There may be some women who, on reading the Da Vinci Code, are convinced that the Grail societies are devoted to advancing the causes of women, versus the 2000 year conspiracy to subjugate women (Brown, pp. 256-257). It is time to take a deep breath and examine history and sociology. Think of the nations that continue to be culturally influenced by the worship of many gods male and female as the esoterics would have us do: Japan and India are two that come to mind immediately. One might also consider the “animistic” religions as practiced by African traditionalists.
Now, compare the status of women in Japan, India and African traditionalist cultures, with the status of women in cultures in which the Church had been long established as an influence: Germany, Holland, England, France, the United States and Canada, even, for the sake of argument, Spain, Italy, and Greece. It is obvious that the so-called historically Christian nations have lifted the status of women, while nations in which polytheism is actively encouraged by the culture, continue to engage in some of the most brutally chauvinistic practices the world has known.
Because of the shared Indo-European cultural roots, a comparison study of India’s culture with the beliefs of pre-Christian Europe, as touted by the Grail societies, will really open your eyes. Many practices of pre-Christian Europe can find parallels in the polytheism of India. Many of these practices supposedly exalt the feminine and feminine sexuality, and we honor this Hindu attitude for providing the world with the sexual enrichments of Karma Sutra. This sounds very liberating and liberal.
Yet, in India, polytheism is woven together with the Hindu caste system in a society in which women are burned alive by their husbands if their dowry is not large enough. An overstatement? How many wives being burned alive, while the police look the other way, is too many? Would fewer than a thousand a year make my words an overstatement? Would fewer than a hundred? If this is an overstatement, then I shall retract. What of the caste system itself, in which hundreds of millions in India are deemed "untouchable"?
In fact, the Old Testament case for monotheism is established on the principle that monotheism, the worship of One God, is liberating. The practices of polytheism and all that came with it, including sex rituals to placate fertility deities, laid the grounds for economic and gender injustice. The graphic depictions of harlotry in idolatry described by both Ezekiel (chapters 22 and 23) and Hosea (chapters 1-4) show the kind of exploitation, even sexual enslavement, that occurs when people submit to the bondages that come with a polytheistic world-view. The prophets always speak of demolishing the idols and returning to the One God as the first step in elevating dignity, status, and liberty, for man and for woman both.
More will be said in the third essay series, The Sacred Feminine.