my view works, as I see how much farther we are today than in Bible times. Probably the hardest change is gender views, and we still have a hard time with that today. After all, men have had the advantage for centuries, and it’s very hard for them to give it up. Maybe that is the change God is waiting for, before He comes back again.

(Matt) #25

On the contrary, I am very hopeful for the future of humanity as we continue to develop morally. :slight_smile: My issue is simply that God didn’t ask his people to correct this injustice. In fact, if the OT is to be believed, he appears to have endorsed it. For me, that means either the OT records of his instructions are false (including the possibility that he doesn’t exist at all), or he is not a moral being worthy of obedience. Seems pretty simple to me. But maybe I’m a simple fellow.

I wouldn’t feel an urge to talk about this at all or make others uncomfortable if it wasn’t for what it appears that some Christians do to get out of this moral dilemma, even if it is subconscious. It seems like instead of rejecting God’s goodness or the infallibility of the scriptures, the only other option is to say that sexism and cruelty toward woman can actually be part of God’s plan for humans, and moral! That, it seems to me, is exactly the controversy going on right now in the church. And when our theology or beliefs are actively hurting people, I feel a moral duty to speak up–cynic or not. :slight_smile: