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A Year of Biblical Womanhood

Posted in Book Reviews on January 3rd, 2013

Rachel Held Evans is an American Christian from Tennessee. Her book “A Year of Biblical Womanhood” is an attempt to live by according to the rules Bible prescribes out for women.

Evans writing is very accessible, and she’s immediately likeable. I do wish that she would have explained exactly what her theology is though. I see that on her blog she has said she is not a fundamentalist, but that doesn’t offer much. What exactly does she believe about the Bible? Her faith in God and Jesus are apparent, but after that I don’t know much about her beliefs. And if I don’t know what she believes, it’s hard to know what she’s asking for when she calls for reform in the way Christians view women and the Bible.

Each month, Evans focuses on a different aspect of Biblical Womanhood – modesty, purity, obedience, etc. Some people would call this a cop-out. But I understand why she did it. One of the overarching themes of the book is that any one rule could be emotionally crippling or logistically impossible. To follow them all at once would lead to burnout and not as interesting of a narrative. She studies each topic in depth and applies what she learns to the next.

One thing I was reminded of is that the Bible contains misogynist ideas that are still with us today. That women are gossips, that they lie about being raped, that they are the other and require special rules to be constrained.

I think the most fascinating part of the book was when Evans and some of her friends held a mourning ceremony to remember women in the Bible who were killed or abused. She was inspired by the passage in the Bible that says “From this comes the Israelite tradition that each year the young women of Israel go out for four days to commemorate the daughter of Jephthah.”

It’s easy to see why this book makes some Christians uncomfortable. She writes of Mary,

That a woman who managed to be both a virgin and a mother is often presented as God’s standard for womanhood and can be frustrating for those of us who have to work within the constraints of physical law.

She writes about her doubts, and her “pesky insecurities” in her faith, facing them head on.

Evans comes to the conclusion that there is “no such thing as Biblical womanhood.” There are too many contradictions, too many proscriptions and too many impossible demands for one woman to embody them all. It was gratifying for me to see her come to the conclusion she had been building all along. However, as a Unitarian Universalist, I am not limited to the Bible in my search for truth or in my spiritual practice. I am not bothered by the idea that it is possible to pick and choose what you need from the Bible. I think that Evans makes a strong case for this when she says that Christians should spend more time with the troubling parts of the Bible and not less. It’s important to understand why you believe what you believe and also why you reject what you do not believe.

Even if I’m not exactly sure how she defines it, Evans lives her faith and is not afraid to ask questions. This is a refreshing contribution to the discussion about the conflict between religion and feminism.

Confessions of a Pickup Artist Chaser

Posted in Book Reviews on January 1st, 2013

Clarisse Thorn is a feminist writer and activist. Her book, Confessions of a Pickup Artist Chaser: Long Interviews with Hideous Men delves into pickup artist culture and examines it from a feminist perspective. But in doing so, Thorn takes us with her on a journey that’s equal parts exposé, personal memoir, social commentary and feminist critique.

This is a book about insecurity. Both the insecurities of the author and of the men she “chases.” I tried to keep an open mind, and while I don’t know if I can be persuaded that there is anything redeeming about pickup artist culture as it currently exists, I was very curious to see why a self-identified feminist thinks so.

Thorn writes about sex with a focus on BDSM from a feminist perspective. In the book, she spends a lot of time drawing a parallel between kinksters and the pickup artist community. She explains how people who engage in BDSM need strong communication and negotiation skills. This compares negatively with PUAs who think little of women’s consent. And yet, coming from a community where sexual negotiation is extremely specific, she is intrigued by the way some pickup artists are more ambiguous in their approach.

The book follows Thorn through her interviews with pickup artists, and also tells the story of her relationship with a man she met while writing the book. It’s very good, and I found myself wishing that the entire book was a novel singularly focused on this romance.

What I found irritating about this book is the lengths to which the author went to cover up for pickup artists, and the number of qualifiers she added to almost any criticism of their tactics.

Maybe there were some PUAs who talked about fatties and warpigs and hot bitches more because that was the subcultures social standard, and less because they thought that was a reasonable way to discuss actual people. But I couldn’t help it; I disliked them for it nonetheless.

Why would she apologize for disliking men who refer to women as pigs and bitches? She goes on to say (emphasis original):

There were a few guys in the PUA subculture who I liked – who I even trusted – who never used the worst PUA Language and never tripped my misogyny meter.

