NATHAN F. GRISWOLD
OF MERIDEN, CONNECTICUT
For his splendid service, loyalty and generosity to the cause of Free Thought against religious superstition, ignorance, and intolerance. In recognition of which a garland of gratitude is placed upon his venerable brow by
JOSEPHINE K. HENRY.
WOMAN AND THE BIBLE
A LANCE BROKEN ON BEHALF OF WOMAN.
"All the wisdom of Vedas, and all that has been written in books, is to be found concealed in the heart of a woman."—Vedas.
"When women are honored the divinities are content."—Parsee Bible.
The object of this pamphlet is to arouse the latent power of thought in the minds of women, that they may read the Bible for themselves, put their own interpretation upon it, have the courage to express their opinions about its teachings, regarding their sex, without any interference, influence, or interpretation from the clergy—Save a few texts that are worn thread bare the Bible is a sealed book to woman kind.
If the Bible says what it means, and means what it says, the woman of ordinary mentality will discover that in the part of the Holy Book which is devoted to her sex, she will find horrors, terrors and obscenities that she had never dreamed of which her clerical teachers had never told her of, and that much of the teaching from the pulpit regarding women is not true.
Women are a very small factor in Holy Writ, as but one-eleventh of the Bible refers to them at all, and in the interest of justice and good morals it is a pity much of that was ever written.
The Bible estimate of woman is summed up in the words of the President of a Presbyterian Theological in his address to a class of young . He said: "My Bible commands the subjection of women forever;" that man had searched the scriptures and found out what they taught.
The Bible says: "A tree is known by its fruit," yet this tree is carefully pruned, watered, and tended as the "tree of life" whose fruit in the word of Archdeacon Farrar "alone elevates woman, and shrouds as with a halo of sacred innocence the tender years of the child." As the world is swarming with miserable women, who are robbed of their human rights, bearing children against their will, who are filling our reform schools, poor houses, and prisons, the "elevation" for women and the "sacred halo" for children not having arrived yet after being on the way for 2,000 years, has so far proved to be a mere pipe-dream of this cleric.
The Bible records that God created woman by a method different from that employed in bringing into life, any other creature, then cursed her for seeking knowledge, yet the Scriptures say, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge," because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee 'Hosea 4-6.' 'Add to your faith virtue and to virtue knowledge," "2nd Peter 1-5, yet we have the injustice and inconsistency of God cursing Eve," and through her the race for seeking knowledge. Ever since Eve was cursed, the priest with the Bible in his hands has pronounced woman the most unnatural, untrustworthy and dangerous creature of God.
In the tenth commandment Exodus 20-17, she is classed with the ox and the ass; she is "given away" as a sheep at the marriage altar, and cursed in maternity. Psalms 51-5 says, "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me." Surely there is nothing elevating about that to woman. This declaration puts the brand of infamy upon every woman that ever bore a child.
The wife who places her destiny in the keeping of the father of her children, bestows upon him the wealth of her affection, who goes "down into the valley and shadow of death" to give birth to children, who are to bear the blood and name of her husband to conquests, yet undreamed of, and to generations unborn, is by divine decree made a fountain of iniquity. Would not men and women rather pluck their tongues out by the roots than thus brand the mothers who gave them birth?
The law of God given to Moses in the 12th chapter of Leviticus, clearly pronounces a woman who becomes a mother to be unclean and impure. If she had borne a son she was not allowed to touch any hallowed thing, or enter the sanctuary for three and thirty days, but if she had borne a daughter she was doubly impure, and was unhallowed and barred out of the temple for sixty-six days. This estimate of woman permeates all Jewish and Christian canons. Today to bear a son is considered more honorable and desirable than to bear a daughter, yet our civilization swarms with sons who are worthless, or dissipated, or dishonest, or who wreck the fortunes and happiness of the family while daughters are as a rule, the comfort and mainstay of parents in their declining years.
The Episcopal prayer-book commands the Churching of Women, which service consists of mothers prostrating themselves at the altar, and giving offerings to the Lord to atone for the crime of having borne children.
What worse can be said of a book, or a religion, than that it treats as essentially unclean, the holy office of motherhood?
This insult includes all women, for even the Virgin Mary had to pass through "the days of her purification."
To say the least, this Christian tenet tends to throw suspicion on the "Immaculate Conception."
Place the Bible trinity, "Father, Son and Holybeside the Homeric trinity "Father, Mother, and child" and prove that the Bible has elevated woman. The Homeric conception of woman towers like the Norway pine above the noxious growth of the Mosaic ideal.
Compare the women and men of the Bible with the stately figures culled from the temple of Pagan antiquity, Zipporah denouncing Moses as a "bloody husband," Abraham sending Hagar and his child into the desert, and pocketing twice over the gains from his wife's prostitution. Lot and his daughters, Judah and his daughter-in-law, Anan, Tamar, the Levite and his concubine, David and Bathsheba, Solomon in the sewer of sensuality, Jacob, Saul, Rahab, Aholibah, Mary of Bethlehem, Mary Makdala, and a host of other Bible figures. Place these beside the man and woman, Hector and Andromache of the "Iliad," who called upon the immortal gods to bless their child of love. Isis and her son Horus, Devaki and her divine child, Chrishna, the Vedic Virgin Indrance, the mother of the Savior god Indra, Pandora, Protogenia, Plotina, Cornelia and Penelope and a host of the noble and virtuous of Pagan history.
