The real definition of a godly woman

March 13, 2007 at 3:52 pm 106 comments

Praying WomanSince I grew up in a very conservative Christian home, I know full well how the Bible Belt would define a godly woman. She would submit to her husband, she would meekly obey her husband and she would take care of the kids and the house without complaint. That is what their holy book demands.

However, if you ask me, that version of a godly woman is dated and sexist. Therefore, I think it is high time to revise that stale definition of a godly woman and to make it something that is far more gender equitable.

As a Christian, I struggled with wrapping my mind around the injustices meted out to women by holy books written eons ago. It is bad enough that little girls must hear how evil they are because some fictitious woman ate an apple long ago in a far away place, but it is even worse when normal biological occurrences, like painful labor during birth, is attributed to the curse of being a woman.

In the spirit of the new rise of gender equality that is spreading around the world through the UN’s new efforts to help women gain ground in politics, business and education, it can be easily concluded that before any of these other areas experience real change, an important area that must change is religion.

So what would a godly woman look like in the 21st century?

I do not believe for one second that any individual is on this earth for sole purpose of serving another person – as the world’s current holy books have decreed. Women should not degrade and restrict themselves by submitting to such debasing teachings as those put forth by these ancient texts, which are still practiced in the 21st century.

Both men and women should reach as far as possible intellectually in a joint effort to accomplish the utmost for mankind. Both male and female should function at full capacity at all times and work together without regard to gender by acknowledging the separate strengths of each gender.

With this in mind, a godly woman would be educated as much as possible, operating at optimum capacity without any social or political restraints to hold her back and would never, never, never submit her will to a man just because he requires it of her.

A godly woman would expect her spouse to equally share household chores if she chose to work outside of the house. She would make sure to help with those chores if she chose to work fulltime outside of the home and the man was the primary caregiver for the children. Likewise, she would require the same in a reversed role.

A godly woman would be quick to speak against sexism and she would never tolerate a man who abused her or her children physically, sexually, emotionally or mentally. A godly woman would be in full control of her body, including her sexuality and reproduction rights.

Of course, a godly woman would also gladly help others when it is within her power. She would freely dole out a perfect mix of compassion and wise counsel.

A godly woman would accomplish as much as she wanted, she would reach as far as she could reach and she would never feel guilty for being successful and intelligent. She owns her own properties, runs her own businesses and manages her own finances if she so chooses.

What is a godly woman? She is the quick-thinking lady who does not shy away from telling Bible-thumpers and Koran-pushers that she is her own woman and she refuses to succumb to the dated and sexist teaching of their holy books. Anything less would be a sin.

– by Stellar1

Entry filed under: Stellar1. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , .

Christians do not believe in the God of the Bible Enough with the bigotry against gays!

106 Comments Add your own

  • 1. John  |  March 22, 2007 at 3:58 pm

    Stellar, from my limited point of view, i have no issue with your definition of a Godly woman. you are correcting in saying the Bible calls women to submit to me, but it also calls men to care for their wives. ultimately you have a couple who is working together to acheive everything God calls them to do. to have a woman who submits to a man without a man who serves his wife, you have something that is not the biblical ideal of marriage. it’s what many call an unequally yoked marriage.

  • 2.  |  April 2, 2007 at 8:24 pm

    […] […] An atheist’s definition of a godly woman […] […]

  • 3. grizelda3  |  April 7, 2007 at 2:14 pm

    Too bad the ideas in this post aren’t a part of any religious canon. Xenophobia will never be addressed until we stop hating our own wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters.
    Thank you for this thoughtful post, Stellar1.

  • 4. Anonymous  |  July 16, 2007 at 8:06 pm

    I can’t believe what I am reading. What you are saying is very selfish in it self. Have you ever read the bible God took a rib from Adam to make a women named Eve. I believe the whole reason we are here is to assist, also it takes a humble person to deny themselve. There is nothing wrong with that. I believe one of are biggest problems today in marriage is because of things you are talking about.

  • 5. Thinking Ape  |  July 16, 2007 at 10:03 pm

    “I believe one of are biggest problems today in marriage is because of things you are talking about.”

    Yes, a marriage is always easier when one person submits to another. Less conflicts that way – in fact, we should apply that to our governments again as well (feudalism is fun!). I am sure this is why divorce rates are higher among conservative Christians than any other religious or non-religious group.

    I admit I love when the Biblical pseudo-literalist grasps for the husband must care for wife, as if that is some sort of equality statement or even remotely progressive (even for their time). The Qur’an speaks about women as favourably as the Bible – but it is so nice to women that it allows for men to “take care of” more than one woman. Maybe we need to take the “white” off of Kipling’s “White Man’s Burden” for a more biblical perspective.

  • 6. Anonymous  |  December 3, 2007 at 7:16 pm

    before the fall man and women where one. after Adam blamed god for giving him eve and not taking responsibility for is action. the oneness broke between Adam and his wife. Imagine the broken heart eve had when her husband said what he said.back in genis it is says seed of the women will bruise the snake meaning saten. the father was talking about how he would defeat saten through a women meaning Jesus came from a women. I believe that when we read the bible we should take not only this into account but the time, history and culture at the time.
    it says in the bible we are all equal, we all have different qualities and gift. But we must remember that the masculinity we see is not the one god created it became fallen masculinity and as well a fallen femininity
    I hope this makes sence

  • 7. Anonymous  |  December 3, 2007 at 7:22 pm

    Saten has a special hatred for women. because it was the seed of a women that defeat him. that why is so many culture even today the oppression of women still exist. Even our society make us believe that femininity is negative. but if there no femininity what happens to out children. it the heart of Femininity that nurtures are children in to life. it puts a container into the heart of a child so they can receive and give love away.

  • 8. jg  |  March 10, 2008 at 10:11 pm

    You make some very sympathetic points…. and its easy to feel bad for women who are subjected to this ‘caveman’ type treatment that you say the Bible demands.. However, as a Christian, its our responsibility to live as the Bible lays out. The world will try to put these ‘feelings’ of injustice and equality in your head and it seems like its getting to you…..

    If you can provide scripture that backs up your points…I would be interested in seeing them. If you can’t, I think you’re purposefully disobeying God, and resisting his Word.

  • 9. Thinking Ape  |  March 10, 2008 at 10:57 pm

    jg states,

    However, as a Christian, its our responsibility to live as the Bible lays out.

    As a human being, it is our responsibility to treat ourselves as we ourselves would be treated. That said, how do you, jg, treat your slaves?

  • 10. The de-Convert  |  March 11, 2008 at 8:12 am


    There are no scriptures that support Stella’s point. I think that was the point of her post.

    The reality is, these are the types of scriptures that are in the Bible:

    So, if you’re looking for Biblical support for treating women as equals, you pretty much have to ignore those scriptures (which many do). Of course, this is the same methodology Christians have to use to say that God is “compassionate, kind, and merciful” when the Bible clearly shows he’s not: see


  • 11. ED  |  March 11, 2008 at 9:34 am

    The biblical definition of a godly woman is, “Property.” She is listed in the ten commandments just ahead of a toaster. If a woman is raped she is to be killed because of the shame she has brought on her husband.

    Is the bible sexist? No, it is pure evil when it comes to the treatment of women. If you are looking for a biblical definition of a godly woman, she is a slave with no rights. The new testament does at least say that husbands should love their wives. WOW, wasn’t Paul a great guy. He also said that owners of slaves should not beat their slaves to the point of putting out their eyes or breaking their teeth. Very Generous.

  • 12. Mike Clawson  |  March 11, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    The organization Christians for Biblical Equality provides an alternative view to the belief that the Bible endorses male domination. They have many helpful resources at their site.

  • 13. J  |  April 7, 2008 at 10:53 am

    It’s amazing to me that people can misunderstand and be so against God’s Word-it doesn’t surprise me though-it’s fast becoming nothing surprises me anymore-no matter how absurd. God’s Word is righteous and good…Christianity is about loving others and obeying God, not obeying ourselves or what is popular. I’m not saying there isn’t a penalty for sin, there is…and that’s where our choices come into it. Why obey God and His ‘outdated’ commandments? Because in the end, it’s what is good for you, the people you love, and anyone you may come in contact with–and it will never be outdated. Becuase if you believe in God and the Bible and in the work Jesus did for us to save us from our sins, then you will want to show God you love Him by obeying Him. If one has a hard heart towards God and a secular view, one will not understand…God’s ways will seem foolish to them. Women are extremely important…they are to use their God given skills to first serve God, then make a good marriage, home, and raise their children…REAL women are in charge of something much more important than a career…they are in charge of their family, the molding of their children…the legacy of their family…to a large part where their children will spend eternity…HARD, TOUGH WORK. Wives and mothers should be cherished, loved, and commended. A lot of it is in a woman’s values, priorities, and perspecitves.

  • 14. LeoPardus  |  April 7, 2008 at 11:27 am

    What we need is a banner at the top that say, “Don’t post here until you’ve read enough to have some idea who we are.”

