Puritan Gender Roles Essay

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Puritan beliefs were rigid and extremist. They believed that man exists to carry out God's will. There was great debate within the Puritan movement on whether to adopt Presbyterianism into their religion or keep the bishops' hierarchy. The Puritans believed that demons were among us and proactively possessed the morally weak people of the colonies. Pastors performed exorcisms and sentenced alleged witches to death or other strong-willed women like Anne Hutchison and Mary Dyer strong-willed women who were either banished or executed for their actions defying the patriarchal society. 

The Puritans believed in Millennialism meaning that Jesus Christ would rule Planet Earth for a thousand years. As Puritanism encouraged individualism, education was mandatory for everyone so that they could read the Bible and interpret it for themselves and not have to depend upon the Church to dictate what to think about their relationship with their religion. The institution of marriage was believed to be for the purpose of salvation, procreation, and love. Husbands were the titular spiritual head of the home whilst women were to be submissive homemakers who did what they were told. Puritans did not have an idea of separation between the Church and the State. The movement was created to expunge catholic practices from the daily life of the Virginians. The Native Americans' goal was to live in peace with nature. Although the Amerindians tried to establish alliances with the Europeans the Europeans wanted to subsume the most land as fast as possible. The relationship between the two parties was conflicting owing to this European quest for land. 

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The religious aspect was a conflict of culture as their ethics were more harmonious to the environment than the Christian belief that the land was given for man to use as they see fit rather than the idea that land must be looked after (ecologism). The Puritans eventually organized their churches upon a Presbyterian system; each church community was designed to be an autonomous, self-sufficient, unit. This structure was not great for furthering the conversion of the neighboring Indians as unlike the other Protestant denominations or the Catholics, the Puritans lacked the necessary funds to spearhead missions to convert the Natives. Naively, the Puritans expected the Amerindians to eagerly embrace Christianity by themselves. However, this was not the case. After waiting several decades expecting the Indians to turn up on their Church doorstep they slowly began to wonder whether their expectations were correct! Indeed, they consequently began missionary work in the mid-1600s. Eventually, an organization called the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel was created to coordinate the receiving of donations, work, and a new seminary to train young Indian men for the ministry. 

The Puritans segregated the allegedly inferior Indians into 'Praying towns' where they spent all day learning about God, the Bible, and the creeds, as well as learning to be more 'English' and 'civilized' using black chattel slaves, European dress, and follow European gender norms. The Puritan missionaries were at least partly successful indoctrinating the young Indian men to lead official worshipping positions within the church and only they were given permission to study at the Harvard Seminary. Christian Indians attested to having faith in the Puritan's male God. However, the gender norms of the Indians never did mirror that of the Puritans as some traditional ideas of gender remained the same as they always were including who could speak at religious gatherings and the level of spiritual authority women could hold. Moreover, another example is an Indian man named Towan asking 'Why was [Christ] a man' Indicating that the Amerindians were not quick to forget the female iconography of their own religions. This was the opposite of the Puritan idea that women were weak, morally dubious, individuals who needed to be saved by men. In addition to this, some Native American cultures contained transgender roles which meant that men would dress femininely and carry out tasks that are often associated with women; they call this two-spiritedness. Two-Spirit is a modern, pan-Indian, term to describe people within their communities who are of a third gender. This term replaces the pejorative term 'berdache' which conflated intersex, sexuality, and gender describing anyone who was effeminate by Western standards. Many Christian Indian men still listened to women at meetings and ceremonies, unlike the English who persecuted women for having opinions.

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Puritan Gender Roles Essay. (2023, October 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 20, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/puritan-gender-roles-essay/
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Puritan Gender Roles Essay [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2023 Oct 27 [cited 2024 May 20]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/puritan-gender-roles-essay/

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