Prove by comparing these with the position of woman in Christendom, that woman owes all that she is to the Bible.
There were grand and noble women and men in the Pagan world, ten centuries before the laws of Moses or Christ were promulgated.
If women will lay aside their religious bigotry, they will discover that our boasted Christian civilization literally puts into practice, the crimes, the Bible records against their sex, and how well it is being done, the press attests, as never in the history of the world were such atrocious crimes committed against maidens, wives, pregnant, insane, and aged women. As the Bible is said to be the guide for American civilization no wonder we have a carnival of blood curdling crimes of every description. The Bible tells of the incest of a father with his own daughter, Genesis 19-32, the 34th chapter of Genesis contains debauchery, female commodity, lying, deceit, murder, theft, hypocrisy and cowardice. If all this is taught in one chapter of the Christian's guide book, is it any wonder that our civilization is overflowing with crime? The murdering of women and the ravishing of little girls is taught in Number 31, 17-18 the treacherous rape of maidens Judges 19-23 and filthy stories about concubinage in Judges 19. Perhaps the example of the holy men and women in the Holy Bible accounts for the epidemic of brutality and moral leprosy in Christendom. There is no use having a guide book unless you are guided by it. Bible Christians have no warrant for respecting womanhood, either as maid or mother, and the claim that woman owes all she possesses of personal purity, domestic happiness, and social consideration to the Bible is false and absurd. There is not a single Bible character, either woman or man, that is a perfect model for the women and men of today to copy after. Some of them illustrate noble traits of human character, but even these are so enveloped in , deception and sensuality they are hard to discover.
Let Christian women and men of today be up to such tricks as are recorded of Abraham, Sarah, Jacob, Rebecca, Leah, Noah, Lot and his daughters, David, Solomon and their lady friends, Samson, Delilah, Sisera, Jael, Abimelech, Naomi, Ruth, Esther, Martha, all the Marys and even St. Paul, the premier saint of the Christian calendar, and they would not only be ostracized by society, but many of them would find themselves behind prison bars.
When woman reasons more and believes less, then, and not till then, will her charter to liberty be signed.
The rib doctrine is the tap root of her inferiority and degradation. The hour is here now, when women are calling theologians to the bar of reason, and they will no longer believe the supernatural, miraculous fables of the Bible that put the brand of inferiority upon their sex.
"Every Hour Brings Forth Some Grasping Truth."—Holmes.
Theology is nothing, if it is not dogmatic. So women have ever been taught that it is their "bounden duty" to be silent and obedient, and that the women of the Bible are shining examples of these so-called virtues. The dogmatism of the pulpit has outwardly succeeded in the subjection theory and the poetry of the pulpit has stimulated women to action and service, and fed their vanity, always with the paramount idea that "woman's sphere" was bounded by her duty to do only such things as shall suit man's interest, pleasure or convenience.
All this preaching only shows the utter ignorance of the characters of the Bible women and that they were as great an enigma and as unmanageable as the women of today, the Bible itself will show.
Woman is today quietly smiling at her masculine censors, the beings whose swaddling clothes she adjusts, and saying to herself "let them babble about a subject of which they know nothing. It amuses them, and does not affect women. These men are neither saints nor heroes, so we refuse to canonize them, and go on doing our own way just as the Bible women did."
The truth is, woman has never been obedient. Eve did not fear or obey either God, angels, or men. Eve is the greatest character in all history. Adam was the most obedient husband in the history of the race. He even forgot God to obey woman. He partook of the free lunch furnished him by Eve and since that hour "free lunches have been demoralizing men and always will." When Adam and Eve were called to account for stealing the apple from the tree of knowledge the coward Adam skulked behind the woman and said: "The woman tempted me and I did eat." Let those who consider woman inferior to man not forget that Eve first discovered the tree of knowledge and had the courage to eat the forbidden fruit, while Adam had not enterprise nor courage enough to swallow it, for it stuck in his throat. But Eve stood her ground and said: "The serpent did tempt me," and she watered the seeds of deception with her tears, and thus instituted the crying racket, and ever since that day, women have gotten themselves out of scrapes by their tears, not by silence and obedience.
Eve was a born ruler and autocrat, and she has transmitted this trait of character to all her female progeny. If woman can not have her own way by one method, "there are others."
I make my profoundest salaam of gratitude and admiration to Mother Eve, the greatest benefactor of the human race, and a shining example of a woman who was not silent nor obedient.
It can be conclusively shown by holy writ that the men of the Bible were always obedient. They obeyed kings, mothers, wives, sweethearts, concubines and courtesans. The greatest event in history was Eve's arrival in the Garden of Eden, and the next greatest event was Eve's establishing the educational system of the world.
No Eve, no race; no eating of the apple, no edge. According to the Bible if the daughters of men were "fair to look upon" they were acceptable to the "sons of God." There is not a hint that virtue, industry, intelligence or domesticity were shining qualities of Bible women.
The first compliment on record is that of Abraham when he said to Sarah: "Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon," and thus has Abraham's art of flattery descended to his posterity making falsifiers of men and coquettes of women.
Sarah might have been "fair to look upon," but she was not obedient, but on the contrary Abraham was always "obedient" and "hearkened unto the voice of his wife."