    We are all former Christians here. Many of us were pastors, Bible study leaders, apologists, students of theology, and the like. Look in the archives for “So who are the decons anyway” to get a fuller idea.

    So you’re coming in here spouting the bromides we’ve heard 1000’s of times isn’t going to get you anything but dismissed as a big mouth. Try asking why we believe as we do. Try learning and getting to know and understanding. Because preaching is NOT going to get you anywhere.

  • 15. steph  |  April 7, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    hi. i think this is my first post here, but i’m a regular visitor… 🙂

    anyway, the whole idea that a woman’s role is to be in submission to her husband is based on the belief in original sin – that adam and eve actually existed and that eve did, in fact, sin first. that’s what is alluded to whenever the supposed subordinate role of women is mentioned in the bible. eve sinned first so now and forevermore women are automatically demoted to a place below men.

    however, if the garden of eden never happened and humans evolved to be male or female based on unbiased chromosomes that have no ulterior motives, then the whole argument falls apart. every reference to the role of women holds absolutely no water because the very foundation for this belief is false. it all amounts to just another creation myth (among many) and is used as yet another way to keep women “in their place”.

    i’m tired of reading responses by christians that reference original sin in any capacity because no garden of eden = no adam and eve = no original sin. no eve sinned first, so all women are evil and weak and lesser-than. a person’s gender is arbitrary. no roles. just people.

  • 16. bitter old maid  |  April 8, 2008 at 11:31 am

    J’s vision of women is the kind of off-putting rhetoric that leaves me feeling alienated from the church. With that philosophy of the “good wife and mother” in place, a single, childless woman such as myself is very devalued. You should see the “well what the hell do we do with you” attitude I encounter when visiting a church and they find out I have no family. I guess I could always teach sunday school–influence my pseudo-kids– and attend the “seeker’s class” looking for that man to complete my life. The only time I’ve ever felt as “useless” is when I lived in a predominantly Islamic society.

  • 17. karen  |  April 8, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    You should see the “well what the hell do we do with you” attitude I encounter when visiting a church and they find out I have no family. I guess I could always teach sunday school–influence my pseudo-kids– and attend the “seeker’s class” looking for that man to complete my life. The only time I’ve ever felt as “useless” is when I lived in a predominantly Islamic society.

    I’m so sorry you get treated like this.

    I understand what you mean, and I saw single women very much devalued in the churches I used to attend (I’m now an agnostic atheist).

    I recall that the most “acceptable” roles for single women of a certain age were limited to missionary and sunday school teacher. The idea that a woman could be powerful on her own, and career-minded, was very alien to church culture.

  • 18. LeoPardus  |  April 8, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    I noted the inability of most Protestant churches to figure out what to do with single people. They had little enough for single men and were really out to sea when it came to single women. Once again, I get to do an “ad” for the EOC.

    The EOC just isn’t put out by single people. There’s no pressure to get married because the EOC views singleness as being at least as valuable as “marriedness”. In fact there are quite a number of EOC folks who rate singleness higher.

    Single people not only can do anything married people can do, but they also can become monastics. That may not sound like much, but in the EOC monastics are treated like celebrities.

    The screwed up, incomplete view of singles and women is just one more piece of the overall picture of bankruptcy that drove us out of the P church.

  • 19. bitter old maid  |  April 8, 2008 at 2:20 pm

    I visited an EOC church with a friend when in college. Perhaps I’ll give it a try again….unless I decide to write off church-going all together…which is how I’m currently leaning….for more reasons than just the treatment of single adult females, of course. I’m gradually becoming more and more agnostic, and I find it to be a heart-breaking experience. I appreciate the openness on this website.

  • 20. Quester  |  April 8, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    I went to a Roman Catholic discernment weekend once, where a woman got up and presented on the vocation of being single. She wasn’t planning on becoming a nun. She wasn’t planning on becoming married. She spoke quite eloquently on being “called to be single” as a third vocation.

  • 21. LeoPardus  |  April 8, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    Old Maid:

    Visit an EOC if you like. I’d strongly suggest you do a bit of reading first. At the very least read the pamphlet “12 Things I Wish I’d Known before my First Visit to an Orthodox Church” by Frederica Matthewes-Green. The EOC is like an alien planet to almost any Protestant.

    Of course as you’re headed to agnosticism, the EOC would only be a curiosity. I’m only still there because my family believes and there are good friends there.

  • 22. The Apostate  |  April 8, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    The screwed up, incomplete view of singles and women is just one more piece of the overall picture of bankruptcy that drove us out of the P church.

    But hasn’t there always been a screwed up view of “singleness” and “marriedness” in Christianity, even from the beginning? One doesn’t get too far in to the gospels or into Paul to see that married life was hardly an elevated Christian status. Jesus, according to the Gospels, repeatedly stressed the importance of the Kingdom of God over the family, and Paul, well… is Paul (I mean, if you really satisfy that burning passion, go get married, otherwise…). The view of matrimony in the Christian church has certainly had its ups and downs, but it is certainly one of the places where fundamentalists have purposely ignored the scriptures.

  • 23. LeoPardus  |  April 8, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    But hasn’t there always been a screwed up view of “singleness” and “marriedness” in Christianity, even from the beginning?

    I can’t really say. I know some of the things that Jesus and Paul say in the NT that you’re referring to. It’s hard to know how to take them. I mean who knows when they may have been speaking to a particular audience, or hyperbolically, or allegorically, or out of their arses?

    But to be sure, religions usually seem to produce screwed up views of marriage, singleness, sex, family, etc.

    The EOC seems to have one of the better balanced views today, but that seems to be an evolved view, not one they started with centuries ago. And even within the EOC there are those with skewed views.

  • 24. karen  |  April 8, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    unless I decide to write off church-going all together…which is how I’m currently leaning….for more reasons than just the treatment of single adult females, of course. I’m gradually becoming more and more agnostic, and I find it to be a heart-breaking experience.

    Yes. We know what you’re talking about, I think. All of us here have gone through that heartbreak, to some degree or other.

    Your deconversion (if it comes to that) is definitely something you have to come to on your own, but please do feel free to read some of our stories and pose questions if we can help you sort anything out.

  • 25. George  |  April 8, 2008 at 10:24 pm

    Oh wow… you guys are truly clueless. I don’t know what kind of messed up churches you have been a part of, but it’s time to bring some real light to the situation.

    I’ll show this post to my wife… we’ll see what she has to say.

  • 26. The Apostate  |  April 9, 2008 at 11:37 am

    George, please, think before you write. Read the comments, they might help you.

  • 27. Anonymous  |  October 27, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    this is ridiculous!! your an idiot and you dont understand god at all!

  • 28. Blue  |  November 3, 2008 at 9:56 pm

    Right on. I’ve always been appalled how Christianity treats women.

  • 29. Chris  |  November 20, 2008 at 5:58 pm

    I really feel your pain…I really do…I am currently a student minister who deals with this sort of issue on a daily basis. I understand many of your points and I realize how ridiculous the “church” has been for so long…I’m even talking centuries here….the church of the Bible is nothing like the church you see today…the thing is if you stand back and look around and see the complexity of how things are made, it would take more faith for me to believe in a “big bang theory or monkey evolution” than to just say “hey there is a God”…whether that is the Christian God, Muslim god, Greek gods…whatever….

    If those of you who say you used to be pastors but now aren’t…I ask you why you believed before and have you checked out the extra-biblical evidence that supports the fact that Christianity isn’t a lie…

    This is the first time that I have seen this site, but one thing that I do see as I read through your comments is that this site, as I see it, is sort of a vent session where everyone’s mind is made up and no matter what it written….there will always be those who harshly criticize and actually make themselves look ignorant and stubborn…

    I will say this to those women who feel like the church has single them out or alienated them….please check our Psalm 31 and other verses in Ephesians read what God thinks of or views a woman to be…the thing is that men have not done their part for so long which makes those verses impossible for some….after reading those verses think of what type of man it would take for a woman to be what those verses describe her to be…which is equal and honored despite differing roles…

    Thank you for allowing me to express my views…have a good day. Chris

  • 30. Josh  |  November 20, 2008 at 6:25 pm

    “it would take more faith for me to believe in a “big bang theory or monkey evolution” than to just say “hey there is a God”…whether that is the Christian God, Muslim god, Greek gods…whatever….”

    I completely agree. When one does not understand something the gap must be filled with faith – or agnosticism (“I don’t know”). If you seriously want answers filling the gap with faith is the best way to go.

    I would highly recommend doing some research on evolution – from a serous evolutionary perspective. As the puzzle pieces fall into place there is less and less need for faith to “believe” the ToE. At this point knowledge turns into serious understanding and faith is needed less and less. The more you study the more you will realize that it does not take faith to believe evolution, it just takes understanding.

  • 31. Josh  |  November 20, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    “If you seriously want answers filling the gap with faith is the best way to go.”

    Should be rephrased:

    “If you seriously want answers without much data filling the gap with faith is the best way to go.”

    As Sherlock Holmes has often said, the mind needs data to work upon. Until that data is obtained, it is all speculation and a spinning of the gears of the mind.

