Religion vs. Women

There’s a trend that I’ve noticed among Christian women, specifically in their blogs (some examples are here, here, and here), to put a great amount of their gender identity into their religion, and for a while I wondered why that was. Why, for so many Christian women, is their gender such a salient part of their religion?It’s hard to not notice that many Christian-girl blogs tend to look similar: white background, a floral logo, and script fonts everywhere. They usually say something about being a daughter of the king or doing things in a God-honoring way. A common topic is how to manage romantic relationships and lust and how to not end up in a situation where a boy and a girl might be together with no supervision.

This begs the question: why didn’t I see blogs on how to be a good Christian man? Usually blogs from Christian men are just on how to be a Christian, and the fact that they have to practice this religion as a man doesn’t seem to be emphasized. This isn’t a phenomenon that I’ve seen in atheist blogs, either. My own blog isn’t, I hope, in any way girly; I don’t feel the need to call it The Closet Atheist Girl – A Daughter of Evolution or something silly and glaringly feminine like that. So why is being a Christian woman so different than being a Christian man?

I’ve decided that this must be some sort of subconscious thing. I can’t help but blame this on the fact that women aren’t granted the same place in religion that men are. The bible assigns roles to the genders, telling women what they ought to do and what they can’t do as the men go off, please God, and conquer the world. I see this emphasis on femininity to be a coping mechanism to fit in where one doesn’t quite belong. As the lesser sex in most religions (consider the role of women in the church as mothers and men as pastors and church leaders), women may need to intertwine their religious and gender identities as a way to compensate for how unnatural it is for the two to coexist–I see it as a bit of trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.

For some reason, it seems as though religion will crumble–or thinks it will crumble–if the two genders are not entirely polarized and separated. A lack of homosexuality, cross-dressing, or transgender isn’t enough: men and women must obey their own respective rule books within their holy texts. It’s very clear to me that women and men are encouraged to interpret the bible in different ways: this show itself in my Christian college as well as at my home church when bible studies are almost always divided between Women’s Bible Study and Men’s Bible Study; the only time I see an all-inclusive study is the one on Sunday mornings when the whole congregation gathers between church services.

This polarization is where the gender roles arise, including my personal favorite, the requirement of women to submit to their husbands. And perverse as it may sound, I’ve always perceived Christian women as somehow sexualizing Jesus, which may explain why they so often submit to him in the same way they submit to their husbands or use him to replace their romantic partners during “the single season” (which is something that I’ve never heard of men doing). Some of them need his permission to do anything at all, including wearing makeup or kissing a boy before the wedding.

This brings me to yet another reason why I love being an atheist. In our community, men and women are equal: we may have things that men or women more commonly excel at, but there are no rule books that say who is the greater sex or who must submit to whom, not to mention any aggressively male deities to bow down to. When you’re an atheist, a woman’s place is anywhere she wants to be, and there is no rift to reconcile between your atheism and the true equality that is at the heart of feminism.

Support CA

25 Replies to “Religion vs. Women”

  1. You may not see it on blogs but I can tell you as a former Christian there are PLENTY OF BOOKS in Christian ministry that focus on males and the importance of male leadership. One of my favorite books till date is a by a pastor, Steve Farrar who focuses on a ministry for men.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Like most religions, Christianity developed within a patriarchal, misogynistic society. Secular society has only recently gone through the process of becoming non-discriminatory and equal (sadly, still on-going). Religion is always decades, if not centuries, behind the rest of society; always reluctant to embrace fairer ways of behaving. Religion is all about control. It’s run by patriarchs, who want to cling to the old order, when they could treat women as objects, rather than equal human beings. Just one of the many reasons why secularists need to challenge religious privilege.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Nice timing on the post! As to why Christian women attach their gender identity to their religion, I think you hit the nail on the head. As I saw in the churches I went to, women are to cater to and submit to men, so they therefore revolve their Christian lives around that. For men they don’t have to worry about that.

