Reading Note – Isaiah 56 – To Daughters, Foreigners and Eunuchs

The status of women in the Bible is often a discussion topic, so I make a note of relevant points related to the issue whenever I find them.

  • Isaiah 56 begins with a common admonition: Keep Justice, Do Righteousness, Keep the Sabbath, Don’t do evil. If you got all the way to Isaiah and hadn’t figured any of those things out, you’re probably a normal human being.
  • Next comes a promise to foreigners. Not just foreign people living in Israel, but Foreigners who have “joined themselves to the Lord”; who minister to him, love his name, serve him, keep the Sabbath, and the covenant. The promise is that God will accept their worship, even in his temple.
  • “For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples” – Isaiah 56:7
  • Next comes the promise to Eunuchs. Those eunuchs who choose to serve God get a promise of recognition, “a name better better than sons and daughters”, “an everlasting name”.
  • This is important in light of the command in Deuteronomy 23:1, “No one whose testicles are crushed or whose male organ is cut off shall enter the assembly of the Lord.” That God promises them “a monument and a name” “in his house and within his walls” is a curious thing, then.
  • These two promises suggests that God cares for eunuchs and foreigners, and herald a change in the temple policies (although not too explicitly). The passage is a message of hope to those who feel like outcasts.
  • Notice that the promises are made to those who keep God’s law, not those who deep down, in their hearts, care about God and maintain that only God can judge their actions. It’s a reminder that despite all our talk about being saved by grace through faith and not by works, actions are important to God. Our actions reveal the desire of our hearts. As Jesus said, “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me” (John 14:21). Or as James more succinctly put it, “faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:17).
  • Finally, the promise to eunuchs is a name better than “sons and daughters”, not better than sons. The comparison is to the value of children, not to the value of sons. As a hint about the cultural attitudes, it says that Hebrew culture at that time did value female children. In contrast to the “maybe we should drown them” attitude of some cultures.

They Don’t Need Feminism

tumblr_nln0nl8vWW1syitgfo1_1280I recently found myself on tumblr browsing Women posted pictures of themselves with statements about why they don’t need feminism. The reasons are far ranging, but some are common.

  • They don’t want double standards for men and women and they believe feminism does that. Women rape and abuse people too.
  • They like being wives and mothers and they don’t see how staying home makes them oppressed.
  • They can vote and play video games – why else would they need feminism?tumblr_neclm61qdM1syitgfo1_1280
  • They don’t like watching feminists insult and disparage men. Men are cool. (my interpretation). They like their brothers, fathers, sons, and boyfriends who have done a lot for them. They don’t want to think of them as potential abusers.
  • They don’t believe in rape culture or the patriarchy and the wage gap thing is false.
  • They are strong, capable women, who do what they like. They don’t need the help. Try Afghanistan.
  • They are egalitarian. Men and women are different and have different roles in life. Things work better that way.

tumblr_nq0zvrG4QH1syitgfo1_1280The idea is that feminism has become obsolete in the west. Women women the right to vote. Women can do the same jobs as men and no one is paying them less for it. I don’t know enough about what feminism does to weigh on the issue, but I can appreciate the sentiments. tumblr_npcxcle08Y1syitgfo1_1280

As with any survey of public opinion, there are hits and misses. A bad personal experience with feminism is no reason to reject it. Nor does it pay to be uninformed about about the wage gap and rape culture – even if they are myths.