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Sexism is a sin: The biblical basis of female equality Paperback – January, 1995

5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

J.R. Hyland is an ordained, evangelical minister who has worked with migrant farmworkers and in prison ministry. Rev. Hyland has also been an editor for Viatoris Publications and currently works with an educational and outreach ministry which acts as a resource for special interest groups trying to bring about changes in the Church, changes that will reflect a truly Christian perspective. Such changes include the role of women, the need for non-violent activism and the fact that animal rights is a theological issue. Rev. Hyland is also the author of "The Slaughter of Terrified Beasts: A Biblical Basis for the Humane Treatment of Animals" and has been a consistent contributor to various religious and theological journals.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

In their effort to preserve the subordination of women, Christian spokesmen make much of the fact that Jesus Christ incarnated as a man. They say his sexual identity confirms the "natural" order of male dominance. But, in reality, Christ taught a way of life designed to end the dominance of the unbalanced, male principle. He told his disciples to be more like women, to demonstrate characteristics of the female principle. He told them to be kind, compassionate and nonviolent. He said that whoever gave his life in service to others was the greatest among them....And in spite of enormous difficulties, there are men who, in varying degrees, have given expression to the female principle. Even when ridiculed and ostracized for trying to be caring, nonviolent, human beings, they have not turned back. Despite enormous social and psychic pressures that try to coerce them into accepting the gospel of machismo, many have chosen the gospel of Christ.

They do this in the face of overwhelming odds. From earliest childhood boys are taught that the way to become men is to repress all evidence of the female principle. They learn to despise any sign of femininity in themselves or in their peers. The male/female identity that is their birthright is perverted by parents who were also raised to be incomplete beings. Fathers set behavioral standards for their sons, and because women have surrendered their autonomy, they defer to their husband's judgement. The mother agrees not to commit the cardinal sin of "feminizing" her son, or "emasculating" him by demanding the same loving kindness and nonviolence she expects from her daughters. The same women who at great cost to themselves nurture their children--who love and protect them as they journey from infancy to adulthood--allow their sons to be conditioned to violence. They allow them to be carefully taught to become the kind of men in whom compassion and concern have been diminished to the point that they will not interfere with the requirements of a machismo society. And then they teach their daughters that these defeminized, incomplete human beings, represent the true nature of the male.

Women do this because they, too, are incomplete. They must also regain a male/female balance--they must become more like men. They have to overcome the temptation to be dependent, instead of autonomous beings. Women must learn to act in accord with the dictates of their own conscience and not submit to the judgement of their mates. They have to take responsibility for what goes on in the world outside the home as well as being accountable for family life. But the pressures that keep women from manifesting the male strengths of action and overcoming are just as strong as those that try to keep men from manifesting the female strengths of compassion and kindness.


Product Details

  • Paperback: 146 pages
  • Publisher: Viatoris Publications (January 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0945703015
  • ISBN-13: 978-0945703013
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.8 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,972,496 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By A Customer on June 19, 2000
Format: Paperback
My first impression of this book was that although it pointed out the ways in which men (the male principle) succeded in overwhelming the authority of women (the female principle) the author does not treat this fact as if men had accomplished this unilaterally. Women hold up half the sky, and in this book they are protrayed as having initially cooperated in this takeover.
The book traces this cooperative venture of males and females from the time of the Fall in Eden, until now. The author uses the bible to trace this development, and it reads like a fascinating--but not always elevating--story. Although I was familiar with Sunday School lessons about men like Abraham, Joseph, Jacob and Esau, the author brings out facts I never knew. They seemed so extraordinary I had to check them out in the bible to see if they were true. They were.
The post-biblical section of the book gives information that was also new to me. Although I had taken certification courses in Women Studies I never heard about the theology of Ann Lee, the founder of the Shakers. She had a vision of Christ and emigrated to this country in 1774, specifically in order to establish a church which taught the female/male nature of God, and the need to establish this equality in all human affairs.
After reading this book, neither the bible, nor the feminist version of history, will ever be the same to me.
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Format: Paperback
Many people doing biblical exegesis highlight those passages that accord with their worldviews and consider them "literal" while (arbitrarily) treating contradictory passages as "allegorical." In contrast, Rev. Hyland, while recognizing that Scriptures are often contradictory, considers all Scripture as meaningful. She looks for themes in the Scriptures, finding that a central issue of dispute concerns the proper role of women in society. The early prophets drew sharp distinctions between womens' and mens' roles in society. Hyland demonstrates that these early prophets endorsed the violence that this separation inevitable engenders. The later prophets, however, encouraged people to internalize both the "male principle" (action and overcoming) with the "female princle (caring and compassion). Hyland notes that Jesus Christ's ministry centered on encouraging both principles. His life illustrated that adoption of these principles promoted love and nonviolence. Unfortunately, only a minority of Christians have followed Jesus Christ's prescription for peace, and Christianity has consequently wraught much misery upon the world. Hyland demonstrates that following Jesus Christ's example is personally liberating, spiritually fulfilling, and a path towards world peace.
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Although I am committed to the equality of women I am also a Christian and have had to listen to a steady stream of distorted teachings regarding the place of women in the church and in the world. Although I knew they were wrong I did not have the expertise to refute what churchmen (and women) were telling me the Bible said. Until I read SEXISM IS A SIN.

Talk about a revelation! The author is a biblical theologian who traces the development of sexist attitudes from the time of Abraham and Sarah to the time of St. Paul. Although the scholarship behind the book is obvious it is not written for academics. It is a fascinating and easy-to-read story of people and events who, throughout biblical times, ignored the call of Jesus and of the Latter Prophets who called for social justice, compassion and mercy. Instead, men continually choose to use violence and power-politics to get what they wanted and then blamed their brutality on God.

The author connects this insistence on violence to the development of a sexism that is determined to keep the female role of nuturing and care-giving confined to the home where it cannot interfere with the warrior mentality that operates in the larger world.
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received book in excellent condition
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