Can you reconcile Christianity with feminism? - Page 5 - Mothering Forums

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Old 02-25-2009, 10:43 PM
 
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Still reading.
Question- would you like responses to all the items? Because several of them I cannot respond to because I cannot locate the passages/information they are quoting.

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Old 02-25-2009, 10:51 PM
 
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Still reading.
Question- would you like responses to all the items? Because several of them I cannot respond to because I cannot locate the passages/information they are quoting.
No no no!
Just a general response about where the "traditional" unerstandings differ from these ones would be great.
At this point I am interested in educating myself, but we are getting off topic pretty dramatically here.

thank you
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Old 02-25-2009, 10:52 PM
 
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No no no!
Just a general response about where the "traditional" unerstandings differ from these ones would be great.
At this point I am interested in educating myself, but we are getting off topic pretty dramatically here.

thank you
Karen
Are we off topic? I see it more as a natural conversational verge based upon the topic!

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Old 02-25-2009, 10:56 PM
 
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No no no!
Just a general response about where the "traditional" unerstandings differ from these ones would be great.
At this point I am interested in educating myself, but we are getting off topic pretty dramatically here.

thank you
Karen
Since this is the first time I have ever heard of many of the items listed in the RCWP.org article, I cannot really comment. They seem some what... reaching. IMHO.

I will be honest and say that I take that website with a grain of salt, so initially, it was hard to read it without laughing. Sorry. That's what took me so long to reply, I had to read it as something the authors of the group honestly believe.

I need to read it, again, to further comment.

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Old 02-26-2009, 12:19 PM
 
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From P & L's links:

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Jesus did not ordain any women. He selected all of his apostles, and none were women.
Even Catholic theologians admit that this may be in error, and that female apostles may have actually existed though been intentionally left out of Canon Scripture.

And it's worth noting that Jesus didn't ordain anyone, and that the apostles were not priests. The only priests of that time were the Hebrew priests. "Christian" priests didn't appear until about the 4th century. No popes in the early church, either.

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Two thousand years later, no one—including the pope—has the authority to change the designs of the Church that Christ instituted.
It has also been speculated that Jesus' intention was not to found an institutional church based on rules and hierarchy, but rather to simply lead people back to a personal relationship with God. Indeed, these so-called Christ-instituted "designs of the Church" - where exactly might they be found in Scripture?

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Specifically, the Church is unable to change the substance of a sacrament. For example, a person cannot be baptized in wine, nor may a substance other than bread be used for the consecration at Mass. If invalid matter is used, then the sacrament does not take place. Likewise, since the priest acts in the person of Christ, the Church has no authority to confer the sacrament on those who are unable to represent the male Jesus Christ.
We're just talking about the form here, though; which is part of the ritual. The core of the Sacrament is a person's faith and God's grace. The ritual can never produce the Sacrament ... either God's grace is present, or not. The ritual/form can't change that. The ritual is the celebration of the Sacrament, which has already taken place (or not).

I could argue this forever, but what it boils down to is, you have your POV and I have mine. Mine is based on my own personal faith/relationship with God, plus the courses (taught by Catholic clergy and laypeople) I am taking in Formation for Ministry. Yours seems based on "What the Most Conservative Faction of the Catholic Church Says." OK, we'll have to agree to disagree.

I would also like to add that we are ALL called to be Christ. Priest or not, whenever we act in His name, we ARE Christ. Young, old, male, female - we're called to personify Christ, that's what He wants from us. And, in case anybody was wondering, I'm not campaigning to be a priest. I don't think that's my calling. But I know some women who would fit the bill nicely.

Every baptized Christian is, or should be, someone with an actual (disturbing) experience, ... a close encounter, with God; someone who, as a result, becomes a disturbing presence to others. - Fr. Anthony J. Gittins, A Presence That Disturbs
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Old 02-26-2009, 04:32 PM
 
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I personally wouldn't belong to a faith or church where women were less than men. I'm pretty safe in saying that if the question were asked "Can you be a feminist and a Christian" the women of my church would say "Hell Ya!" Including my minister, who was also at the president of my city's conference a few years ago, along with DH's grandmother who was the president not so few years ago. I'd go so far to say that the driving force behind each and every congregation is a team of women and the men and women in our church are very aware of that, whether they are ministers, presidents, representatives, ushers, nursery care providers, coffee servers or bakers.

