Bible, Patriarchy & Wicca

To say that the Bible is patriarchal is like saying that Tai Chi is Chinese: It is such a bewildering statement of the obvious that only an academic or reporter would think it a profound revelation.

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Yet in the 1970s and ‘80s, literally millions of feminists opened the Bible (some for the first time, some for the millionth time) and were shocked — shocked! –– at what they found.

Not only was the Divinity addressed as “He” – as He had been, both in the original scriptural languages and in vernacular translations, for 2,000 years — but the entire book was riddled with masculine prerogatives and male-oriented language.

The people of Israel are routinely referred to as bnei Israel, literally the “sons of Israel.”

God creates the male human being (the adam) first.

Under the Mosaic Law, men can divorce women at will… but women cannot divorce men.

All of the Twelve Apostles are men. Jesus is a man. St. Paul, the first Christian theologian, is a man.

And on and on it goes: male chauvinism everywhere you turn.

In an era when radical feminists were trying on such linguistic novelties as referring to “seminars” as “ovulars,” the frank “patriarchy” of the Bible drove many feminists to distraction.

That is the only way to understand the phenomenon of Mary Daly, the ex-Catholic nun turned lesbian isolationist who banned all men from her classes at the Jesuit-run Boston College and, in such classics of feminist rage as Gyn/Ecology, Pure Lust and Outercourse, proclaimed that “a woman’s asking for equality in the church would be comparable to a black person’s demanding equality in the Ku Klux Klan.”

Of course, many feminists were content to remain within the broad confines of Christianity and Judaism and sought moderate corrections to what they saw as the sexism inherent in western religion — such as the creation of politically-correct “inclusive language” Bibles and so on.

Others, however, were driven to reject western religion altogether as irredeemably sexist — and sought, like Daly, to “discover” (actually create) a new religion known as “feminist spirituality.”

“The feminist movement in Western culture is engaged in the slow execution of Christ and Yahveh,” explained Naomi Goldenberg in her entertaining book, Changing of the Gods: Feminism and the End of Traditional Religions “The psychology of the Jewish and Christian religions depends on the masculine image that these religions have of their God.  Feminists change the major psychological impact of Judaism and Christianity when they recognize women as religious leaders and as images of divinity.”

Drawing upon the writings of neo-pagan writers such as “Starhawk” (née Miriam Simos), author of the fascinating chronicle The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess, these new feminist theologians asserted that prehistoric peoples all worshipped variations on the Great Mother Goddess – sometimes in conjunction with the “horned god” who died and was resurrected each year.

For tens of thousands of years, they said, primitive societies were matriarchal, ecologically in balance, egalitarian, peaceful, civilized, in touch with their own sexuality and bodies. (Priestesses presided “skyclad” or naked, “embodying the fertility of the Goddess,” explained Starhawk – a far cry from the staid, less tantalizing services found in your average Methodist congregation or Reform synagogue.)

But into this matriarchal utopia disaster struck: Indo-European invaders swept across the European continent, their veins surging with testosterone, bringing with them weapons of killing, patriarchy and (male) hunter gods.

When Christianity arrived on the scene, full of the myriad repressions and patriarchal traditions of Judaism, the Old Religion of the Great Goddess was forced to go underground – in the form of the various goddess-worship Gnostic sects that the early church persecuted and which figured so prominently in The Da Vinci Code.

But the “Old Religion” lived on, secretly practiced by old women (crones) and “witches,” until the “Burning Times” arrived in the Middle Ages – when, according to Starhawk and Mary Daly, some 9 million witches were burned at the stake.

An entire generation of “gender feminists” — now in their 60s and ‘70s — accepted this new mythology hook, line and sinker.

It is still routinely cited by prominent feminist theologians, writers and theoreticians within the Christian churches and, increasingly, within liberal branches of Judaism as well.

There is only one problem with it: It has about as much basis in history as the volcano-dwelling Thetans of Scientology.

Virtually everything taught about the Great Goddess in “feminist spirituality” and Women’s Studies classes – from Berkeley to Boston — is a hoax.

In fact, wicca in general and feminist spirituality in particular were largely the creations of one man…

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Robert J. Hutchinson is an author and essayist. His most recent book is Searching for Jesus: New Discoveries in the Quest for Jesus of Nazareth (Thomas Nelson, 2015).