Keep quiet, woman!!!

As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church. (NIV, 1 Corinthians 14:33-35)

A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. (NIV, 1 Timothy 2:11-12)

Well apparently, former President Jimmy Carter didn’t think so.  He always goes against the norm and for that, I like him.

Do any of you practice a religion?  If so (or if not), what do you think of the following article?  Also if so, what is your church/religion like in terms of treatment of women?  And if not, was this one of the reasons why you left?

If you’re interested in further reading, check out The Real Skinny On Eve.  There is also a Facebook page for the book.


Losing my religion for equality

  • Jimmy Carter
  • July 15, 2009
Illustration: DysonIllustration: Dyson

Women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God.

I HAVE been a practising Christian all my life and a deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world. So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention’s leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be “subservient” to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service.

This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women’s equal rights across the world for centuries.

At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.

The impact of these religious beliefs touches every aspect of our lives. They help explain why in many countries boys are educated before girls; why girls are told when and whom they must marry; and why many face enormous and unacceptable risks in pregnancy and childbirth because their basic health needs are not met.

In some Islamic nations, women are restricted in their movements, punished for permitting the exposure of an arm or ankle, deprived of education, prohibited from driving a car or competing with men for a job. If a woman is raped, she is often most severely punished as the guilty party in the crime.

The same discriminatory thinking lies behind the continuing gender gap in pay and why there are still so few women in office in the West. The root of this prejudice lies deep in our histories, but its impact is felt every day. It is not women and girls alone who suffer. It damages all of us. The evidence shows that investing in women and girls delivers major benefits for society. An educated woman has healthier children. She is more likely to send them to school. She earns more and invests what she earns in her family.

It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against half its population. We need to challenge these self-serving and outdated attitudes and practices – as we are seeing in Iran where women are at the forefront of the battle for democracy and freedom.

I understand, however, why many political leaders can be reluctant about stepping into this minefield. Religion, and tradition, are powerful and sensitive areas to challenge. But my fellow Elders and I, who come from many faiths and backgrounds, no longer need to worry about winning votes or avoiding controversy – and we are deeply committed to challenging injustice wherever we see it.

The Elders are an independent group of eminent global leaders, brought together by former South African president Nelson Mandela, who offer their influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity. We have decided to draw particular attention to the responsibility of religious and traditional leaders in ensuring equality and human rights and have recently published a statement that declares: “The justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable.”

We are calling on all leaders to challenge and change the harmful teachings and practices, no matter how ingrained, which justify discrimination against women. We ask, in particular, that leaders of all religions have the courage to acknowledge and emphasise the positive messages of dignity and equality that all the world’s major faiths share.

The carefully selected verses found in the Holy Scriptures to justify the superiority of men owe more to time and place – and the determination of male leaders to hold onto their influence – than eternal truths. Similar biblical excerpts could be found to support the approval of slavery and the timid acquiescence to oppressive rulers.

I am also familiar with vivid descriptions in the same Scriptures in which women are revered as pre-eminent leaders. During the years of the early Christian church women served as deacons, priests, bishops, apostles, teachers and prophets. It wasn’t until the fourth century that dominant Christian leaders, all men, twisted and distorted Holy Scriptures to perpetuate their ascendant positions within the religious hierarchy.

The truth is that male religious leaders have had – and still have – an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions – all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.


Jimmy Carter was president of the United States from 1977 to 1981.


7 thoughts on “Keep quiet, woman!!!

  1. Jimmy Carter was one of the worst Presidents that the United States has ever had. He will have to stand before God (as we all will) and give an account of his actions. If you are in a “HEALTHY” church you will learn God loves us ALL and he punishes SIN, plain and simple. Straight with no chasers.

  2. Wow Aurelia, you are right on time! How do you pick such good topics?

    Ever heard of the expression if you don’t believe in something you’ll fall for anything? The Southern Baptist Convention is the same religious group that endorsed slavery and segregation in the United States. African-Americans did not turn away from God, however, we turned to God and He gave us a southern preacher by the name of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. civil rights hero and Nobel Peace Prize winner. He gave us Dr. Thurgood Marshall and Brown vs. the Board of Education. He gave us Dr. Benjamin Carson, a world renowned neurosurgeon who also happens to be a Christian. He gave us Barak Obama the first African-American President! The first African-American NFL coach to win a Superbowl is Tony Dungy (who is a best-selling author and a Christian man.) You see where I’m going with this. Well what about the women? Media mogul Cathy Hughes (a multi-millionaire). Nobel prize for literature winner Toni Morrison (her works often explore spirituality, race, and gender issues). And who can forget Oprah?

