Respect for women: Society will pay for loss of its Christian ideals

Respect for women: Society will pay for loss of its Christian ideals. By Greg Sheridan.

The last time humanity tried living out a pagan culture it was pretty ugly. Relations between the sexes were terrible. The chief victims were women and children.

It seems at the least, therefore, unhistorical if not downright counterintuitive to think, as the commanding heights of culture have been telling us now for more than five decades, that we can transition into a neo-pagan culture and this will somehow be good for women, or for men either. …

Loss of Christian virtue has led to lack of respect for everyone, which particularly matters for the weaker sex:

My father, and countless men of his generation, did not treat women with disrespect. Nor did the culture mandate that he should. Our culture, right now, has the greatest trouble treating anybody with respect.

We are on the brink of becoming a majority atheist nation. The loss of religious belief in society affects the way we see human beings, men and women. It goes without saying that Christians frequently do not remotely live up to their ideals, but Christian ideals nonetheless have a lot to offer the culture in this moment of truth-telling and contradiction.

Elements of popular culture today work to degrade women, and men as well. This is beyond politics. The big mistake of the MeToo movement is not to become too sharply critical of men, but to turn their movement into a left versus right culture wars battleground. Abuse and disrespect transcend ideological lines.

The astonishing abusiveness of Twitter is dehumanising. While everybody who ventures into that sewer faces some foul level of abuse, it is far worse for women because so often the abuse is sexualised and violent in its imagery.

The ubiquity of ever more degrading pornography propounds implicitly the idea that women are primarily objects. Conservatives should welcome the MeToo movement in its late discovery of pornography’s damage. …

Radical equality came to west from a political movement started 2,000 years ago, overthrowing the pagan ethos of “might makes right”:

Rodney Stark, the foremost sociologist of religious history, argues in The Triumph of Christianity that it was Christianity’s pro-woman stance which more than anything led to its rapid expansion 2000 years ago.

Paul’s statement of universality in his letter to the Galatians was revolutionary: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Larry Siedentop, the great Oxford scholar, in his history of liberalism, Inventing the Individual, judges Paul’s interpretation of Christian universalism as being directly responsible over the centuries for the evolution of liberalism. Destroying the religious distinction between men and women led eventually to destroying the civic distinction between them. …

Christianity and women:

Throughout the Gospels, Jesus rebukes male power and patriarchy. In the Gospel of John there is one of the most affecting of all the scenes in the New Testament. A woman caught in adultery is brought before Jesus. The sexism inherent in the ancient world is evident in the fact that the man she was presumably caught with is not brought for punishment. Her accusers want Jesus to command death by stoning, which was the punishment in the law.

Instead, Jesus is mostly silent. He writes on the sand in the ground, and ancient tradition has it he is writing some of the crimes committed by the accusers. He then says: “Let he among you who has not sinned be the first to throw a stone.” The crowd, which had been menacing and unruly and full of that sense of violence a mob can possess, dissipates. I do not condemn you, Jesus tells the woman, go and sin no more. …

All the way through the Gospels the women are more faithful and more courageous than the men. The first human being to proclaim Jesus was a woman. At the cross, when Jesus was dying, there were three women, among them Mary, and only one man, John. And when Jesus rises from the dead, the first person to see him is Mary Magdalene, who tells the apostles. She is the apostle to the apostles. …

Part of the Christian sexual revolution was to make marriage, for the first time, an institution of mutual love and respect, which was not the way it was conceived in the ancient world. Perhaps the central word in Christianity is respect, respect for human beings and human dignity. Christianity allowed its portrayal of human sexuality to become way too negative over the past 150 years. But its understanding that sex is really a big deal was a rejection of a central element of the barbarism of the pagan world.

Dr Emma Woods … contrasts the dominant cultural paradigm of today that sex is mainly recreational with the traditional human moral intuition that sex is a matter of great significance. Men’s brains are a little inferior because it’s easier for them to fall into the mistake of thinking it’s just recreation. Women are more hard-wired, according to Woods, to treat sex as something of great significance.

If it is something of no significance then it is naturally much harder for women and girls to say no — not legally or ethically harder, but psychologically. Yet this paradigm ultimately offends the innate nature of humanity.

The message above appears somewhat subversive and far out today, but it was mainstream until just a few decades ago. Such is the growing power of cultural Marxism. And has the quality of life got better or worse in the last few decades?

hat-tip Stephen Neil