Quotes Revealed #3

This little nugget came across a news feed several days, maybe even weeks ago. It struck me at as a little messed up, but not one of the more damn-able quotes from “The Good Book” that I have seen lately. Yet, something caught my eye about it, so I saved the image in case I wanted to look into it later. Today happens be that “later,” and this quote is quite damn-able.

“Let not yours be the outward adornment with braiding of hair, decoration of gold, and wearing of fine clothing,/ but let it be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable jewel of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. (1 Peter 3:3-4)1

Now, on the surface, I thought, this actually depicted a reasonable sentiment. In my own words would sound something like, “Don’t spend too much time on vanity, rather let your inner beauty show. This way you will have a greater inner peace.” Or something along those lines. The fact that I feel a sentiment that The Bible represents, well, is a pretty interesting difference from many of my other reported experiences.

But, alas, this is not to remain the truth concerning this quote because, one once reads around it and compares it to some modern psychological findings, the healthy nature falls almost completely apart.

First, and as usual, the text is taken out of context with the greater work, but we don’t even have to search that far to start seeing some damning qualities about the local text. Let’s read 1 Peter 3:2.

“Likewise you wives, be submissive to your husbands, so that some, though they do no obey the word, may be won with out a word by the behavior of their wives,/ when they see your reverent and chaste behavior.”

Dear reader, one does not need much to start becoming aware of some silliness in this passage. If I read this correctly, it would seem that Peter is suggesting that if your husband isn’t a follower of God that you are allowed to manipulate him by being a submissive wife. That sounds completely normal. And terrifying.

Of course, we understand that cultures which haven’t allowed their women some basic rights to freedom about education and strong legal standing concerning marriage rights suffer.2 So the need to even the playing field is a noble and worthy quest, but how much damage can something like this do to our ability to see women as equals, to give them equal opportunities as professionals, and an equal value at home? The evidence seems to point towards massive amounts of damage. It will be done as these types of lines from The Bible are constantly plugged into our culture.

Those citizens who wish to be equal rights proponents hope that we don’t carry racial or sexual bias with us into everyday interactions. We recognize that acting on any bias is morally reprehensible, and even though there are stereotypes that get trumped up, the idea that anyone would fit a stereo type exactly doesn’t represent very well with reality. Despite our best efforts though, the evidence collected with an Implicit Association Test (IAT) would prove all to be bigots.3 These tests show that we make associations even when we know that they are untrue. What kind of association do you believe that verse two from above implants within you? If that isn’t quite enough evidence, let us dig a little further.

“Likewise you husbands, live considerately with you wives, bestowing honor on the woman as the weaker sex, since you are joint heirs of the grace of life, in order that your prayers may not be hindered.” (1 Peter 3:7)

If we look at the data collected from IATs by someone who is of mixed race himself, what kind of results were found? Totally and completely biased. He recalls his horror at discovering that he, like nearly everyone who has ever taken the test from the United States showed an overwhelming bias to negative traits associated with African Americans. He writes in his book on page eighty-eight, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking4 that after the truth had been revealed to him he imagines it is evident that it is “because when it comes to even the most important positions, our selection decisions are a good deal less rational than we think.”

Another look to verse seven makes me a little queasy as it also includes the observation pointing to disobedience will hinder prayer effectiveness, or perhaps prayer ability. What does this suggest? That the all forgiving God will have second thoughts as to who’s prayers are going to be answered based on an obedience score card seems to be the thesis suggested. Rewarding oppressive behaviors has no valid data for being healthy or useful in the modern era, and likely leads to pathologies we are still trying to understand. There is no argument that this passage could mean anything else than: this book is suggesting that women may manipulate their oppressive husbands by being even more oppressed. It is it intrinsic to the entire system of middle eastern religious faith. Islam in Arabic means submission. The book doesn’t discourage the behavior in any way during this passage. In fact, it uses, yes even in the new testament, some of the legendary characters from The Pentateuch.