  • 32. LeoPardus  |  November 20, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    If Chris isn’t another Chick tract drive by, I’m sure we’ll all take our favorite parts of her errors and work on them. For now.

    BTW Chris.. methinks you meant to recommend Proverbs 31 not Psalm 31.

  • 33. Rover  |  November 20, 2008 at 9:28 pm


    I particularly enjoy Exodus 21.

  • 34. Christina Karlson  |  February 8, 2009 at 11:57 pm

    You say you are a Christian; which by the way means follower of Christ, yet you say “their Holy Book”. Logic would only submit that if you are a follower of Christ you read HIS HOLY BOOK and are not succommbed to your own ideologies of humanism and pagan belief. IF you were true to your own self you would call yourself a humanist for you follow your own views. Therefore you have no earthly idea and I mean that literally of what a GODLY woman is.

  • 35. stellar1  |  February 9, 2009 at 7:21 am


    I said that I grew up as a religious person, but at the time this post was written, I was well on my way out of the church. You are right that my views are very humanistic now. However, make not mistake that I spent over 35 years in the church and the ministry – so I do have a right to my opinion of what a godly woman should look like.

    You may not like my definition of a godly woman, but it is far better than the definition proffered by most churches.

  • 36. Hannah Beth  |  November 20, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    You have absolutely no scripture to back up what you believe. I don’t know about you, but I tremble at the idea of daring to tell God, the creator of the universe, my own fallible definition of what a godly women should be. If we are to be connected with his name, “godly” then I will not dare try to define it, but accept what he has laid out for me in his perfect word. Just remember this, it takes a whole more courage and strength to be humble and meek then it does to be foolish and arrogant. Pride is the easy way out, but humility is a real test of character. That doesn’t mean we have to wimpy and pathetic.

    Ecc. 5:2 “Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty with your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. As dreams come when there are many cares, so the speech of a fool when there are many words.”

    Make sure you are not found foolish before the Almighty today sister.

  • 37. LeoPardus  |  November 20, 2009 at 1:02 pm


    Why the HELL don’t you and so many other idiots even bother to read the BIG frikkin title at the very TOP of the page to see where you are and maybe get some idea who you are talking to?

    Fuckin’ drive by’s

  • 38. CheezChoc  |  November 20, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    Hannah, it will be a fine day when you and yours actually pay attention and do some critical thinking for a change.

  • 39. Quester  |  November 20, 2009 at 3:05 pm


    What in your comment was humble or meek, or are you trying to be an example of the arrogant foolishness we should avoid?

  • 40. peridot  |  November 21, 2009 at 2:39 am

    Regarding drive-by’s like Hannah . . .

    I know this has been brought up before, but I’d like to see the red exclamation put in a more prominent place. As annoying as these Hannah types are, it is a fact that the blog articles and the comment form are front and center, in people’s faces almost, but the article that we’d like the prosletizers to read before posting is easy to miss at first. When I first found this site, I remember that I did a lot of looking around and lurking before I found the red exclammation and what it points to.

    Ideally, I think it should be part of the comment form. Where it says “Leave a Comment” or near the Submit button, if we could add “Christian posters please read this before posting” and provide the link. That would make it almost impossible to miss.

  • 41. DSimon  |  November 21, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    I agree with peridot, even to the point of saying (for hopefully the only time in this programmer’s life) that this might be a good use of blinking text, provided that the text does not blink for repeat commenters.

  • 42. SnugglyBuffalo  |  November 23, 2009 at 7:32 pm

    What if we put the exclamation point by the comment box, and then put a checkbox by the submit button that says “I have read the ‘Attention Christian Readers’ posts” and it won’t let you submit without checking it? That way we can be certain that anyone who posts drivel that ignores those posts is truly ignoring them (either reading them and ignoring them, or not bothering to read them despite our requests), and isn’t just ignorant of them.

  • 43. LeoPardus  |  November 24, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    Agreed. Put the big, red exclamation post up at the top of everything.

  • 44. Patsy  |  May 28, 2010 at 10:36 am

    The old testement does give us some very strick guidelines for what the roles of men and women were in that time. With the birth of Jesus some things and ideas changed. Woman was no longer total submissive to her husband. They now became help MATES and partners in the family. The husband is still the head of the household and is responsible for caring and religious teaching in the family. But if the woman is always walking behine the husband, who does he have to lien on when times are tough. The womans roll would be to try to catch him if he falls and not be the help mate Jesus teaches us that we are to be. You can be an individual as well as a wife and partner to you husband. No longer do women have to do “what they are told” just because her husband says so. We are to lovingly and prayerfully attack problems as one..together. There should alway be a “trinity” in your marriage….husband, wife and Christ. If we approach our day to day lives and face our problems working and praying together there would be fewer divorces in this land. We have to respect the view point of both partners but can still be individules. I believe if Jesus had ever been married, he would was the dishes, sweep the floors and help his wife out because he had a servents heart.

  • 45. Ubi Dubium  |  May 28, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    Patsy, if you are not a drive-by preacher, please go read the post linked at the Big Red Exclamation Point to the right of this page. Please take a moment to understand who your audience is before making any more posts. And use spell-check please.

  • 46. Eve's Apple  |  May 28, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    Patsy, I agree with Ubi about the spell-check. It may seem like a small thing to you, but if you are going to communicate via writing, then it is absolutely essential that you learn the rules of how to communicate in writing. That means spelling and grammar.

    You may not realize it, but by not taking the time to learn how to communicate properly, you greatly weaken whatever argument you have. The people who translated the King James Bible had such respect for the power of written English that they produced a masterpiece. Shouldn’t you, as a Christian, have no less respect?

    Because otherwise you come across as uneducated and semi-literate. Many of us de-cons are highly educated and literate and we find it rather insulting to be preached to by someone who hasn’t bothered to learn the basics. When I read something written by a Christian that is filled with grammatical errors and misspellings, my first reaction is, is this person intelligent enough/educated enough to even understand any reply I might make? Do you understand what I am saying here?

    So if you truly want to reach out to us, I am serious, learn how to read and write proper English. You still may not change our minds, but it will greatly improve the odds of us taking you seriously, (And it may even help you in your career).

  • 47. CheezChoc  |  May 29, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    Sorry to go OT for a second…
    Eve, could you come to my classes and impart this info to my college students? They seem to think that grammar is meaningless and that we should all spell everything any way we want to, using IM or textspeak abbreviations at all times.


  • 48. Anonymous  |  May 29, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    @ cheeschoc LOL.

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

  • 49. Eve's Apple  |  May 30, 2010 at 9:37 am

    Cheeschoc, I’d love to, but I’m afraid it wouldn’t do any good. After all, they know everything. 🙂

    Anyway this discussion reminds me of back in the 1970’s when feminism was just getting started and Christian leaders were going through contortions trying to make traditional Biblical teaching attractive to women. For those of you too young to remember (and this includes you Christian drive-bys), all of a sudden we were all told that “submission” did not mean what it had been historically considered to mean for centuries but actually meant something else. I remember thinking to myself, how can that be?

    Of course, for anyone who has read their Orwell, it is very obvious how that can be. And another very good reason why it is absolutely imperative that people know their language and how to use it. The other women in my “home church” might have been fooled, but I was not fooled, and in the end I broke with them over this issue. Language is important, people!

  • 50. Sarah  |  May 30, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    Eve’s Apple,

    I come from a fundamentalist church background that teaches submission and headship. I am struggling with the (ridiculous) pressure that I need to choose between being a submissive woman or a wiccan lesbian who endorses the killing of babies. (I am friends with both a wiccan and a lesbian and neither would ever wish to harm a child, but in my inherited imagery they are connected)

    It seems that you have overcome this identity crisis. Can you help! I want support in that choosing autonomy or authority does not make me rebellious and evil. Logic only goes so far in refuting emotionally charged teachings. How did you escape your “home church” teachings?

  • 51. Eve's Apple  |  May 30, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    How did I escape my “home church” teachings? Well, I was around 16 or 17 at the time, so I was still living at home. Initially they approved of my participation even though they themselves did not belong to that church because they figured what harm could it do? You have to understand that at that time the sex and drug revolutions were also getting underway, so this group represented a safe haven for a confused, lonely teen.

    How I managed to break away was this: because I was still living at home and going to a public high school, I was not as able to completely immerse myself into the group’s mindset as I might have had things been different. So I was constantly being exposed to other ideas, even though I was trying very hard to live in a “Christian” bubble. I am also, by nature, a very independent person and very curious about life, so I can well understand the struggle that you are going through. One of the group’s leader’s favorite sayings was “Rebellion is from the evil one.” Since both this group and my home church (Catholic) taught pretty much the same thing about Satan wishing to steal souls from God anyway he can, there really wasn’t much of a defense I could offer. I do remember thinking, however, that it was rather ironic that we live in a country (the US) that was formed out of rebellion–so does that mean that the colonists who wished to break away from England were under the influence of Satan? But I never asked that.

