Friday, April 08, 2011

What Jimmy Carter said

I was in a rush this morning so I did not cite Carter, but here is what he said. It is worth reading the full article. I have not seen an actual transcription of his speech or interview, but this gives a good idea. Here are a few paragraphs. First, he does explicitly mention Christians, not just religion, any religion. He centres out the Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention. He said,

“In Christian communities, as well, there is gross discrimination against women. Our people at the Carter Center believe that women should be treated equally in the eyes of God and that includes Islam and also Christianity and other religions. But, as you know, [in] the Catholic Church, they practically worship the Virgin Mary, but won’t let a woman be a priest,” he added. ...

“The discrimination against women on a global basis is almost attributable to the declaration by religious leaders in Christianity, Islam and other religions that women are inferior in the eyes of God, and this gives men a right to abuse women, whether it’s the husband beating up his wife or depriving a woman of her basic rights,” he added.

Meanwhile, in his keynote address Carter said his own Southern Baptist Convention leaders ordained, in recent years, that women must be “subservient” to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors, chaplains in the military service, or teachers of men.

He said they based this on a few carefully selected quotations from St. Paul and also the book of Genesis claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin. Carter said this was in conflict with his belief that we are all equal in the eyes of God.

The former president said this view that God considers women to be inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or tradition. Its influence does not stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue, or temple. Women, he stated, are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths creating an environment in which violations against women are justified.

It is worth pointing out that Carter is explicitly saying that it is the selection of passages which discrminates against women. There are only two verses usually cited to restrict women from ministry. And yet there are many examples of women who are clearly leaders in ministry. There are many verses about treating others as you want to be treated, about esteeming others greater than oneself, about submitting one to another.

This is the point. It is not the Bible per se, or relgion itself, but it is the way the Bible is used. It is the choice that people make to focus on two verses at the expense of other verses, verses which state that both men and women will prophecy, that say both men and women proclaim the good news.

The two verses, 2 Tim. 2:12, and 1 Cor. 14;35 both pose difficulties of interpretation. In the case of the former, the translation has been altered. It used to say that a women may not be the lord of the man, or usurp authority, but now in many recent translations, it says that a woman may not "exercise authority." Who selected this text and changed the translation? That is what Jimmy Carter is talking about.


G said...

"in] the Catholic Church, they practically worship the Virgin Mary, but won’t let a woman be a priest,”

That is good. I have never thought of it in this way.

Richard Fellows said...

It is surely no coincidence that the authenticity of both these passages (2 Tim. 2:12 and 1 Cor. 14:35) is disputed. Both were forged after Paul's death, I think. Those who are loyal to scripture should, logically, be the ones who most strenuously resist these additions to the text.