This website openly and in detail discloses the long and very deeply hidden truth of the non-Christian origins of the denigration, subordination and exclusion of women throughout Christian history. The disparity between the teachings of Christ and the anti-woman teachings that have so long been used by male church leaders to "justify" the treatment of women as second-class children of God is clearly shown. The evolution of the form of those teachings from the beginning of Christianity to today is explained.
Of special note are many quotes from the Church Fathers--the learned and highly influential teachers of the Church--over many centuries that show the gender belief system, not from the teachings of Christ, that has driven the practice of subordinating and excluding women from equal participation in the Church. It will further be shown how Christ did not teach such beliefs and even contradicted them in both words and actions. The hope and prayer driving this website is that "you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (from the shackles of millennia of ignorance and egotism)." (John 8:32) Christ said, "I am the way, the truth and the life." (John 14:6) As with other kinds of holocausts in history, the world must know.
For those who wish to continue pursuit of the subject to which this website is devoted, an extensive enlightening annotated bibliography is included. May your journey to the One who is Truth be greatly blessed.
The belief of the influential pagan (Greco-Roman) philosophers, such as Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, etc., in the inherent inferiority of women as found copiously in their writings, came into Christian culture very early on as well.
The reason cited during the patristic (earliest, times of the highly influential Church Fathers) centuries of the Church was the inherent spiritual, intellectual, moral and physical inferiority of women categorically as a result of Eve’s weakness in being the first sinner. This was also cited as the reason that women should not be allowed to teach men—Eve taught Adam to sin. (Adam’s free-will decision to give in to temptation also is treated much more lightly and even often ignored or excused in patristic literature and hymnology.) This was known as the “female nature” concept, with the positive counterpart “male nature” with its inherent qualities of honor, self-discipline, reason, fitness for leadership, moral strength, etc. assigned to men. This belief system thus ascribed inherent shame to women and inherent honor to men. It was brought into Christianity chiefly from the Greco-Roman pagan philosophers, such as Plato and Aristotle, as well as ancient Old Testament Judaism. It was no less than categorical scapegoating. Further, in fact it was the influence of Roman Law that (also) resulted in women being viewed as "inferior". [The Exclusion of Women from Priestly Ordination and Its Cuckoo Parentage. Darton, Longman & Todd, London, 2001 by J. Wijugaards.]
The term “female/feminine nature” and its implications are found plentifully in patristic writings, sermons and hymnology. This belief system is largely responsible for assigned and unequal “gender roles.”
The reason cited from the (early) Middle Ages onward is known as the “iconic image” or “natural resemblance” concept, which declares that clergy must be male because, Christ’s human body was male. This concept was unknown even to the Church Fathers and cannot be found in their writings. It did not even exist until the Middle Ages. Neither the “female nature” nor the “iconic image” concept originated in nor is supported whatsoever by the teachings, by words or deeds, of Christ. It further conflicts with Christ’s command to worship God “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23)—not in flesh. The “iconic image” concept is still used today in many churches to exclude women from ordination and other leadership roles.
Following the "iconic image" concept of the Middle Ages, the concept of “complementarianism,” that mutually exclusive male and female “roles”complement each other to make a whole, later sought to “sugar coat” the gender-role belief system by attempting to imply importance to the roles (domestic, passive, servile) assigned to women (without their participation in those formulations and decisions). It is put forth by many churches today. With "women's roles" with respect to ministry stereotypically alleged naturally to be of a nurturing nature, church "ladies" groups tend to be concerned with philanthropy, whether within the local congregation or extending to surrounding society, how ironic it is that Christ's parable of the Good Samaritan cast a man in the role of nurturer. One such "ladies" church group "generously" allows men to join, but they can neither vote nor hold office in the group. At one time at least five men actually joined the group to be part of ministering to the needy. They were made to feel so uncomfortable (with such phenomena as membership "teas" with doilies on the tables, etc.) that eventually they all left the group. Unfounded (and un-Christ-like) reverse gender discrimination is no better than its counterpart. In this case it is just on a much smaller scale.
At the other ("opposite") end are church "men's" groups that emphasize leadership and church management. Ironically, Christian history provides a plethora of women who served in strong and effective leadership roles, in spite of the heavy prejudices against them. Only a few examples include Deaconess Phoebe, St. Thecla (a close missionary co-worker of St. Paul), many Byzantine empresses like Sts. Helen and Catherine, women who have been elected to serve as both members and some presidents of Eastern Orthodox parish councils, etc., etc.
In summary, when one excuse did not “fly” any longer, another one was simply concocted to continue justification for the exclusion of women in the Church and in society. Specifically, the Female Inferiority ("female nature") reason of the ancient Church gave way to the "iconic image" ("natural resemblance") concept, with the addition later of the "complementarian" view of skewed dualistic gender roles in more recent times.
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