    The break with the group came when my parents, concerned with my falling grades, forbade me to attend for a while. When I was allowed to return after about a six week period, I was informed by one of the “brothers” that the “sisters’ were no longer allowed to share in mixed meeting, as stated in Corinthians. This was only the latest in a long list of restrictions–starting with headscarves! (yes, headscarves!)–that had been gradually placed upon the women of the group. (Ah, but “submission” doesn’t mean all those awful nasty things that the world says it does). So what did the “sisters” have to say about that, I asked him. Did you ask them? Oh, no, it wasn’t necessary, after all we are talking about the Word of God here and he rattled off the verse. I said, “Doesn’t Galatians also say that in Christ Jesus there is no male or female? But you are saying that because I have a vagina and not a penis, whatever I may have to contribute is of no importance.” He was quite visibly shocked. I said, “Then you are making Galatians a lie, and I do not wish to be part of this group any more.” You see, those six weeks away had done a lot to break the spell. It was the injustice and arrogance of not even bothering to consult the “sisters” over a decision that affected them that did it.

    Sarah, all I can say is that it is not easy. You may have to force yourself to get out in the world. For me the answer was to read widely and well. Expose yourself to ideas that are different from what you have inherited. Above all, think, think, think! Examine what you have inherited, keep the good, and discard the bad. Have confidence in YOU. I wish you success.

  • 52. Sarah  |  May 31, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    Yes, my group uses ‘headcoverings’ (hats, scarves and doilies). The other women I have talked to exclaimed they were grateful that by wearing them they were permitted to pray and prophesy in public (but never teach). Also, that they felt closer to God in that they weren’t rebelling against the authorities by going bareheaded.

    All my life I’ve been told to obey authority and listen to what the elders say because they were speaking by the Holy Spirit. Har to argue with “Thus saith the Lord…”

    So, I guess my next question is, where does authority come from to decide what is right and wrong? If well-meaning people can be so wrong, and I can be completely wrong, where does that confidence come from? Or is the best answer just to try something and accept the fact you may be delusional?

    Thank-you for sharing your story. It helps to hear that I am not the only one with objections to the teachings of a godly woman.

  • 53. Eve's Apple  |  May 31, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    Yes, it is hard to argue with “Thus saith the Lord.” But you are hearing it come out of human mouths and not from God. So why is it that others can speak by the Holy Spirit and not you?

    Now here is something to think about. Where does it say in the New Testament that if you are dissatisfied with the existing church, or that you feel that it has fallen in error, that you are free to leave it and start your own independent denomination? One that is not accountable to anyone else? The only church that the New Testament recognizes as “legitimate” are those that were founded either by Paul or one of the Twelve Apostles and under the leadership of the Council of Jerusalem. When Paul talks about “false doctrines” and “false teachers” he means anyone who is NOT part of this group. However, since the Protestant Reformation, anyone anywhere can pick up a Bible and start a church and call it the only true church. And they don’t see anything unscriptural about it.

    The point I am making is, according to scripture, do these elders have legitimate authority? And if so, where did they get it from? The way I understand it, if the original church was allowed to fall into such serious error for so long that it was no longer recognizable and therefore a fresh start had to be made (the position of the Protestant Reformation), then what does it mean when Jesus said he would send the Holy Spirit to guide the church in all things? The Reformation began in the 1500’s. If you accept that the church was founded in the first century, then at what point did things go wrong and why did it take until the 1500’s to set things straight? To make matters worse, none of the Reformers agreed with themselves on what was correct doctrine. So which is the true church? Does it even exist anymore? And if it doesn’t–which appears to be the case–then what about the Holy Spirit? You raise some very good questions. Where does that authority come from?

    I do not have any definitive answers, only to say, know thyself and use common sense. Yes, when all else fails, trying something and accepting the fact that you might be delusional may be the only course. We don’t know. None of us knows. I used to be cowed by men of religion until I realized that they don’t have any more knowledge of God than I do. They might know the Bible better, they might have studied the ancient languages better, but when it comes right down to it, there is no magic pipeline that they have and you and I don’t.

    I feel very sorry for the women in your church if they are grateful for being allowed so little. They don’t realize that unless they stand up for themselves, even that little may be in danger of being taken away. Because once you start with the restrictions, it is only a matter of time before someone finds something else in Scripture to take away. The very fact that Scripture says it is a “disgrace” for a woman to pray with her head uncovered or even cut her hair should give one pause. What is the basis behind this statement? It certainly isn’t biological! Does the argument even hold up?

    I hope that I have given you some clarity in the matter.

  • 54. Eve's Apple  |  May 31, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    Some additional thoughts on this matter of a “godly woman”. It strikes me that most of these types of discussions are centered around wives. Not all of us are married. Some of us were once married, others have never been married. Where do we fit in?

    When you define women solely by their role as wives and mothers, you are leaving out quite a few of us who don’t fit that profile, whether by choice or circumstances. Men, on the other hand, are hardly ever defined solely as husbands and fathers. They are allowed a much wider scope. Imagine the uproar if the church attempted to define its male members by the sole categories of husbands and fathers, never referring to them in any other capacity. Yet women are expected to be satisfied, even grateful, for the crumbs left under the table.

    There is a book in the religion section of my local library called “Becoming a Woman of Influence.” I picked it up, hoping to read about women who have changed the world by their leadership, discoveries, and inventions. Instead, it was all about leading others to Jesus. As if women exist in a vacuum. Nothing about starting a business, mentoring a co-worker, advocating for justice. How narrow and low do we set our sights. Why? Why do we allow our horizons to be limited?

  • 55. CheezChoc  |  May 31, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    I remember how it was in the Baptist church I went to. The men had the prayer breakfast. The women got the auxiliary.

    It’s not like they ever got to experience both.

  • 56. Sarah  |  June 1, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    In my experience, many women are desparate for male approval and are willing to sacrifice a great deal to get it. And yet, I find myself shaving my legs, not for my husband, but for fear of what other women would think of me.

    I also wonder why women allow their lives to be taken from them. Maybe we tend to be more willing to sacrifice ourselves to stay in relationships?

    Maybe we are more likely to be punished for challenging status quo or trying to be our best while men are more likely to be rewarded for it?

  • 57. Sarah  |  June 1, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    In my home church, the young men were encouraged to lead services (from age 12 and up) and seek leadership positions. The young women were taught that the same aspirations for them would be rebellion and sin.

    Although everyone was encouraged to share, men could teach and women could exhort. When I asked what the difference was I was told I wouldn’t be allowed to use the dictionary (English or Greek/Hebrew) or bring a new interpretation to scriptures. I was allowed to use examples from my daily life to encourage others. Short, sweet, and personal.

    I still want to preach. I want to challenge people to think and live differently. I always thought I could do that as a missionary since women’s church roles are much freer in the third world where ironically, women’s public lives are more restricted.

    After years of being patted on the head and told women are beautiful behind a veil, I want to be done with that group. And yet, there are so many people stuck in damaging theologies. (If you don’t speak in tongues, you don’t have the Holy Spirit) I wish soneone would have told me earlier.

    But I don’t want to cause divisions. Would it really be helpful for them to hear that, while I can make a case for women teaching and having authority based on the Greek verb tenses of Paul’s letters, Paul was just wrong. The bible is not inerrant, and Jesus may have been the bastard son of a Roman soldier for all we know. A church does not let someone preach that they are wrong.

    I feel like I’ve lost my audience and my message but not my desire.

  • 58. Eve's Apple  |  June 1, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    No, I don’t think it would be helpful because their minds are probably closed. You don’t have the right equipment.

    My aunt and uncle are ultraconservative Catholics who have been waging a private war with their “liberal” parish for some years, At the heart of the controversy is the fact that a NUN has been appointed to PREACH, What horrors!!! And so on one of my infrequent visits there, I ended up going with them to hear Sister Awful. She turned out to be a pleasant unassuming middle-aged woman, and her topic that evening was etiquette at Mass. The Mass, she said, is God’s dinner party, and just as there are certain things you don’t do at a dinner party, there are certain things you don’t do at Mass. For example, you don’t leave until the party/Mass is over. Well, guess who all got up and left before the service ended?

    The sad thing is, if Father X had said those very same things, my aunt and uncle would have sat and nodded approvingly. But because the message was delivered by a WOMAN, they had no use for it whatsoever. Church law doesn’t allow it. So, it is ok to be rude in the name of Church Law? I don’t get it.

    It seems you have a choice. Stay and be stifled, or find somewhere that values your talents and abilities. There are women who have founded churches and religions–Mary Baker Eddy, Elllen G. White, Mother Ann Lee, Ann Hutchinson, just to name a few. If you feel you are being called to preach, go for it, Start your own congregation! If the men can do it, so can you. You haven’t lost your audience and your message; you have yet to find it. There are people who will listen to what you have to say. Let the boys have their club. Life is too short.

