Christianity and the Role of Women – A Woman’s Place

April 8, 2007 at 7:26 pm 23 comments

Women at workWhere 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:

  1. Get married
  2. Have children
  3. Guide the house
  4. 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.

- Stellar1

Entry filed under: Stellar1. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , .

Taking the Resurrection Challenge Prayer: Communion with yourself

23 Comments Add your own

  • 1. The de-Convert  |  April 8, 2007 at 8:24 pm

    POD,

    Do you still consider yourself a Christian? If so, what is your definition of a Christian?

    Paul

  • 2. pastorofdisaster  |  April 8, 2007 at 7:57 pm

    Your question about what is lost because of misogynistic and sexist Biblical teachings is something that I think of quite often. What a total waste. We loose a tremendous amount of insight into the human condition only hearing a limited number of voices. That is why I really appreciate reading what is said on this blog.

    I attended fundamentalist churches, a missionary boot camp and Bible College that taught these types of repulsive views, as well as, many other destructive and abusive teachings. I think it is understandable and important to reject teachings in which you have felt excluded. I am sure that it was painful to hear your church was saying, but I am so glad that you were able to question this teaching and leave that movement. Thanks for the post!

  • 3. harryagaylord  |  April 8, 2007 at 8:17 pm

    Your post highlights the importance of searching out the truth for yourself instead of taking someone’s word for what the Bible says. The scriptures have always been twisted to mean things they don’t actually mean, especially in church, to oppress people.

    There are plenty of women in the Bible who made contributions outside the home. Have you read about Deborah, who ruled Israel as a judge (Judges 4, 5)? She fought alongside Israelite men in a war against their oppressors? What about the example mentioned in Proverbs 31 of the virtuous woman who works outside of her home buying real estate and selling goods? Or what about the women who were a vital part of Jesus’ ministry in Luke 8:1-3?

    The scripture in 1 Timothy you mentioned is quoted out of context. It is specifically talking about young widows who are running around idle and not making good use of their time, so Paul suggested they get married and have children if they didn’t do anything more positive with their time. Paul said “I will” in this scripture, which means he spoke out of his personal suggestion, not as a commandment from God.

    The scripture in Titus is a small list of examples of what can be taught to young women, not an exhaustive list of the only things that they should be or learn. The Bible does this a lot in certain places as a way of laying a foundation, not as a way of saying “this is it and there’s nothing more to be said.”

    The point of what I’m saying is don’t blame God for man’s shortcomings. Men are sinful and often try to create God in their image. This is why each individual needs to get their own understanding of who God is and what he wants as stated in the Bible.

  • 4. agnosticatheist  |  April 8, 2007 at 8:36 pm

    harry,

    Just curious, what are your thoughts on these scriptures?

    1 Corinthians 14:34-35 Let women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.

    1 Timothy 2:9 In like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing,

    1 Corinthians 11:3 Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.

    Ephesians 5:22-24 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

    Deuteronomy 22:28-29 If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the girl, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.

    Deuteronomy 22:23-24 If a man happens to meet in a town a virgin pledged to be married and he sleeps with her, you shall take both of them to the gate of that town and stone them to death—the girl because she was in a town and did not scream for help, and the man because he violated another man’s wife. You must purge the evil from among you.

    What do you do with these verses? Are they also “personal suggestions” and not “commandments from God?” That actually is not a bad conclusion.

    aA

  • 5. pastorofdisaster  |  April 8, 2007 at 10:23 pm

    I am not sure whether my self-definition as a Christian really stays on the point of this post, but I will attempt to answer. I rely on others to tell me whether I am still a Christian. I have been assured that I am, although I know quite a few people that would say that I am not. The reason I rely on others is because I believe that the term originally was a definition by outsiders. Plus, I rarely use it to describe myself. I believe strongly in some of the teachings of Jesus, which makes me a follower of Christ’s teachings. I even try to live by some of them. I like a few of the teachings of Paul (or whoever wrote in his name). I try to take the Jewish Scriptures seriously. Most of its poetry inspires me. Sometimes I enjoy the Bible, but do not take it literally. I keep a regular practice of prayer. I like keeping my beliefs simple to things like grace, service to others, forgiveness, love, peace and especially mercy. I think that I would be doing well if I could follow the golden rule. I hope that this answers your question.

  • 6. mysteryofiniquity  |  April 9, 2007 at 7:13 am

    Harry,

    As women we are told not to blame God for man’s shortcomings and as members of the church we are told to obey men’s commands because they “know” what God says in the bible. So, we are faced with not being “allowed” to blame God or man. No wonder we leave the church in frustration. It’s our fault for not “obeying” either way.

  • 7. harryagaylord  |  April 9, 2007 at 8:21 pm

    agnosticatheist,

    I think the first thing to be said about scripture is that we must compare scripture with other scripture and look at them in context to get their true meaning. I don’t know everything and am still learning after over 25 yrs as a Christian.

    In 1 Corinthians 11:2-16, Paul set certain parameters for a married woman to pray or teach in the congregation which were in keeping with what was proper for the culture. So women were in fact allowed to preach and pray. 1 Corinthians 14 is about married women who have questions about what is said. It is my guess they were interrupting the speakers with questions and Paul told them to ask their husbands after the meetings so as not to disrupt things. These women were trying to learn, not trying to teach.

    1 Timothy 2:9 is stated so that a woman will not be so focused on her appearance that she would neglect that she is supposed to show forth godliness. Queen Esther in the Old Testament was a godly woman who dressed in royal apparel, so I doubt Paul is trashing women for wanting to look good, as long as they don’t overdo it.

    Ephesians 5 is a message to Christian married couples so order will be established in the household. Every person has their role. The Christian husband is to treat his wife with the utmost love and respect and the wife does the same for her husband. Not all men disrespect their wives as the feminist movement would have us believe. And God never tells a woman to stay in an abusive relationship since he prefers mercy over sacrifice.

    I’ll have to do more research on the Deuteronomy scriptures, then I’ll get back to you.

    Mysteryofiniquity,

    God gives both men and women the Holy Spirit when they get saved and they are given the same spiritual gifts as men. He’s not a respecter of persons. So if a man says something wrong that goes against what God says, don’t listen. Why do you think Jesus had so many problems with religious leaders?

    I have been in churches myself where I was shut out because I questioned religious leaders who were teaching wrong stuff. There’s nothing wrong with leaving a church in frustration when religious leaders want totalitarian rule. Unfortunately, that’s how most churches are set up and that’s not how God intended it.

  • 8. mysteryofiniquity  |  April 10, 2007 at 7:18 am

    Harry,
    It’s easy for you to say “don’t listen” since, being a man, you come from a position of power automatically. I have chosen not to listen to christian teachers. I have also chosen not to “listen” to the God of men’s scriptures anymore also, since this too is a reflection of patriarchal thought and the dominant power.

  • 9. Using the Bible to support Hinduism « Agnostic Atheism  |  April 10, 2007 at 2:23 pm

    [...] 10th, 2007 I had a bit of fun with this one. On Stellar1’s blog, “Christianity and the Role of Women – A Woman’s Place,” a blogger, harryagaylord, posted some comments in defense of the Bible’s view of [...]

  • [...] 11th, 2007 In my previous blog, “Christianity and the Role of Women – A Woman’s Place,” I wrote on the phrase – “the woman’s place is in the home.” In it, I quoted a [...]

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Attention Christian Readers

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