The Oxford Study Bible: Revised English Bible with Apocrypha

However, one must keep in mind what one is studying. The situation for women may have been either better or worse than is actually shown by the included books of the accepted New Testament. It is a sure bet these books have been either edited or selected by men to fit their conception of what the established church should be. Thus we are studying the sectarian and cultic phases of the emerging Christian church — through the filter of the establishment Christian church.

Bearing this in mind, we can move on to consideration of Christianity as both a church and an established part of the dominant culture. This can be easily shown by examination of the Pastoral and Catholic letters. In Ephesians 5:22-23, women are told they are subject on Earth to men, just as men are subject to god. There is no thought to women being subject to god rather than man. Women occupy a position analogous to that of animals — perhaps it was thought only men can be that close to god.

In 1 Timothy 2:8-15 the law is spoken of as more important than faith. Jewish law is not an equal opportunity experience. In 1 Timothy 3:11 and 5:1-15 women are given standards of behavior to which they must aspire. These are unsurprisingly close to Jewish law of the time concerning the status of women. In 2 Timothy 2:4-7 the status quo, of all things, is used to show the correct form of behavior. This is the very status quo against which Jesus railed!

In Titus 2:1-5 more "ethical" (read "correct for the times") behavior is shown as examples for the good Christian. Faith is not a part of these instructions. Finally, in 1 Peter 3:1-7 one could consider the metaphorical nail to have been hammered into the coffin of women's freedom within the church. Peter, the "last word" on Jesus' teachings, the metaphorical rock upon which the Christian church is built — the one who supposedly actually spoke with the Messiah — is used as a thoughtless mouthpiece to say women should have no more freedom or self-determinism within the church than without.

Thus we find the situation today. It is merely a dispirited and shadowy copy of the moral standards of the Jewish culture of the time. Now we have a church of "glorious" monuments to materialism, the status quo, and hierarchical politics. The bible has been carefully combed and edited so its message fits what this very patriarchal hierarchy desires to have taught as the literal "Word of God." It is unsurprising the bible trumpets the message of patriarchal superiority — it was written and edited by men!

The excitement, newness, and freedom of the religious self-determinism residing within god's will, as taught by Jesus, has become a sad and tattered memory of what might have been. This very excitement resides today only in occasional snatches of the bible which have miraculously avoided the above-mentioned male editors.

If one were to try to actually follow the teachings of Jesus, it would be a difficult road to discover, let alone follow. It is perhaps ironic that in order to do this one would have to start the cycle again, with a sect rebelling against the established, monolithic church which self-proclaims itself the inheritor of the teachings of Jesus.

Amusingly enough, Paul's restrictive behavioral standards for both sexes are frequently used — like a weapon — against any strong-willed or independent women. They are curiously forgotten when it comes to the behavior of men!

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