Abraham asked his wife Sarah to pass herself off as his sister, and she did so, not to be "obedient to her lord and master," but in order to have a good time attracting the attention of kings, courtiers and nabobs.
Pharoah fell a victim to the fair Sarah's blandishments, "and the woman was taken into Pharoah's house." The Bible goes on to say that "Pharoah entreated Abraham well for Sarah's sake." Because of the king's attention to Sarah, Pharoah's senior, junior and sophomore wives didn't like it.
Matters grew so serious that the Lord himself had to interfere to head the "divine Sarah" off, and theplagued and his house with great plagues because of Sarah, Abraham's wife.
The Abraham-Hager case appeared on the court docket about this time. The book says that Sarah told Abraham that he could have Hagar for his heart's own, and to show how obedient Abraham was, the Bible says: "And Abraham hearkened unto the voice of his wife."
(I never did believe this in regard to Sarah, and I don't believe it now, for when Sarah discovered Abraham's attentions to Hagar, she called him into the tent and made him see Mars, Jupiter, Venus and a tornado before she got through with him).
Sarah hustled Hagar and her child out into the wilderness. An angel met poor Hagar and told her to go back. I never had any respect for that angel. Now what Sarah should have done, was to see to it that Abraham, out of his great riches, provided for his legal wife and concubine, and then have given him his walking papers. Many modern Sarah's are administering a dose of this medicine to the Abrahams of today.
Abraham once entertained three angels and he told Sarah to have some angel cake for the luncheon. Did Sarah obey? No; she did not feel like baking cake even for angel visitors, so she followed her own sweet will, instead of Abraham's command.
When the angel told Abraham that Sarah would bear a son, "Sarah laughed, being she was old," and the angel was insulted because a woman had laughed at he, she or it (The sex of angels is to mortals an unknown quantity). But when Isaac was born Sarah gave peremptory orders to Father Abraham and he obeyed them instanter, yet apostle Peter holds Sarah up as an example for all women to follow saying: "Even as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him Lord."
Abraham after his experience with Sarah and Hagar set about to secure a wife for Isaac. He sent a servant to Nahor to become acquainted with the maidens that "were fair to look upon." The society girls of Nahor had a fashion of congregating at the well to attract the beaus just as United States girls go today to the matinee, park, boulevard or to church on a husband hunting expedition.
Along came the fair and festive Rebecca. When told that a rich young man in a far country wanted a wife without inquiring as to the character of the young man Rebecca said: "I will go." From all accounts, Rebecca was a leader of the "ton" in Israel. She met a strange young man at a well and without any introduction to the strange man, he "adorns her with earrings and bracelets" and she invited him home with her.
I never in my life heard a preacher condemn Rebecca for flirting with a strange man, but they call her one of the "mothers in Israel," and Paul calls Rebecca one of the "holy women of old."
If a girl in this day should do as Rebecca did, she would be classed with the "fast set," and if the girl of today should flirt with a strange man, accept presents from him and go into a "far country" to marry another strange man, she would be barred out of decent society.
Rebecca, it is written, married Isaac and she has the distinction of being the first woman on record who presented her husband with a pair of twins. After this event Rebecca gets in some fine work as a disobedient wife, a deceitful, hard hearted, intriguing woman and one that always had her own way by hook or by crook. I shudder to think of the domestic pandemonium and cyclones in the home of Isaac and Rebecca on account of the twins Jacob and Esau. Rebecca cheated her own son Esau out of his birthright and gave it to Jacob, then deceived and deluded her dying husband.
She was an all-round domestic diplomat that managed the men of the family with such skill that she did as she pleased and made them do as she pleased too. Rebecca has another distinction, but it is not silence and submission as the preachers would have women believe.
When her son Esau married, Rebecca is the first woman on record who hated her daughter-in-law, but since that day there "have been others."
Now, there's Lot's wife. The sacred historian did not think her worthy of a name of her own. May be Mrs. Lot rejoiced in having her individuality merged in that of her husband, just as the women of our day, who parade in newspaper society notes as Mrs. Tom, Mrs. Dick and Mrs. Harry, Mrs. Gov., Mrs. Gen. and Mrs. Dr.
The women of the ages who have been disposed to be rebellious, have been warned with "Remember Lot's Wife," But it has not warned worth a cent. The woman with a will of her own and the woman with "views," is here in all her glory. (Any married man will testify to that). And she is here to stay. When God determined to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah with fire and brimstone, the angel of the Lord warned Lot and his family with these words: "Escape for thy life; look not behind thee." Mrs. Lot disobeyed the angel's command, and woman like she looked back. If the angel had told her "to look back" she would have looked straight ahead. This is the nature of women. The sex systematically do what they are told not to do, and do not do what they are told to do.
Now, Mrs. Lot for her disobedience was "turned into a pillar of salt," Lot's wife is the first woman on record that ever had a monument, and it is said it is standing "to this day." And the women of all ages have had this monument pointed out to them to make them afraid.
I reverence the memory of Mrs. Lot, because she looked back to see if her husband and daughters were safe though, according to holy writ, they were not worth saving.
Mrs. Lot's womanly heart was a battle ground of love and duty, and I am glad that she secured for herself a monument that has defied the ravages of time. She would never have had one any other way.
Well now, as to Rachel. The record says, "Rachel was beauteous and well favored."
According to the Bible all the "holy women of old" were beauteous and "fair to look upon," just as in our day according to newspaper notices, all brides are beautiful and all grooms wealthy.
