Thursday, February 02, 2006

Myths attempt to explain why the world is imperfect and what we should do about the problems we face because of an imperfect world. An interesting part of some faiths is the doctrine that the world is not imperfect any more than an obstacle course or a golf course is imperfect.

My own beliefs include some explanations of some things that everyone can observe and that many find painful:

(a) The almost universal condition of women being subordinate to men is not a celestial pattern but is a direct result of the world being imperfect, which means that we do not emulate it, but seek to escape it.

(b) Women need only listen or hearken to men to the extent that they know that the men are following God. Men may end up in charge because the world is imperfect, but women are not obligated to just follow them around, (but instead should follow God and only listen to men when the men are listening to God as well). We all escape the consequences of imperfection by working together as partners.

(c) In the heavens, things are binary, as it says: "in the image of God created God humanity, meaning male and female." That is, God is not alone in the heavens and that women have as much divinity in them as men -- when Eve was created it was as a "help meet" or a "companion equal" to Adam.

I find it interesting how some people naturally find that message and how others do not. There are similar messages all around us, some enlighten us, some we miss. Some times we miss because we lack the right metaphor or language, sometimes because we are blinded by experience, some times it is because life is overwhelming.

But it is life, an experience for us rather than an end.

7 comments:

annegb said...

Wow. Thinking on this.

Susan M said...

Great post Stephen!

LisaB said...

Did you write this because someone you know of or encountered on the blogs recently displayed ignorance of these facts? :-)

Stephen said...

LisaB

I've got to admit that probably 75% of my posts respond to things that by e-mails or blog posts it appears that someone doesn't know.

As a result, some of my posts seem pretty "well of course everyone knows that" to some readers.

Often I rethink something and figure I need to take the time to just make it clearer. I hope this one was clear enough.

Melinda said...

I admit to serious doubts about whether or not women have any claim on equality in a religious context. It's nice to think we do, but there's not much evidence in the scriptures to back it up, and only very recent prophetic statements (last few decades). Also, I've been reading a history of faith, and it pointed out that it was only when strong Christian traditions started to crumble under the attacks of Darwinimism and philosophical arguments, that feminist ideas like equality could begin to convince people that women weren't permanently subordinate to men. In other words, the idea that women could handle making decisions, leadership, and theological discussion came from the secular sphere and intruded into the religious sphere.

If God thought men and women should be equal in any way, don't you think he should have thought of it first? Christianity has been a leader in telling women to be quiet and let the men run things. It's a wholly secular idea that has begun to change that paradigm.

I mistrust that the eternities are set up to accord with our secular ideas that women actually have abilities, instead of with the thousands of years of religious history in which the men have been in charge and the women have been sidelined. If God thought it should have worked differently, he should have said so, instead of waiting until feminists made him change his mind.

Stephen said...

Melinda

I was struck by reading Church leaders in the 30s and 40s preaching sermons on how wives were not property, but equal, at how often God speaks to us, either directly or by his messengers, and we just do not hear him.

I started looking, and ran into Brigham Young's sermons on how a woman can be a doctor or a lawyer or a business person as well as any man (and how the first doctors in Utah were women, sent to the East to study and return).

Then I started reading the scriptures as they were before they became the canon that we have today (e.g. The Pearl, The Shepherd of Hermes, etc.) and was struck by the number of times the message comes out repeating the early message of Genesis, that woman is "a help meet" (which means "a partner equal") for man.

The message repeats itself over, and over, and over again, once you notice it. It is like other messages. Think of slavery in the Bible. Did you realize that if a slave escaped and made it to a designated city (50 of them in a space the size of the Dallas-Fort Worth area), they were not to be retaken into slavery and people were forbidden to take advantage of them because they had been slaves?

It is easy to miss what is being said for what we feel or are reacting to.

Stephen said...

My last comment was lost. I guess I need to just write a post that covers that point.

Bottom line: most things that are laid at the foot of religion got into religion by old science and philosophy that newer versions then rejected (Plato and the inferiority of women, Aristotle and the Earth as the center of the universe with no life on any other sphere, etc.).