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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Purity, Bigotry and Misogyny

I often browse the bookmarking sites to pick up odd snippets of information. Today I found a link to an article called Personal Purity in Thought, Speech, and Appearance, by Marc D carpenter. I hope the person who bookmarked this was being ironic - but I fear that he wasn't.

The article is from the site called Outside the Camp, which says: "This is the web version of a newsletter put out by Sovereign Redeemer Assembly. The purpose of this newsletter is to proclaim the true gospel of sovereign grace, expose counterfeit gospels, and stimulate true believers to love and good works."

If it hadn’t been for the sincerity of the site (total bigotry, but sincere nevertheless... ), I would have considered the article to be a scam.

The opening lines said:

"I'm going to be speaking today about personal purity, specifically as it relates to our thoughts, our speech, and our appearance ...... I hope to touch on some areas in which Christians have become slack, and I hope to spur us on to continually strive for obedience to God in every area of our lives ......”

Well, fair enough I thought, the ’purity’ bit sounds ominous, but perhaps the writer thinks that Christians need to care more for others, to do good works etc ....

And he seemed to be pushing this message with this:

"keep in mind that true Christians do not strive to obey God's commandments out of any notion that our pursuit of godliness in any way saves us, keeps us saved, or recommends us to God. This would be legalism ......"

So Christians were not to do good works purely out of a desire to be saved. Sounded reasonable enough.

But then we got onto the specifics about how Christians should obey God ....

The writer almost immediately makes it clear that he thinks homosexual relationships are a sin, so we get the gist of the bigotry that is going to feed this piece, but that is not enough for him:

"Matthew 5:27-28 says, "You have heard that it was said to the ancients: 'Do not commit adultery.' But I say to you, Everyone looking at a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Here Jesus plainly puts forth the truth that just looking on someone in a sexual way is the same thing as raping that person in your thoughts ......

"......Are heterosexual attractions sin? It's not me who said it; it's Christ who said it. Of course, he was not talking about such attraction within the bonds of a man and a woman who are committed to each other for life, for we find in other places that the marriage bed is not sinful, and thus those thoughts are not sinful in that context. But everything outside of this commitment is wickedness.

"Does the dating scene encourage such wickedness? Definitely. Do church formals and dances encourage such wickedness? Definitely. Do singles ministries encourage such wickedness? Definitely. These are things of the world that have no place in Christian circles ....

" ...... How are we to have our mind dwell on pure things when we're sitting in front of a television show or movie that shows lust or sex? Or violence, for that matter. A mark of a maturing Christian is an increased distaste for such things ......

Later Carpenter explains that even:

" .... the so-called "children's movies" such as the Disney animated movies in which the leading female characters are inevitably dressed like whores and in which wicked "romance" is promoted ...." Are sinful and should be shunned by Christians.

I’m not a great follower of Disney movies anyway ...... But in any case, Carpenter has other things on his mind ....

" ......Secondly, we come to purity in our speech .... What is a lie? What is falsehood? Well, it's the opposite of truth, right? When someone tells a lie, he is saying something that is not true ...... So whenever someone intentionally says something that is not true, he is speaking falsehood ......"

After telling Christians they should never lie to a child, even in fun, Carpenter really gets into his stride:

"I'm sure you've heard of a group of people planning a surprise party, and in order for the secret to be kept, many of the people have to lie to the person who's going to be surprised. But the ends don't justify the means. Just because it's a surprise doesn't give anyone the license to sin, and it is definitely sin to speak something to that person that is not true. Many practical jokes fit into this category, too ......"

Is this man for real?

But it is the next few paragraphs that really stirred me to yell abuse at my PC screen:

"And lastly, a bit about purity of appearance ....."

You can guess what’s coming ....

"A passage in the New Testament that deals most directly with this issue is 1 Timothy 2:9-10: "So also the women to adorn themselves in proper clothing, with modesty and sensibleness, not with plaiting, or gold, or pearls, or expensive garments, but what becomes women professing fear of God, through good works." Since this passage is to women, I will be dealing with this issue mainly as it relates to women. This does not excuse men for dressing immodestly, but it is obvious that immodesty in women has been a great problem down through history, and we'll go over some Old Testament passages to that effect a little later ......"

And out comes the misogyny that all women have suffered and which just won’t go away.

".... The modesty and sobriety, or shamefacedness and discreetness, are to be characteristics of what women wear ......

"......Keep in mind that the Bible commands women to wear clothing that is in keeping with being shamefaced ......

After quoting passages from Jeremiah and Proverbs, Carpenter insists:

"It is common knowledge that the women who painted their faces and ornamented themselves were the prostitutes. They did this to attract men ......

"......what is makeup for? Why do women wear makeup? - I think you'll find that it has its origins in prostitution and that it is used by females today for the same reason that it was and is used by prostitutes ......

"...... what is jewelry for? Some jewelry, like a wedding band, is a symbol of commitment to a spouse. But what of other decorative jewelry? Well, it's just that. It decorates. Much of the time, it is used to call attention to the face or other part of the body.

"......what do most fashion designers have in mind when they design clothes for females? .... It is purposefully sexual. I cannot emphasize this enough. Almost all the clothes in the women's clothing stores are to make the woman sexually attractive ......"

Apart from admonishing men who go shirtless in public, the male sex gets off very lightly from Carpenter’s calls for 'Christian morality'. It is women who he really wants to change their appearance:

"......Cover yourselves! Be shamefaced!...."

And there speaks a man who appears to be very scared of women, especially confident women.

It could of course be argued that women are encouraged to dress and act in certain ways to make themselves attractive to men and that it is a male dominated society that has promoted this.

And there lies the contradiction.

Men want women to 'look good' in ways which suit them (men) and women through the centuries have used this knowledge to their own advantage. After all, in a society dominated by one group, the ‘sub’ group has to use all means available to get what they need. Therefore you can hardly blame women for using male weaknesses to get what they want.

But the minds of Christian bigots like Carpenter cannot comprehend this. All they see are strong women. And this scares them. It is not in line with their personal reading of the Bible.

The same can be said for male-dominated religions all over the World. All appear to have teachings based upon an almost innate fear of women.

We are supposed to live in an educated society, but men like Carpenter prove that education means different things to different people. His writing shows that he has received an education, but his words show the single-minded bigotry of the uninformed.

This is worrying when we see the rise of the religious right in what should be one of the most modern-minded countries in the World – the USA - and we see that in some US States they have already been behind the passing of laws which disempower women.

These people need to be challenged and ridiculed so that everyone can see the errors in their discourse.

And then they need to be ignored and put back on the cultural scrap heap with all the other misogynists and bigots of this World.

There should be no other place for them.

posted by summersun70 at 3:50 AM

2 Comments:

Blogger Kathleen Callon said...

It's so strange how some people whom claim to want goodness and "purity" attempt to reach their goal via contempt and hate of others. Strange and sad.

8:58 AM  
Blogger GreenSmile said...

yow. Sometimes the content of the page barely depends on the configuration of nouns used. A shrink would read a few paragraphs, with or without the names changed, and begin to wonder whether the obsessiveness of the author would be treatable.

6:42 AM  

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