ARTICLES & COMMENTARY:
INFO & EYE OPENERS FROM OTHERS:
Collosians 3:18: Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.
1 Corinthians 14:35: - for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.
1 Corinthians 11:9: Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.
Below is a "pastoral letter" from the Massachusetts Congregationalist Clergy, August 1837. It addressed the issue of Sarah and Angelina Grimke, who were anti-slavery activists in New England.
"We invite your attention to the dangers which at present seem to threaten the female character with wide-spread and permanent injury.
The appropriate duties and influence of women are clearly stated in the New Testament. Those duties and that influence are unobstrusive and private, but the souce of mighty power. When the mild, dependent, softening influence of woman upon the sterness of man's opinions is fully exercised, society feels the effects of it in a thousand forms. The power of woman is in her dependence, flowing from the consciousness of that weakness which God has given her for her protection, and which keeps her in those departments of life that form the character of individuals and of the nation.
There are social influences which females use in promoting piety and the great objects of Christian benevolence which we cannot too highly commend. We appreciate the unostentatious prayers and efforts of woman in advancing the cause of religion at home and abroad:--in Sabbath-schools, in leading religious inquirers to the pastors for instruction, and in all such associated effort as becomes the modesty of her sex; and earnestly hope that she may abound more and more in these labors of piety and love.
But when she assumes the place and tone of man as a public reformer, our care and protection of her seem unnecessary; we put ourselves in self-defence against her; she yields the power which God has given her for protection, and her character becomes unnatural. If the vine, whose strength and beauty is to lean upon the trellis-work and half conceal its clusters, thinks to assume the independence and the overshadowing nature of the elm, it will not only cease to bear fruit, but fall in shame and dishonor into the dust.
We cannot, therefore, but regret the mistaken conduct of those who encourage females to bear an obtrusive and ostentatious part in measures of reform, and countenance any of that sex who so far forget themselves as to itinerate in the character of public lecturers and teachers.
We especially deplore the intimate acquaintance and promiscuous conversation of females with regard to the things "which ought not to be named"; by which that modesty and delicacy which is the charm of domestic life, and which constitutes the true influence of woman in society, is consumed, and the way opened, as we apprehend, for degeneracy and ruin. We say these things, not to discourage proper influences against sin, but to secure such reformation as we believe in Scriptural, and will be permanent."
The "things which ought not to be named" was a reference to the women's speeches which detailed the subjection of slave women, who had no right to marry, to the sexual demands of their masters and overseers. The clergy thought such truthful talk was unnatural and against God's ordained purposes for women.
In the fourth century, the synod of Gangra (314) declared in Canon 17:
"If any woman from pretended asceticism shall cut off her hair, which God gave her as the reminder of her subjection, thus annulling as it were the ordinance of subjection, let her be anathema."
THE ORDINANCE OF SUBJECTION?
Conservative Christians fought Suffrage as being against the teachings of the Bible. The anti-suffrage argument claimed their argument was founded in 'natural law, handed down by God in the Bible. Natural law was supposedly supernaturally revealed to priests and prophets. According to scripture and church canon, which are supposedly representations of natural law, there is an imutable "ordinance of subjection". Paul's epistles and church canon from Gangra would have us think that a woman's long hair is a reminder of one's required subjection to men. God had decreed an unchangeable natural order in which men served God, women were to serve men as men serve God; women stayed home and raised children; women didnt participate in any civic or religious leadership roles. Women didnt vote and they certainly didnt instruct any men in anything. Men were smarter, cleaner and closer than women to God.
Blackstone, in his Commentaries on the Laws of England wrote:
"The husband and wife are one person in law; that is, the very being or legal existence of the woman is suspended during the marriage or at least is incorprated and consolidated into that of the husband; under whose wing, protection and cover, she performs every thing"
While the activism began earlier, the American suffrage movement officially began in 1848 at the first Women's Rights Convention at Seneca Falls, NY. One of their resolutions was to condemn the application of scripture to keep women on an unequal footing in America.
Both the abolition and suffrage movements changed the culture by attacking the deeply rooted Biblical traditions of slavery and patriarchy. The worldview of religious conservatism and Biblical literalism was under attack because the Bible made no sense in the light of what human societies were seeing as 'natural rights'. It was clear that God's natural social order as taught by Bible ran contrary to the ethics of liberty as they emerged in the modern world. The teachings were considered unethical and unjust and in serious need of address. The differing views on natural law and natural rights collided. Morals of liberty and equality clashed with the Bible's social order.
The Suffragists had a saying "No God's, No Masters". The Old testament treated women and slaves (especially female slaves) like non-citizens while the New testament told women to submit to men, obey their husbands and shut their mouths when told. According to the Bible, woman was created for man. Scripture was the excuse for the maintaining gender inequality and slavery, which clearly violates the Bill of Rights. It is clear that religious tradition had such a stranglehold on American society; that it blinded the nation to the violations of it's own ethic of liberty found in the Bill of Rights. Religious orthodoxy blinded people to these violations of liberty. 'Natural law', they said, 'God's order is set down for us in the Bible. There is no other way to live' When someone says our nation has a Christian heritage, we can reply, "a little too much, in my opinion". We can be thankful that our Constitution is based on nothing from the Bible.