So once the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves and were submissive to their husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.” (1 Peter 3:5)

The battle against cultural mentality conditioning by certain religious texts is something I hope to pursue for the entirety of my life. Something Malcolm Gladwell says in his section on IAT about how we can correct these types of pathological behaviors stuck with me after my initial reading. He says “it requires more than a simple commitment to equality. It requires that you change your life so that you are exposed to minorities on a regular basis.” I will use the same philosophy for the “Quotes Exposed” series. The more I expose the biblical texts for what they are, then the more familiar we all become with the harm that can come with them.

1. May, Herbert G., and Bruce Manning. Metzger. The New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha: An Ecumenical Study Bible. New York: O.U.P., 1977. Print.

4. Gladwell, Malcolm. Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. New York: Little, Brown, 2005. Print.


6 thoughts on “Quotes Revealed #3

  1. Submission. The core lesson of the bible, and what I believe to be the only true sin, if sin exists at all. So over all I would agree with you. What bugs me is the context here. I can hear my Christian friends already. Being submissive implies a willingness or inclination to submit. Beneficial to a marriage if a husband is keeping up his end (verse 7) acting as the head of the union. From there it’s not too far of a stretch to dress it up to ‘compromise’. My KJV is more transparent with the message, it reads ‘in subjection’. ‘Being subjected to the control of’, without choice.
    I infer a ‘be the change’ motif where you see manipulation. This book mentions it a few times, ‘just be good and others will learn by your actions’. The woman is being manipulated, not manipulating. just another continuos bible theme… Grossly paradoxical if we remember when and to whom it’s written, and reeking of man made tragedy. A woman is a meek, plain vessel of salvation to those she has no influence over, and is subject to. Powerless, but accountable. The key to their eternity, but capable of damning them all with a single braid. Men don’t lust, women tempt. Horrifically apparent still today; in the ‘she was asking for it’ mentality. So why is he even writing to women? In a society that doesn’t acknowledge them, and in which most probably don’t read, why does he address them directly?

    • In a personal defense, I used the concepts of women being taught to manipulate is simply when the modern woman (any person of any gender) may be tempted to The Bible to justify behavior or use their own “interpretation” at will is being given firepower. Thank you for addressing the hypocrisy of that situation, Eric. You are spot on when you talk about the book itself, I assume you are referring to 1 and 2 Peter. If you are speaking about the whole Bible, then you are preaching to the choir. To address your final point and attempt to answer your question I believe that it involves a marketing strategy before such things were even really an option to think about. Maybe we can call it bronze age psychology. My belief is that if a culture wants to empower men to dominate and subjugate women must give a perspective to women. The best example to capture my point is Temple Grandin, an autistic woman who revolutionized the cattle industry with slaughter house design. She seemed to be able to get inside a cows mind. This, I believe is the same strategy. Except that the minds they were attempting to control they had already conditioned to be submissive. One could probably say it is so bad there is likely evidence of an evolutionary pull towards submissive women from the time period as any, for thousands of yeas, woman who might stand up and say “No” would be killed. The addressing them directly could be something as simple as applied psychology so that men think they have a window into the minds of their resources, marriages as opposed to slaughter houses, although the difference at the time may not have been so large as today.

      • Definitely. Empowering women to serve his purpose. Rhetoric to capture the minority vote?! A woman on the inside? Ha. At first I tried to take the opposing side, but I can’t even feign conviction. Good stuff man, thanks for giving me something to chase around for a bit! I think we have similar histories and disdain about the bible! Whatever put you on defense was completely unintentional!

      • *wink* “Put on defense” is a strong termenology. You seemed to have an issue, and I attempted to respond. Never offended by honest inquiry, and, yes, I think our disdain is of similar caliber. Glad you liked the piece. #4 is coming very soon. Should be a good one. *giggle*

      • I’ve been told I have a way with words, a sick, uncanny way of defiling even the most innocent expressions. I guess it soils my writing too! It’s the super condensed version. I’d written too much and felt it was innapropriate that my comment was lengthier than your post so I had to do a quick hack job at the expense of some of the smoother transitional lines!

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