  • 59. Quester  |  June 2, 2010 at 12:48 am


    I’ve really appreciated reading your thoughts here. Very insightful and well thought out. For better or worse, I happen to be male, well-read, seminary-trained, and ordained as a pastor in a mainstream Christian denomination, and I agree utterly with your statement, “there is no magic pipeline that they have and you and I don’t.” It totally blew my mind when people assumed my prayers carried more weight with God, that I had the power to bless or withhold blessing, or that the bible I receive at ordination was like the teacher’s edition of a textbook, with all the answers in the back. And there were other pastors (who really should have known better) who thought that a single class in homiletics meant our preaching was Spirit-inspired in a way no one else’s could be. Balderdash.

  • 60. Quester  |  June 2, 2010 at 1:23 am


    I just deleted a post full of advice, realizing it was a patriarchal knee-jerk response of the sort I’m prone to. Advice-giving is habit-forming, even when I know I’m coming across as patronizing. *sigh*

    I can’t top what Eve’s Apple has already shared. I do add my encouragement to hers, though, and hope you find your message and your audience.

  • 61. sarah  |  June 8, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    Quester- I think that may be the first time a guy has refrained from giving me advice… and i think i may pay more attention to your comments now.

    Eve’s Apple- thank-you for your advice, although I’m a long ways from starting my own congregation 🙂

    now i have more questions…

    i have been taught that the authority of a church leader has nothing to do with his education and even little to do with his character but that the authority comes with the office which is given by indication of the Holy Spirit.

    Because a man is an elder, he will then have the authority to pray over someone to heal them. I have been told I have gifts of healing but if someone in the church is sick, it is the elders who are called, not I (or the nurses).

    So, my idea of authority rests on the concept of the Holy Spirit working through people who have been designated ‘offices’.

    What is the Holy Spirit?

    My experience has been that heart racing feeling prompting me to do something.

    I have witnessed physical healings- a friend’s crippled arm grew and straightened in front of me.
    I’ve heard prophesies over people with the ones speaking saying things that they could not have known on their own.
    I’ve heard people speak languages they didn’t know.
    I’ve seen demonic attacks.

    How do people who have left Christianity explain those things?

    If there is another explanation for that other than Ruach, or the Holy Spirit- then it would be much easier for me to move on.

    Has anyone written about that or have any thoughts?

  • 62. Quester  |  June 9, 2010 at 1:18 am

    My supernatural story:

    I was in the middle of a four hour highway drive through the largely featureless prairies, overtired and letting my mind wander. The silvery-white image of a deer leapt out of the ditch and onto my car. In my imagination this ghost deer crushed the hood of my car, then leapt to crush the roof of my car down on top of me. I was so startled that I slowed down drastically. As I slowed, I went over a slight rise that had hidden eight to ten deer from my view. The deer stood in both lanes of the narrow highway, and in the ditches to both sides. If I had not already slowed down, I would have crashed into them. I would not have been able to decellerate fast enough. There was no where I could have swerved to miss these deer. I was a Christian at the time, and I prayed in gratitude.

    What do I do with this story now? I think about what it does and does not tell me. If I look at the story without assuming that God exists, I might see it as evidence of ghosts, or shamanistic totems, or developing psychic powers, or sleep-deprivation-induced hallucinations which are coincidentally extremely helpful. I might see it as evidence that deer have gods that help them under particular circumstances.

    I look at this event in my life as evidence that I don’t know everything, and that things happen I’m going to have difficulty to explain.

    But if I want to start with this story and conclude an omnipresent, omnipotent, benevolent deity, I’m going to have to also account for the 11,775 collisions with animals that were reported on the highways of that province that same year, and the twenty human fatalities that happened during the previous decade, by vehicles colliding with animals on the highways in that province.

    I’ve got many other stories, though most are much more amenable to naturalistic interpretations. These are among the reasons that I do not say that there is no god, just that if there is one or more deities or other supernatural beings, I know nothing about their character, power, will, moral code, or even their existence. If someone claims to know more, I would like to know how they know what they claim to know.

  • 63. DSimon  |  June 9, 2010 at 10:51 pm

    Sarah, the sort of supernatural events you described can be usually be explained by a combination of good showmanship and an eager audience that’s already willingly suspending disbelief. In addition to that, peoples’ memories often change to confirm things that they already believe.

    Without knowing more about the specifics, it’s hard for me to go into more detail about the particular things you saw. But, regarding faith healing in particular: every bit of critical research into it has turned up completely empty-handed.

  • 64. scootwes  |  June 11, 2010 at 12:22 am

    Sarah, I’m an ex-christian, so I’m not out to defend Paul. But scholars are pretty much agreed that the misogynism found in the pastoral epistles is not Paul’s. Those epistles were forged in Paul’s name. It’s pretty clear from Acts that Paul trusted and accepted female leaders in the church. Maybe Jesus and Paul were the exceptions in having a somewhat enlightened attitude towards women, but even the stories told about Jesus in the gospels show a dichotomy; then again, which stories about him were made up, and which were accurate? Some early church leaders with “agendas” were able to insert their slant into those early stories and writings, destroying even further the fantasy of the verbal plenary inspiration of the bible.

  • 65. Sarah  |  June 11, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    Quester- When I asked those questions about why God doesn’t always act the standard answers seem to be: God’s ways are higher than our ways, we see through a glass darkly (so it really is merciful that God saves some but not others), how dare you question God… basically to shut up and let God be God and that the apparent discrepency is in our own fallible and limited minds only.

    DSimon- good showmanship was not part of any of the healings I’ve witnessed or been a part of. I’ve been there, praying with people in quiet corners and seen healings. I felt something and I was not the only one.

    Suspension of belief can’t explain someone who had no previous use or feeling of their arm and was completely astonished to find it. Thanks- but I need a better explanation.

    I did hear a radio interview with a professor (maybe Harvard medical school?) who wrote a book about people who were healed by believing it. Maybe that is what Jesus meant by “it was your faith that healed you”. But how would that faith translate to other people who were skeptical but were healed anyways?

    Scootwes- Which scholars? I understand that several pauline epistles, such as 1&2 Timothy, are believed to be written by someone else. Are you suggesting that the Corinthians were also? Or that they were tampered with? Wouldn’t it be simpler to say that the mysogynism was original since it matches the cultural norms of the day and pull the whole cultural context card?

  • 66. DSimon  |  June 12, 2010 at 9:30 am

    DSimon- good showmanship was not part of any of the healings I’ve witnessed or been a part of. I’ve been there, praying with people in quiet corners and seen healings. I felt something and I was not the only one.

    By showmanship I don’t mean that the healer has to use spotlights and play dramatic music; a quiet somber mood can be equally effective depending on the situation. Showmanship is just a matter of setting the right mood in the room, which can prep people emotionally to accept what they’re about to see as what the presenter wants them to see, instead of looking at it critically.

    That you “felt something” doesn’t say anything about whether or not what you thought you saw actually happened.

    Suspension of belief can’t explain someone who had no previous use or feeling of their arm and was completely astonished to find it. Thanks- but I need a better explanation.

    Have you followed up with this person? That is, have you gotten more details directly from them about (a) exactly what the state of their arm was before the healing, (b) what happened during the healing, and (c) whether those effects persisted after the healing?

    It’s important to do this for two reasons:

    1. To make sure that you have the details right; memories can be quite fallible, and also it’s possible that you’re confusing what that person said about themselves with what other people said about them. This sort of mistake is particularly likely to happen during very emotional moments.

    I don’t intend this as any kind of slight against your memory or intelligence; no-one’s memory is perfect, we all (excepting some autistic savants) make inferences to recollect information rather than playing it back precisely as it happened.

    2. To make sure that this person wasn’t a plant, placed there to make the healing more convincing. Many faith healers have been caught doing this kind of thing; google Peter Popoff for one of the most famous cases.

    I did hear a radio interview with a professor (maybe Harvard medical school?) who wrote a book about people who were healed by believing it. Maybe that is what Jesus meant by “it was your faith that healed you”. But how would that faith translate to other people who were skeptical but were healed anyways?

    Well, without knowing the title of that book, it’s hard for me to discuss it. 🙂 But, perhaps this is what he was talking about: it is well known that a person’s psychological state is a major factor in how healthy they feel and, to a lesser degree, how well their body actually physically heals itself. That doesn’t require any supernatural explanation, though.

    As for people who were skeptical but were healed anyways: do you know of anyone like that?

  • 67. Sarah  |  June 13, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    thank-you for your response.

    The person with the crippled arm had been my friend for many years before that incident. I knew the state of her arm. I saw afterwards her suprise at how she could now feel hot and cold and even use her hand to hold things. She wasn’t a plant, and the ‘healing service’ wasn’t planned. The effects didn’t go away after.
    Of course, I haven’t seen her for quite a few years now, so I suppose it is possible that her arm regressed.
    and yes, memory is fallible, but i have no reason to doubt it in this case.

    the professor who wrote that book was interested in the placebo effect. she gave an example of a man whose cancer disappeared when given a certain drug and quickly returned when he saw a story in the newspaper that this drug didn’t work. he then got better when given another drug he was told was superior and afterwards died when he found out he had been lied to. I cannot remember her name or her book title, sorry. It was on CBC’s Ideas show a few months ago.

