This question is very important to me. I want to know your thoughts specifically on why women have been so oppressed throughout the history of the earth? I understand that the sexism expressed in scripture is a reflection of the customs of the time, but why were women ever considered inferior to begin with? It makes me sad that women’s rights is only a very recent issue. I can’t help but wonder what God was thinking during all this time…
You are right that it would seem that women have been oppressed for centuries. In too many cultures, they have been treated as property, and too many have been abused. Why is this so? We could blame it all on Satan. We could speculate about human nature: the stronger sex overpowering the physically weaker sex. We could likely come up with more theories, but we will never really know. We can know something more important to us though, and that is this: Heavenly Father has the power to make any adversity or horror (whether it comes from simply living in a fallen world, from Satan, or from Him) into something beautiful.
I’ll give you an example. Remember the story of the woman who touched the Savior’s robe? Women were considered “unclean” when they had their menstrual cycles. Anything or anyone they touched would be unclean and have to undergo a ritual cleansing to be clean again. And this was part of the Mosiac Law, so God was “to blame” for this one. This may seem like a cruel joke on women or we could look at it another way.
What did these women do then for one week out of every month? Possibly, they had a special place to gather. Some cultures had a special tent for women in this condition. Were they ostracized? Or blessed? Think about that for a moment. Life back then was hard work for women and men alike from sun up to sun down. There was always more work to do. But once a month, a woman couldn’t touch anything. She could only go to a tent with other women, and . . . relax? Isn’t it possible that women relished that break from everyday toil? We don’t know, but I think that is certainly possible. It was different, of course, for the woman who had the issue of blood, because she was “unclean” for years. I’ll come back to her in a moment.
Another perspective change I hope you will consider is this – why blame God? It is human nature to do so. You are not alone in that. But perhaps other questions would be more useful.
I recently attended a Christmas program at a mainstream Christian church and heard a song that was new to me. I was struck by the words of the chorus, “How many fathers gave up their sons for me?” Sometimes we seem to forget that Heavenly Father and Jesus are not strangers to pain and suffering. Alma taught us this principle:
And [Christ] will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infinities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities. Alma 7:12
According to the Webster’s 1828 dictionary succor means “literally to run to . . .” Christ suffered so that He could ‘run to’ us and help us in our suffering.
Now, I promised to come back to the woman with the issue of blood. She had been suffering for years, and then she heard about a Rabbi who could heal people. Even though she was unclean, and touching Him would make Him unclean as well, she knew in her heart that this was what she must do. So she gathered her courage, sought Him out and reached out to Him.
You mentioned that this question is really bothering you. Reaching out to me was a great step, may I suggest though that like that woman, you reach out to Heavenly Father and ask Him for help regarding this question. Don’t be afraid, you can’t surprise Him. Remember the Savior’s response to the woman who touched Him? He didn’t chide her, or chastise her instead she received the blessing of healing she desired and He praised her faith. I wish for the same blessing for you.