Possibly a new feature here at Foster Disbelief, the daily meditation. Cause all us sinners need us some Scripture! No reason to delay any longer, let’s do this.
Read: First Timothy, Chapter 2, Verses 9-15;
First Timothy, Chapter 2:
9 I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10 but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.
11 A woman[a] should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man;[b] she must be quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15 But women[c] will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.
9 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; 10 But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. 12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. 15 Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.
9 Similarly, (too,) women should adorn themselves with proper conduct, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hairstyles and gold ornaments, or pearls, or expensive clothes, 10 but rather, as befits women who profess reverence for God, with good deeds. 11 A woman must receive instruction silently and under complete control. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man. She must be quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 Further, Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and transgressed. 15 But she will be saved through motherhood, provided women persevere in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.
Relate: I remember the first day I attended Sunday educational classes at Saint Catherine’s, the local Catholic church that my mother attends. I had absolutely no idea what to expect; although I had been baptized, and I assume I had attended church for some other special occasions as a young child, my mother did not attend weekly Mass during my early childhood. I knew who God, Jesus, Mary, and a few other important characters were from television, holidays, and conversations, but religion was more of an abstract idea than an important part of my life. We were Catholic because that is what my mother told me we were when I asked what religion we were one day; not because we went to church weekly or anything. That all changed following a family tragedy. I am not sure if it was my grandmothers death that landed my mother back in the pews, or her own fight against breast cancer, all I know is that around the age of twelve I suddenly found myself dragged to Mass every week and expected to eventually become a confirmed Catholic.
I knew a few people in my CCD class. Thankfully my mother and the priest had decided that I could attend Sunday school with other kids my own age rather than with the first graders studying for their first communions. While I was a bit resentful at the loss of sleep on Sunday morning, it was only a couple of hours out of my day and it was an opportunity to learn. This was all new for me, and one thing I have always been is curious. Finally I would now learn more about this Jesus guy all the kids at school worshiped, and maybe they would stop looking at me weird now that I actually had an answer for the question of “Where do you go to church?” Of course, it probably didn’t hurt that my hormone rocked twelve year old self wanted to crawl all up inside one of the girls in the class. I am sure that was only a tiny motivating factor.
My religious career was ruined before it achieved lift off, however, as soon as our CCD teacher walked through the door. At the front of the room, standing there confidently in front of 17 impressionable pairs of young Catholic eyes stood a harlot in open rebellion against the word of God. While the other classes had old men to educate them, or at the very least an older woman with the common decency and humility to be totally unattractive as God willed it, our teacher was a succubus straight from the pit of hell; a mid twenties brunette, with hair not painfully sealed in a temptation free bun on the back of her head, but rather set free to tumble down her shoulders, to kiss her neck, to caress her curves, curves straining against a sweater tight enough to give a nun a heart attack, curves with a golden crucifix hanging from a golden chain resting on them, curves so distracting that the little Jesus on her necklace was staring at them. If not already bad enough, she was standing at the head of the class not in a modest floor length skirt, but in blue jeans. The Jezebel was standing in a room in the basement of a church in fucking blue jeans! I kept waiting for the lightning bolt to strike her dead, waiting for Satan to stop tempting me, waiting for one of the other kids to run for their mother, or to tell the priest that the whore of Babylon herself had switched places with our proper teacher, but they all just sat there, for what seemed like minutes, or hours, or days, until I finally noticed that we were halfway through a class on Paul.
I continued to attend class on Sundays, and eventually became a confirmed Catholic. I studied the Bible more than most people who still practice, and thought on the questions religions raise more than those indoctrinated from birth. Perhaps there are alternate realities where I am still religious, perhaps there were ways things could have played out that I would still call myself a Christian. What I do know is that this passage from First Timothy absolutely destroyed any chance of me believing in a literal Bible, it was the first passage I ever got in an argument with a priest over, and it hatched my endless fascination with the Bible, its teachings, and how most people who call themselves Christians have no idea what is actually within the pages.
React: I understand how people are religious. I understand how people believe in God. I get the whole “belief in an afterlife” thing. I get the whole “wishing things had a greater purpose” thing. I think it would be awesome if we lived in a reality where good people were rewarded while truly evil people didn’t get away with it with no consequences. Not eternal torment, mind you, I think that is sick. But some form of punishment would be nice. It would be nice if life was fair, and since life isn’t, if an afterlife existed that was fair. I would love to believe that I get to see my loved ones after I die. I’d love to believe that I got to keep going after death. I understand how these are very desirable things. I know some people find solace after tragedy through religion. If that is where they find comfort, who am I to tell them that they are wrong? (I know this may be a shock to some people, but I have no problem with personal belief in God. One of my heroes was a fideist. If you want to make that leap of faith, more power to you. My problem, and I believe most atheists problems, with religion comes into play when people a) try to force their beliefs on others and b) claim evidential proof for their beliefs.)
What I don’t understand is how any modern human could read today’s passage and believe that the Bible is the literal, inerrant word of God. I don’t understand how any woman is a member of a fundamentalist denomination. I don’t get how anyone can not see that the Bible is a Bronze age text filled with ideas modern society long ago realized were immoral that are only kept alive today because of their place in a book people grant way too much respect towards.
We have come a long way since the days of Paul and the other biblical writers. Two thousand years of progress and advancement in ethics, in morality, in all fields of knowledge. We now live in a world where slavery is decidedly not acceptable. Where the question isn’t even a question anymore. There are no moral laws today for being a good slave owner or a good slave, because the institution is immoral. We understand today that genocide is wrong. We live in a world where women can rise to the height of power, where they are legal what they are naturally; equals.
And yet, because of this book and its teachings, people still fight against basic human rights of those with a vagina. I wrote a couple of weeks ago about a pastor who was treating his daughter like property. That wasn’t an isolated incident. Google “purity balls.” Read about the Quiverful movement. It isn’t only this book of course. Any text written in a different age is going to have similar effects if you hold the contents as sacred. But in this country, it is this book.
The next time you hear a conservative pastor talking about how he won’t let his daughter go to college, think of this post. The next time you hear someone from the pulpit reenforcing gender roles, think of Paul. The next time someone makes a “get in the kitchen and make me a sandwich” joke, remember the Bible. And the next time you hear someone get slut-shamed, re-read First Timothy.