Well, Jacob met Rachel at the well, and after a short acquaintance the book says "Jacob kissed Rachel and lifted up his voice and wept."
What on earth did he weep about? Whoever heard of a young man setting up a weep because he had kissed a pretty girl? The young men of this day do not follow Jacob's weeping example. It often happens in our day when a young man wants to bestow his attentions and kisses on a pretty girl and she rejects them, the young man whips out his knife or pistol and plays the murderous role to perfection.
Jacob asked Rachel's papa, Laban, for his daughter, and said he would serve seven years for her. Laban was a financier and he knew Jacob's service was the cheapest hired help he could get, so he promised him Rachel. At the end of the seven years the wily Laban palmed off his daughter Leah on Jacob as a bride. After a family jar that shook the region round about Jacob said he would serve seven years more for Rachel. Jacob got himself into a pretty pickle. We are told that the sisters Leah and Rachel fired by jealousy, hated each other, that "Jacob hated Leah, and Jacob's anger was kindled against Rachel," Rachel and Leah in deadly spite, "each gave her maid to Jacob to wife." Jacob submissively accepted them and he tacitly became a creature of barter and sale. Laban and Jacob had a hot encounter in which they employed some choice language, and Laban told Jacob to take the girls and everything else, but he was "bound to have his gods."
Now it turned out that Rachel had stolen her papa's gods and was sitting on them, and when he came into her tent hunting for them, she denied knowing anything about them. Rachel was an all round willful, deceptive, crafty, domineering and dishonest woman. She is noted for many traits, but obedience is not one of them.
Dinah, the daughter of Jacob and Leah, was a combination of her father, mother and Aunt Rachel. She was a little crafty in her amours and in consequence a terrible massacre ensued. With Jacob for a father, to say nothing of the other side of the house, we can imagine she was equal to anything but certainly obedience was not one of her traits of character.
Tamar is one of the prominent ladies of the Bible. Her father-in-law, Judah attempted to defraud her of her rights. (This has been a propensity of the father-in-law ever since). Did she consent? Not at all. She brought Judah to terms and made him give her "his signet and bracelets, and staff as a pledge of his good faith."
"Tamar was the original pawn broker of the world."
But trouble rose again between Tamar and her father-in-law, and Judah in his affection for her, ordered her to be burnt. Did Tamar obey? No, she objected and she wasn't burnt. Now, along comes Potiphar's wife casting goo-goo eyes at Joseph. She managed her husband and made him cast Joseph ("who was pure as ice and chaste as snow") into prison, and she had her revenge by letting him stay there for two years.
Potiphar's wife may be one of the "holy women of old," but she was not obedient.
The kings of Egypt issued an order to the Hebrew midwives to kill all the Jew boy babies, but to save the girl babies alive. (There is a lot of regret and disappointment over the birth of girl babies in this day. Boy babies are at a premium, as they were in that
Did the midwives obey the king? No indeed, they threw dust in the king's eyes, kept the boy babies alive and laughed among themselves at the trick they had played. But for this, Moses would never have lived to frame laws, or been reproved by Zipporah, his wife, with the words, "Surely a bloody husband art thou to me," or to have "murdered an Egyptian and hid his body in the sand," or to have led the children of Israel, or been a model of meekness.
Think of what the disobedience of women did for the world in this case.
Theof Zelophehad, it seems to me, were born before their time. If they were living today they would doubtless be practicing law in the supreme court. They demanded their father's possessions, became their own lawyers, argued their own case before Moses and won it.
The women of the Bible did not care a fig for Paul's shall-not-speak-in-meeting command. They talked when and where they pleased, demanded what they wanted, and got it.
Paul had evidently never read the Old Testament. After Thecla jilted him he remained an old bachelor and knew about as much about women as he did about electricity.
Women and electricity are mighty dangerous to fool with, if you don't know how to manage them. A live woman and live wire each have ways of their own.
Deborah and Judith swayed the destinies of the ancient Hebrews. As such slight reference is made of their husbands, they don't count. It is quite evident these women not only ruled their own households, but all the households of their nation.
Of all the men in the Bible one would suppose Samson would have had his own way, but he didn't. As he had strength enough to carry away the gates of Gaza one would think he would have had strength enough to have managed a few poor women. But he didn't. The little Philistine girl, the lady from Gaza (the less said about her the better), and Delilah, these three! His obedience to these women made of him a sorry spectacle before the ages.
What about the witch of Endor? The Bible does not say whether she was "fair to look upon" or not, but whether "beauteous to behold" or not, she was mighty to command, for she commanded Samuel, a dead man, to come out of his grave, and Samuel came.
No commander on record except the witch of Endor ever issued orders to the living and the dead, but the inspired word says she did, and they obeyed. Samuel and Saul could both testify to this.
To my mind "Michal, the daughter of Saul," is the most remarkable woman in sacred or any other kind of history.
She is most remarkable for two things. The Bible says 1st, Samuel 18-20: "Michal, Saul's daughter, loved David."
