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Caitlin Kennell Kim
Mary
Fr. Rick Malloy, SJ
General Questions
Fr. Tom Ryan, CSP
Ecumenical, Interfaith
Neela Kale
Culture, Moral Theology
Ann Naffziger, M.A., M.Div.
Bible
Mike Hayes
Swingman/Editor
 
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Our readers asked:

Why Does the Bible Seem So Mean Towards Women?

Ann Naffziger Answers:

The Bible, like any written document, betrays the cultural context of the authors. In the case of the Bible, we are dealing with not one book, but with many books and thus many authors, all of whom wrote about 1,900 to 3,000 years ago. These authors were members of patriarchal cultures that had different views about gender roles, rights, and responsibilities than we do in the United States today. For example, in the ancient Hebrew society, women were considered possessions more than individuals in their own right, so there are laws in the Hebrew Scriptures dealing with the ownership of women passing from their fathers to their husbands at the time of marriage.

In the New Testament, Paul objected to women speaking in church, among other things. If the culture understood women as “lesser” human beings than men, it is more understandable that the biblical authors could make statements that seem “mean” to us today. (The same can certainly be said of writers entrenched in a pre-Civil Rights era who wrote what we now consider outrageous statements about African Americans.)

On the other hand, we can’t lump all of the biblical writers together as being unilaterally “mean” toward women. There are sections in both the Old and New Testaments in which women are upheld as brave, faithful, courageous, strong, and generous, as well as many who were committed disciples of Christ (ex: Jesus’ mother, Mary Magdalene, the women of Luke 8:2-3 etc). Also, it should be pointed out that Jesus treated women with a respect and dignity not usually proffered to women of his time and culture. Sometimes the dignity he showed them was so counter-cultural that he had to defend himself against nay-sayers who didn’t believe women deserved the respect he showed them (ex: Mark 14:3-9, Jn 8:3-11) Yet Jesus persisted, refusing to treat women with the “meanness” that we might interpret as the cultural norm of his time.

 
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The Author : Ann Naffziger
Ann Naffziger is a scripture instructor and spiritual director in the San Francisco Bay area. She has has written articles on spirituality and theology for various national magazines and edited several books on the Hebrew Scriptures.
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • Mike

    that is not a very good insight on why did men treat women as such in them days. It all has to do with what Happened in The Bible, The Fall Of Man. Eve told the first lie in history, then she acted on her desire for wisdom, then Adam seen her eat it , and by her actions deceived Adam because she did not die, so he too took and ate of it. therefore he to died a spiritual death, as this is what caused the separation of man to God.

    the mind set then goes as follows.

    woman now are and have been paying for that every since, and even today women are still the lairs they once where from the beginning. just by what you were to change how you really look, is the female lying to the male.

    the woman usually uses innuendos instead of speaking her mind, in cases where she feels that she does not want to take any real responsibility for what it is she wants to really do, this way if it does not work out to her liking then she can play innocents, in portraying that she had nothing to do with it. still this is a dishonest manor that the woman lives out today.

    therefore as woman are generally dishonest people, therefore man does not want them in affairs of any kind to matters that need honestly, and the fact that God gave the woman to Adam for a helper, now makes her a possession. He did not go out and find her then have this mutual agreement going on.

    women have a place in this world. Satan is having them over step it, now there are less mothers to raise the children because they are too busy trying to be something God did not intend them to be, MEN. in the roles they play by trying to bring home the money to feed and cloths the children instead of raising the children. Now the children have no parents any more because they both are playing the mens roll, or the woman has decided that she needs no man in her life, just wants to be a mom, and the man by trying to live out both rolls.

    the two pay check system that America and other countries have, as it cost too much to even just live in this country let alone have a life. too force the woman into the work force thus Satan again is playing disrupt God’s plan in that way too.

    whereas Paul is clear about How Jesus shows respect to women, or is at least trying to break the habits of the old days, women are to stay out of mans affairs and raise the children in teaching them wisdom and the love for God.

    to keep there place in this world, and speak to their husband on the matters they feel they need to talk about. for it is their roll to raise the children and help the husband, and not tell the husband and mankind what to do.

    • JuliePurple

      Wow. Oink, oink, oink.

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