  • 68. DSimon  |  June 13, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    The person with the crippled arm had been my friend for many years before that incident. I knew the state of her arm. I saw afterwards her suprise at how she could now feel hot and cold and even use her hand to hold things. She wasn’t a plant, and the ‘healing service’ wasn’t planned. The effects didn’t go away after.

    That does take care of some of my possible alternate explanations, but I have a few more to replace them. 🙂

    It may also be possible that your friend’s condition was at least partially psychological. This is not to say that it was somehow not “real”; analogously, a computer with damaged software but working hardware is still “broken”.

    But, a psychological illness can be treated by a psychological cure, which plausibly may have happened here (though, IANAD, and anyways it’s hard for me to say much without lots of specific details).

    Also: it’s obvious at this point that my method is to assume that there is a materialistic explanation for faith healing events rather than a supernatural one, and you may be wondering why I do this. Well, even if you’re not, I’ll explain anyways. 🙂

    (My apologies in advance if I’m going over ground you’re already familiar with.)

    The thing about the materialistic explanations is that we know for a fact that they are applicable at least some of the time; they’re predictable, we know a fair bit about how they work, and they hold up to being tested. Supernatural explanations do not generally have this feature; they’re either falsified or unfalsifiable.

    We know that paralysis, blindness, and a host of other things can be caused by psychological problems, without physiological issues but also entirely out of the control of the person experiencing them.

    We also know that memories are not all that reliable, especially of events that happened a long time ago, and also especially of events that we’ve received other information about, which the brain often uses to “fill in gaps” in the memory. Here’s a key quote from that link:

    Accuracy of recollection decreases at a geometric rather than arithmetic rate (so passage of time has a highly distorting effect on recollection); accuracy of recollection is not highly correlated with the recollector’s confidence; and memory is highly suggestible – people are easily “reminded” of events that never happened, and having been “reminded” may thereafter hold the false recollection as tenaciously as they would a true one.

    On the other hand, attempts to investigate faith healings in a way that would exclude these mundane explanations have never turned up anything conclusive.

    I’m willing to be proven wrong by contradictory evidence, but at the moment based on what I know I feel quite confident in saying that faith healing doesn’t work. If it did work, we’d expect to be able to follow up on the results and see that they actually occurred due to the faith healing, the same way that we test any regular medication to make sure it’s actually working.

    she gave an example of a man whose cancer disappeared when given a certain drug and quickly returned when he saw a story in the newspaper that this drug didn’t work. he then got better when given another drug he was told was superior and afterwards died when he found out he had been lied to.

    Well, like I said, it’s hard for me to criticize the book without reading it myself, but going from your summary:

    I don’t find it a very convincing story, even if true. For one thing, the man was more likely to have looked for reasons why he was getting better when he was getting better, and reasons for getting worse when he wasn’t.

    Even assuming that there was a strong correlation, though, the other problem is that it’s just one story about one person: sometimes people just experience coincidences like that. If the book only includes this one guy, but excludes a bunch of other people who tried the same things but got nothing, then a misleading impression results.

  • 69. ubi dubium  |  June 13, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    Confirmation bias is very strong. If there is a cancer that has only a 1% chance of spontaneously going into remission, and you have one person for whom it does, that seems amazing. But if you have 100 people with that cancer, it would be expected that one of them would recover on their own. Not amazing in any way. If you published a story about that one person, and ignored the other 99 who died, you could make his story seem amazing, even though it isn’t. People do this mental trick all the time. They remember the unusual events, and totally ignore all the times when nothing out of the ordinary happens.

  • 70. P. S.  |  June 13, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    This was something I had found a couple years back which may provide some insight into the mechanics of faith healing.

  • 71. Eve's Apple  |  June 13, 2010 at 10:24 pm

    Well, for me the bottom line about faith healing is this: I work in pharmaceutical research and I can honestly tell you that I don’t think I am going to be out of a job soon because of faith healing putting my industry out of business. In other words, even if faith healing does happen, it does not happen frequently enough for most people’s liking.

    In order for a drug to get FDA approval, it is not enough for it to pass the safety tests. It must also be shown to work for the condition(s) for which it is prescribed in a fairly predictable, consistent manner. This is called “efficacy testing”. If faith healiing were up for FDA approval, it would never meet efficacy standards. Would you accept a drug that only cured one or two cancer patients? On that basis alone, faith healing doesn’t pass the test.

    As far as I am concerned, faith healing is a mere curiosity. Very few people are willing to put their faith on the line the way the Christian Scientists do and rely solely on prayer; and to me, that says a lot. If you aren’t willing to walk it, why not?

  • 72. Quester  |  June 14, 2010 at 12:59 am

    Quester- When I asked those questions about why God doesn’t always act the standard answers seem to be: God’s ways are higher than our ways, we see through a glass darkly (so it really is merciful that God saves some but not others), how dare you question God… basically to shut up and let God be God and that the apparent discrepency is in our own fallible and limited minds only.

    Do those answers satisfy you any more than they do me, Sarah? Even if I were to accept them, I’m left with my fallible and limited mind as the only way to parse through the inconsistent and incoherent depictions of gods and their will, leaving with me no choice other than creating my own god to worship, accepting a god created by another fallible, limited mind, or living my life until a god speaks up clearly, after which I can respond appropriately.

  • 73. Sarah  |  June 14, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    My friend’s arm had been damaged during birth and there were enough legal documents to prove the doctor’s fault. Therefore, I doubt it was purely psychological.

    The reason I mentioned the other story was not to prove or disprove faith healings but to offer another possible explanation: a mind-body connection that we don’t fully understand.
    Alternative medicine and therapies are a huge business. They appeal to people who believe their emotions and their health are intertwined. Such beliefs have a long history. Harvard professor Anne Harrington walks us through the terrain of mind- body medicine.”
    She offered examples of those who were healed and those who weren’t.
    very much like your article U.B., thank-you. (my only criticism of the article was the attitude that herbs don’t have intrinsic healing properties, as if aspirin didn’t come from white willow bark.- sometimes things we take from past evidence do work apart from placebo, we just don’t know how yet)

    i agree that many apparent healings can be the result of confirmation bias. but i can’t say that all of them are.

  • 74. Sarah  |  June 14, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    Quester: I had been hoping you’d give me some good arguements to use. But, that would just be exchanging one authority for another, wouldn’t it.

    Eve’s Apple: Thankfully most religious people believe god works through medicine. Does it ever bother you if people give God all the glory for things like penicillin?

  • 75. BigHouse  |  June 14, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    i agree that many apparent healings can be the result of confirmation bias. but i can’t say that all of them are.

    But this is a LONG way from proving that YOUR god did it.

  • 76. Quester  |  June 14, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    I don’t really have arguments, Sarah. I don’t know what happened with your friend’s arm. I don’t know what happened with my “ghost deer”. But if I allow my “I don’t know” to equal “therefore God”, all that happens is that I end up worshipping my own ignorance, which hardly sounds healthy. Maybe, one day, I’ll know. Maybe I won’t. That’s been one of the more painful things about deconversion for me: trading orthodox certainties for honest ignorance.

  • 77. DSimon  |  June 14, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    My friend’s arm had been damaged during birth and there were enough legal documents to prove the doctor’s fault. Therefore, I doubt it was purely psychological.

    Very true, but that still leaves the possibility of it being partially psychological; that is, the arm physically healed somewhat but your friend was still psychologically unable to use it.

    I’m not saying that this is necessarily the explanation, just that since it consists only of things we know for sure can happen, it seems more plausible to me than the mechanisms faith healing purports to work by, for which we have no well-documented confirmed examples.

    The reason I mentioned the other story was not to prove or disprove faith healings but to offer another possible explanation: a mind-body connection that we don’t fully understand.

    This is quite plausible, though it doesn’t require any non-materialistic explanationl (I’m not sure if you were implying that it did or not). Check out this article, specifically the “process-of-treatment belief” section. Summary: when people are more comfortable and more confident that they’re going to get better, their body tends to do a better job at healing itself, releasing certain hormones in greater quantities and so on.

    i agree that many apparent healings can be the result of confirmation bias. but i can’t say that all of them are.

    Neither can I. A lot of them are, no matter how thoroughly investigated, going to remain in the “unexplained” category. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t an explanation, perhaps even an entirely mundane explanation; it just means that we live in a world where evidence is often imperfect and hard to find.

    It’s useful to think of this in terms of UFO sightings. Sometimes weird things just appear in the sky, and nobody was around to record them; therefore, we’ll never really know much about what they are. However, just because they’re unexplained doesn’t give an unsupported hypothesis (i.e. it was an alien spacecraft) any more weight.

    The rule I work by is that for events which I don’t have a good explanation for and can’t seem to get one, I should:
    1. Not jump to any particular conclusion, but
    2. Not treat all potentially possible conclusions as equally plausible; explanations that have been confirmed for other similar things are more plausible than explanations that haven’t been confirmed for anything.

    So, I don’t deny the possibility that your friend’s arm may in fact be an example of a God using its omnipotent power for healing people… but I don’t accord that any more plausibility than the explanation that your friend’s arm was, say, healed by invisible elves.

