Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Polygamy (Part 2): Does God Hate Women?

My previous blog entry "Polygamy (Part 1): Does God Allow it" was written for one of the churches I attended (and taught at) years ago. After reading it, one of the sisters of that church responded with the following:

My main issue with polygamy is not family troubles,
because I've already accepted that as the truth
through common sense and examples from the OT, but
just the stance women have to take.

Call me a ranting feminist, but I really do dislike
what women have to go through, not only in the OT, but
in some instances in the NT, in the societies I've
learned about, and even in circumstances around me.
Firstly, I had trouble with the fact that a woman was
created for Adam, not for God. So through Ge 2:18,23,
men can justify their treatment and regard for women,
since they were made for AND named by men in the first
place! Later on in the OT, women were perpetually
burdened with the responsibility of bearing a son, and
even if the man was the one incompetent, the woman was
blamed for being barren. Thus, men could have multiple
wives through such excuses/reasons. Just the very fact
that they were able to do so implied that men could do
as they please concerning the issue of women.

Certainly, as you have mentioned and I have read in
Deuteronomy (and a part of Numbers, maybe... my memory
grows stale), women were allowed to marry another man,
who was related to her husband, to carry on the family
line. But they were to do so out of duty, not their
own will. Many fathers, however, like the well-known
patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, were able to
take on more than one wife even if they had plenty of
offspring, especially male, to carry on their line.

Even in the New Testament, women were not to take on leadership
roles, of which I am still not sure why. If they could
lead others into God's light, why on earth NOT? 1Cor
14:34-35 hits even me harder. It's disgraceful for a
woman to speak up in church? Perhaps Paul didn't mean
exactly that. But doesn't he know his words could be
detrimental to progeny in more ways than one could
imagine? Especially since generations and generations
of believers read and follow these words?

One of my friends dislikes Christianity mostly because
of excerpts in Numbers 31 about virgin women, as if
they were just booty to satisfy the men. I myself
wouldn't blame her for her criticism, if I were still
a nonbeliever, though I did attempt to explain to her
the historical background and what God allowed, but
did not encourage. She wasn't very convinced.

I as a Christian still have trouble with such passages
from the Bible. I even considered turning away from
Christianity because of the pain it causes me as a
woman. I almost feel like I'm encouraging self-hate.
Yet I prayed about it, and God kept bringing me back
to Him even though I was mad. I thank Him for that,
but I still haven't resolved these issues--merely put
them aside. My brother says I grow too heated about
this, that yes, women's toes were stepped on often,
unfortunately, but there's nothing really to be done
about it. I laughed and said, "Sometimes I wish I
were born a man, though I hate to admit it."

The reason I'm writing all this to you is just to
respond, and hope you have a better reaction to these
passages than I do. I hope you don't view this
position with respect to your own gender, but see it
objectively, and also in other perspectives. Sometimes
these issues, along with evolution and abortion, eat
at me, and sometimes I just realize I should search
for knowledge, but realize these things are part of
God's plan, not my own decisions and wills. But what
am I to tell others when I testify--and what am I to
tell myself as I reread these passages that denigrate
women? I do not search for equality; I do understand
that men and women are very different and I don't
expect them to be alike or even to understand each
other, but I desire religious equity. And I'm sure I'm
not the only one.


Thank you for your response. To respond to your response, let me first clarify something regarding how women were encouraged to marry her husband¡¦s brother after her husband dies. She was only allowed and encouraged to do this after her husband dies. When you remarry another man after your husband dies, it is not polygamy and it is not adultery. After your spouse dies, the marriage is no longer binding. (This is true even today, which may have something to do with the phrase ¡§til death do us part¡¨. See also 1Corinthians 7:39-40.) In the times of the Old Testament, (as far as I know) women were not allowed to practice polygamy (Numbers 5:11-31). Only men could practice polygamy and have more than one wife (back then). I know you must be even angrier about this double standard. But before you get too mad, please first continue reading this.

First of all, let me mention that it is human society that you should be mad at, and not God. The customs of polygamy back in those days were from men, not from God. However, God did allow it (although he probably did not like it too much). However, there were other things that God allowed that he didn't like too much, which he no longer allow later. For example, divorce is one of these things. I speculate that God allow us certain things (like polygamy and divorce) that he didn't like (and knew wasn't good), probably because of our stubborn heads and hard hearts. You know how we are as humans, when we understand something as one way and we are so used to certain customs. I think God kinda went along with us in our imperfection and hard heartedness (probably to save more of us). But this is only my speculation. However, I do have bible verses that is consistent with my speculation. If you look in Matthew 19:1-8, one of the issues that God kinda went along with us in our imperfection is the issue of divorce. He clearly didn¡¦t like the idea of divorce since that was not what he originally intended of a married couple. However, he went along with our imperfection and he allowed divorce (back in biblical times) because of our hard hearts. (Matthew 19:1-8) I believe it is the same with the issue of polygamy. Like divorce, God probably wasn¡¦t really happy with it. I think he went along with it so that more people would be saved. (As many Israelites as there were that turned against God back in those days, many more probably would turn against God if God didn¡¦t went along a little bit with our imperfection). Again, this is my speculation. So, I don¡¦t think you should be mad at God, when you should really be mad at man¡¦s society and how man are stubborn to cling to man's customs.

Let me also ask you another question. Other than the fact that men were able to have multiple wives and that ¡§they could do as they please¡¨, there are probably so many other things in history that you (and we all) could be very mad about. What if I tell you that I am very angry about Peloponnesian War that happened more than 2000 years ago. I am very angry about how the Spartans were treated. Wouldn¡¦t you be telling me, ¡§It doesn¡¦t make any sense to be angry about something so long ago?¡¨ And this is exactly my point.

Regarding the issue of leadership of women in the church and your quoting of what Paul said in 1Corinthians, this is a very controversial subject among different Christians. God taught me about this back in 2002 (with a whole chain of events that happened that year which I¡¦m not going into). Anyway, my brief response to this subject is: if you look at the context of which Paul spoke, and at the bible as a whole and not just that one verse in 1Corinthians, you would see that God does allow woman to teach (let alone speak) in a church. This issue would really require a lot of writing and pulling scriptures from the bible. So I am not going to get into it here. . I've been intending to write an article about this issue, but I¡¦ve been putting it off (probably because I know how long the article would be).

Also, I don't think you should feel like you're encouraging self-hate being a female Christian. You should focus on all the examples in the Bible of how God loved and cared for the women who loved him. There are so many.

Also, if your non-Christian friends dislike Christianity because of the male dominated stories in the Old Testament, I highly recommend that you start them on the New Testament such as the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. In my opinion, I always discourage starting beginning Bible students with the Old Testaments. I think they should have a good understanding of God from the New Testament before they start reading the Old Testament.

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