    If you know your word you know that there are many incredible women in the Bible. Women of incredible courage and integrity. Women like Rahab, Ruth, Esther, Deborah (a general, Barak, refused to go into battle without her!), Mary (mother of Jesus), and Elizabeth. The list goes on…God made us as equals. In the beginning man and woman were made to be equal under God. Adam and Eve were the first married couple and the first to sin against God. “Although they only had to follow directions they failed. In response to their sin, they hid from God and blamed each other.” (Student Bible, New International Version, 2002) Adam and Eve both carried equal responsibility for the fall of man. It was God who predicted that the result of this sin would cause men to subjugate women:

    “Your desire will be for your husband,
    and he will rule over you.”

    “Though created good, humans disobeyed God right from the beginning, and we’ve been suffering the consequences ever since.” (Student Bible, New International Version, 2002) (Pastor Jack Hayford explains this topic in more detail; I recommend you Google him).

    Jimmy Carter knows his word and acknowledges that people will twist scripture in the pursuit of their own self interest. I respect him for leaving the Southern Baptist Convention. New York Times best-selling author Bishop T.D. Jakes discusses discrimination by religious institutions in his book, Reposition Yourself:

    That is how religion can be. It is often riddled with double standards, as men contaminate God’s plan for wholeness with cultural biases and scriptural misinterpretations…To be sure the religious world has often controlled women, covering more than their heads. Some religions helped to cover the minds of bright women with rules that ultimately denied them education and privilege. (2007, p192)

    T.D. Jakes says this is what our response should be to cultural and institutional bias:

    Understanding the great forces that oppose female emancipation, it is important that women today seize the new opportunities and with all diligence advance forward. Today is a new day for women. It is against the dismal backdrop of religion and history that we see women emerging today. (2007, p194)

    “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Words written by a man who was not a lawyer but was awarded doctor of law degrees from several universities. God bless Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    This is a time of great change. The balance of power is shifting. Wealth is being redistributed. God has a blessing waiting for you. This is a time of great opportunity. Don’t let it pass you by! The Bernard Madoff’s of the world are being exposed. There will be a great transfer of wealth because it is written (Joel Osteen of Lakewood Church has a great sermon on this subject). Don’t miss your blessing because you were pouting and turned away from God. Don’t be like the Israelites who were on the verge of receiving their blessing and missed their ticket into the promised land. A week long journey turned into 40 years. Stay faithful. Don’t let others turn you away. Stay positive. Read, learn, and make decisions based on truth.

    At the end of the movie Slumdog Millionaire when the main character, Jamal, wins against all odds the words appear on the screen: “It is written.” In the book of Isaiah 45:3 it is written:

    “I will give you the treasures of darkness,
    riches stored in secret places,
    so that you may know that I am the Lord,
    the God of Israel who summons you by name.”

  3. I certainly agree with the premise of this article by former President, Jimmy Carter. In fact, about a month ago I emailed it out to the congregation I serve in hopes of stimulating discussion. Many in our Faith Community come from religious traditions where discouraging and sometimes dangerous dynamics where at play. Our responsibility now is to ensure that our church is a truly liberating place for all without regard to gender, age, sex, sexual orientation, or socio-economic status. My engagement of Jesus and the Holy Scriptures suggests that The Christ made room at the table for everyone.

    • That’s great that you sent it out to the congregation. If more people were to take a stand against this, the church would be a better place and maybe more people would want to attend. Please come back and share any responses that you receive.

  4. Thank you, Mr. Carter.

    I was brought up Christian, but quit the Church and religion in general a couple years ago. And, yes, the constant theme of subjecting women to treatment as inferiors and demanding submissiveness was one of the factors in my decision. Actually, the use of religion all over the world to repress, demean, and discriminate against all different types of people played a major role in my decision, although the topic of women touched particularly close to home, of course.

    I am so glad to hear someone, someone like Jimmy Carter, choosing equality over warped tradition. I am a strong believer that one should never follow tradition for tradition’s sake. Think for yourself and make informed decisions based on analyzing all of the information. Blindly prescribing to a religion because it comforts you is not only cowardly, but unfair and dangerous.

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