    I picked a particularly silly-sounding example like “invisible elves” because that can sometimes be useful demonstrate cultural biases. If a system of figuring things out can arrive at obviously silly conclusions, then that makes it suspect.

  • 78. DSimon  |  June 14, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    (Wow, hadn’t realized my comment was getting so long. Got to watch that habit…)

  • 79. Eve's Apple  |  June 14, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    Sarah–“Thankfully, most people believe God works through medicine”

    May I ask, why “thankfully?” Isn’t that admitting a failure either on God’s part or the believer’s part? Thankfully we have medicine to come to the rescue when God does not?

    It does bother me a little to hear people give God the glory for medical advances and completely ignore the people and hard work who made them possible. Give credit where credit is due. If God is directing the process of medical discovery, why did so many of these advances take so long, and why are there so many conditions that still lack a cure? Why is it taking so long? Why is God revealing these things piecemeal? What is the point?

  • 80. Sarah  |  June 15, 2010 at 10:39 pm

    Big House: I’m not trying to prove that ‘my god’ did it, i’m just trying to find a satisfactory explanation for things other than the Holy Spirit.

  • 81. Sarah  |  June 15, 2010 at 10:46 pm

    I’m part Irish. Invisible elves sound quite plausible 🙂

    Thank-you for your response.

    Again, the point of my posts were to see how former christians explained things formerly attributed to the holy spirit. Has anyone here been part of charismatic movements?

  • 82. Sarah  |  June 15, 2010 at 10:53 pm

    Eve’s Apple:
    I had always assumed that it was fine to ‘give God the glory’ for the intelligence of the medical community because, it was god who made them smart enough to discover the healing benefits of certain plants and procedures. I understood it as a means of allowing people to need each other and community instead of being lone rangers and hermits.

    Thankfully, because medical advances have really improved people’s lives. Now it seems that God is the last to be turned to when both allopathic or alternative medicine fail. I remember that being preached as if it were a bad thing that people would go to a clinic first and then ask to be prayed over after. It was preached that one should pray first but still go to a clinic. Maybe that was a way of usurping the credit?

  • 83. letjusticerolldown  |  June 15, 2010 at 11:46 pm


    Here is one book that might be worth a look:

    “Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse, The: Recognizing and Escaping Spiritual Manipulation and False Spiritual Authority Within the Church”

    My experience of the spiritual journey has been one of ‘invitations’–of God inviting me. From reading your words I hear you describing very clear invitations.

    We all have lots of messages in our heads about what we ought to do, ought to be, regrets, etc. etc. etc. When my messages get in the way of my sense of freedom to say “Yes” to what I understand to be God’s invitations–I conclude those messages to originate from places other than God’s love.

    I had a seminary prof who also shared a very helpful question one day in class, “How much of what we do around here has to do with the love of Jesus?”

    There is a great freedom in Jesus. It saddens my heart to read comments on this site from so many whose church experience was anything but that.

    Jesus was not a Christian. Jesus did not condemn religion–but it was religious leadership with whom he most strenuously and regularly conflicted with.

    Everything about you is saying, “Get up and leave.” What else do you need?????? (And that isn’t to say you don’t need something. When we really need to leave–we often lack the wherewithal. But put together what you need.)

    I am no great friend of this site–but I will support them in supporting anyone seeking truth.

  • 84. Quester  |  June 16, 2010 at 12:05 am

    Has anyone here been part of charismatic movements?

    I was, for a while. Ecumenism was one of my passions, so I spent time with Christians of multiple flavours and theologies. I prayed in tongues, was slain in the Spirit, was reduced to tears, led to dance, been prophesied over, and shook uncontrollably. I can recreate any of the effects pretty much on command, today. Does that prove they were false? No, just that there are multiple possible interpretations of what I experienced, of which the Holy Spirit is not the most likely.

  • 85. Quester  |  June 16, 2010 at 12:06 am

    I should clarify that the “tongues’ I prayed in were no known human language.

  • 86. Quester  |  June 16, 2010 at 12:18 am

    I apologize for the three posts in a row, but this occurred to me belatedly. Sarah, in regards to #80, in what way do you consider “the Holy Spirit” to be a satisfactory explanation?

  • 87. Sarah  |  June 16, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    Thank-you for your suggestions. I have read “Churches that Abuse” and found it eye opening.
    Presently, my husband and I are fasting from church 🙂 the Sunday morning services, not the people.

    My question isn’t what is false spiritual authority, I want to know what gives any spiritual authority.

    I am well aware of speaking in tongues. Heard more sermons on that than on Christ’s teachings.

    Don’t laugh, but this is the first time I’ve entertained the idea that there are other possible explanations for miracles (such as certain healings, speaking in tongues, prophesy, teachings…) than God’s spirit or the devil’s counterfeit.

    I don’t have trouble seeing parts of the Bible as fallible because I was raised with the Holy Spirit as the trump card for ultimate authority. The doctrine of unfolding revelation allows the church leaders to interpret the Bible any way they want, if the Holy Spirit witnesses to all of the elders in the same way. The elders are set in by indication of the holy spirit.

    The last ties to the unhealthy parts of my church rest on the concepts of the holy spirit and authority. The works (healings, prophesy, etc) are demonstrations of that power that gives authority to certain teachings.

    I thought my only option was to say that either these men are speaking from God and I had better submit, or that they are decieved in which case, how do I know I am not?

  • 88. Quester  |  June 16, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    I’m not laughing, Sarah. It was two and a half years ago (give or take) that I first entertained the idea of interpreting my experiences as caused by something other than a Christian interpretation of God. When I was at seminary, I even learned the concept of church as a “community of interpretation”, and it still took me years to consider that there might be alternate, correct interpretations.

    This says nothing about our intelligence, and everything about the pervasiveness of world views. At least, that’s the story I’m sticking to. *grin*

    Are you and your husband on similar pages in this? That’s a rare blessing, if I can still use that term.

  • 89. Zoe  |  June 17, 2010 at 9:51 am

    Hi Sarah,

    I thought I’d point you to my blog, A Complicated Salvation. If you click on my name, Zoe, it will take you to my blog. It’s an inactive blog at the moment but I recently put it back online and available to others who may benefit from my past writings, questions, doubts and commentary about all sorts of things “church/faith” related.

    In the far left column, you’ll see the heading, ‘Categories.’ Under that heading you’ll find the category titled, ‘Spiritual Abuse.’ You may find some of those posts thought-provoking and possibly helpful to you as you sort through your questioning.

    In the meantime, I’m glad you found this place and hopefully it will be helpful to you.

  • 90. Sarah  |  June 17, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    Thanks for reopening that Zoe. I’d actually found your blog before from another link but was unable to access it.

    Quester, I think my husband and I are close to the same page. Although I don’t think I can yet bring up questioning Jesus’ diety.

    Both our grandfathers founded churches, although his was less charismatic and more calvinistic. He is always searching for truth and met me while exploring ‘spirit filled’ churches.

    Right now, my family is becoming more liberal and his more conservative. We can’t share with any of them and I feel like a hypocrite now when I silently listen to rants about evolution, drinking, or any number of other topics.

    My husband’s only request is that I don’t leave him behind on this journey. Blessed? Yes!

    How do you handle family politics?

  • 91. Zoe  |  June 17, 2010 at 6:14 pm

    You’re welcome Sarah.

  • 92. Anonymous  |  November 30, 2010 at 1:04 am

    ok if you’re your own god…

  • 93. Paul  |  April 4, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    I find it amazing that no one actually debated WHAT THE SCRIPTURE SAID, instead of their view of what it said.
    Read again Prob. 31 of an industrious woman.
    Read Eph. 5:22-33 and see that BOTH must first submit to Christ. This whole “inferior” “abuse” and other junk is NOT what the BIBLE teaches, even if your “church” did. If a husband “loves his wife as much as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it”, then I don’t see any “problems” in this relationship.
    1Peter 3:1-6 speaks to wives and the verse 7 tells husbands to do “likewise” and “dwell with them with knowledge (understanding)” (not as property) and again ties their treatment of their wife to even their prayers and relationship to God.
    SO, THIS is the short version of what CHRISTIAN marriages are to be. Not your “bible belt” watered down, abusive, non-communication, non-honoring, non-love version that I’m sorry you have so misunderstood.
    It is easy to reject a version of God that he isn’t. I would too.
    But, the God of the bible (not the perverted version on this website) is just and loving and like it or not, is still God.

  • 94. BigHouse  |  April 4, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    Are those cherries you picked tasty, Paul?

  • 95. Eve's Apple  |  April 5, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    You asked a while back about involvement in charismatic movements. Well, I was in one back in the late 1970’s, early 1980’s. About that time I started having mysterious dream-like spells that only lasted a few minutes. It felt like I was being pulled out of my body, like water was coming up my nose, and I could sense but not wholly see nonsense hallucinations, usually of cartoon figures. It was as if something was trying to take over my brain, Like when you are driving down the road listening to a radio station and another starts coming in. To say I was freaked out is an understatement. Remember the environment I was in.