It is a regular theme in my church where we're exploring the roles of women in the Bible and how even though not glorified as much as the men, every bit as important. Whether it were women who walked with Jesus and very likely ministered people, to women who hosted dinners, buried the dead, tended to wounds etc. And it's not uncommon to have my minister mention about how annoyed she is with a particular story undervaluing the women in those days and a church full of women nodding their heads.

Personally I think it a great disservice to the church itself to deny women these important roles. I have a friend who is a Catholic, if any Catholic I've ever met should be in a leadership role as a priest, she should, but she can't, though it's hard to get her to admit it, she'd like to and feels very sad that she cannot serve in this way. She still gets joy out of serving in other ways, but she doesn't feel it's fair, and I think she's right. The saddest thing is, the people who are losing out on this wonderful person in this role.

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Old 02-28-2009, 04:25 PM
 
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I just can't resist.....

I reconcile my feminism with Roman Catholicism this way:

1. When early Christianity became the Roman state religion, some concessions had to be made. Per usual, women got sold out. Paul's admonishments to women to cover their hair, keep quiet and let the menfolk talk was a wink wink nudge nudge to the Roman hierarchy that could accept monotheism, but would never accept women as anything near equals.

To me, RC and most Christian religions were built on a faulty foundation. Half of it is missing and we must work tirelessly to put it right - we owe it to Christ, who laid down his life for us. We must make the Church whole again.

2. Motherhood is predicated on an entirely biological imperative. Have sex at the right time, give birth *bam* you're a mama. Priesthood.... not so much. The equivalent to MOTHER is FATHER *not* PRIEST. One could make the argument that a priest is a type of father, but that is totally immaterial. The most sacred and essential actions he performs are not biologically based, but spiritually based, and, as we all very well know, in Christ there is no man or woman. So, I could easily argue that female priests would be called Mother, just like we call our male priests Father.

3. The priest caste, since the very beginning of religious thought and belief, has been extraordinarily powerful. They stood next to kings and were oftentimes the voice behind the throne. Mothers....not so much. Maybe a Queen here and there (if she had sons, of course), but not your average mother. In a Medieval village, a priest has considerable prestige over *men* , women, mothers, were an afterthought, at best.

4. Finally, the mental gymnastics necessary to literally interpret a *metaphor* are certainly impressive, but still rather ridiculous. Christ as Bridegroom with the Church as His bride was how He illustrated His intense Love and Passion for us. NOT a directive on how only men can be priests. I mean seriously - it's amazing how the most faithful can debase their Lord.

Jesus elevated women in ways never before imagined. It takes a hell of a lot of nerve to undo what He has done. Women may have been mothers since homo sapiens evolved, but Christ made us Human.

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Old 03-01-2009, 08:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Suzywan, thank you so much for those comments, they are really helpful to me. I think it is so important to remember that the current church leadership, priesthood etc does not define Christianity. I guess that I should go back to the base and explore what Jesus did and what his intentions were, rather than getting stuck looking at actions of religious leaders that I am uncomfortable with.

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Old 03-01-2009, 09:15 PM
 
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Suzywan, thank you so much for those comments, they are really helpful to me. I think it is so important to remember that the current church leadership, priesthood etc does not define Christianity. I guess that I should go back to the base and explore what Jesus did and what his intentions were, rather than getting stuck looking at actions of religious leaders that I am uncomfortable with.
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Old 03-02-2009, 08:13 PM
 
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Jesus elevated women in ways never before imagined. It takes a hell of a lot of nerve to undo what He has done. Women may have been mothers since homo sapiens evolved, but Christ made us Human.

:
Brilliant! I'm so glad you said this. My dad told me the same thing when I was very young and I've never forgotten. Makes me a little teary.:

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Old 03-03-2009, 03:37 PM
 
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boy, this has been the most interesting thread i've read in a while. not sure i have anything to add, i'm most definitely a feminist, in the sense of woman should be allowed the freedom of self-determination that men traditionally are, and most definitely not a christian, it's been turned into something radically different than what it should/could have been and i'm throwing the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to that.

but thanks so much for the interesting thoughts!!