Perhaps they were self censoring? How could anyone who wasn’t a seething misogynist keep the company of those who were without absorbing some of it? The book describes how spending time with these men causes Thorn much turmoil. Why wouldn’t it have the same effect on anyone else?

Thorn writes about how much she wants the pickup artists to like her, even though it starts to take an emotional toll on her. The more time Thorn spends with them, the more confused, insecure and depressed she feels.

I never had the guts to ask PUA acquaintances to rate me on the number scale. Just thinking about it makes me feel queasy and anxious.

Perhaps because it’s supposed to? “Rating” women is a way for these men to feel more powerful than the women they are attracted to. If it was uplifting and life-affirming, it wouldn’t placate their fragile egos. They are taking advantage of your insecurities to feel better about their own.

Emphasis original:

I can’t deny that I wanted PUA’s approval.
I wanted to feel the judgement of men who spend all their time judging women’s fuckability.

What isn’t clear is if she wanted their approval from the start, or if it arose from spending so much time around men who work hard at getting women to crave their approval. The title of the book is about this dynamic – we are warned that this is a confession of someone seeking the approval of PUA’s. I’m not the only one who noticed this.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be liked, wanting to be wanted, wanting to be hot and fuckable. But to want it from men who have such toxic attitudes about women can lead to nothing good. Thorn starts to analyze her own (meticulously negotiated) relationships by PUA metrics, and of course they fall short. She admits she is developing a bit of a fetish about pickup artists, but instead of thinking about the harm this can do to herself, she scolds herself all the more harshly:

I didn’t yet recognize that I was doing exactly what feminists complain PUAs do to women: viewing these guys primarily as objects.

Despite all of this, Thorn does an excellent job of analyzing pickup artist methods and explaining what’s wrong with the coercive and manipulative techniques. She provides extensive appendices and even explains her own classification of the different types of men that get involved with this subculture. My biggest problem with her analysis though, is not just that she is very generous to pickup artists or how effusively she praises the ones who are not blatantly sexist or abusive but how her own words contradict her argument that there are some good things about pickup artistry.

Emphasis added:

Hypothetically, PUA advice could fill the gaps left by S&M and polyamorous advice. But generally speaking, typical PUA writings emphasize manipulation and objectification and unspoken communication whereas typical S&M and polyamory writings emphasize straightforwardness and mutuality and direct verbal communication.

There’s a lot of discussion in this book about what Thorn calls “strategic ambiguity” and how some people like to flirt and play around without being explicit about their intentions, and how that is a part of the fun. That’s all well and good, but there’s a difference between being coy and being manipulative. This is an important distinction that someone as thoughtful as Thorn must understand and appreciate. Yet somehow, a body of work that typically “emphasize[s] manipulation and objectification” has many redeeming qualities? This frustrated me to no end.

It gets worse when Thorn dives in to the most vile PUAs who encourage each other to rape. When a woman says no to sex when she has been making out with a PUA, or when they are in a place where they might have sex, this is called “Last Minute Resistance.” And there are a number of “tactics” PUAs are supposed to use when they encounter this to try to get to have sex anyway, instead of just taking no for an answer. Some of them called “freeze outs” are about being passive aggressive and pouting, while other PUAs advise to just keep going and ignore what she says, until she says no at least three times, or “unless she really says NO!

Thorn explains in detail why these approaches will most likely lead to sexual assault. But this is somehow not enough to turn her away from the entire community.

There’s even more slime to be uncovered (emphasis original):

[I]t’s hard to avoid thinking that PUAs don’t care about how women actually feel, just how women act. It makes it sound like the priority is not a partner who feels okay; rather the priority is an object that provides an orgasm.

These are Thorn’s own words, her own analysis. And it contrasts harshly with the flirtations she has with pickup artists throughout the book. Many of the men see her as a challenge and hit on her unabashedly. She doesn’t go along as a ploy to get more information or view the advances as evidence that these men don’t take her writing seriously. These sexually charged interactions are savored and recounted almost pruriently. I think we are meant to swoon, although I found myself gagging and rolling my eyes instead.

Thorn is not unaware of how problematic her titillation with the subculture is. In addition to writing a feminist analysis of pickup artist culture, Thorn writes extensively about how all of this makes her feel.

