The views of humanity on so many things have been impacted by our ideas about God and about God’s desires that it’s hard to decide what other areas of life interaction to include on this list. The truth is, this exploration could take up an entire book. We’re not going to be that expansive. We’ll limit our survey to ten more subjects: Male and Female, Marriage, Sex, Homosexuality, Love, Money, Free Will, Suffering, Morality, and Death.
Let’s take a look at what our ancestors and our contemporary teachers have told us about the first two on this list today. Let’s see What God Wants.
MALE and FEMALE
Many humans have been told that What God Wants is for humanity to understand that God is male. The result is that most people who believe in a deity at all hold this to be true. The idea that God is masculine is so pervasive that it’s shocking to the ear to hear God referred to as “She.”
Many humans have also been told that God wants men and women to have particular roles and to be treated in particular ways in life, and that He has specified all of this in Holy Scripture.
One result of this teaching: Males are considered superior to females in nearly all of the world’s cultures. In some of those cultures this manifests as cultural norms that do not allow females to go to school, to hold jobs of authority or responsibility, to leave the home without being in the company of a blood male relative, or to permit any part of their body to be seen in public, requiring them to be covered from head to toe.
A woman’s testimony at Court is worth half of that of a man’s—meaning that it requires two female witnesses to meet the test of adequate proof. A woman’s testimony regarding a husband’s beatings, cruelty, or infidelity will go ignored unless she can produce a corroborating witness, whereas a man can send his wife to death by stoning by simply stating that she committed adultery. His singular assertion is sufficient.
A woman’s share of any inheritance is also accepted as being half of that of her brother. The logic behind this is that a man is financially responsible for his family, while a woman is not. This is the identical logic that, in other cultures, blocks women from earning the same pay as men for doing the same work. The fact that a man may remain unmarried all his life and wind up not having a family, or that many women become widows, or that women would not and should not have to concede this role to a man if she were treated equally, is, of course, ignored by this logic.
In some male-dominant cultures female’s genitals are mutilated, cut and sewn, in order to deprive them of sexual pleasure and thus reduce the temptation they may feel to engage in sexual encounters other than those demanded by their husbands. In some cases this is seen as a rite of passage rendering female children desirable, suitable, and worthy marriage material.
Other cultural norms reflecting extreme bias against females include the custom of blocking women from becoming clergy in many religions or rising to power and authority in any civil, legal, or business enterprise, or holding any major leadership position in politics or government.
A handful of women in some cultures have overcome these customs (in many cultures they are still not allowed to even try), but always it’s a struggle, always it’s the notable exception, always it’s a steep uphill climb to be accepted in most high profile occupations or powerful or influential roles within the global society.
Katrina Brooks, of Rome, Georgia, U.S.A., knows all about that. According to an account written by Louise Chu for The Associated Press on September 25, 2004, Katrina is a member of the Southern Baptist Church who felt a calling and wanted to become a minister. She enrolled in the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond, Virginia, then found a church that would accept both her and her husband, Dr. Tony Brooks, who was already ordained, as co-pastors. North Rome Baptist Church in Rome, Georgia invited the couple to lead its congregation in November of 2003.
Not everyone was pleased.
A revision of the Baptist Faith and Message in 2000 takes a hard line on female pastors, the AP’s Louise Chu reports. The denomination’s chief doctrinal statement says that “the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture,” citing the Bible at 1 Timothy 2:11-14. That passage reads, “Let a woman learn in silence in all submissiveness. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men; she is to keep silent.”
Two weeks after Katrina and her husband arrived at their new church several of her fellow clergy (all men) called meetings of the Floyd County Baptist Association to discuss the matter. They wanted the association to adopt a position that would, in effect, force the Rome church to leave the association.
This difference in the treatment of the genders is, many of the world’s people believe, What God Wants. After all, the Bible says so. And so do the Scriptures of other religions.
Many humans have been told that What God Wants is for marriage to be an everlasting union between a man and a woman, for better or for worse, for the purpose of propagating the species and maintaining a civil society organized into family units, which supports God’s agenda for humanity.
One result of this teaching: In most religious cultures ending a marriage for whatever reason, including mental or physical cruelty, is deeply discouraged, and one major religion tells its followers that they may never divorce, may never remarry in the church nor receive the church’s sacraments if they do divorce, and may never marry another person who has been divorced.
In many places and cultures marriage rules are established by religion, then become civil law, limiting and constricting the behavior of marriage partners—and those limits remain in place for life. Chief among those limits is what humans call “fidelity.” Human beings living in marriage must remain faithful to each other. That is, they may not have sexual experiences with anyone else for the rest of their lives—not as a matter of personal devotion or sacred agreement, but as a matter of civil law.
This should not be surprising, since, as has just been noted, prohibitions against many kinds of private sexual activity have been placed in the common culture by religions. According to their accounts of What God Wants, human beings may not have sex with anyone outside of marriage, with anyone prior to marriage, and, therefore, should they never marry, at no time during their entire lives.
This is the expectation, and humans are told that the breaking of this taboo can lead to severe punishments, from God and from the social environment.
As a result, marriage is entered into by many young people around the world who are neither ready for such a commitment nor sufficiently mature for the responsibilities attached to it, but who are unwilling to endure any longer the prohibition against sexual experience.
The idea of male supremacy, drawn from the concept of God as male, has a major effect in many marriage scenarios. In some cultures marriage is considered a form of ownership and servitude, with the woman being the owned object—actually paid for with a dowry—and the male being the person served. Even in cultures with less extreme views a wife is expected to be “obedient” to her husband, and to be subservient to him in every way. The man is “the head of the household.”
This is, many people believe, What God Wants.
© 2019 ReCreation Foundation - http://www.cwg.org - Neale Donald Walsch is a modern day spiritual messenger whose words continue to touch the world in profound ways. His With God series of books has been translated into 27 languages, touching millions of lives and inspiring important changes in their day-to-day lives.