Today's religious right attacks feminism as godless and socialist. In the Anti-Suffrage literature, women seeking the vote were labeled feminists, socialists, atheists, and anarchists. These same failed labels are used in todays attacks on rights activists. Whenever a rights activist appears, in any decade, one can expect a conservative Christian who is opposed to those rights, to bellow forth his scripted warning about those evil socialists.
Below is an 1850 New York Herald editorial that attacks the Women's Rights Convention of 1850 in Worcester, MA. It is convenient for conservative Christians to now claim that suffrage was a Christian movement. Its been over 150 years and people dont check out people's claims. As you will see, the editorial takes fanaticism, socialism, and infidelity and lumps them in with abolition and suffrage. According to the editor, the evils of socialism have given us abolition and suffrage movements. As you can see, this writer doesnt consider the suffrage and abolition movements to be Christian movements, but quite the opposite. According to the editorial, suffragists and abolitionists are socialists that want to rid the world of Christianity, God's natural law, and the Bible's unquestionable authority as God's actual word to us. To religious conservatives, liberty for women and slaves was destructive, civilization threatening socialism. The religious leaders of the anti-abolitionist movement also used similar rhetoric regafrding socialism. Anti-abolitionist Reverend James H. Thornwell claimed that those who supported abolition of slavery were, in his own words, "atheists, socialists, communists and red republicans."
Thornwell also petitioned the Confederacy to legally establish Christianity in it's Constitution. Thornwell complained the US Constitution had failed to do so with its secular, religious-neutral approach.
New York Herald, Tuesday, October 29, 1850 [pg 4]
"The Worcester Fanatics- -Progress of Socialism, Abolition, and Infidelity."
"It is the philosopher's omnibus bill--it is the putting all in a lump the several experiments of reform of the Tribune reformers, with a good deal of new matter, new principles, and fundamental ideas, as put forth on the platform of the Woman's Rights Convention, recently held in Worcester. Let the world rejoice. Lucretia Mott, Abby Kelly, Garrison, Phillips, Mrs. Rose, Fred. Douglas, Sojourner Truth, and the Widow Mercy, sitting in council day and night, backed up, heart and soul, by our glorious Greeley, have solved the problem of the age. They have squared the circle of society, and resolved the arcana of its perpetual motion. From our published reports of the proceedings, the speeches, the declarations, and the resolutions of the Worcester Convention, it will be seen that their platform is made up of all the timbers of all the philosophers and spiritual advisers of the Tribune, founded upon the strong pillars of abolition, socialism, amalgamation and infidelity, compassing all the discoveries in heaven and earth.
The new dispensation of Lucretia Mott and the philosophers, proposes:
1. To dispense with Christianity and the Bible. After an experiment of nineteen centuries, they declare the system to be a humbug.
2. To abolish the existing political and social system of society as part of the false machinery of the age.
3. To put all races, sexes and colors upon a footing of perfect equality. The convention having proved by phrenology and biology that, the sexes are equal in point of intellect, and that color is a mere difference of complexion, it is proposed to abolish the only distinction of sex by a universal adoption of breeches.
Most assuredly, this grand reformation involves, as incidentals, the abolition of slavery, black and white, the doctrine of amalgamation to its fullest extent, fun and refinement, as was never dreamed of, even by Davis, in his revelations, or by Graham, from the inspiration of bran bread and turnips.
The philosophers of the Tribune have, therefore, published the Worcester platform in the capacity of the official organ of this tremendous reformation. Old things are to be done away with, and all things are to become new. Seward is to be sustained, and [President Millard] Fillmore is only to be tolerated till the advent of the new dispensation, when Lucretia Mott, Abby Kelly, Douglas, Greeley and Sojourner Truth are to rule the roost. Then, and not till then, shall we realise the jubilee of the Devil and his angels."
If you have ever paid attention to the rhetoric of the religious right's propaganda you know that there are Communists lurking around every corner. The strategy hasnt changed even though it has been a failed strategy in every rights movement since the middle of the 19th century.
After the writer defends centuries of Christianity and the Bible, he goes on tell us what will make the Devil and his angels jubilant: To put all races, sexes and colors upon a footing of perfect equality! Heavens forbid! Like same-sex marriages today, to the religious right of those days, racial and gender equality was certainly a recipe for the fall of civilization! So, he clearly knows that the Bible promotes a social system that does not give all races, sexes and colors and he still defends it. He approves of the injustice and discrimination set forth in the Bible's social paradigm. The anti-suffrage movements used the religious arguments of female weakness, "natural law", "natural order" and "God's ordinations" in their fight to keep women from voting or working outside the home. Their first weapon was the infallible word of God which is infallible and supports the racism and sexism.
Today's Christian anti-rights movements use the same failed natural law arguments to condemn homosexuals. So did the Third Reich and the Stalinists. Castro and Pinochet, too. Fundamentalists who were against women in careers also used this natural law argument against the post war women's movement of the 1960s and afterward. In reality, it was a continuance of the first women's movements that were interrupted by the great depression and the second world war. Some fundamentalist family groups think, as did the anti-suffragists, that the working woman is a cause of social problems. Recently, a conservative Christian lawmaker in California became an embarassment for some after saying that women belong in the home raising a family. Holy ordinance of lowly subjection, I guess.