Emphasis original:

There was something so hot about the idea of pickup…but at the same time, so many PUAs are so focused on using women, and I heard so much self-justification for ideas that made my skin crawl. I felt such satisfaction in “turning tables on that bullshit, I occasionally lost sight of the fact that PUAs are real people. Presumably, that’s how misogynist PUA’s feel about women.

Gotta love those adversarial gender roles.

There’s a lot to unpack there. And as distasteful as I find her argument that her intrigue was on par with our culture’s routine objectification of women, I have to admire her brutal honesty and self assessment. An entire book could have been written about Thorn’s conflicting feelings of attraction and disgust at PUA culture, and how this conflict led to a meta analysis that filled her with doubt. Asking for more seems almost like too personal and to demanding of a request. But this underlying conflict fueled most of the narrative. It’s impossible to separate Thorn’s analysis from her visceral attraction to the idea of pickup and by association to the men who engage in it. She is self aware enough to be reliable. And this should not be ignored by anyone who reads the book.

In an interview with Neil Strauss, Thorn called wading through the pickup artist community “panning for gold in a sewer.” I think that would have made a perfect subtitle for her book. Pickup Artists frequently say that men who are a part of their community have “gone down the rabbit hole.” Confessions is about a woman trying to climb out of it.

Reality Bites Back

Posted in Book Reviews on July 19th, 2012

I don’t often disclose that I can occasionally be found watching reality television. I first started watching Tool Academy because of this withering critique of it in Bitch Magazine, but somehow I stayed a loyal fan through all three seasons. And while I knew there was something disquieting about the show’s sexual politics and the cartoonish way race relations were portrayed I didn’t give it much more thought than a few eye rolls. I didn’t expect a sophisticated or egalitarian view or sex, gender or racial politics from a VH1 reality show, so I didn’t bother getting upset. But maybe I should have.

Jenn Pozner’s book Reality Bites Back breaks down the dismissive argument that “it’s just television.” She not only critiques the harmful sexist and racist (and classist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist…) messages perpetuated by reality television, but she explains why it’s profitable for these shows to be made (constant product placement, to the point of surreality) and how networks consider themselves beyond reproach.

The things Pozner uncovers are truly shocking, even for people who are generally grossed out by reality television. For example, the women who auditioned for “Joe Millionaire” didn’t think they were trying out to win a marriage proposal from a wealthy man. They were told that they were going to a casting call for a Real World meets Sex and the City in Paris show. Instead they wound up fodder for water cooler gossip and national mockery for being “gold diggers.” This is unconscionable.

All hope is not lost, and Pozner encourages readers to take action and let networks know what kinds of programming they find objectionable and why, and what they would like to see more of on television. There’s an extensive appendix of resources for would-be activists, and an accompanying website with even more information.

What I liked most about this book was that while the issues of sexist and racist messages in reality shows are taken seriously to task, there’s still a genuine appreciation for the medium of television. Pozner isn’t telling us to kill our televisions, just that we should expect better.

Book Review: The Baby Trap by Ellen Peck

Posted in Book Reviews on March 19th, 2012

My husband just turned 30, and I’m on my way there as well by the end of the year. Sometime during this decade we will probably decide to have children. People who are childfree remind me that this is not my only option, and I want to discern my own desires from the cultural and social pressures that surround me. In part, I have been reading up on the childfree movement. Several times, I heard mention of a book, “The Baby Trap” by Ellen Peck. It’s out of print, but available for free online in several formats.

Published in 1971 – it was one of the first books to advocate not having children as a valid option. For that reason, I understand why it’s considered a classic and revered by childfree people. However, the book is so incredibly sexist that I don’t understand why anyone would encourage women to read it today.

Peck’s argument about the cultural pressures on women to have babies and the vapid consumerism that is selling maternity as much as it’s selling toys and clothes is worthy of praise. It was groundbreaking. But in praising her for that, people seem to overlook the overarching theme and argument she relies most heavily on in her book – directed entirely at women – which is that if you have children, you won’t be able to spend all of your effort on pleasing your husband and he will stop loving you and divorce you.

Other arguments made in the book are about the cost of having children, financially, socially and medically to the parents – and also ecologically. In the 1970’s many people believed that the world was so overcrowded as to be headed for an epic disaster, and so I can forgive her alarmist rhetoric on that topic. Despite that, an ecological argument for not having children is still valid today.

