“I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to your children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” Genesis 3:16

“A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing – if they continue in faith, love, and holiness with propriety. “ 1 Timothy 2:11,12,13,14,15.

“Wives submit to your husband as to the Lord” Ephesians 5:22

Recently I came across a magazine titled “Above Rubies”, produced by an ultra-right, fundamentalist Christian organization. “Pro-life” women whose crusade is to save the family from Satan’s agenda – feminism – run this organisation! “Above Rubies” places strong emphasis on two things: submission and unlimited pregnancies! Its definition of family is one where the husband is the “head” and the wife is in perpetual childbearing. While these women claim to exalt motherhood, their self-effacing “submits” are an insult to all women!

They exhort women to throw -caution to the wind and produce as many children as possible. Couples who have undergone vasectomy or tubal ligation are encouraged to have the operations reversed and contraceptives such as the pill, IUD and Norplant are regarded as abortifacients. Spermicides are also forbidden since they “murder” sperm! If killing sperm were regarded as murder, then men would be guilty of murdering millions every time they ejaculate. Likewise, women would be guilty of murder every time they ovulate without conceiving!

According to “Above Rubies” ideology, any woman who does not stay home and have a baby every year is jettisoning her role as a mother and wife. So strong is the emphasis on SUBMIT, that the words submit and obey are splashed liberally in its pages with biblical verses to justify them. Any woman who dares to give priority to her own needs and aspirations is regarded as SELFISH and in order for a marriage to work, a woman must put aside all her needs and desires and SERVE her husband. While a man can have a career and still be regarded as a father, a woman is expected to voluntary imprison herself in domestic drudgery in order to be regarded as a .proper mother. As a child, I grew up watching my mother submit, obey and serve. She sacrificed her dignity and self-esteem at the altar of tradition. That is why I find it very disturbing that the religious right makes it its priority to perpetuate women’s enslavement.

They disregard the fact that women, who pursue careers and sensibly limit the number of children they have, are also members of families with husbands and children. If achieving equality and independence are “Satan’s deceptions” then so be it! Supposing that god and Satan do exist, I would rather pay homage to Satan who encouraged Eve to seek wisdom, rather than submit-to a god who condemns women to everlasting misery and slavery!

The bible is a handbook for the subjugation of women. It establishes women’s inferior status, her “uncleanness”, her transgressions, and god-ordained, master/servant relationship to man. Biblical women are possessions: fathers own them, sell them into bondage, and even sacrifice them. Organised religion has always been and remains the biggest enemy of women’s rights. The religious right helped to kill the Equal Rights Amendment to the constitution of the USA. Religion’s number one priority is to maintain women’s subordinate status – which is why it opposes women working outside the home in the pretence of “protecting the family”. The reality is that the religious right does not want women to achieve control over their bodies or financial independence – thus the “holy war” against women’s reproductive and civil rights!

By Voula Papas