This is the first authentic official record we have of a woman loving a man. The second is to my mind the greatest miracle in the Bible laying Jonah and the whale and all others in the shade. The sixth chapter 23rd verse of 2nd Samuel says: "Therefore Michal, the daughter of Saul, had no child unto the day of her death." Then the 21st chapter and 8th verse of 2nd Samuel says: "But the king took the two sons of Rizpah, and the five sons of Michal, daughter of Saul, and he delivered them into the hands of the Gibeonites." If "Michal the daughter of Saul, had no child unto the day of her death," then it is an axiom that the "five sons of Michal, daughter of Saul, who were delivered to the Gibeonites," were born after before Michal, who had five post mortem conceptions, and bore five sons after she was dead. There is precious little consolation in this to the women who have borne large families in this life, that they will not escape the pangs of childbirth, even after they are dead, and started on their journey to their heavenly home.death. The Virgin Mary having an Immaculate conception and bearing one son while she was living, pales into insignificance
Wonderful Michal! She has been overlooked in making up the list of canonized Bible saints. In my opinion her name should head the list. A woman who bore five sons after she was dead, discounts all the exploits of warriors, patriarchs, prophets, priests and kings recorded in the Holy Bible. Another Bible miracle that has been overlooked is recorded in the 4th chapter of 2nd Kings, where "Elisha made a dead boy sneeze seven times." The old woman laden with Abrahamic faith said she would rather believe the Bible, than the truth any day, and she has plenty of company of the female persuasion.
One of Saul's wives, who was the mother of, must have been a lady with a will of her own, for Saul said to his son Jonathan. "Thou son of the perverse rebellious woman." The Bible says that was a woman whose name was Bathsheba—and as King David was walking on the roof of his palace he saw Bathsheba taking a bath and fell in love with her. It always seemed a queer proceeding to me for a man to take a walk on the roof of his house, and a woman to take a bath in public. There were some queer proceedings in Bible days. David is the only man on record who ever fell in love with a woman while she was taking her bath, and Bath-she-ba was quite an appropriate name for her.
Bathsheba must have been very attractive, for she had a husband, Uriah by name, when David fell in love with her, and Bath-she-ba reciprocated.
David sent Uriah to the front of the battle and had him killed, so he could marry his wife, and the submission and obedience of the wife was manifested by her helping David put Uriah out of the way. It was the fashion in those days for one man to kill another in order to get possession of his wife, and "David, the man after God's own heart," indulged in this pastime.
The history of Abigail shows that she was a ruler in the domestic dominion, and the warm hearted and godly David seemed to have bestowed some of his attentions on her, for he said to Abigail, "See, I have hearkened to thy voice, and have accepted thy person."
In ten days from that time, "The Lord smote Nabal that he died." Nabal was Abigail's husband. David was an expert at putting men with pretty wives out of the way and who knows but he might have had some help from the women as there were no detectives in those days.
Naomi and Ruth loom up in scripture, and the preacher holds them up as models and the discouraging thing about it is that women accept such preaching without a protest.
The truth is, Naomi was an old widow who was a designing, wire pulling matchmaker, and Ruth was a gay young widow that wanted a rich husband and as one did not present himself, she went after him.
Naomi and Ruth had experience in the art of trapping husbands. Boaz was rich, and old enough to have reached the years of discretion. Naomi had one eye on him and Ruth had two. How could Boaz escape? Ruth went into his field to glean to make him believe that she was industrious. This may have been a suggestion of Naomi's, but it captured the old man, and Ruth became Mrs. Boaz. I never believed that Ruth was as madly in love with her mother-in-law as we are taught to believe, for the reason that when she had nowhere else to go as a penniless widow, Ruth said to Naomi, "Entreat me not to leave thee, or return from following after thee; for whither thou goest, I will go; where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God."
As soon as Ruth got a rich husband she did not follow after Naomi any more, and she got a new lodging place and a new god.
If Ruth was madly infatuated with her mother-in-law it is the only case in ancient or modern record, for ever since the wedding of Adam and Eve one prominent feature of the marriage system has been for the husband to hate the wife's people, and the wife to return the compliment.
The bad traits of children, the father says are inherited from the mother, and the mother says they are inherited from the father.
Bible men and women started this fashion, and it has been kept up to this very day.
Of course, the match of Ruth and Boaz was made in heaven. The Bible says that Naomi gave Ruth some instructions that we cannot record here. Naomi was doubtless selected by heaven to help on the matchmaking business.
From the number of misfits in holy wedlock, the heavenly matchmaker must have sublet the matchmaking contract to earthly incompetents.
If these women with their questionable methods of obtaining a husband are held up to women as models, the sooner they are deposed, the better for society.
And now comes Vashti, the glorious Persian Queen. We get but a glimpse of this woman in connection with the life of Esther. Now Esther paraded her charms before the drunken King Ahasuerus to take the place of Vashti, who, the Bible says, was the most beautiful woman in Persia.
We can not testify as to her beauty, but we can testify that she is the grandest character in Bible history. When King Ahasuerus, the husband of Vashti, ordered her to appear before the drunken king and his drunken courtiers Vashti asserted her womanhood, and refused at the risk of her life.
All honor to the noble Vashti! She who defied destiny, who set customs and laws at naught, who refused to yield the sacred rights of her womanhood to a brutal husband, even though he was a king. Little is said in the pulpit about Vashti, while Esther, who was an intriguing, infamous woman, is canonized in pulpit platitudes, and in song and story.
Eve and Vashti were the founders of the "Woman's Rights" movement in this world.
These two Bible women are held up by the clergy as terrible examples of disobedient and ungodly women.
