Some people are confused by my point of view as a religious traditionalist and an irrationally liberal feminist. They say that the Bible is horribly sexist. After hearing their reasoning for this pronouncement, I won't necessarily say that the Bible isn't sexist, only that God doesn't seem to hold anything against women and that there isn't nearly as much misogyny in the actual Bible as there is in the popular insanely outlandish interpretations of the Bible.
One thing that people like to bring up is the story of Eve. They say that Eve was obviously the cause of all evil in the world. First of all, saying that everyone of any group is a certain way because of one example is ridiculous. This also goes for Lot's wife - I think her name was Orpheus - who looked back when she shouldn't have (and therefore was evil). There are so many more examples of men disobeying God in the Bible. Perhaps it shows that human nature goes against what God might have wanted, but that's certainly not restricted to any gender. I know that, at the time, Eve was the only woman, but every woman since her was part Eve and part Adam. You can't say that every man is Adam's son and every woman is Eve's daughter. Every person comes from both of them, and inherits the traits of both parents. You can't divide that by sex.
Of course, it's not like Eve was so bad anyway. God certainly didn't think what happened was her fault, and what makes you think you're a better judge than God? You might say, "But wasn't she punished for it?" Well, yes she was. The pain that comes with childbirth was the punishment for her disobedience, but all in all, that was a pretty mild punishment. Some people might be offended by my saying that, particularly people who have gone through childbirth, but you have to keep in mind that just moments before, God had said to the snake, "Hey, you know legs? Well, you can't have them any more. Yeah I know it sounds harsh, but we tried it with you having legs and that didn't quite work out."* So the next time someone tries to tell you whose fault our expulsion from Eden really was, just remember that women still have legs, and I thank God every day for that.
* This is an example of the punishment not even coming close to fitting the crime. God was still new at this "punishment" thing, or maybe mortals weren't meant to understand the logic behind not having legs reinforcing not telling people to eat things. Anyway, he got better at it, as seen in this scene from later in Genesis:
GOD: You killed your brother?
CAIN: Yeah, sorry about that...
GOD: Me damn it! I thought we were done with all wickedness when I punished your parents.
CAIN: I guess it just goes to show you.
GOD: Well, I better punish you, then. Let's see... since you killed your brother, I'm going to do the exact opposite to you!
CAIN: You're going to make me more alive?
GOD: I'm going to make it so that no one can ever kill you!
CAIN: Um... okay.
GOD: Yeah! Eat that, bitch!
And don't act like men got away scot-free in the deal. They were cursed with the responsibility to work in order to live. That's not to say that women aren't allowed to work, only that God didn't require them to. That meant that it fell upon men to look after and provide for and serve women. I don't know what connotations you have in your mind for the term "servant," but, to me, it doesn't imply someone of a higher station in life. Even if you hold that the pain involved in childbirth is something that affects women monthly, Adam's curse is a burden on him six days in every week and is much more debilitating.
Of course, the worse part of Eve's curse was the love (lust?) for men. Once again, people have tried to use this to elevate men's stature - saying that women are bound to men and therefore reliant on them. I don't really think it's a slight against women any more than it is against men. Think about it this way - men are so awful that God considered it a terrible curse to make women like them.
So gender roles were firmly established in the very beginning of the Bible. However, what people fail to take into account is that God did not hold us to these roles. What you have to realize is that, at that point, God's control was pretty much complete. His word was law. He said, "Let there be light," and there was. The curses were not commandments. He did not say, "This is the way that things should be," he said, "This is the way things are." However, he did not say that it was forever. God did not command us to teach these gender roles to our children any more than he commanded snakes to teach their children not to have legs. If it's at all possible not to follow these roles, it's only because God allowed that. It is not your place to say that women shouldn't hold jobs or should have to marry men. If a woman does not feel dependant upon men, then she obviously does not carry the same curse, because if she did, it would be unavoidable. We don't need to carry out our own curses. Putting the responsibility of conforming to gender roles on us is like giving a prisoner a whip and saying, "Here. Beat yourself with this."
