by Stella Ramsaroop
(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 13 July 2006)
I have waited a long time for a woman to write a letter to the Editor challenging my position on women serving as leaders in the church. At long last someone has done just that - and in a very respectable manner. I am so excited to finally debate an intelligent Christian woman on this issue.
On July 10, Kaieteur News printed a letter to the Editor from Rayvonne P. Bourne, who brilliantly countered my argument that women should be religious leaders. This is an idea that is just beginning to take root after thousands of years of patriarchal rule in most of the primary religions of the world.
However, at the same time, there are women ministers popping up everywhere – including Guyana. Rayvonne, whom I am assuming is female because of her name, is not as thrilled about this new phenomenon and uses Scripture from the Bible to counter my position on feminine leadership in religion.
She listed the names of several women who played "major roles" in the Bible, but never served as a minister or priest. Rayvonne also quoted scripture that mandated the submission of women to their husbands and, as the Bible declares, said that women were created as a comfort for men.
I have heard these Scriptures since childhood, so I know them all very well. Conversely, I cannot intellectually accept this subservient role of an entire gender based on religions that are basically some of the newest faiths on earth.
In fact, thousands of years before even one word of the Bible was written, women served as priestesses and leaders of religion. Long before Judaism, Christianity and Islam, which all used Abraham as the central figure, the primary deities were female because of the woman's ability to produce new life.
I know most Christians will read what I just wrote and mark it off as nonsense concocted by Darwinists just to lead people away from God. But I am no evolutionist and this information is actual archaeological fact. Whole civilisations have been found where the Deity was feminine even as recently as Ancient Egypt.
If you would like to know what ever became of these religions, one only has to look to the Bible. Many of those nations destroyed by the Israelites in the Old Testament worshipped feminine deities. Again, I know most Christians are nodding their head in ascent to the destruction of whole civilisations because they did not worship the God of Israel, but by today's standards that is genocide and simply barbaric.
In fact, Christianity has allowed for many barbaric acts. Slavery was long defended by Christians as being acceptable to God because there are Scriptures that seem to support the act. It is for sure that the Bible never once states that slavery is barbaric and inhumane.
Until just a few decades ago, slavery was still legal and acceptable. Had it not been for a few people, most of whom were Christian, who knew deep down that this practice was savage and felt that all people should be treated as equals, there would be whole races of people on earth still today that were slaves to other races.
Regardless of what the Bible says about slavery, we all now declare it to be illegal, barbarous and intolerable in any society. In fact, most of us would gladly fight to free anyone who was subjected to this type of deplorable situation.
Remember that it was just a few decades ago when slavery was tolerable. In fact, in the southern states of the US there were plenty of slaves who would say from their own mouths that the white man was superior to the black man. This is an identity complex many African Americans still struggle to shake even today because of the centuries of being subjected to such abhorrent treatment.
What is the truth? The truth is that the white man was never superior to the black man and slavery is a vile act.
Likewise, the belief systems of these new patriarchal religions that mandate the submission of women to men are just as barbarous and unacceptable as their stance on slavery.
Rayvonne is simply responding to my position by what one of these belief systems has taught her. She believes man is superior to woman just like a slave who believed his/her master was superior because the Apostles Paul and Peter admonished slaves in four separate Scriptures to obey their, "earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ,"
However, if Rayvonne had lived during the reign of a feminine deity, she would understand that women should indeed have "equal footing in every social, political, and religious aspect of life in society." The fact that we do not is just as preposterous as one race serving as slaves to another.
We see reality as we have always been taught to see it. If someone teaches me from birth that a certain colour is blue, and subsequently others then reinforce that teaching in my family, community, church, government, school, etc. – then I will believe the colour is actually blue.
But what if they are all wrong? What if blue is really yellow but no one wants to challenge the errant teaching because the one who said it was blue in the first place claimed to be speaking on behalf of God? In the end though, just because everyone believes this colour to blue does not indeed make it blue. In fact, it is still yellow.
That is exactly what has happened in feminine history. Only this teaching has gone so long without being challenged, for fear of being ostracised or even killed, that it is now accepted as truth. In the process the real truth has been lost.
What is the real truth? What is reality? The truth is that "in the beginning" woman was indeed equal to man. She was just as intelligent. She was just as capable of dealing with life's hardships. She was man's partner, not his property or his slave.
It wasn't until the rise of these patriarchal religions that she was denied basic human rights and subsequently demoted from equal footing. Likewise, it wasn't until she was denied an equal education under these religions that her intelligence was called into question.
I never believed in the inequality of women even when I was in the ministry myself. My husband was not the only one preaching while we were in the mission field. Just like those Christians who knew deep down that slavery was wrong and fought to suppress that vile act, I have always known that women are not inferior to men.
Today Christians conveniently ignore the statements that positively reinforce slavery in the Bible. My hope is that one day they will also conveniently ignore those derogatory statements toward women.
Rayvonne, I do understand why you believe what you do. However, I have already realised my aspiration to be on equal footing with men in every social, political, and religious aspect of life in society. This is not a dream for myself because I have achieved that goal for myself. This is my dream for you.