    This lasted for several months. Then one day I had a grand mal seizure while visiting friends and wound up in the emergency room. To make a long story short, it turned out I have a form of epilepsy called temporal lobe, and what I was experiencing was complex partial seizures, Because I did not fall down, lose consciousness, bite my tongue and do all the typical epilepsy things, I did not associate what was going on with epilepsy but thought it was something spiritual. As a result I delayed seeking medical treatment until the grand mal seizure occurred, Had it happened only a few minutes later I would have been out behind the wheel!

    Because of this experience I no longer have a benign view of charismatic/pentecostal groups. Due to the nature of these groups it is possible for serious medical problems to go undiagnosed.

    There are many many other stories I could tell of people with obvious social and mental difficulties who somehow find their way to these groups and then stagnate or worse, regress. The people in these groups are not interested in helping those types of people overcome their difficulties in fitting in with society; instead, they are content to let them be as they are. It does not matter that letting them be as they are and not challenging them to grow cripples them and limits their opportunities so that they often live in poverty; the only thing that counts is spiritual life.

  • 96. prairienymph  |  April 8, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    Hmm. I’m glad you found out what it was!
    I’ve been debating how I should talk to people in my old church who have mental illness. One woman told me that during psychotic episodes the only thing that kept her from killing herself was “holding onto Jesus”. Literally, a fencepost she kept calling Jesus.
    Another woman is always in a fragile mental state. She also has a learning disability which effects her ability to understand social cues and anything not black and white. She always wants people to tell her what to do. She too has been suicidal and believes her belief in God saved her.
    I don’t want to shake the already shaky foundation these women live on. Maybe I’m underestimating them and the harm their belief system does them. But, do some people need an idea of god to survive?

  • 97. Eve's Apple  |  April 9, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    I’d be very careful about how you approach such people, because they are so fragile. De-converting is traumatic enough without having to deal with additional issues. It does seem that some people need the idea of a god to survive. And no, I don’t think you are underestimating the harm their belief system is doing them; I just don’t think you can convince them of that until they are ready to be convinced.

    It sounds like the woman with a learning disability may have Asperger’s syndrome because what you describe is very typical of Asperger’s people. If so, she will be very difficult to reach.

    The problem, as I see it, is that most of the resources available to help people with learning disabilities, Asperger’s, mental illness, epilepsy and the whatnot, are written from a secular perspective. Unless the person is open to this, you will get nowhere. In fact, you may increase their resistance. I’ll be frank, it was one of the factors that led to my deconversion. I cannot take a so-called holy book seriously when it says things like seizures and autistic meltdowns are caused by demons and that the only effective cure is prayer.

    If these people are “happy” where they are, then I guess the best thing is to just let them be. They have to indicate that they want to change first. When they do, that can be your opening. But little by little. You don’t want to directly challenge their faith. Plus they may not have the mental capacity to understand what you are saying.

  • 98. prairienymph  |  April 10, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    I don’t want to directly challenge their faith, but I don’t want to be dishonest either. When the second one in particular asks me about my spiritual life, I don’t lie but I phrase things so that she can still assume I’m a Christian. It is still deceit.

    The first woman I spoke about is very intelligent, like many people with her type of mental illness. I know the cognitive dissonance bothers her, but her need for emotional security trumps that. She told me she is willing to believe she has a demon since Jesus knows everything.

  • 99. Eve's Apple  |  April 10, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    Why would Jesus allow her to have a demon if he loves her and knows everything? This doesn’t make sense. What guilt she must feel! Has she tried to get “rid” of it? I cannot believe for one minute that a loving God would allow one of his own to be or remain demon-possessed. (Not that I believe in such). Has she talked to her pastor? Is she under a doctor’s care (doesn’t sound like it).

    It is stories like this that the church (whatever denomination) needs to address if it is to regain credibility. But it pretends such things don’t exist.

  • 100. prairienymph  |  April 11, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    She is under a doctor’s care, but it could be a demon that affects her biochemistry…

    Have you ever read _Hind’s Feet in High Places_? In it, the main character is praised because she would be willing to allow ‘the lord’ to hurt or decieve her. Presumably for her own good. When it is admirable to allow yourself to be hurt and decieved by an authority, there is no room for questioning the ‘love’ of the authority.

    The church, while allowing people to go to counselling and take anti-depressants, still teaches that prayer is the best way to deal with it since the root of all disease is ‘spiritual’ in nature. Even other diseases like MS are supposed to be seen that way. At least they see medicine as part of the solution.

  • 101. Eve's Apple  |  April 11, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    Yes, I read Hind’s Feet in High Places years ago when I was heavily into prayer groups and Bible Study and there were things that bothered me about it even then. The little lame shepherd Much Afraid never seemed to be traveling as part of a group; no, it was just her and ‘the Lord’ alone. The part where he puts a thorn in her and rips out her desire for human love really freaked me out. Was the author saying that because Much Afraid was handicapped she should sacrifice all hopes of earthly love; that that was only for the perfect. It’s really a creepy little book and it’s scary to think there are people who take it seriously.

  • 102. Anonymous  |  December 27, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    Read the Word of God ladies! He is the Creator of all. He is a good God and every word of God is true. He made us to be a treasured vessel. To be taken care of and cherished. Everything He has done is for our good. Try this ———– The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, then pick up the Holy Word of God and read it and ask the Spirit of the Living God to help you understand. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and one day EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW AND EVERY TONGUE CONFESS THAT JESUS CHRIST IS LORD. IT IS GOD’S WAY OR NO WAY. AND IT IS GOOD. Father, I pray for these women to understand who You are and that the plan you have for all women is good. help them to understand. In Jesus Holy and Powerful Name. AMEN

  • 103. Paige  |  December 28, 2011 at 8:04 am

    I use to believe like you Anonymous @ 102. I might have even written a comment like yours, without all the capital letters. No need to yell. I think if the Bible has power as you likely believe, capital letters aren’t going to suddenly give it more power. I understand your need to emphasize it though.

    It’s obvious here that you are very concerned for the well-being of women and that’s admirable actually. Thank you. Many women have read their Bibles, many times over. In fact, it’s reading the Bible and studying it that ultimately led to many of us leaving Christianity. I know you believe with all your heart. It is apparent in your comment. At one time I did too.

  • 104. Anonymous  |  February 7, 2014 at 2:07 am

    i could not finish reading this what ever u wanna call it I find that it is degrading to a Christian women and destroys the idealism behind what God is trying to teach us through the Bible…Your portray an image of slavery as a Godly image and then tell everyone that its wrong that your way is the Godly image…your way just promotes selfish promotes women into a position of authority over a husband…if you have to tell ur husband he has to do chores around the house its because your slacking as a wife!!! or You have decided you needed to get a job and with that job and feeling of empowerment you have neglected your right as a wife to provide a home a place of love peace and joy for he man who should be working hard to provide you with the ability to raise your family and run your home in the way God intended you to…we are the help mate for our husbands we need to be their for them and provide what they can not when working 40+ hrs to feed our bellies and put clothing on the children…or when he is done working and comes home to find he now has to patch the roof cuz its leaking on the baby’s crib….its our job and responsibility to serve him with love and respect but not be his slave… a wife should be loved and respected honored not tossed aside she should be a prize given to a man to be cherished and protected…we are precious so if we are not being treated that way then ask why…what is wrong do we need to pray harder for our husbands to see how God wanted us to be treated …maybe were not doing these things and so his respect for the wife is not as high as it should be wives are the glue to a home and sometimes wood glue is like duct tape …it holds the foundation together with Gods guidance… I can tell you i am a work in progress i am not perfect and tell my husband off a lot but when i do i feel that shame for scolding him .. I yell and scream sometimes cuss but i know in my heart that is not the way God intended a house to run no functioning arrangement can have 2 people in control at once it would turn into chaos but when 2 come together to deliberate and one makes the final call it will run smooth

  • 105. cag  |  February 7, 2014 at 9:17 pm

    Anonymous, this is not a site for people that are believers in imaginary beings such as the christian god. It is for people who have recognized that religion is a scam of the worst kind, a scam that not only gets your money, it also gets your children. Superstitious nonsense of the type that you subscribe to is among the things that we reject. We reject all superstition, especially anything to do with the supernatural. We reject all gods, not just 99.95 % of them. Your conviction that there is one true god is no stronger than the belief that ancient people had in Ra, Thor, Zeus or any of the other thousands of gods that were once either revered or feared.

  • 106. Anonymous  |  June 12, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    Well from what I read there is no need for this type of woman to get married. It’s is best she stay free so she can be free to have her own way but if a women that is going to be a true woman of God she will do as the bible say and that is sumit to he own husband. Marriage is to be shared and you have to work at it the same way you both worked to get each other you have to work to keep each other. Yes I said it WORK!!! on both parties male and female. Marriage truly is what you both make it to be. It can be a happy one or a sad case. That is why you seek the lord for your mate not just a woman or a man but your mate that God has design just for you that’s if you want marriage. Anyway That’s just my 1ct. Have a bless day.

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

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Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.



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