    I must admit I was pretty blind sighted to this while I was Christian, you would think that in this day and age, gender equality shouldn’t be an issue. I guess it’s easy to when you’re a guy, because the problems aren’t happening to you. But this Christian concept of Complementarianism is just a fancy euthanism for male control, in my opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m curious if being an atheist also means you don’t believe in soul, spirit, the spiritual side of things? I don’t believe in a God and I see no proof of spiritual. Yet I wonder if I’m missing something.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well for me personally I don’t, since the whole concept of soul and spirit seems to be tied to religions. I always assumed what people called the ‘soul’ to be ones emotions. Of course I can’t speak for other atheists, and the concept of spirit and soul have been around long before Christianity…
      I have always wondered about the concept of some ‘life force’ that was involved in forming our universe though. It wouldn’t be called a God since it’s not a deity that we could communicate with. I don’t believe in a God now, but I always assumed life was more than just survival.


      1. Sean Carroll, theoretical physicist, gives a really good talk on all things spiritual. With the Large Hadron Collider they have come to know exactly the particles of the universe that make up you, me, this earth and the universe, with the exception of dark matter, dark energy etc. If there’s a spiritual energy that can interact with the material world of atoms, protons, neutrons etc and be contained in our bodies to “drive us around like a soccer mom” ..he says they would have found it. And if they haven’t found it it’s because the force is so weak it cannot interact and be a force of nature. If this mystery energy is so rare then it has no influence on material. In other words, what you see is what you get. I just don’t see ‘spirit’. You would think it would be so obvious, like water, air, sunshine and you wouldn’t have to apply blind religious belief or faith. Life is more than survival…hope so!!


  5. “My own blog isn’t, I hope, in any way girly…”

    Oh crap. I didn’t even realize you were a woman. Clearly I’m reading my own biases into the text and just assuming “man” until you said otherwise. My bad.

    “…another reason why I love being an atheist. In our community, men and women are equal…”

    Oh, how I wish this were true. Yet I’ve avoided one after another atheist social circles due to rampant misogyny and can’t help but notice the most-quoted, most-sought after atheist speakers, thinkers, and writers are almost entirely men.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. The greatest virtue of women is the ability to bear children begotten by men. Nonetheless, the virtue of most adored woman in the Catholic Church is her virginity.

    Sex before marriage is a sin. How serious a sin? Don’t panic, miss. Confess, show repentance, and your alliance is as sacred as that formed by patient partners.

    A lovely granddaugheter of mine is a nun. I appreciate the social work her congregation does. It is the bright side of Christianity (as long as they do not follow the footsteps of Mother Teresa), but it makes me cringe to hear her being proud that Jezus is her husband.

    There may be more hipocrisy.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I have always liked this verse in the bible which says, there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. This is from a christian perspective, but to me it says we are all equal. We should all have the same rights and be valued equally. Unfortunately among christians this verse gets overlooked or mistranslated along with some others and people are placed into unequal groups and treated unfairly. Whether christian or atheist, male or female, white or black, gay or straight, we are all equals and all should be treated fairly and respectively.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. While reading your post, I was actually looking for your perspectives about muslim woman considering I am using ‘Islam’ as the tag and you are using a picture of a woman with hijab..
    I was curious actually about how you see me and my muslim sisters.. about how people in other part of the world see woman with hijab. Do they respect our choice? Or, do they hate us?
    Sorry for my English..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t speak for The Closet Atheist. But I can comment for myself.

      As an educator, I have had quite a few muslim students. And some of those were women wearing hijabs.

      For me, what mattered was their interest in the subject matter, and their willingness to learn. That they wore a hijab was of no importance to me.

      I think you would find that your choices are pretty well respected in the university communities. But there are other parts of the country where there may be less respect.


    2. Here in New Zealand I would say most people are fine with it, as in, it’s your choice, Well, officially we are supposed to be a country that practices religious tolerance, but that would differ from person to person. There are groups of people who see wearing a hijab as oppressive, and a lot of religious people here seem to have a problem with it, though they wouldn’t tell you. I think it’s because most people don’t really understand Islam here, and many equate it with what they’ve heard about terrorist groups on TV.
      Just my 2 cents, since you asked 🙂 Oh and your English isn’t too bad 🙂


  9. When you’re an atheist, a woman’s place is anywhere she wants to be, and there is no rift to reconcile between your atheism and the true equality that is at the heart of feminism.

    Yes, that is how it should be — and not only within atheism.

