There are many belief systems, religions and styles of observing or celebrating one’s faith. It’s a subject that comes up in HR when we’re tasked with evaluating a request for religious accommodation or we consider how we’ll handle an employee relations issue when Employee A feels harassed by Employee B’s proselytizing in the work place.
Now I’m by no means a religiously observant person. I do, however, find it fascinating to read about different religions and belief systems. From a historical and social perspective, it’s endlessly interesting to me to look at the connection between different religions and see how they’ve shaped and continue to influence the world in which we live. One group I’ve been trying to understand is the group of Christians who live by directives set out by the Apostle Paul in the Pastoral Epistles of the New Testament (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus).
In the King James Version of the Bible, 1 Timothy, Chapter 2 (v 11 – 13), we read: “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve.”
Or, in a new translation – “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.”
Some scholars and writers have taken great pains to point out that these scriptural verses do not mean that woman is inferior to man. After all, they point out, there are other verses which speak to the woman being permitted by her husband to have authority over the domain of the household – to “marry, bear children and guide the house.” However, many are in agreement that these edicts DO let us know that woman is subordinate in rank to man.
There are some who point out that this is primarily within the context of teaching or worshipping within the confines of the Church; after all, this is a basis for some denominations to not ordain women pastors or priests or to allow women to be religious leaders. But even if this IS only within the context of a religious service or religious teaching – how can a viewpoint like this not permeate the rest of society?
There are a number of religious bloggers who discuss their faith. I recently read a blog post where the writer made very clear that “it is my husband’s policy that I not engage men in discussions” and “I will not respond to comments from men, especially questions which could put me in a ‘teaching’ position.”
Now I fervently support individuals having the ability to freely believe in and worship whatever deity, deities, or non-deities they wish. And to live by whichever commandments or teachings they believe are imperative. But I can’t help but wonder how the men who believe that women are subordinate handle their interactions with women in the workplace.
How do the sons, raised in these households, move out into a society where they will have to take directions from a woman, or be taught/instructed by a woman? If a male employee has a deeply-held religious belief that a woman is not to be in a position of authority over him, what happens if his newly-hired manager is a woman?
And would everyone, perhaps, view things just a tad differently had Eve arrived on the scene before Adam?