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Old 03-04-2009, 02:24 PM
 
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Here is a question for those who identify as feminist; could God have intended the priesthood for only one gender?

I ask, because my starting place on this question is that yes, he could have. So that leaves me with whether or not he actually did as the follow-up.

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Old 03-04-2009, 04:22 PM
 
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Here is a question for those who identify as feminist; could God have intended the priesthood for only one gender?

I ask, because my starting place on this question is that yes, he could have. So that leaves me with whether or not he actually did as the follow-up.
No I personally don't think so.
But I don't come at this from the premise that God is a singular male essence nor do I believe any longer in the Christian creation story which to me suggests woman were created to serve a secondary role in creation.

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Old 03-04-2009, 04:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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No I personally don't think so.
But I don't come at this from the premise that God is a singular male essence nor do I believe any longer in the Christian creation story which to me suggests woman were created to serve a secondary role in creation.
I agree with that. I am on the fence about whether the priesthood could have been intended for men only, but I am not able to believe in that creation story either. If someone has a different input on why it should be OK, or why they accept it, I would love to hear it.

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Old 03-04-2009, 04:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I also just heard that, in some churches, women are not allowed to take communion while they are menstruating. Does anyone know the reason behind this?

I'm Olivia. I blog about physiological childbirth, homebirth, and unassisted homebirth!
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Old 03-04-2009, 04:58 PM
 
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No I personally don't think so.
But I don't come at this from the premise that God is a singular male essence nor do I believe any longer in the Christian creation story which to me suggests woman were created to serve a secondary role in creation.
Do Christians believe God is a singular male essence???!!! I wish someone had told me!

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Old 03-04-2009, 05:20 PM
 
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Do Christians believe God is a singular male essence???!!! I wish someone had told me!
LOL sorry I was trying not to offend.
I try not to attribute male human characteristics to a/the Divine power.
Being the radical feminist that I am : I think it futher separates us from true spirituality and from recognizing our collective worth.
So no "He" wouldn't have decided women couldn't become priests because I don't believe "She/They" operates in the same way as human kind does in predefining what women or men can do. I deeply believe much of "religious law/rules" have nothing to do with a Divine Power and are instead reflected of the time and culture when those religious texts and "rules" were established.

Karen

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Old 03-04-2009, 05:49 PM
 
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but I am not able to believe in that creation story either. If someone has a different input on why it should be OK, or why they accept it, I would love to hear it.
I accept it because I believe it's true. I don't believe Eve was created 'secondarily'; presumably God was planning to create her all along, unless one believes He didn't intend for the human race to get above one member. Perhaps he held off on Eve so Adam would appreciate her more when she got there.

Even if the Creation story did mean women held a lower 'rank' than men, so what? If it were true, it would be true. I don't believe in holding beliefs because they're nice and fuzzy-wuzzy and fit in with secular humanistic ideals. It would be 'nicer', at least on a superficial level, not to believe in hell, but I don't believe an honest reading of the Bible allows me that interpretation.
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I also just heard that, in some churches, women are not allowed to take communion while they are menstruating. Does anyone know the reason behind this?
I've never heard of it. It's certainly not a Christian doctrine. If it exists it's probably based on a very strange semi-adherence to Levitical law, kindasorta. Bizarre, anyway.

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Old 03-04-2009, 06:15 PM
 
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I've never heard of it. It's certainly not a Christian doctrine. If it exists it's probably based on a very strange semi-adherence to Levitical law, kindasota. Bizarre, anyway.
Actually it is true according to Orthodox Christine doctrine at least.
Here is an article with references.

I've heard it referenced in other contexts as well.

Karen

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Old 03-04-2009, 06:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Actually it is true according to Orthodox Christine doctrine at least.
Here is an article with references.

I've heard it referenced in other contexts as well.

Karen
Yes, I was referring to the Orthodox Church. The person who told me this also mentioned that Catholics used to do the same waaaaay back.

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Old 03-04-2009, 06:26 PM
 
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I also just heard that, in some churches, women are not allowed to take communion while they are menstruating. Does anyone know the reason behind this?
AFAIK that's an Orthodox thing.