The claim about "traditional values" in today's fundamentalist rhetoric about gays, prayers in school, commandments in courthouses and reproductive rights is much the same as the claims levied against abolitionists and suffragists of the past. The conservative Christians fought liberty while liberal Christians, religious humanists, secularists, anarchists, atheists, and socialists supported it. Lets now take a look at some of the anti-suffrage ideas:
From: http://www.tcr.org/advpl_9.html (This linked worked when I originally wrote this. Presently it doesn't seem to be working. If it doesnt come back, I will find another source for Francis Parkman's positions.)
"Francis Parkman fully understood this side of the anti-suffragist argument and fully exploited it. "Progress, to be genuine, must be in accordance with natural law," he said. Playing on the double meaning of "natural law," that is, the Biblical connotation as well as the Lockean idea of "natural right," Parkman thereby suggested that woman suffrage went against both God's plan and Mankind's."
From the University of Texas Handbook of Texas Online article on the Texas anti-suffragist organization.
"Pauline Wells made her first address against woman suffrage before the Texas legislature in 1915, a few years after her own views on the subject were solidified but a year before the Texas organization was formed. In this speech, the first by a woman before the Texas Senate, she linked women's voting rights to feminism, sex antagonism, socialism, anarchy, and Mormonism, and argued that most women did not want to vote. After her speech the state legislature defeated a proposed woman-suffrage amendment to the state constitution."
"Early in 1919, in response to another effort to amend the Texas Constitution to provide full voting rights for women, the antisuffrage organization distributed more than 100,000 pieces of literature against this measure, warning voters that women did not want to vote, that woman suffrage would destroy homes, and that socialism and domination by the black race would be the direct result if this measure was approved."
This rhetoric is really the same rhetoric used now by conservative religious family groups. Today's religious conservatives also use the socialism and atheism attack when its actually a alliance of different groups that support the expansion of rights. The way they talk, one would think their are communists around every corner and under every rock. Todays opposition to conservative Christian attacks on liberty is made up of those same kind of allances of religious humanists, atheists, socialists, and libertarian thinkers that made up the abolition and suffrage movements. In all of them its been a unified humanist alliance, both secular and religious, opposing Biblical literalism and religious conservatism because it opposes putting all races, sexes and colors upon a footing of perfect equality.
Pat Robertson quotes:
"I know this is painful for the ladies to hear, but if you get married, you have accepted the headship of a man, your husband. Christ is the head of the household and the husband is the head of the wife, and that's the way it is, period." The 700 Club, January 8, 1992
"As long as the husband is following the mandate of the Lord, the wife should submit to his leadership even though she may disagree with it. God's standard is true. Yet in many marriages, the wife is more able than her husband. Regretfully a woman with great abilities sometimes marries a man who does not have much ability. This wife must resist the temptation to dominate her husband. Her husband will sometimes make decisions that the wife feels are wrong. She must either gently persuade her husband or pray that God will change her husband's mind." The 700 Club, July 27, 1995
"The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians." Fundraising letter, 1992
While attacking today's feminists, the conservative Christians like to claim that suffrage was a movement motivated by "Christian conscience". Some conservatives, completely unaware of the conservative Christian anti-suffrage groups and leaders that stood in the way of suffrage will try to say that those movements were "Christian Movements". The reality of the situation is that conservative Christians of that period saw suffrage as fanaticism, feminism, socialism, atheism, Godless libertarianism, and anarchy.
Suffrage History reveals a complex story with diverse factions and alliances fightng for liberty against the notions of conservatives. American suffragists were deeply influenced by the European suffrage movement which was primarily a feminist and socialist led one. Europe's suffragists did not have to deal with such a rigid Calvinist society like ours so religious viewpoints werent as important as they were here. Abolition and suffrage movements were eclectic in constitution and in doctrine: Religious and secular humanists of many ideological persuasions versus Biblical correctness and discriminating conservative Christians. It was the conscience of humanism that motivated people to question Biblical authority and its attacks on equality and liberty. It was a humanist movement; secular and religious, and not based in any way upon scripture. It was indeed anti-Bible because it rejected the discriminating social order set down in its pages. The ones who like to think that they are the only true Christians, the conservatives, have been the ones that have stood in the way of rights movements.
1 Corinthians 11:7-12 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels. Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.
I Corinthians 14:34-35 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.
2 Timothy 3:1-7 Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands....
Ephesians 5:22-24 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so [let] the wives [be] to their own husbands in every thing.
1 Timothy 2:11-14 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.
I Corinthians 11:3,4,7-9 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. ... he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.
Exodus 21:2,7: If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing. And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do.
Leviticus 12:1,2,5: And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days; according to the days of the separation for her infirmity shall she be unclean. But if she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her separation: and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying threescore and six days
Advice for women from Herman Georing's Nine Commandments for the Worker's Struggle:
"take hold of the frying pan, dust pan and broom and marry a man."