Corinthians 14:34 states, “Let the women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but let them be in subjection, as also saith the law” (Holy Bible, King James Edition). Edith Hamilton, "recognized as the greatest woman Classicist", says that the Bible is the only book before our century that looked to women as human beings, no better nor worse than men (Tanner). However, it cannot be said that this book was consistently favorable to women. Maybe not absolutely, but conditionally in personal opinion, the Bible shows numerous examples of a woman’s inferiority to men, an assessment that has been translated into the cultures of generations. In this essay I will address briefly instances in the bible pertaining to women, and continue on with thoughts on how I believe these notions have been interpreted into society.
Interpretations of the Bible are influential to our society because in the United States, approximately eighty-three percent of the population is Christian, according to a poll performed by ABC News. Perhaps the Bible is written with women subservient to men because the very story of creation is written as such. Genesis serves as the foundation of not only our universe, but also the religious text. In the biblical story of creation, Adam came first, then came the animals, and then last of all came Eve, putting the origin of women last. Then, it is Eve who is vulnerable enough for evil to deceive her into taking the apple and she who persuades Adam to follow her example. This sets up a basis that women are inherently weak and sinful for the rest of the faith to be built upon. (Stanton)
The negative view of the female sex continues in Leviticus, in a section dictating the regulations for a woman who has given birth. This passage states that a woman who has given birth to a male child is unclean for forty days, but the birth of a female child makes her unclean for eighty days. The regulations for purification are also more complex for women. While men can often become clean by washing with water, women require more stringent purification. In the case of childbirth the cost of cleanliness is the sacrifice of a lamb and the intervention of a priest to accomplish purification (Holy Bible, King James Edition, Leviticus 12).
In my understanding, the terms whore and harlot are biblical words used for women who deviated from the sexual moral code. In the book of Numbers, women's bodies are seen as the property of their fathers and husbands, this being a product of the time period. Virginity and chastity were mandatory for women, and any woman proven to have broken this moral code would be seen as unclean and unwanted (Numbers 4). Men were permitted many wives while women were permitted only one. They could be subject to a test for adultery, if thought to have been unfaithful (Numbers 5:11-31). The subject of a woman’s menstrual cycle was also often seen as impure, which is the reasoning behind...