Yet, after 1900 years of preaching the doctrine of silence and obedience to women, the example of all other Bible women is a dead letter and the example of Eve and Vashti is being followed by more women today than all the characters in scripture, and the fact is admitted that woman was never so elevated as she is today. All honor to Eve and Vashti! They did not live in vain.
Hannah is immortalized because she "made a little coat for her son Samuel." There are millions of women today not only making coats for their little sons, but furnishing the goods and making whole suits for worthless husbands and grown sons.
Dorcas made clothes for the poor. Millions of women today are making clothes for the poor and the rich at such starvation prices that they are forced to sell their virtue for bread. Peter, it is written, raised Dorcas from the dead and then she died again.
In this Dorcas was an unusual woman, but it is hardly probable that there is a poor, weary, underpaid seamstress on the earth, who would like to follow the example of Dorcas. They have found in the bitterness of life that "one borning and one dying" is enough.
The Jewish maiden, known as Jepthah's daughter was not considered worthy of a name, and the wife of Jesse, mother of David, and the wife of Monoah, the mother of Samson, had no names of their own, yet the mothers of the champions of the prize ring in this day are known by name throughout Christendom.
Little is said in scripture about Mary, the "Mother of Christ." It is written that she was a virgin and bore a son by the Holy Ghost. Certainly no woman since that time has been able to defy the law of nature, and follow her example, Mary became the wife of Joseph, the carpenter, and had a number of other children.
The New Testament gives two genealogies of Christ, one said to be on Mary's side of the house and the other on Joseph's, though why the genealogy of the son of a ghost should be traced through Joseph, it is not easy to see. The art of tracing the genealogy of ghosts may not have been known in that day and is not in this. Luke ii. 4, says that "Joseph was of the house and lineage of David," and Jesus, the son of Mary is called the "Son of David."
Certain it is the Christian world has accepted the Virgin Mary and her cousin Elizabeth as the most trustworthy women of all time. Of course the dreams and visions of Joseph and Zacharias bear testimony to the immaculate conceptions of these divinely favored cousins.
Nineteen hundred years of Christianity have not produced a single woman whose integrity would not be questioned if she made such a claim.
Mary Magdalene, one of the unfortunates of earth, seemed to have some lovable traits of character. Certain it is, she was the most loyal friend Jesus had, yet after all, her loyalty and devotion, after His resurrection, Christ said to her: "Touch me not"—just what the world says today to its outcast women.
If the women today should follow the example of either of the Bible Marys, they would be anathema, maranatha in both church and society.
The most valuable stock in trade of the clergy in preaching to their female congregations, is the story of Mary and Martha. It has been worn to a frazzle, but it has done splendid service in keeping women in the line of duty prescribed by the pulpit.
Martha is noted for her good housekeeping and Mary for her entertaining qualities. The examples of these women have been followed and vastly improved on. The world today is full of good housekeepers and entertaining women. The pulpit cry of the centuries has been "giving to the church is lending to the Lord." Housekeepers and society women have been held in line by the Martha andsermon. Many a woman has roasted her self over a hot stove, cooking for church suppers or to entertain her preacher. Many a woman has tramped the streets gathering donations for her church or with church fairs, grab bags church lotteries until every bone in her body ached and her vitality and shoes were worn out.
Women have done everything from getting up a swell dinner to scrubbing the floor of the "meetin house," from singing an oratorio to dancing the Kan-Kan for the church, all for the blessed privilege of being instructed to take Bible women as their example and "remain in silence and obedience," when Bible women did nothing of the sort.
Dear women, did it never occur to you that the preachers are fooling you? If not, suppose you take to that idea, and read for yourselves what Bible men and women did and said. Let me suggest that you "enter into your closet," and you will need a handkerchief to hide your blushes.
There are many other women who play their parts in the Bible drama, among them are all the wives and concubines of the holy patriarchs and prophets and the one thousand ladies who had a share in Solomon's affections.
Most of the women of the Bible are of the no-name series, and with few exceptions are a sorry lot; but doubtless they did as well as they could considering the fathers and husbands they had. If a delegation of Bible women could attend a Woman's Club in the United States today the Bible women would resolve that they had been born too soon, and the club women would pass a resolution that for the good of the human race the Bible women should not have been born at all. Bible women are mostly celebrated for having been "gathered to their fathers."
The death and burial place of so remarkable a woman as Eve is not mentioned. Eve certainly could not have been "gathered to her fathers," for she had none. Adam'shas been kept green for six thousand years, for Mark Twain wept at Adam's grave.
Women are oblivious to the fact that it is canon law which requires them to cover their heads in church as a token of their inferiority and subjection to man. This degrading law may not dignify woman, but it has helped the millinery business. The origin of this command is found in Genesis iv.
There we are told that the "sons of God" took as wives the daughters of men, and begat the giants who were instrumental in bringing about the flood. The Rabbins held that the way of the sons of God (that is, the angels) got possession of women, was by seizing them by their hair, so they commanded women to cover their heads in public so they might not be captured. All other commands for the silence and subjection of women are on a par with this absurd old myth.
A little investigation, questioning, and rebellion among the women of the church would astonish them and work a speedy revolution in church canons and customs.
We hear in sermons only of the meekness of Moses the faith of Abraham, the patience of Job, the strength of Samson, the wisdom of Solomon, the godliness of David, and so on through the chapters, but the clergy should proclaim the whole gospel of God as they are commanded to do by sermonizing on all the other peculiarities and propensities of Bible men and women who are held up as models for the human race.
