Feminism, racism, genderism all speak to equality, or more specifically, inequality. Why do we have to identify with either gender in order to support equality? Why do racial equality issues still exist? Why is it about gender or race at all? Equality is a people thing. In God’s eyes, we are all equal, so why aren’t we?
Somewhere along the path, mankind accepted, then perpetuated the idea women are inferior, the weaker sex, subservient to the male gender, you get the idea. In the grander scheme of things, man created subsets of people and put them into categories; acceptable and unacceptable, superior and inferior. Did it start with the Bible? Depends on one’s view of the origins of the universe, I guess. In any case, the Bible and religion had a major impact on the issue of equality; inequality is a religious thing.
The Bible is the script for the cultural values and norms of the times in which it was written. Underlying many of the Biblical teachings is man’s need for control, and there are plenty of references defining control over women, children, and anyone considered inferior. In Yeshuas’ (Jesus) day women were not allowed to sit on the same side of the synagogue as their husbands and the women were expected to keep quiet. Women were not allowed in the pulpit, not taught the scriptures, were to care for their husbands and chilren and stay in the background. Women without husbands were put out on the street, left to fend for themselves. Children were to be seen and not heard. These seem like foreign and archaic ideas and mindsets, and the church no matter how progressive it may seem on the surface continues to perpetuate these archaic mindsets. Abuses of women, children, and any considered inferior to others was as common then as it is today. I absolutely believe in God, in Divine Love, but I don’t consider God and the Bible as one and the same. And, I don’t believe in a God who would tolerate division and subsebvience of mankind reportedly created in His likeness, thus my belief inequality is a religious thing.
Made in the likeness of God refers to the Spirit of God, the qualities and characteristics of God. Most can probably agree God is loving, kind, tolerant, non-judgmental, accepting, forgiving, patient, merciful, compassionate and so on. Religious leaders along the way added not-so-good qualities to the character of God like jealousy, hatred, and vengeance. I have heard too many times that God is a jealous God, and vengeance is His to inflict upon others. Would a loving God create mankind in the likeness of Divine Love only to become jealous, hateful and vengeful toward them? It started with a tree and its fruit in the Garden of Eden, so we are told.
I believe mankind and the church formed God in their image, assigning good and bad characteristics and qualities to Divine Love instead of the other way around; it’s easier to control others if fear and uncertainty are introduced. If people aren’t sure of the exact boundaries but there is punishment for crossing the boundaries fear sets in. The church tells us there are clear boundaries, the Ten Commandments, but there are many other vague warnings scattered throughout the Bible, too. Things like one day we will be accountable for every careless word spoken. On the surface that sounds clear enough, but at a deeper level, the waters become a bit murkier. How is careless defined? What about Paul’s teaching in I Corinthians 6:9-11 that says, “Don’t you know that unrighteous people will have no share in the Kingdom of God? Don’t delude yourselves – people who engage in sex before marriage, who worship idols, who engage in sex after marriage with someone other than their spouse, who engage in active or passive homosexuality, who steal, who are greedy, who get drunk, who assail people with contemptuous language, who rob – none of them will share in the Kingdom of God.” That’s a mouthful!
Who gets to define unrighteousness, idolatry, passive homosexuality, sex before marriage? So would sex before marriage include rape and incest, too? What if I steal because my kids are hungry and I have no money? Solomon, the wisest man ever known was a hot mess, he should be included in Paul’s list, shouldn’t he? New Testament Peter, the rock upon which the church was founded, as they say, was a brash fisherman with a quick temper. I will venture he assailed a few with contemptuous language in his time. And Paul, formerly known as Saul, was still arrogant after his fall from the donkey and name change. Arrogance, it would seem, does not exclude one from heaven in Paul’s list of no-no’s.
Paul’s list of exclusions are a result of behaviors, choices, and some are not. I do not believe homosexuality is a behavior or choice but according to Paul homosexuals are unacceptable. What if Paul had decided heterosexuals were unacceptable? Man has determined some people because of race, color, sexual orientation or gender are not as good or acceptable as others. God did not. Mankind was created in the image and likeness of God; mankind decided a select few were acceptable, the rest were not. Until we acknowledge mankind’s desire to control and limit others is not of God inequality will continue to exist and thrive. In God’s eyes, all are acceptable…..