Christianity’s Contribution to Women

by | Jul 20, 2003

American women were baptized into the workforce decades ago. Today they’re running their own businesses, launching their own product lines, are managers, directors, VPs and CEOs. That’s why the recent Southern Baptist Convention’s in-fight over the issue of women in the workplace is laughable. What’s next – debate over whether the earth is round? In […]

American women were baptized into the workforce decades ago. Today they’re running their own businesses, launching their own product lines, are managers, directors, VPs and CEOs. That’s why the recent Southern Baptist Convention’s in-fight over the issue of women in the workplace is laughable. What’s next – debate over whether the earth is round?

In recent op-eds appearing in “The Tennessean,” for example, two Christians vented opposing views of the Baptist flap. Each cites scripture supporting his position, each says the other’s interpretation is wrong. Imagine that. Two folks reading the same Bible and drawing different conclusions. Somebody call “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!”

Bible-babble aside, what exactly is Christianity’s legacy to women in the workplace and at home? Well, thanks to religion teaching people to eschew the material world, the “home” where women worked throughout most of Christianity’s bleak history was a mud hut.

Today, due to our secular profit-system – which Christians benefit from while simultaneously criticizing – homes are gadget-filled comfort zones, workplaces computerized offices.

This progress came about not because of religion’s influence, but despite it – Christianity kicked and screamed the whole way.

For instance, as industrialization began curing ills supernaturalism had wrought – illiteracy, famines, abject poverty – and families poured into factory towns for a better life, the clergy pitched a fit. Cities, they howled, are “wicked,” factories “satanic,” machines “infernal,” money-making “materialistic.”

Later when science delivered mankind disease inoculation, Christian leaders were right there condemning it. For example, in 1772 the Rev. Edward Massey published his sermon berating the practice as “endeavoring to baffle Divine judgment.” Vaccinations, the pious said, are “diabolical operations,” for diseases “are sent by Providence for the punishment of sin” and thus shouldn’t be impeded.

But Christianity’s sanction of suffering doesn’t end there. When physicians discovered chloroform dims childbirth pain, pulpits reverberated with disapproval. Preachers reminded flocks of God’s punishment for Eve’s fruit-nibbling transgression: “In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children.” Circumventing “holy writ” with anesthesia, therefore, is immoral.

When birth-control pills hit, religionists squealed to high heaven. Even now the Catholic Church and some Protestant groups oppose contraception. As one theologian put it, any “attempt to gain control over procreation

Wayne Dunn writes about political and cultural events from an Objectivist perspective.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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