Many leave Christianity simply because they are women. The bible was written by men and for men. God has a penis. Patriarchy informs the entire biblical worldview. There is no escaping that (try as liberal Christianity may); there is only damage control. Women often find much more freedom in schools and the workplace than in their churches, learning they don’t have to be “silent and submissive” to men like in many churches, they aren’t property of men, feminine sexuality is not to be suppressed because it’s some kind of temptation for men, nor is it a service for men on-demand.

Women are often told that men are their leaders and they must submit to men, and many churches spend endless hours debating whether women should be allowed to speak in church (1 Cor 13:34). Women find salvation in bearing children (1 Tim 2:15). They are not to wear jewelry or makeup, or wear revealing clothing that might tempt a man to lust (1 Tim 2:9, 1 Peter 3:3-4). In the 10 Commandments, women are listed as property items of men along with cattle and slaves. Do we really want this patriarchal command that endorses subjugation of women and slavery in our courts? (This is also unconstitutional). Women are often encouraged to marry young and have lots of babies. They are discouraged from birth control (and of course abortion). Rape is frequently legitimized in the biblical text, and God uses extended, vulgar rape metaphors to describe his anger at Israel (Isaiah 47, Jeremiah 13, and Ezekiel 23). The message of these rape metaphors is clearly victim-blaming: “I’m angry and you’re going to suffer for it. You deserve to be raped because of your sexual exploits. You’re a slut and it was just a matter of time until you suffered the consequences. Let this be a lesson to you and to all other uppity women” (paraphrase).

Biblical religion was not originally so male-dominant. We know from the bible and archaeology that the Judaeo-Christian-Islamic god originally had a wife. God’s wife was known as Asherah. Ancient Israelites did not believe in one god: there were polytheists. Asherah balanced out the god known as Yahweh with a feminine conception of divinity, before Judaism demonized her and tried to erase her from Jewish religion and the bible. (For more on this, see….).

Christians argue endlessly about whether women are now equal to men or “complimentary but different,” each side basing its views on different biblical texts. This view of biblical authority keeps them from seeing the obvious: some biblical texts are oppressive of women, and some are more progressive (the bible contains contradictory claims). As progressive as some texts may have been in the first century, the bible is no model for women’s rights in the today. Feminine theologians desperately and nobly try to salvage the few positive portrayals of women in the bible, often condemning oppressive biblical passages. They have a difficult, uphill battle. The easiest way to get over the deep-set patriarchy in religion is probably to get over religion, or choose more primitive religions that tend to balance the masculine and feminine by including the worship of female deities. Yahweh was an abusive, patriarchal male. He has no place as ruler of a society that is already fighting patriarchy on so many fronts, and that so desperately needs to embrace and elevate women and femininity.

Andrew Jasko, M.Div., speaks about exposing psychological abuses within religion and reclaiming spirituality. Jasko is a former minister, trauma recovery coach, and psychologist-in-training.

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