Monday, August 28, 2017

The Story Behind the Writing of, Woman this is WAR! Gender, Slavery and the Evangelical Caste System

   After, Woman Submit! Christians & Domestic Violence, was published, I began to receive invitations for speaking engagements, from all across the country. 
   This was exciting! 
   The Christian community was signalling that they were ready and willing to deal with the sin and trauma of domestic violence in a proactive, compassionate, and biblical manner.
   But, in His own inimitable way, my Father in Heaven brought to my attention that I was not yet ready to start speaking at domestic violence seminars, hosted by churches. Although I did not yet understand the "why" of it (after all, I knew I had been led by his Holy Spirit to write a book on the subject--based on both research and personal experience). But, I got the message, loud and clear, that if I began traveling, prematurely, to speaking engagements, having to do with domestic violence among Christians, I would be going only "half-dressed," so to speak.
​   So, even though I did not understand, I reluctantly cancelled domestic violence speaking engagements I had scheduled in places such as New York and California. Then, by the unction of the Holy Spirit, I settled in, and began my journey into researching and writing what, two years later, would be published as, Woman this is WAR! Gender, Slavery and the Evangelical Caste System.
​   Being raised in a Southern Baptist home, attending Southern Baptist Sunday Schools, and identifying as a Southern Baptist for 27 years of my life, It was difficult for me to accept that the Holy Spirit--who leads and guides into all truth--was leading me to challenge the status quo of traditional role religion, something which had been ingrained into my psyche from birth. 
   I understood that my denomination did not endorse equality of the sexes, and never had as far as I knew. I remember arguing with God about it, saying, "But Lord, that's their baby. If I touch that, they'll eat me alive, they will crucify me! You will have to show me where to start. Weren't there any Baptist women who wrote about equality of the sexes?" 
   I really did ask God those questions. 
​   And the answers to that prayer began flowing in. 
   I will never forget the thrill of discovering the writings of Sarah Grimke, a Christian of the 19th century, who was the first American woman to write a fully developed treatise on woman's equality. 
   The peace her words brought to my soul was a like a balm. I experienced outrage as well, at how both men and women had been foully cheated by the unjust limitations of role religion.
​   After reading Sarah Grimke's treatise, I discovered Shirley Taylor, of Baptist Women for Equality, followed by Elizabeth Wilson, another 19th Century Christian who wrote a book (women could not yet speak in public and she even needed her husband's permission to publish her book) decrying the social and religious norms [of her day] of female subordination. 
   The list goes on, and, in, Woman this is War!,  I write about the men as well as the women I "met," during the course of my research, who used their pens and raised their voices, in the midst of great adversity against the sins of slavery and role-religion.
   As my research and writing began to emerge in the form of a manuscript--with many footnotes to document my findings (in the end, the footnotes totaled more than 400, citing many primary sources), I realized I was exploring parallel histories of the American Woman's Rights Movement which I found was  directly connected with the Abolition Movement. 
   I found the two issues could not be separated. 
   I felt it was beyond coincidence that the same arguments were used to keep both slaves and women in subjection.
   The significance of using scripture to prove that God ordained both slavery and female subordination cannot be under-stated. That is what gave unimaginable power to institutionalized slavery and traditional role religion.
​   Enter Twentieth Century complementarianism, what I have come to call traditional-role-religion-on-steroids. Since 1987, under the complementarian regime, women have lost ground, and abuse has increased. During my research, I was appalled to see that denominations that once ordained women as pastors, deacons, and elders, no longer did so. And it was tragic to see that an entire family counseling industry had sprung up within the Christian community in order to  repair damage to marriages that the doctrine and practice of complementarianism itself was causing!
   Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. It was the gender-based power structure that not only hindered the gospel, cheated Christians of great blessing through God's daughters as well as through his sons, but contributed to spousal abuse as well. The things I was learning, were missing pieces of the puzzle as to why domestic abuse and violence is just as prevalent (if not more so) among Christians as among the secular population. 
    Now, I could begin accepting speaking engagements again. Now, I could run with my message, "fully clothed."

