Christianity and the Role of Women – A Woman’s Place
Where is my place? I grew up in a conservative Christian home, so that very familiar phrase rushes back to me like a crashing wave – “the woman’s place is in the home.” It washes over me and leaves me feeling small and ashamed that I was born a female. I can still see the many faces I’ve heard say it, even my own family. I can also still feel the gut-wrenching anger that would well up in my stomach each time I heard this stifling phrase.
In his booklet, “Should A Christian Mother Work Outside the Home?“, Pastor Art Kohl writes on two doctrinal passages from the Bible that define the role of women:
First, 1 Timothy 5:14 says, “I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.” Note in this text there are 4 requirements stated:
- Get married
- Have children
- Guide the house
- Live a perfect testimony so not once can the adversary (Satan) say anything reproachful about you.
Now notice number 3 says, “guide the house.” Does that mean that the house is going somewhere and you have to guide it? No, a house is an unmovable structure. That’s the point. A mother is to stay at the house and guide it.
The word guide here comes from a Greek word that means to “rule”. Thus a woman is to get married, have children, and rule the house. Now if you are thinking, you are probably saying to yourself, “I thought my husband was to rule the house?” That is just the point. Your husband is not there, he’s out working while you are ruling in his place! Mothers you are to “guide (rule) the house”, It is your Scriptural duty.
Second, Titus 2:4-5 says, “That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the Word of God be not blasphemed.”
These are the scriptures used by my church to teach me my place in life. However, even as a young girl I wondered why so little was to be expected from me while the future of all the little boys around me was looked upon with great expectation. It made me mad. I just couldn’t resign my life to such a mundane existence.
How many other little girls have heard these teachings and felt angst from its implication? How many have succumbed to the resignation I fought so hard to evade? The degradation of being slighted in life and the victimization that comes from stolen opportunity are the types of feelings I dealt with growing up in a fundamental evangelical church. It was a part of my everyday life. We were told this way of thinking was suppose to be normal, but it never felt normal to me. It always felt wrong.
I often think about the millions of other women who were slighted throughout history. Can you imagine how much more advanced the world would be today if women had always been given the same opportunities as men to advance the areas of medicine, philosophy, architecture and politics? After all, two heads are better than one. And two sexes are definitely better than one. How sad that one half of the world’s potential has been hidden away for most of recorded history.
Realizing these Biblical teachings were sexist and misogynistic, launched me on my journey towards atheism.