It is taught that woman brought sin into the world and is at the bottom of all wrong doing in the world. Ifis so, woman is the most dangerous element in society and should be gotten rid of.
Paul says that "man is the image and glory of God. For the man is not of woman, but the woman of the man; neither was the man created for the woman but the woman for the man."
Of course we can all see that woman is a perfectly unnecessary creature, and man could get along very well without her. St. Paul says as much, but he rather qualifies this statement when he says "We are fools for Christ's sake."
Women of the old time and the new time have been, and are an enigmatical element. Statistics record that 91 per cent of all criminals in Christendom belong to the sex to which the "sons of God" belong.
This does not speak very well for the morals of the only sex of which angels are made, but it does speak volumes for the influence and shrewdness of the "daughters of men" to cause all the sin in the world and evade the law themselves, and make the "sons of God" pay the penalty.
Bible women are not models for the women of today.
The thought that possesses me is this: What can women see in the Christian religion for themselves? I can see why some men might be Christians because they can secure place, power, profit and title, but what there is in it for women is more than I can divine. Then for men, there is a Bible promise of being made angels in heaven. Of course there is some inferior angel material among men, but doubtless in the New Jerusalem, they will be divided into winged seraphs and swamp angels, just as in this world they are divided into saints and sinners, common clay and the sifted dust of the earth.
The Bible promises nothing but subjection in this life for women, and no mention is made that there will be any female seraphs in the angel throng. Holy writ gives men alone a passport through the pearly gates of the Heavenly city. The Bible says explicitly "it is not good for man to be alone," yet the church today is a female institution. All men in heaven, and all women in the church on earth. Strange, ain't it? The average woman makes a fetich of the Bible, and a God of her preacher, but she does not understand either one of them. The preacher interprets the Bible for women. All the absurdities and cruelties veiled in liturgies and sermons, are explained to trusting female Christians as "Divine Mysteries." The truth is, women have been fed on "Divine Mysteries" so long that they are the most mysterious creatures on earth. I ought to understand them because my grandmother, mother, and all my female relations were women, and I am a woman myself, but I don't. For the most part women are good hearted creatures, but they fail in judgment when you strike them on religion. The true Christian woman believes in the infallibility of her preacher. He defines her sphere and duty and she proceeds to walk therein. Her sphere is silence and subjection, and her duty is to devise catch penny devices to bring in the shekels and lay them on the altar of the Lord. Woman never knows what an exalted creature she is until the appeal is made for the collection, then her spiritual advisor gets off something after this fashion:
O, woman! woman, dearly beloved and tenderly esteemed woman, how much of our comfortable comfort do we owe to thy unselfish serving in the kitchen at home, and in the basement and scullery of the church. How many theological students rise up and call you blessed for your willingness to educate them to be your preachers. How well you have filled your womanly sphere as teachers to Indians where your scalps were in danger, or Feejees who relish quartered missionary as much as we do saddle rocks with liquid trimmings. Yes, dear sisters, you have done well building up congregations to which we men of God can preach. O, woman! pure, noble, holy, superlatively fine, and exquisitely superior woman, your bounden duty is to give generously of your labor and lucre, that we men of God may carry on our work amidst the heathen at home, and the pagans abroad. Set to work dear sisters as we men direct. If by squeezing the pennies out of your own pockets, or cajoling or managing your husband into giving (as if it were really their own spontaneous masculine idea to pay the preacher) is not sufficient to deluge poor lost sinners with Amazing Grace, get up a festival with plenty of oysters in the soup, and a free ticket for your preacher, or a pound party, or a bazaar or a dairy maid's fair, with a fish-pond and grabbag, or a conundrum tea, or a necktie party, or a broom-drill, or a skirt-dance and fill up the Lord's exchequer, and then at the end of the year we Doctors of Divinity will meet in council and proclaim to the world what the ministry is doing to save the race.
After the collection the sphere of woman is rigidly defined in the texts. "I suffer not a woman to teach." "But I would have you know that the head of the woman is the man." "Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection." "The woman being deceived was first in the transgression." "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church."
"If a woman would know anything let her learn of her husband at home." "Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the word and doctrine," This is some of the "spiritual" pabulum on which the parson feeds his female flock, and women seem to like it. Indeed the "lovely Christian women" seem to enjoy the silence, subjection, martyr and sacrifice business. I cannot see how self-respecting women can enjoy the "divine mystery" of being classed with the ox and the ass, yet the Seventh Commandment does this very thing.
As the Bible makes woman the fountain of iniquity I have often wondered how the "sons of God" could so lower themselves as to marry the "daughter of men" notwithstanding their celestial lineage they seem willing to be born of, and wedded to them.
The Bible says too if we "would be saved we must be born again." Now I object to being born again, whatever other women may do. One ordeal of that sort is enough for me. If children are "conceived in sin and shapen in iniquity" there should be a law passed prohibiting any one being born once, thus making it impossible to be "born again." The clergy are so busy keeping the women in harness that they ignore other commands of the Bible. Celibacy is as positive a command as any that Paul gives. Both Paul and Christ taught and practiced it, but excepting the Roman Catholic clergy, the way the Doctors of Divinity observe the command of celibacy, is to get them a wife often before they are out of their theological swaddling clothes, and before congregations can be found who will suffer the infliction of their expounding of Holy Writ; and while they are preaching, with all the eloquence at their command against "the lusts of the flesh" a dozen young olive branches take their seats at the parson's table, whose worldly comfort would be scant indeed if it were not for the donation parties, pink teas, and grab-bag games, the women of the church resort to, to keep the larder and the wardrobes of the D. D.'s and their olive branches well supplied. Yet women are so blinded by faith that they are oblivious to the injustice and insult dealt out to them.
