When I recently visited the Library of Congress, I was surprised to discover that Elizabeth Cady Stanton, American suffragist, social activist, abolitionist, and leading figure of the early women's rights movement, spearheaded the writing of the Women’s Bible in 1895. Stanton, with a committee of 26 women, sought to challenge traditional religious beliefs that women should be subservient to men.
Unfortunately, Bible scholars were aware of the controversy the project would engender and refused to participate. Stanton’s Bible was declared by clergy to be “Satan’s work,” (not surprising) and was snubbed by the women’s suffragette movement (perhaps surprising). Her works inspired the writings of many 20th-century feminists,
My discovery led me to wonder about the synergy between the women’s movement in the mid-eighteen hundreds and bible interpretations of the time.
Stanton was not alone in questioning traditional biblical understanding. Lucretia Mott, a Quaker social reformer preceded Stanton in her work for women’s equality. In 1849 she published Discourse on Woman, highlighting women in the bible and arguing that their examples proved women’s right to express their spiritual beliefs. She’s quoted as saying, "It is not Christianity, but priestcraft that has subjected woman as we find her. The Church and State have been united, and it is well for us to see it so."
Lucy Stone, a lecturer and writer, also worked for women's suffrage in the mid 1800’s. She studied Greek and Latin to better understand biblical passages she believed had been miss-translated against women. She is believed to be the first married woman in the United States to have kept her maiden name and to publicly declare, with her husband, to have an egalitarian marriage.
I do not agree with everything these women espoused...
I do not agree with everything these women espoused, but nevertheless, I find their courage to think for themselves and to publicly express their ideas, inspiring.
My next post will explore more contemporary Christians in the women’s movement.
Note: Most of my information came from Wikipedia backed by other sources.
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Linda M. Kurth is a writer and a divorced and remarried Christian. In going through the divorce, she experienced a dichotomy of responses from the Christian community. After sharing some of those experiences in her upcoming memoir, God, the Devil, and Divorce, she's heard many stories of divorced Christians who have struggled with the same issues. This blog invites divorced Christians to tell their stories with the goal of encouraging churches to resist condemnation and become a source of healing and grace.
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