In fact, I think any reason for not having children is valid. People who don’t want to be parents should not be parents. Whether they are concerned about climate change, want to travel or just plain don’t feel like it – I would never impose my opinion on any other person’s reproductive plans.

However, where Peck’s book disappoints me is where she veers off into implying that no one should have children (just as silly as saying everyone should) and that grown men are incapable of adjusting to fatherhood, which is why I found the entire book so distasteful.

Lori is thirty and looks eighteen. She’s fickle, irresponsible, and inclined to fly off to the Azores for weekends, not, usually, alone. She dates married men, because most of the men she knows are married.

The last time I saw her I asked if most of the married men who took her out had children. Her answer was immediate.

“Are you kidding? All of them. In fact, when they pull out the kids’ pictures at a cocktail party, I know they want to get serious for the evening. Lots of times it’s an unmistakable signal. Almost code for, ‘Look, I’m married, honey, I won’t fool you, but it’s just because of these kids; my wife means nothing to me.’

“Sure, it’s the guys with kids,” she continued; “the ones who don’t have kids still like their wives.”

The ones who don’t have kids still like their wives.

That’s not a typo. Peck restated that sentence for emphasis, hoping to make the readers’ blood run cold. She also had an annoying habit of calling women “girls” throughout the book.

In her chapter on the consumerism of modern parenting (probably the best in the book) she included this vignette:

And the salesman was approached by a distraught- looking man, whom I’d seen wandering around the store for some time, come to think of it. In a barely audible voice, and with nervous glances at the other girl and me, he asked the salesman for a “a . . . a . . . do you have … a … a breast pump?” His embarrassment had made the last two words shrill. He glanced over his shoulder at us again, then the salesman led him cheerfully down the aisle.

What was wrong? That man’s wife had evidently needed a breast pump; he’d gone to buy one for her. What was wrong with that, I asked myself. Well, the fact that he had seemed so nervous about it— embarrassed would be more the word— that was what was wrong with it. He looked like a twelve-year-old boy looks when his mother sends him to the drugstore for Kotex. And I think Philip Roth has described that feeling well.

Yes, because the character of Alexander Portnoy is to be taken as representative specimen of healthy male sexuality. Perhaps we should do a case study on Humbert Humbert and responsible step-parenting next?

I wanted to figure this out. Why does a boy or a man feel embarrassed or humiliated at having to buy a woman things like Kotex or a breast pump?


They’re accoutrements to female reproductive physiology. In asking a man to get them, is there kind of an implicit subjugation involved? Is there?

A psychologist I’d interviewed the day before, Nathaniel Branden, had said, “To the degree that aspects of reproduction are overemphasized, aspects of sexuality are de-emphasized.” Would that man, that night, see his wife’s breasts as, well, alluring or romantic?

There is no way to tell, of course. But it is possible that wife-as-babynurse is not at all the same as wife-mistress.

Apparently fatherhood is demeaning, subjugating and emasculating to men, and motherhood makes a woman lose all sex appeal forever and ever. That’s why no one ever has more than one child!

The book continues with a much more coherent analysis of media and cultural messages about parenting, and how these pressure people into making choices they otherwise might not have. But these chapters are also littered with anecdotes about how great it is to be child free because you can buy other things with your money and go on vacations. Apparently materialism is okay if it’s not related to parenting. There are several times where this is stated explicitly,

I freely admit that spending nearly all your money on clothes seems a bit unjustifiable in this troubled world. But I would defend her doing so for two reasons. First, I see nothing wrong with self-indulgence if it doesn’t have any negative social consequences for anybody else. (There are, by contrast, brands of self-indulgence that are destructive. In case it hasn’t come across, I think that indulging yourself with a large family is a destructive kind of self-indulgence. But the surface materialism of fashion, while it does nothing particularly good for the world, doesn’t really hurt anybody, either.)

Her environmental analysis is way off if she thinks that rampant consumerism of any kind is okay.

Chapter Six, “Husbands and Babies” is the one where the sexism is the most egregious.

[A] wife who has no children to preoccupy her time and attention can give that time and attention to her husband. She is more of an attentive companion and a loving woman than a mother-of- two-or-three has time to be. And her husband thrives on this attention.

Nearly every man wants this kind of attention from a woman. I don’t think many men have enthusiasm at the prospect of offspring.

The adult male, it would seem, who has a clear and confident grasp on the world and on his life wants to live that life himself, rather than spend most of it “watching his young grow up.”

