In the dark recesses of antiquity, even long before Christ’s ministry and Resurrection, human weakness sought to transfer one’s own failings and errors onto others, rather than accepting one’s own mistakes with courage and humility. With a social structure of male gender dominance and false inherent worldly privilege buttressed by a dualistic view emphasizing superiority (all males) vs. inferiority (all females), transference of blame naturally targeted women as the proverbial scapegoats, the cause of all evil in the world, with men as sympathetic victims with no personal responsibility for their poor choices as individuals. Like the mythological Pandora who purportedly spread all evils into the world, so in Judeo-Christian Tradition did Eve receive all blame for being successfully tempted by Satan in the form of a snake to begin the path of human sinfulness, then drawing Adam into the web by convincing him also to disobey God’s commandment to abstain from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. A huge flaw in blaming Eve for anyone’s sin besides her own is that such belief directly contradicts God-given individual free will. Even St. Paul in Corinthians 10:13 acknowledges that God does not place more temptation on anyone than they can bear. Further consideration elicits a question of the type that Christ so often put to Pharisees and other Jewish religious leaders whose answers would show the flaws in their understanding and contrast it with the truth: If Satan is the greatest deceiver, and Eve was deceived by him; and if Adam was deceived by Eve (an inherently “inferior” woman), then by definition Adam must actually have been the weaker one, as he was deceived by a mere “inferior” woman, while Eve was deceived by the greatest of all deceivers. In reality God punished both offenders equally in banishing them both from the Garden of Eden, as each equally had exercised his or her free will to disobey.
Christ's life and teachings in the New Testament provide a markedly different view. Click here for an easy but revealing activity with a poignant result.
How can the undeniably absurd gender belief system that entered Christianity from its beginning by both the 12 male disciples and the multitude of highly influential religious teachers (Church Fathers) who followed, still be with us even today? How could they especially have fallen blind and devoid of understanding of His clear and decisive teachings that nowhere espoused such gender beliefs in both His words and interactions with women? Especially troubling is its strength among the 12 male disciples who witnessed His life and message of equality on a close and daily basis. What forms does it take today, when the harshest extremist pronouncements of the earliest Christian times would be virtually impossible to openly espouse and justify, especially with modern scientific knowledge that handily refutes them? The answers lie in the strength and tenacity of human weakness.
Egotism: Egotism is preoccupation with one's ego or self, commonly referring to obtrusive and excessive focus and emphasis upon oneself and one's own importance. Though often applied to individuals, its application extends as well to groups. In the case of this work, application is to a gender group. As a synonym, pride is defined by Dictionary.com as “a high or inordinate opinion of one's own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.” Consider the following very few of a multitude of blatant examples as so defined:St. John Chrysostom:
One of many results of male egotism and presumption of superiority is the assumption that spiritual guides must be male. The question, “Who is your spiritual father?”makes the egotistical and ignorant assumption that maleness is necessary for a spiritual director. Nothing is further from the truth, from the earliest advent of Christianity until the present. Stellar examples include St. Macrina the Elder and St. Macrina the Younger, who served as spiritual guide for her brothers Sts. Basil the Great, Bregory of Nyssa, and Peter of Sebaste. In modern times, St. Rachel of Borodino served as spiritual guide for metropolitans, bishops, priests, and laity alike. (See entry #24, Consoler of Suffering Hearts..., in the Bibliography Section of this website The author was one of her spiritual sons).
Ignorance and scapegoating:
When confronted with things and phenomena that are not understood, it is characteristic of humans to seek to ease their fears and insecurity by concocting an explanation that is plausible to them within their limitation of knowledge. Further, when the specific entity or phenomenon involves something negative, preservation of one’s own sense of ego has resulted in perceptions and fantastical “reasoning” that creates and assigns positive and admirable attributes to one’s own defined group, while dualistically assigning opposite negative traits to the “other” group. The above examples of egotism clearly illustrate such positive/negative traits. The following examples also clearly illustrate the fantastical “reasoning” born of ignorance that is used to “justify” the negative traits (stereotypes) heaped upon the “other” group:
The Blind Sheep Syndrome: Lack of Discernment:
“Let them alone: they are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” (Matt. 15:14). Sheep are so lacking in discernment that they will follow a lead sheep even over the edge of a cliff. Like them, so are many people, mindlessly unquestioning, accepting virtually any pronouncement alleged as truth by people in leadership positions. The false assumption is that being in a leadership position necessarily attests to their superior and even flawless knowledge and understanding.
Ironically people in leadership positions are often themselves blind sheep and have also blindly, if not intentionally for less than admirable reasons, accepted as infallible or uncontestable such pronouncements of “truth” that under serious scrutiny would be shown clearly to be false. The results can be chilling, whether for a long or short period of time or affecting a few or masses of people. A sinister illustration of the Blind Sheep Syndrome is known as The Big Lie: If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.” (Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, 1925). The frightening reality that his statement applies to misogyny in society and in the Church should be as evident as it is to the human atrocities of Adolf Hitler, but with its extension over millennia, rather than the few harrowing years of the Nazi reign of terror.
It is simple to realize the indescribable harm and suffering done to so many human beings perpetrated by the Blind Sheep Syndrome if one recalls these words of Christ when His disciples asked Him why He spoke to the people in parables:
We are not called to blind faith; rather we are called to open our eyes, ears, minds and hearts with discernment in order to know it. Turning blind eyes, deaf ears, unquestioning minds or hard hearts to truth that should be readily clear enables the deceit that began in the Garden of Eden and has produced the horrors of history, including the Holocaust and the horrific and continuing consequences of misogyny.
When St. Paul said that women must cover their heads so as not to tempt the angels, he is referring to the apocryphal Book of Enoch, which tells about fallen angels, who lusted after human women and copulated with them producing a race of giants who kill off the human race. The fallen angels showed people how to make weapons to use in war, so there was bloodshed. The Book of Enoch was very popular among early Christians but was excluded from the Christian Bible. (From the TV program "Banned from Bible" aired on April 7, 2012 on The History Channel)
With gender domination based on a false self-inflating belief system, a culture of dominant group entitlement that blurs and erases boundaries places desires and interests of the “entitled” group above the restraints of morality, ethics and even law to some extent--in short, a narcissism that runs roughshod over all principles taught by Christ. The members of the dominant group become self-appointed "minor deities" in their own minds. For results, one need only consider the example of the shameful plethora of unrestrained sexual misconduct, often involving children, of (predominantly male) clergy that blare from the broadcast media and make headlines in the newspapers. Perhaps at the Judgment Seat “boys will be boys” will be their staunch defense.
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