Every baptized Christian is, or should be, someone with an actual (disturbing) experience, ... a close encounter, with God; someone who, as a result, becomes a disturbing presence to others. - Fr. Anthony J. Gittins, A Presence That Disturbs
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Old 03-04-2009, 06:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Even if the Creation story did mean women held a lower 'rank' than men, so what? If it were true, it would be true.
So - *do* you believe that women hold a lower rank, that they are second rate citizens? Do you believe that *is* true? And do you think that the creation story makes women less?

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Old 03-04-2009, 06:45 PM
 
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LOL sorry I was trying not to offend.
I try not to attribute male human characteristics to a/the Divine power.
Being the radical feminist that I am : I think it futher separates us from true spirituality and from recognizing our collective worth.
So no "He" wouldn't have decided women couldn't become priests because I don't believe "She/They" operates in the same way as human kind does in predefining what women or men can do. I deeply believe much of "religious law/rules" have nothing to do with a Divine Power and are instead reflected of the time and culture when those religious texts and "rules" were established.

Karen
Don't worry I wasn't offended, but it is defiantly not a Christian doctrine that God is male. I mean, he doesn't have a body, which rather precludes maleness.

But couldn't an omnipotent god make things however he choose, so far as we know? I mean, why couldn't he (it?) make different sorts of things - say things like plants and things like animals?

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Old 03-04-2009, 07:48 PM
 
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Don't worry I wasn't offended, but it is defiantly not a Christian doctrine that God is male. I mean, he doesn't have a body, which rather precludes maleness.

But couldn't an omnipotent god make things however he choose, so far as we know? I mean, why couldn't he (it?) make different sorts of things - say things like plants and things like animals?
Language is a powerful thing.
In Christianity the Divine is referred to as "He" "the father" etc.
And I think that is part of the problem. Especially when there are references to humans being made in HIS image. Linguistically speaking that means only half of us are made in his image.

Sure an omnipotent being could make different sorts of things. But men and women aren't different like trees and rocks. They are two halves of the same whole. The Christian church (or at least some sects) subjugates one half of that whole which is why I think it is extremely hard to reconcile feminism and Christianity - even within more liberal, forward thinking churches.

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Old 03-05-2009, 02:59 AM
 
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So - *do* you believe that women hold a lower rank, that they are second rate citizens? Do you believe that *is* true? And do you think that the creation story makes women less?
No; I'd hoped that was clear. My point was simply that something being unpleasant doesn't necessarily preclude it from being true.

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Old 03-05-2009, 11:39 AM
 
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Language is a powerful thing.
In Christianity the Divine is referred to as "He" "the father" etc.
And I think that is part of the problem. Especially when there are references to humans being made in HIS image. Linguistically speaking that means only half of us are made in his image.
Why Christians refer to God as he is an interesting question. First of all, though, Genisis makes it quite clear that both man and woman are created in his image, not just man. There are also some linguistic quirks in this passage that are not that clear in English, that make it seem less unbalanced. And it seems wrong to call God "it" as, unlike the Ggods of the pagans, the Jews god was very much a personality. Aristotle's unmoved mover is an it, but the God of the old testement is not.

So why the male language? It isn't always male language for a start - the Bible does use some female iamagry for God, and even for the Word, though that would seem to more obviously require male usages. One answer might be Because God tells us to call him Father, but that still begs the question, why.

The best answer is simply that if you are trying to fit the nature of God into human language and things human's can understand, you will lose some precision. God is something our languages cannot describe perfectly, so we are always picking the best words we can to point at the greater reality of God. THat is why he is sometimes described in ways that seem somewhat contradictory, because it is the best way to build up an idea that comes closer to the real thing. (this is true of people too of course.) So when we call God Father, rather than Mother, it is because in some way, God is more like a father tp us than like a mother. Does that imply men are more like God than women? Well, possibly but certainly not necessarily. It may be that the comparison breaks down at that level, so one would have to make a case.

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Sure an omnipotent being could make different sorts of things. But men and women aren't different like trees and rocks. They are two halves of the same whole. The Christian church (or at least some sects) subjugates one half of that whole which is why I think it is extremely hard to reconcile feminism and Christianity - even within more liberal, forward thinking churches.
There are a lot of assumptions in that statement. Like what constitues subjugation, what it means to be parts of one thing.... it rather seems like you have defined feminism in a way that precludes any system of thought that might have gender fall outside a very narrow vision of equality.