    Sadly, I hear reports of sexism within atheism.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. While this is undoubtedly true of many Christians, I think it unfairly reduces a complex understanding of the complementarity of the sexes, held by other Christians, to a mere caricature.

    That is, the belief in a profound difference between the roles proper to men and women need not be considered as conventionally assigned by the Bible, but rather can be considered as naturally-rooted and only elucidated by the Bible. In other words, if God is the author both of nature and of revelation, neither would contradict nor dominate the other, but be as mutually-illuminating means to understanding of both. (For instance, discovery of cosmological evolution helps us to see that the creation narrative should not be understood as spanning a literal “six days”–which is post hoc obvious, since a “day” before the existence of “light” would be a pretty silly thing.)

    So while the Bible tells women what they ought to do… it tells men what they ought to do, too, and sometimes it’s pretty severe. The passage you reference in Ephesians goes on to tell men that, as husbands, they must give their lives up for their wives, be sacrificed as Christ was for the Church–which has some profound implications for a husband ought to be doing for the sake of his wife.

    Rather than equal in all regards, I think–certainly not all–at least some Christians view the equality of men and women to consist specifically in their complementarity, which in fact requires that they differ from one another. And it is a metaphysical necessity that two things which differ, precisely in the regard that they differ, are unequal. They can still be, on the whole, equal to one another, but only if we recognize that each is incomplete as an individual and requires the other for completion.

    And at any rate, if you want to see a strong Christian and specifically Catholic male veneration of the female, try Fulton Sheen’s “The World’s First Love”. Read with an open mind, it may show a perspective that perhaps (I can only guess, and I may be wrong) you haven’t yet considered.

    And of course, I am saying all of this as a man and without the lived experience of a woman, based only upon my own experience and the shared experiences of women of faith I know; so, I apologize if my theoretical perspective here is irrelevant.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Parts of most religions exist out of fear of female power. Women have this ability, a superpower as it were, to create new human beings. Without them, the species dies. This ability to create stands opposite of the male creator (created male by fearful men). How a man is put in the role of creator is beyond me as a woman is way more appropriate as a creator.

    So, you can see in all of the monotheistic religions (all religions, really) an intense desire to control the behavior of women. This puts Christian women in the awkward position of confirming this position. So, these young bloggers are stating their gender and acting out their feminism overtly because it is required of Christian women (and in this manner Christian girls can be identified as Christian women). You can also see this in Muslim women who “approve” of the hijab, e.g. yeah, we are oppressed but we are proud of the fact.

    Women who do not approve of the misogyny, will find themselves at odds with their church and other Christian women and be forced wither back into the closet or out of the faith.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I think there’s a detail that needs to be included from basic biology. Women always know that the children they give birth to are theirs. But for men to be sure that the children they are raising are biologically theirs, they either have to have complete trust in a woman, or enough control over her to ensure nobody else could be the father. So when the ancient Hebrews were encoding the rules of their tribe as religious laws, they made sure to put that level of control over women right at the center of their rules.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. The women have to step back and rationalize, then accept their roles as lesser people in the church. Men still wear the pants in the family, where the correct moral standard would be co-equal partners. I remember hearing women talk in Sunday school about men have the calling to lead the church, and women get to be mothers. The highest calling there is. It was crap, but in the end they know they are not equal, and to claim such is unscriptural.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. As an ex-evangelical who still pays a lot of attention to conservative protestantism in America, I can confirm the trend you noticed, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence. I think it’s a result of the typical conservative reactionary stance against social change.

    Now that evangelicals have lost the political battle over gay marriage, they have shifted to opposing transgender people and their rights. To back this up, evangelicals have had to further emphasize “natural gender identity” and with it, gender roles.

    This is not an accident, nor is it purely subconscious. Evangelicals have doubled down on their gender BS as the next front in their war for political power in the US, and this push has “trickled down” to the people in the pews. This means that women are pushed to be more “feminine” and take their “natural gender identity” more seriously. (side note: the same has occurred for men. Google “man church”.)

    It’s oppressive, it stiffles individuality, and it’s not okay. Unfortunately, this is where Evangelicals have been headed since 2015. It is very concerning to progressive Christians like me.

    Liked by 7 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s