The genuine pot and pan souled women,to death at the theological mumbo-jumbo, fall at their master's feet and cry "kick us again dear rulers; we like it; indeed we do." The fact is the only prop of Christianity today is the subjection of women. The whole system is like unto an elegant chariot, caparisoned, cushioned and curtained, wherein sit the councils, synods, conferences, priests and laymen, who with wise looks and sanctimonious air, hold their conclaves, and interpret to the women the "Word of God."
The women are harnessed to this chariot, and with bits in their mouths, are pulling the man-made system. If the wheels clog the "Sisters" are called upon by the holy men to use their strength, means and ingenuity to apply axle grease so the deliberations of the "holy men" may not be disturbed. They exhort the dear sisters to renewed effort and patience, holding out the hope of reward when have landed the chariot with its precious cargo within the heavenly gates.
The cry from the pulpit is "cling to the religion learned from your mother's knee." We are glad that the clergy make an open confession that the intellect of the orthodox mother is located in her knee; for the impossible Bible stories taught to children give no evidence that the brain power is called into action.
We do not wish to be understood as claiming that intellectual knees are always of the feminine gender, for we would not be so unjust to the vast army of bishops, priests and deacons who muzzle the women, and reserve an intimate acquaintance with the Deity for themselves. The real truth is women do not know what the Bible teaches for them. Only one eleventh of the Holy Book is devoted to them, and much of that is so obscene that no preacher would dare read it to his congregation. Bible women are a sorry lot. The Bible values woman chiefly for her anatomy and because she is a race preserver.
If this fails under the eye of any Christian woman let me beg of you "to enter into thy closet, and when thou hast entered in," open your holy Bible and read in the light of reason the doom pronounced on woman that thundered from Sinai; read what the "Lord spake unto Moses" in the fifth chapter of Numbers; read the thirty-first chapter of Numbers, and keep turning the leaves of "God's word" and find countless passages concerning women which are too diabolical to go in print at this day. Take these dear sister to your preacher and ask him to call a meeting "for women only" and explain these commands of the Lord, concerning the mothers of the race. Do you think, dear sister, there is a preacher in Christendom who would dare do it. Not one.
Keep on searching the scriptures, dear sister, that is a Bible command, and if your preacher will not interpret the diabolisms against your sex, be a self-respecting woman and interpret them for yourself, then read the history of Christianity, and you will come face to face with the truth, that Christian women are the slaves of a superstition that degrades them.
The 20th century woman wants the realization of grand ideals, she wants knowledge, truth and liberty, and by the exercise of her sound reasoning and splendid courage, she is getting what she wants.
O, woman! rise in thy majesty; Drive the dark shadows of falsehood and injustice to their lair; Cast down the false idols and enthrone the truth. "The truth shall make you free!"
"There is nothing so regal as Reason,
And nothing so royal as Truth."
COMMANDS OF THE HOLY BIBLE REGARDING WOMEN.
"Adam was deceived, but the woman being deceived, was first in the
"In sorrow shall she bear children."
"Thy desire shall be unto thy husband and he shall rule over thee."
"Behold I am shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me."
"I suffer not a woman to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence."
"Wives submit yourselves to your own husbands, as unto the Lord."
"Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection."
"If a woman would know anything let her learn of her husband at home."
women adorn themselves in modest apparel with shame-facedness."
"The husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church."
"Let your women keep silence in the churches; for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commended to be under obedience."
"Woman what have I to do with thee?"—Jesus.
"Touch me not."—Jesus to Mary Magdalene.
OPINIONS OF THE CHURCH FATHERS
And Other Lights of the Christian System Regarding Women.
According to St. Bernard, "Woman is the organ of the Devil."
St. Anthony, "Woman is the fountain of the arm of the Devil; her voice is the hissing of the serpent."
St. Bonaventure, "Woman is a scorpion, ever ready to sting. She is the lance of the demon."
St. Cyprian, "Woman is the instrument which the Devil uses to gain possession of our souls."
St. Jerome, "Woman is the gate of the Devil, the road of iniquity, the sting of the scorpion."
St. Gregory the Great, "Woman has the poison of an asp, the malice of a dragon."
St. John Damascene, "Woman is a daughter of Falsehood, a sentinel of Hell, the enemy of Peace; through her Adam lost Paradise."
St. John Chrysistom, "Through woman the Devil triumphed, though her Paradise has been lost; of all wild beasts, the most dangerous is woman."
Talmud, "When thy daughter has reached maturity set one of thy slaves free and betroth her to him."
Jewish Prayer, "Blessed art thou, O Lord, who has't not made me a heathen, a slave or a woman."
Luther, "No gown or garment worse becomes a woman, than that she will be wise."
John Wesley, "Giving up witchcraft is giving up the Bible."
This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1928.
The longest-living author of this work died in 1928, so this work is in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 94 years or less. This work may be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.
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