What the book is about
   This book exposes the religious misogyny of  proclaiming the leadership of men over women from birth throughout all eternity. Through meticulous research into history and theology, the work proves complementarianism to be an unscriptural, Christianized, form of Caste, based on sex, that hinders the work of the gospel and adversely interferes with the happiness and liberty of God's people.
​   It covers in detail, critical instances of misogynistic mistranslation in Bibles, which have adversely affected biblical understanding, as well as the relationships, happiness, and effectiveness for the gospel, of men and women throughout the ages.
   The book compares uncanny parallels between rationales used by complementarians to shore up male-supremacy, with rationales used by 19th Century slave-holders, who also appealed to scripture to defend their unconscionable view of white-supremacy. 
    The two positions are virtually identical.
   But just as the Bible does not condone the enslavement of human beings based on skin color, neither does it condone a slavery-like caste system based on sex.
   Woman this is War!, challenges Christian men and women to embrace and appreciate God-given differences without giving place to haughty spirits of superiority, degrading feelings of inferiority, hatred, prejudice, fear of one another’s differences, or the sinful need to either be in charge or to submit in an idolatrous manner.
​   Laymen and clergy alike will find this book useful in understanding and combating fallacies that hinder the advancement of Christian women within our homes and churches today.

Men are More Important Than Women: Misogyny in Bible Lexicons and Commentaries

   Other than perhaps, the words for Father, there is no single word in Greek or Hebrew vocabularies that refers exclusively to males (if readers can find such a word, please post it in the comment section below). 
   Precedent and exceptions exist for each, and Thayer knew this, yet, in his Greek-English Lexicon, unapologetically explained why crowds composed of both women and men are routinely described as men
   Most people mistakenly believe it is because the word. man, is simply a generic neutral used to represent all humans. Thayer, however, set that theory to right, when he wrote in his lexicon as to why words such as the Greek [G435], aner, are always translated as men or man—even when the context does not support such a translation. 
   He wrote, that in the case of a mixed group of women and men, the group is always named after the more important (see footnote).
   Matthew 14:35 is a prime example of Thayer's reasoning that men are intrinsically more important than women. And for that reason, he maintains that groups or crowds composed of both sexes should always be referred to as, men
   Thayer's influence is widespread, as is James Strong's, and a host other commentators who agree with them. In translating Matthew 14:35, virtually every Bible version describes the entire population of an area, as the more important, men:

 And when the men (people) [1] of that place had knowledge of him they sent out into all that country round about and brought to him all that were diseased 36: And implored him that they might only touch the hem of his garment and as many as touched were made perfectly whole -HHBC

[1] This verse is an example of the Greek word aner [G435-masculine noun], being translated as “men” when the context demands that the word be translated using a gender-neutral word, such as people or those. Bible commentators and translators such as Strong and Thayer, insist the word either refers strictly to males, or if used of a mixed crowd, references the “more important” male, e.g. “When persons of either sex are included, but named after the more important.” -Thayer on the word, G435 aner. Thayer gives the example of Matthew 14:35 where the citizenship, called aner, are naturally composed of both women and men, but since the men are more important, he claims the entire population was called aner, which should always be translated as male. This is blatant misogyny in Bible translation. Discrimination against women, is buried so far down into the very roots of language (both Greek and English—both of which are androcentric languages) as to influence and deceive those who would understand the Word of God [and God’s true heart towards both women and men], even to the present day. Bible scholars should be called into question on these things and call for an honest reassessment, based on extensive research without the filters of tradition, be made of the meanings of the words translated into English from the biblical languages—especially those words effecting relationships and status.  -HHBC (Hungry Hearts Bible Commentary)

Mistranslation in Bibles which have adversely affected biblical understanding, as well as the relationships, happiness, and effectiveness for the gospel, of men and women for aions.

Woman this is WAR! examines Bible commentary and translation practices which have historically been androcentric (male centered) and even misogynistic (anti-woman). 

   These have adversely effected understanding of the scriptures, relations between women and men, the happiness of men and women, and, in general, has hindered the work of the gospel, by forbidding women to preach, pastor, or serve as elders or deacons. The book chronicles the early history of the women's rights movements, as well as the role of church leadership in aggressively suppressing both women's rights and the historical record of Christian initiatives within the movements. 

   Through the complementarian movement, many of the same arguments used to support the institution of slavery, are still used today in suppressing the rights of Christian women. This book documents identical arguments used by Christian leaders against both movements and is an unparalleled resource for all who desire an in-depth study of gender equality from a historical and Christian perspective. 
   This book traces history of women’s rights, much further than usual, to the very first feminists…who were Christians—godly women, who brought the issue of women's rights to the forefront as they struggled to alleviate the suffering of others, and found they were hindered in doing so for no other reason than the fact of their sex. This work, provides valuable historical insight into Christian initiatives in the movements for women’s rights, that are rarely included in Christian literature.