I have never understood how we can have ethics or politics without first defining our metaphysics. In the case of feminism, it seems to try very hard to develope a metaphysics, but it seems to me it fails miserably. How can we extrapolate the nature of things as a whole from the experience of being a woman? We can't even decide what constitutes the experience of being a woman.

What I mean by that is this. Feminism takes as it's fundamental tenet that women and men are equal. It doesn't derive this from first principles, but from the experience of women - in fact it tends to tout this experiential quality as being very superior to male logical systems. But it's own first principle disallows the experience of any woman who would not agree that "women are equal to men." That is why they tend to reject those people as having a view dominated by patriarchy, not a "real authentic" female view. Of course then the claim of their fundamental premise being based on the experience of woman-ness breaks down - it is only based on the experience of the "right" women. The premise has no foundation.

So for me as a Christian, feminism has meaning mostly as a political movement relating to legal equality. It doesn't really tell me anything about the nature of God or the universe, or even much about the nature of men and women.

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Old 03-06-2009, 02:20 AM
 
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I liked your post, Bluegoat!

I'm always puzzled by the reaction that 'of course' women are as good as men, either in one area or as a general principle. On what is it based? Lacking a religious point of view, I don't see that it is necessarily true, nor based on empirical data. It seems rather to be an ideological decision. Which is interesting to me as a presuppositionalist, but I don't know I've ever met a presup. feminist to thresh it out with.

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feminism has meaning mostly as a political movement relating to legal equality.
That sums it up quite nicely for me.

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Old 03-06-2009, 02:55 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Bluegoat View Post

There are a lot of assumptions in that statement. Like what constitues subjugation, what it means to be parts of one thing.... it rather seems like you have defined feminism in a way that precludes any system of thought that might have gender fall outside a very narrow vision of equality. .
Well, we are discussing Christianity within the context of feminism so the idea of gender equality is central to that discussion and not a "narrow vision".
With respect to subjugation, we've already established that the Christian church requires/encourages submission of women to men.

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Originally Posted by Bluegoat View Post
In the case of feminism, it seems to try very hard to develope a metaphysics, but it seems to me it fails miserably. How can we extrapolate the nature of things as a whole from the experience of being a woman? We can't even decide what constitutes the experience of being a woman.

What I mean by that is this. Feminism takes as it's fundamental tenet that women and men are equal. It doesn't derive this from first principles, but from the experience of women - in fact it tends to tout this experiential quality as being very superior to male logical systems. But it's own first principle disallows the experience of any woman who would not agree that "women are equal to men." That is why they tend to reject those people as having a view dominated by patriarchy, not a "real authentic" female view. Of course then the claim of their fundamental premise being based on the experience of woman-ness breaks down - it is only based on the experience of the "right" women. The premise has no foundation.
..
Interestingly I could substitute Christianity for feminism in your statements to describe my impressions of that religion.

Karen

Blessed partner to a great guy, and mama to 4 amazing kids. Unfortunate target of an irrationally angry IRL stalker.

Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned. ~ Buddha

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Old 03-06-2009, 03:37 AM
 
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With respect to subjugation, we've already established that the Christian church requires/encourages submission of women to men.
Have we? Because I disagree with that statement.

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Old 03-06-2009, 07:33 AM
 
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With respect to subjugation, we've already established that the Christian church requires/encourages submission of women to men.
Submission != subjugation, especially as the Christian commandments about submission are directed to women, not to men. Subjugation implies being conquered or brought under control; Biblical wifely submission is doing what Christ did - submitting to another for the sake of personal holiness. Men in the Bible are never commanded to 'make' their wives submit, any more than women in the Bible are commanded to 'make' their husbands love them as Christ loved the church; in a sense, it's none of the one party's business what the other party does, as both parties are to focus on their own holiness within Biblical commands.

Also, I don't believe the Bible (whether or not certain Christian churches teach this) requires or encourages submission of women to men. Submission of wives to husbands, yes; or of women (or men) to male (or female) heads of state.

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Interestingly I could substitute Christianity for feminism in your statements to describe my impressions of that religion.
I just tried doing that and it was gibberish... what do you mean?

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