Now, there are husbands who want their wives to stay home, be “domestic,” have children. In the opinion of therapist Helena Lopata, “Such a husband is either not very wise, or inwardly he does not love his wife very much. Let’s look at such a situation in real terms. He wants her confined to the home, while he is out in the world of work. He gives her limited and routine tasks while he is out growing, learning, creating, being challenged and stimulated by conditions of competition within his field. He is, by asking for such a situation, creating marital incompatibility: first, in terms of conversation; then sexually. And there is virtually no way around that. Such a husband, in long-range subconscious terms, is aiming toward the dissolution of his marriage, denying future possibilities of relating to his wife as a companion. These men, you see, do not feel comfortable with emotional closeness and intimacy. This is their way out.”

I know in the 70’s there weren’t mommy blogs and all, but I’m pretty sure women who were stay at home mothers did things other than stay indoors all day cleaning and changing diapers. And while I am not a psychologist, I doubt “becoming a father is a passive aggressive way to divorce your wife” and “men are emotional children who need their wives to mother them” makes any sense at all as generalizations.

The chapter continues, and Peck gives several examples of men angry that when they became fathers…they were no longer men without the responsibilities of fatherhood.

“I used to break my neck getting home,” a taxi driver in Dallas told me. “I knew just how to get every green light and make it home in fifteen minutes flat after my shift. We’d have a beer; we’d put the steaks on; we’d talk about the kooks that turned up that day… Or go to this bar a few blocks away for a nightcap and dance… It was great. All the guys thought I had the greatest wife around. Now, I get home to a kid screaming, and a wife who doesn’t notice if I’ve come in the door or not half the time, she’s that busy with the kid. I take the longest way around I can find.”

If anyone was reading this book did not know that having children means that you can’t just randomly go out drinking on weeknights, Peck has done a public service. But I think everyone else on the planet who isn’t that guy is left puzzled.

Peck goes on to talk about the financial stresses of having children, and the way it limits one’s career choices. Again, this is something that should be obvious to anyone who thinks about it for more than two seconds.

Then there is a bit on how parents have less sex than they did beforehand. Again, it makes sense that this is a source of stress to parents, but the way Peck frames the argument – we should sympathize with men who divorce their wives for that reason, as if women who become mothers maliciously withhold sex by definition.

As a British husband who had just left his wife explained to me, “There were few occasions when we could be free of the babies’ needs. There were fewer occasions of sex, it was as simple as that. And therefore there were fewer occasions when everything went right and was fulfilling. This led to some trouble in other ways. It was simply not the same. It was not the marriage I had bargained for; she was not the wife she had been before, not responsive to me …”

As someone who is not a parent, I can’t begin to imagine the demands of taking care of an infant. But what did he expect to happen? That all of Peck’s empathy is with him, and not his wife who now must take care of the demands of parenthood entirely on her own is astounding.

The next chapter, about how women change after becoming mothers is not much kinder.

Since a mother is with a baby all day rather than with her husband, she is more aware of that baby’s needs than she is of her husband’s needs. She knows the baby’s schedule for feeding, changing, cuddling, and check-ups. How can she possibly know that her husband has had such a terrific strain at work today that he needs one hour of complete silence between 6 and 7 p.m. How can she know that he just lost an account at 3 p.m. and could really use a night out as an ego boost? The baby’s needs are simpler, and she’s in more direct touch with them, and the baby is small and helpless, so it’s almost inevitable that baby’s needs come first.

Or perhaps if the husband needs something from his wife, he can open his mouth and ask for it, given that he is a grown man, and not an infant?

A husband can see his wife’s devotion to the baby, and it’s pretty for a while. (Usually for at least one month.) His wife exhibits new qualities: concern; motherliness; responsibility; maturity.

But there’s a catch. These new qualities may not be adding on to the qualities that attracted him to his wife in the first place. They may be displacing those prior qualities: freedom; humor; impulsiveness; youth. Before a husband’s eyes, the girl he married gradually disappears and is just as gradually replaced, by a mother.

Peck continues on, with examples of more men cheating on their wives because they became mothers, seemingly seeking to validate the madonna/whore complex of every man who has ever had one. She does give examples though of women who cheat on her husbands out of boredom – but these have a much less understanding tone.

