This post is an open response to A Crone Speaks Out: Why Do Christians Hate Women?
By Tim Graves
It is true that Christianity grew out of a culture of patriarchy. Too many Christians still use the canon as a weapon to put down women but you imply that all Christians hate women. This undercuts your moral authority and is simply not true. Nonetheless, Christians have a history problem. The faith has too often been used to exclude, to spew hatred, and to dismiss our kindred in other and no faith traditions. I cannot, nor will I attempt, to sweep that under the rug.
Those who use the text to spew hatred of women and others read the text in a way in which it was never intended, that is, literally.
The Hebrew Bible (commonly called the Old Testament) is a collection of the stories and theological perspectives of ancient peoples. The Adam and Eve story - one of two distinct biblical creation narratives in Genesis - has been used historically to promote patriarchy. It should not be read in isolation of the first story in which women and men are created equally by God.
So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
Genesis 1:27 NRSV (Click here to read this verse in context.)
In the simplest terms, the creation stories in Genesis were written to explain that the Divine had a hand in creation. The second story, which you use to support your claim that women-hatred is a root of the faith, can be interpreted as a rejection of Pagans. (Though that was probably not its primary purpose.)
Remember that these ancients strived in their stories to distinguish themselves from others. The Hebrew people were regularly oppressed, under occupation by outside groups more often than they self-governed. To survive as a distinct people, it was critical that distinctions between insiders and outsiders were clearly drawn.
The problem is that the contemporary Christians emphasized in the mainstream media, use certain stories of the text as near-literal guidebooks while disregarding others. They've picked and chosen while claiming to take the whole canon literally. Those of other and no faith traditions as well as those within Christianity with different views, are arrogantly dismissed by these so-called fundamentalists.
This is not the way I experience the Divine.
The arrogance exuded by "fundamentalists" is not a fundamental of the Christian faith. It is not the way I and many other Christians experience the Divine nor is it the holistic message of the Bible. Drawing upon the Christian scriptures and my experience of God, the Divine is one of extravagant love for all peoples whether they are inside or outside the church.
In your posting, you pick out one characterization of God. You imply that the characterization of God in the Bible is consistent. It is not.
The inconsistent characterizations of God makes sense when you realize that the scriptures were written by different people in different eras. The theologies and stories within the Christian canons, give us a glimpse of those people's experiences and perceptions of God, not necessarily the full or true nature of the Divine.
However, if the biblical text is looked at prayerfully, historically, culturally, and holistically one finds the stories of ancient forebears who become more inclusive over the centuries. In the New Testament alone, particularly the gospels and epistles, the Good News of extravagant love is first just for the Jewish people and later expands to Gentiles.
Christians do not hate women. Some so-called fundamentalist Christians draw lines between insiders and outsiders and neglect the one fundamental of following Jesus: a love so extravagant that it overcomes even death. This extravagant, ever widening love is for all peoples. It is in the spaces between us, it is within each of us (the Imago Dei), and it is reflected in creation.
God of Wholeness,
Open our hearts,
and our arms;
That we might use them,
to be extravagant lovers of all humanity,
of all of creation,
and of You.