through the looking glass


It sometimes seems as if society has become so warped that we have stepped into a sick fantasy world of upside-down. Conservative Christian women simply long for the good old days when everything made sense, and we knew children were getting the most of traditional values.

Traditional father-daughter values

In the good old days, people followed the traditional value rules that had been beamed directly from the god God. For example, the rules for fathers for dealing with their daughters:

When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do. If she does not please her master, who has designated her for himself, then he shall let her be redeemed. He shall have no right to sell her to a foreign people, since he has broken faith with her. If he designates her for his son, he shall deal with her as with a daughter. (Exodus 21:7-9)

Isn’t that nice and so progressive of the god God? Once your father sells you as a slave, you are protected from being sold on to foreigners, and if your new slave-master decides you’re to marry his son, you even get to be treated like a daughter (who can be sold into slavery yet again?)

Traditional sex within marriage values

In the good old days, people followed the traditional value rules of keeping sex within marriage. When people failed to follow these rules, we didn’t have to see the ugly results, because women were spirited away to imaginary relatives for several months and returned in virtually their original condition. Or, better still, they were banished to workhouses for up to the rest of their lives:

The laundries were … operated by four orders of Catholic nuns in Ireland from 1922 to 1996. Over 10,000 young women, considered a burden by family, school and the state, spent an average of six months to a year locked up in these workhouses doing unpaid, manual work. Some were kept there against their will for years. Their numbers were made up by unmarried mothers and their daughters, women and girls who had been sexually abused, women with mental or physical disabilities who were unable to live independently, and young girls who had grown up under the care of the church and the state. (Time)

Isn’t that so nice of our conservative societies in the good old days? When we pretended things we didn’t like didn’t exist, children were much happier (as long as they weren’t in the workhouse).

Traditional male-female marriage values

In the good old days, only heterosexual couples were allowed to marry; only heterosexual couples were allowed to express their love for each other in open society. When people failed to follow these rules, they were put to death:

 In 1835, John Smith and James Pratt were hanged outside Newgate Prison for (in the exhausting fulminations of the Old Bailey trial records) “feloniously, wickedly, diabolically, and against the order of nature, carnally … commit and perpetrate[d] the detestable, horrid, and abominable crime (among Christians not to be named) called buggery.” (

Isn’t that such a beautiful image of the good old days? We could walk in the park without having to avert our eyes from perversion or answer terribly awkward questions from our children.

Traditional breeding values

In the good old days, before the advent of sinful (and not in any way useful) contraception, girls were deprioritised for education, they got married as soon as their sex organs were developed and spent their whole short lives giving to birth to and raising children. No wonder good Christian women are longing for a return to these values!

In the 19th and first half of the 20th century, everybody knew about death in childbirth, particularly those women who were about to go through the process. Although death rates from many other conditions were high, they at least were among people who had been ill beforehand. Death in relation to childbirth was mostly in fit young women who had been quite well before becoming pregnant. They died, often leaving the baby, and other children in the family from previous births, with a widowed husband. (Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine)

Isn’t that a comforting thought? Women died in their millions giving birth because they had no options, no control and no hope.


I can totally understand why today’s world of conservative Christian women is longing for a return to the good old days of traditional values. In the good old days when women were treated as property and disposable breeding stock, we didn’t have to look at illegitimate children or same sex couples, which we all know is virtually the same as ‘sin’ not having existed. As we step through the looking glass into today’s perverse society full of untraditional values that are grounded in equality and evidence-based research (which is subject to close scrutiny and re-evaluation when required), good Christian women around the world are shuddering at the utopia we’ve carelessly left behind.

My thanks to Caroline Farrow for inspiring this post.