I know that this book was written a long time ago, and I tried not to come down too hard on it for being dated. I concede that at the time, academic feminism was in its infancy. I have mixed emotions about criticizing so harshly the work of a woman who put so much effort into her marriage only to get divorced anyway and die alone. But that does not make this book a good one, and I cannot understand why childfree activists continue to recommend this book when so much other more egalitarian and coherent writing has been done since. There have been studies that marital happiness decreases after children are born. But suggesting that the only reason a man would want to be a father is because he wants a divorce is ludicrous. And fear mongering about divorce, based solely on an assumption of immaturity on the part of men, is not an argument.

Book Review: F’em: Goo Goo, Gaga, and Some Thoughts On Balls by Jennifer Baumgardner

Posted in Book Reviews on March 12th, 2012

F’em is an anthology of short essays by Jennifer Baumgardner about feminism, music, family, and politics. Baumgardner writes in such a personal style that the book reads like a memoir, even though not all of the writing is autobiographical.

Interview subjects include rock stars like Bjork, Kathleen Hanna, Ani DiFranco and Amy Ray, whom Baumgardner previously dated. The book covers issues like abortion, feminist critiques of popular culture, transfeminism, anti-rape activism and female sexuality. In her essays, she explores her own vulnerabilities, her romantic and family history and the ways her views about feminism have changed throughout her life.

F’em was a quick and pleasant read and ended with an essay sketching out the possibility that feminism has entered its fourth wave, or forth wave, as Shelby Knox dubbed it earlier in the book. I think that the book was organized to make this argument, but until I was done reading it, I often found myself wishing that the essays had appeared in chronological order. While many essays were very poignant and thought provoking others seemed repetitive. I think that organizing them by theme would have solved this problem as well.

Some reviewers have commented on their dislike of the title, but I like the inherent geekiness of it. Fem-inist, Femme, Fuck ’em… the word play is something I appreciate.

Although this book can be understood as one defining the current state of feminism as it transitions into the 21st century and potentially a new wave, it’s also a good resource for the history of the third wave and how feminists with different perspectives can form a coherent movement. As someone who found my feminism because of the feminist blogosphere, I like having a primer on the days of ‘zines and Riot Grrls.

The Jefferson Bible and its Implications

Posted in Book Reviews, Editorials on March 8th, 2012

Recently, I completed a very interesting book, entitled The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, also known by the simpler title, The Jefferson Bible.

Thomas Jefferson, third President of the United States, undertook a very interesting project that most people would never contemplate: he edited the Bible. The Bible is a very hard read, in the final analysis. It has been translated and re-translated, it repeats itself, it contradicts itself, and it is full of events no one can corroborate. Jefferson, an avowed deist, was hostile to organized religion, yet believed in a creator. He decided to take several copies of the bible -written in Greek, Latin, French, and English- and literally cut and paste the Gospel passages that focused on Jesus and his teachings into another book.

The edited gospels are a much more coherent read. Jesus is born, he lives, he teaches, and dies. In this edition, he does not cure blindness, turn water into wine, or come back from the dead. Did I mention it is never implied or stated he is the son of God?

Now why is this important, today? It gives the lie to the idea that the founding fathers were a monolithic group of devout Christians. Additionally, any Christian who followed this pared-down version of the Gospel would enjoy freedom from the cognitive dissonance that plagues their faith. They might even wish to give the same treatment to the Old Testament, to remove the perplexing passages where God orders them to hate gays and masturbation, as well as avoid lobster and mixed fibers.

Jefferson’s project also is not without precedent. All widely-read printings of the Bible have been edited to some degree. His project is also not without imitators. The contributors at “Conservapedia”, a Far-Right-Wing Wiki, (I won’t link to their site) are editing the Bible in an on-going project to prove that modern Conservative thought is fully supported by the Bible. Of course, they are not as smart as Thomas Jefferson.

Just because something was written by a President does not automatically make it correct -that is an argument to authority, and a fallacy. However, The Jefferson Bible is a suggestion to all believers. Maybe scriptures really are a book of stories, but that wouldn’t make the lessons any less true. Maybe scriptures encourage cruel actions, but that doesn’t mean you have to listen, when you know the orders are unjust.

The Bible says men shouldn’t spill their seed on the ground, and wives must submit to their husbands. People really should trust themselves, and refuse to obey such commands, which they know can only cause suffering. What a depressing life you’d have to live, obeying the orders of a God that hates you.