The Feminine in Religion
The Christian Right’s archaic beliefs about women were evident in the recent presidential election with women’s right to health care and the right to choose an abortion were put on the line. All throughout history organized religions have done much to control women, including everything from almost destroying our sense of self worth to teaching us that our sexuality is a sin.
But where did all of this loathing come from? From the earliest days of the Judeo-Christian beliefs.
According to the Old Testament of the Holy Bible, Eve is the reason for man’s downfall. Oh wow, Satan tempted Eve in the form of a snake, but it was Eve who gave into the temptation. Then she allegedly convinced Adam to commit a sin, resulting in both of them being rejected from the Garden of Eden.
The Muslims go one step further, blaming women for man’s inability to control his sexual desires, the result being that women are not permitted to show any skin or hair while out in public.
In the Kabbalist Jewish beliefs, Lilith was the first woman, not Eve. Supposedly, she refused to be submissive to Adam and so was thrown out into the cosmos where she finally met up with Lucifer, who, enticed by her tenacity, took her for his own wife.
Anyone with an open mind can see the paradigm of prejudice taking place. Women are blamed for all of mankind’s downfalls and men are the innocent victims. Eve may have enticed Adam but she didn’t make him do it, yet, it is the woman that is cursed. According to these myths, Lilith is thrown out as worthless because she was strong enough to see the injustice in having to be subservient.
Sexuality is a normal part of being human. It can be considered a manifestation of God to experience love and to (pro)create. Yet, most organized religions try to control even this, having us to believe that our basic human needs are evil. Jesus Christ is considered by Christians to be the savior of humanity, yet his legend had to be free of any and all sexuality. Even his birth is believed by Christians to be sex free, born to a virgin. Christ himself is believed to have remained a virgin throughout his lifetime. But, why? Why is the thought of a sexually active savior so feared?
Religion has done plenty to restrain women’s rights and the right to sexual freedom. Consider The Inquisition. This period of Christian history is filled with torture and murder in the name of God. Women who knew something about medicinal herbs or the art of being a midwife were in danger of being called “witch.” The “crime” of witchcraft was punished by torture and burning at the stake.
Can the feminine in religion be saved? To find the answer we must look back to the very beginnings of human history.
In ancient Egypt, the Goddess’ stature was equal to the God. The concept of the Goddess played an important part in everyday life. The ancient pagans and wiccans worshipped the Goddess and women priestesses were common. According to pagan and wiccan beliefs, the Goddess and thus women, have stronger spiritual power during certain times of the year.
In the last two decades, wiccan and pagan beliefs have been on the rise. They are all around us, yet they tend to remain cloaked. Why? For the very reason that Christians and Muslims still see women as wicked in one way or another. Women have no reason to fear torture and death, or do we? To find the answer, we only have to look as far as modern day Muslim countries where women can have acid thrown on their faces or be stoned to death because of a mere accusation made by a man.
We must remain vigilant in our work for spiritual equality. We won a few victories in the past election. But, it was a close call. Still, women spoke up and were heard. We can do the same for our spiritual freedom, and at the same time consider not just American women but women all over the world. There is power in numbers and we must mobilize.