I know I'm stepping on religious toes here, but going strictly by what the Bible says (rather than what people say about the Bible), we're not still even held accountable for Adam and Eve's sins. For transgressions against the State, children are not held accountable for their parent's actions (Deuteronomy 24:16), and for sins against God, children are held accountable for four generations (Exodus 34:7) (Yes, there is separation of Church and State in the Bible. Some people read these passages as contradictory, but they only are if you consider terrestrial justice the same as divine justice, which they clearly aren't, you stupid, stupid fucks.) So, although Adam and Eve were genetically altered by the curse and we may bear some marks from their sins in our DNA, the sin itself has long since been forgiven. So what is the point of baptism? Baptism is a method of absolving sins. It is not Christian in origin and was not intended for Christianity. Think about it - if Joshua of Nazareth was baptized, then the practice would have had to have been around before he was. It is not something that is specific to "original" sin. Once again, just think for a moment - there's a rigmarole about how Mary's conception was immaculate so that neither she nor her son were born with "original sin," so did that make Josh's baptism an empty gesture? No, because at the time, they didn't even believe that every child was born with Adam and Eve's sins on his head (having, you know, actually read the Torah), and that was not the purpose of baptism. It always bothers me when anyone says that any new ritual is necessary for salvation, especially baptism. If it's true that it's necessary to be baptized to go to Heaven, then why didn't God mention that in the Bible? Also, why did he wait centuries after Josh's death to tell someone to add that to the Church's sacrements? Do you honestly think God said to himself one day, "Hey, why is my Kingdom so empty? Whoops! I've been condemning souls to eternal damnation for millenia because I forgot to tell them how to absolve their sins! Boy, is my face red! Oh well. They'll figure it out eventually." As far as I'm concerned, it's fully demonstrable that baptism doesn't work anyway. Baptizing a woman does not prevent her from going into labour, baptizing a snake does not make it grow legs, and baptizing a rosebush only makes it grow more thorns.
Another story that people say is clearly against women and homosexuals is the story of Lot in Sodom. God sent two angels to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, unless they could find ten righteous people. The angels were guests in Lot's house when the residents of Sodom came by looking to anally rape (or "Sodomize") the angels. Lot said, "No! They're my guests! But I invite you to help yourself to my daughters..." When the Sodomites refused, the whole town was destroyed, but Lot and his family were spared. The reason why Lot's family was saved was because they had shown the angels hospitality. In the example of Lot offering his daughters to be raped instead of his guests, he had realized that someone was going to be raped, and he was so kind that he would rather it be the daughters that he loved and cared about than the men who were staying as his guests. Yes, it is an extreme example, but it was supposed to get a point across. So, did Lot do the right thing? Of course not, and I mean of fucking course not, you fucking dipshit. In case this wasn't made clear to you in Sunday School, THE BIBLE DOES NOT ADVOCATE RAPE! I mean, I know that in a story, someone was maybe going to be raped, and I can see how you might think that's an endorsement for rape, but maybe you should check out Deuteronomy 22:26, which says in no ambiguous terms that a woman should never be held accountable for rape (a very progressive idea at the time) and that rape is as bad as murder. (No, the Bible doesn't advocate murder, either.) So, if Lot didn't do the right thing, then how did he find favour with God? Well, you see, God liked him because he was kind and hospitable and tried his best to be a good person. Sure, in a desperate situation, he said something that ordinarily would not befit a righteous man, but God does not expect perfection of us. There is not a single example of a perfect person anywhere in the Bible. Being righteous does not mean doing the right thing all of the time. That's why I reject the stance that Sodom was destroyed because it was full of homosexuals. Some people say, "Well, they wanted to rape two men, but wouldn't settle for two women, so obviously the reason God wanted to destroy them was because they were gay..." at which point they usually get distracted by something shiny. To that I say, good point, you fucking idiot. First off, there is a huge difference between a loving relationship between two consenting men and anal rape. In fact, it would take a fantastically stupid person not to see that. Besides that, if whenever two strangers come into town your first instinct is anal rape, there are so many more things wrong with you than homosexuality. Even if homosexuality was sinful, if that's your only sin, God can overlook that. Time and again in the Bible, God forgives people their foibles when they try their best to be good people. Take Noah for example. He was a drunk, but God considered him righteous. Alcoholism ruins many more lives than homosexuality. Does God endorse alcoholism? No, but he was willing to look past that, as he looked past Lot's offer to allow his daughters to be raped, even though that doesn't make it any less of a horrible, horrible thing to do.
The next part of the Bible is often criticized for being too patrilinear. I think that's just trying too hard to be offended. I hate to burst your bubble, but the society at that time was really patriarchal, even moreso than it is now, and when telling a story from that period, you would have to stray really far from the actual events to keep it from reflecting the patriarchal nature of the setting. People take offense to the story of Rachel and Leah marrying Jacob, because in it, the women are manipulated and used like objects. Well, what the fuck do you expect, that they'd be burning their bras and saying, "No way, man pig!"? I'm sorry, but that was the way the world worked back then, and just because something sexist happened in a story that doesn't make the story sexist.
It's not as if, as some claim, all of the Old Testament heroes are men and there were no female role models. Take the story of Isaac and Rebecca for example. Sure, God blessed Isaac because he had made a promise to Abraham, but I don't think he ever really liked Isaac. Starting when Isaac was a child and God told Abraham to murder him as a joke, God jerked Isaac around quite a bit in his life. Rebecca, on the other hand, was chosen specially by God to mother the chosen people. God spoke to Rebecca and guided her. He blessed her favourite son over Isaac's favourite. Even though it was expected at the time that a woman would be subservient to a man's will and that a younger brother would be subservient to an older brother, Rebecca went against those mores to fulfill God's will. If that isn't empowering, then I don't know what is.