Be Careful What You Call 'The Word of God'

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July 24, 2009

Recently, linked to an article by former President Jimmy Carter (a sincere, born-again Christian) called 'The Words of God Do Not Justify Cruelty to Women,' which deplores the abusive and unreasonable treatment of women by 'revealed' religions. The title of his article was the same as that of the link on STR . This title assumes too much.

It is a huge, (and based on realities throughout history and currently in the Middle East ) violence-promoting mistake to make the assumption that a particular book is 'the Word of God.' The consequences are deadly and progress-retarding. The very title of Mr. Carter's article makes this deadly assumption. In his article it is clear he is referring to the Bible (both the Hebrew and Christian/Old and New Testaments) and the Quran. To the detriment of humanity, these books are believed to be communication from God to mankind by billions of people and are therefore referred to as 'the Word of God.'

For almost two thousand years, the Bible has been interpreted to mean whatever one wants it to mean. During the American Civil War, the Bible was used by the Union to denounce slavery and by the Confederacy to support slavery. Likewise, people have used it to belittle women and to show, as Jimmy Carter attempted, that the Bible holds women to be of equal value to men. Objectively, the Bible is overwhelmingly anti-women.

Starting with the creation myth, it is the weak-link, Eve, who first falls prey to the talking serpent/snake and disobeys God by eating of the tree of knowledge. Leo Strauss, the father of the Judeo-Christian-based neoconservative movement, said in his speech and essay Jerusalem and Athens, regarding the fall of man myth, "Thus the stage was set for the fall of our first parents. The first move came from the serpent, the most cunning of all the beasts of the field. It seduced the woman into disobedience and then the woman seduced the man. The seduction moves from the lowest to the highest."

In Genesis 3:16, the Bible god had this to say to Eve after she and her husband Adam ate of the tree of knowledge: 'Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.'

Mr. Carter uses this quote to try to make the point that the Bible is not anti-women: 'There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.' (Galatians 3:28)

It is true that the Bible contains the verse that Mr. Carter uses from Galatians. However, it also contains much more that makes the selected quote null and void. For example, from the time of birth, the female is considered to be very much lacking in value to the male. In Leviticus 12: 1 ' 5, this 'Word of God' teaches that a woman is unclean for seven days if she gives birth to a boy, but if she gives birth to a girl she will be unclean for two weeks. In the first place, why would a woman who brings life, the greatest gift known, into the world be considered 'unclean'? And why would she be unclean twice as long for giving birth to a girl than if she had given birth to a boy?

In Leviticus 27, we see that the Bible god values men at 50 shekels and women at only 30 shekels. The same Bible god put a value on male children ages five to 20 years at 20 shekels and for girls of the same age at only ten shekels, or half the value of boys. This anti-female pattern holds true even for little boys and little girls, for the Bible god says to value little boys from one month old to five years at five shekels and little girls of the same age at only three shekels.

In the New Testament, 1 Timothy 2: 11-15 says, 'Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.'

It appears by the above verse that some of the reason for women being inferior to men in the Judeo-Christian 'Word of God' is due to Eve being deceived by the talking snake and that Eve was formed after Adam. This reflects a lie since the Bible says that Adam also ate of the forbidden fruit on the magic tree of knowledge knowing full well that the Bible god told him not to. Regarding Adam being first formed, that is true if you believe the Bible story at Genesis 2: 20-22, which says that the Bible god took a rib from Adam and made Eve out of Adam's rib. But if you decide to believe 'the Word of God' at Genesis 1: 27, you would believe differently than the writer of 1 Timothy, because that verse says, 'So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.'

Jimmy Carter wrote that 'Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions ' all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God.' I'm not familiar with Jesus taking a stand for women other than the Galatians quote Mr. Carter already used. Moses, the so-called prophets and Muhammad never to my knowledge have spoken out for the benefit of women. In fact, I know that Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 14: 34-35, 'Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in church.' If you believe this Christian teaching, you would have to strongly believe that women are very much inferior to men. It's interesting to note that this quote contains the statement, 'they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law.' Jesus is said to have said in Matthew 5: 17, 'Do not think that I have come to destroy the law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.'

Jimmy Carter seems to inadvertently make the point that the various and contradicting (and even self-contradicting) 'Words of God' are meaningless due to their incongruous structure when he writes, 'Although not having training in religion or theology, I understand that the carefully selected verses found in the holy scriptures to justify the superiority of men owe more to time and place--and the determination of male leaders to hold onto their influence--than eternal truths. Similar Biblical excerpts could be found to support the approval of slavery and the timid acquiescence to oppressive rulers.'

Thomas Paine also made this point in a letter to a friend regarding his powerful book on God and religion, The Age of Reason. Paine wrote to his friend, 'In your letter of the twentieth of March, you give me several quotations from the Bible, which you call the Word of God, to show me that my opinions on religion are wrong, and I could give you as many, from the same book to show that yours are not right; consequently, then, the Bible decides nothing, because it decides any way, and every way, one chooses to make it.'

One of the primary shackles on humanity that must be broken is the hold the various 'revealed' religions have on humanity and many of the individuals who make up humanity. The beliefs and lies taught by these self-proclaimed 'revealed' religions have been used by the clergy and by the state to keep people in bondage and to stifle progress through fear and superstition. A great example of this can be found in Romans 13: 1-7, which teaches people to obey the powers that be because they are 'ordained of God' and that the rulers (the state) are for good, not evil. It goes on in its nonsensical teaching that those who resist are damned by God. This type of thinking can only lead to tyranny and slavery.

Mr. Carter states that the main point he and his fellow 'elders' want to get across is 'The justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable." The only way he and the elders can legitimately make this point is to be honest and courageous and openly state that none of the books claimed by many to be the 'Words of God' are from God or a 'Higher Authority.' This is necessary because all three of the Abrahamic 'holy books' are full of 'justification of discrimination against women and girls', not to mention justification for slavery itself. And billions of sincere people mistakenly believe these teachings are from God because they falsely believe that their particular book is 'THE Word of God.' This unfounded belief leads to terrible and reprehensible actions that bring misery and suffering to the world.

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Robert L. Johnson's picture
Columns on STR: 94

Robert Johnson is a paralegal and a freelance writer in Florida. He was raised Roman Catholic, but after reading Thomas Paine's The Age of Reason, he became a Deist. In 1993 he founded the World Union of Deists and in 1996 he launched the first web site devoted to Deism,  He is listed in Who's Who in Hell and is the author of Deism: A Revolution in Religion, A Revolution in You and An Answer to C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity.  He wrote the introduction to The Age of Reason, The Complete Edition and also writes for