“Then God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the person; and while he was sleeping, he took one of his ribs and closed up the place from which he took it with flesh.” (Genesis 2:21 The Complete Jewish Bible) No one knows for sure it was a rib, but it is assumed the side of man meant the rib. God did not – and I repeat – did NOT scrape the woman from the bottom of Adam’s foot. So, why has Christianity treated women so poorly? Why does the Bible refer to women in disparaging terms?
As I have said many times, I do not identify as a Christian, and this is one of the reasons. Christianity is a patriarchal religion. Women have risen in the ranks in recent history, but history and church history agree women were treated as second, if not third-class citizens. However, there are significant women found within the scriptures. We can look to these women as examples of the woman God took from the side of Adam, women who understood their worth and were not afraid to make their mark in a male-dominated world and religion.
Eve, the first woman, is credited with being the first human to speak the name of God when she said at the birth of her first child, “With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man.” (Genesis 4:1 ESV) Adam did not speak God’s name – it was Eve, even after being cast from the Garden of Eden. Some religious scholars believe it was Eve, not Adam, who was given dominion over the creation. Religion, however, chose to treat her as Adam’s downfall, the one who got them kicked out of paradise. Perhaps, Adam was the weaker of the two? Eve was chosen, after all, to endure birth which, I am sure most women would agree, men could not do.
What about Miriam, Moses’s sister? She is considered to be the first Prophetess, protected Moses when their mother put Moses in a basket and floated it down the Nile, and took an active role in the Exodus from Egypt. Miriam was a woman of strength yet it seems religion was terrified of her strength. The Bible reports that she was struck with leprosy after rebelling against her brother. Aaron and Moses begged God for Miriam to be healed and became the heroes of Miriam’s story. Was that the reality, or religion’s attempt to keep a strong woman in the shadows?
We are introduced to Deborah in the book of Judges. Deborah was the first woman judge of Israel, in fact, the only woman ever mentioned as a judge in the Bible. She, too, was a woman known for her strength, a Prophetess, and highly respected by the men of her day for her wisdom and actions. She also was a warrior, joining military commander Barak in battle. Deborah was a woman of many talents, skills, and abilities. The women who comprise our Supreme Court Justices: Sandra Day O’Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Sonia Sotomayer, Elena Kagan, Amy Coney Barrett, and the likely newest addition Ketanji Brown Jackson owe gratitude to Deborah as they stand on the shoulders of a great and powerful woman.
Fast forward to the New Testament and Mary Magdalene. Mary was a devoted follower of Yeshua (Jesus), however, religion has cast shadows over her and her relationship with Yeshua. Was she a prostitute? Was she in a sexual relationship with Yeshua? Was she pregnant with Yeshua’s baby at the time of the crucifixion? All have certainly been implied and written about, but why? Mary was another example of a powerful woman who drew fear from the patriarchy. The Bible reports Yeshua cast seven demons from Mary but does that make her a prostitute? No, but I have heard her name linked with prostitution in more than one sermon. And, there is no proof she was in a sexual relationship with Yeshua or pregnant at the time of the crucifixion. Mary is also credited with writing the Book of Mary, one of the lost gospels discovered in 1947. Mary’s account of her days with Yeshua is much different than the books included in what is known as the Bible. She is thought to have butt heads with Peter the Apostle, the rock upon whom the church was founded. Was she the intended ‘rock’?
These are a few examples of strong, influential, and important women of the Bible – women the patriarchy has tried to dismiss, discredit, or ignore. Woman was taken from the side of man, not the foot to be trampled and not the head to rule over. Until women embrace their rightful place we will continue to be considered inferior to men…..