WWJD? - Not Exclude Women in the Church - or Anyone Else

Medieval and Reformation

Boethius (6th-century Christian philosopher)

“Woman is a temple built upon a sewer.” (The Consolation of Philosophy.)

Council of Macon (585 A.D.)

At the Council of Macon in France, bishops voted as to whether or not women had souls.The measure passed by one vote only.

(Pope) Gregory (I) the Great (c. 540 - 604 A.D.)

Pope Gregory I
Pope Gregory I

“Woman has the poison of an asp, the malice of a dragon.” (Note: The dragon was a symbol of evil.)

Pope Gregory I was the one who started the error of falsely identifying Mary Magdalene as a prostitute:(Homily no. 33)

1. Nowhere in the Bible is she identified as a (former) prostitute.

2. The Vatican recanted Pope Gregory I's error in 1969. The Eastern Orthodox Church had never accepted that error.

3. identified Mary Magdalene with Mary of Bethany who anointed Jesus (John 12:1-8).

4. identified Mary Magdalene with the sinful woman in Luke.

5. Biblical scholars today believe the three are different people.

St. John Damascene (c. 676 – Dec. 5, 749 A.D.)

“Woman is a daughter of falsehood, a sentinel of Hell, the enemy of peace; through her Adam lost paradise.”

Odo of Cluny (10th century)

“To embrace a woman is to embrace a sack of manure.”

St. Bernard of Clairveaux (1090 – 1153 A.D.)

“Woman is the organ of the devil.”

Sicardus of Cremona (1155 - 1215 A.D.)

“There were two commandments in the (Old) Law, one pertaining to the mother giving birth, the other to the delivery itself. With regard to the mother giving birth, when she had given birth to a male child, she was to refrain from entering the Temple for forty days as an unclean person: because the foetus, conceived in uncleanliness, is said to remain formless for forty days. But if she gave birth to a female child, the space of time was doubled, for the menstrual blood, which accompanies birth, is considered to such an extent unclean that, as Solinus states, fruits dry up and grass withers at its touch. But why was the time for a female child doubled? Solution: because a double curse lies on the feminine growth. For she carries the curse of Adam and also the (punishment) ‘you will give birth in pain’. Or, perhaps, because, as the knowledge of physicians reveals, female children remain at conception twice as long unformed as male children.” (Mitrale V, chapter 11)

Petrus Cantor (Peter the Chanter) (c. 1150 -- d. 1197 A.D.)

"Consider that the most lovely woman has come into being from a foul-smelling drop of semen, then consider her midpoint, how she is a container of filth; and after that consider her end, when she will be food for worms.”

St. Albert the Great (1206 – 1280 A.D.)

St. Albert the Great
St Albert the Great

“Woman is less qualified (than man) for moral behavior. For the woman contains more liquid than the man, and it is a property of liquid to take things up easily and to hold onto them poorly. Liquids are easily moved, hence women are inconstant and curious. When a woman has relations with a man, she would like, as much as possible, to be lying with another man at the same time. Woman knows nothing of fidelity. Believe me, if you give her your trust, you will be disappointed. Trust an experienced teacher. For this reason prudent men share their plans and actions least of all with their wives. Woman is a misbegotten man and has faulty and defective nature in comparison with his. Therefore she is unsure in herself. What she herself cannot get, she seeks to obtain through lying and diabolical deceptions. And so, to put it briefly, one must be on one’s guard with every woman, as if she were a poisonous snake and the horned devil…. In evil and perverse doings, woman is cleverer, that is, slyer, than man. Her feelings drive woman toward every evil, just as reason impels man toward all good.” ("Quaestiones super de animalibus XV" q. 11)

“The north wind strengthens the power, and the south wind weakens it… The north wind leads to the generation of males, the south wind leads to the generation of females, because the north wind is pure and dries out the exhalations and stimulates the natural force. But the south wind is moist and heavy with rain.” ("Quaestiones super de animalibus XVIII" q. 1)

"Woman is a misbegotten man and has a faulty and defective nature in comparison to his. Therefore she is unsure in herself. What she cannot get, she seeks to obtain through lying and diabolical deceptions. And so, to put it briefly, one must be on one's guard with every woman, as if she were a poisonous snake and the horned devil.... Thus in evil and perverse doings woman is cleverer, that is, slyer, than man. Her feelings drive woman toward every evil, just as reason impels man toward all good.

St. Bonaventure (1221 – 1274 A.D.)

“Woman is a scorpion.”

St. Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274 A.D.)

Saint Thomas Aquinas
St. Thomas Aquinas

“…nothing [deficient] or defective should have been produced in the establishment of things; so woman ought not to have been produced then.” (God made a mistake?!)

“Woman is defective and misbegotten, for the active force in the male seed tends to the production of a perfect likeness (image of God) of the male sex; while the production of woman comes from defect in the active force from some material indisposition, or even from some external influence, such as that of a south wind, which is moist.” (Summa Theologica I q. 92 a. 1)

“With respect to particular nature, woman is something defective and contingent.” (Summa Theologica q. 92 a.1 ad 1)

“By taking a vow of virginity or of consecrated widowhood and thus being betrothed to Christ, they are raised to the dignity of men, through which they are freed from subordination to men and are immediately united with Christ.” (In I Cor. Ch. 11, lectio 2)

“Sobriety is most requisite in the young and in women, because concupiscence of pleasure thrives in the young on account of the heat of youth, while in women there is not sufficient strength of mind to resist concupiscence.” (Summa Theologica II – ii q. 149 a.4)

“Now, as an eminence of position cannot be signified in the female sex, since the state of subjection is inherent in that sex, it cannot, therefore, receive the sacrament of ordination.” (Summa Theologica Suppl q. 39 a. 1.)

“Good order would have been wanting in the human family if some were not governed by others wiser than themselves. So by such a kind of subjection woman is naturally subject to man, because in man the discretion of reason predominates.” (Summa Theologica I q. 92 a.1 reply 2)

He advocated that men make use of “a necessary object, woman, who is needed to preserve the species or to provide food and drink.”

“The reliability of a person’s evidence is weakened, sometimes indeed on account of some fault of his…; sometimes, without any fault on his part, and this owing either to a defect in the reason, as in the case of children, imbeciles and women, or to personal feeling….” (Summa Theologica II – II q. 70 a.3)

“The woman is subject to the man, on account of the (categorically inherent) weakness of her nature, both of mind and of body. Man is the beginning of woman and her end, just as God is the beginning and end of every creature. Woman is in subjection according to the law of nature, but a slave is not. Children ought to love their father more than their mother.”

"As regards the individual nature, woman is defective and misbegotten, for the active force in the male seed tends to the production of a perfect likeness in the masculine sex; while the production of woman comes from a defect in the active force or from some material indisposition, or even from some external influence." (Summa Theologica, Vol. I, Q. 92, Art. 1, Reply to objection 1)

"But woman is naturally of less strength and dignity than man..." (Summa Theologica, Volume 1, Question 92, Article 1, Objection 2.)

Guido de Baysio (mid-13th Century - 1313 A.D.)

“Women are unfit to receive ordination, for ordination is reserved for perfect members of the church, since it is given for the distribution of grace to other men. But women are not perfect members of the church, only men are.” (Rosarium C. 27, qu. 1, Ch. 23)

“Moreover, woman was the effective cause of damnation since she was the origin of transgression and Adam was deceived through her, and thus she cannot be the effective cause of salvation, because holy orders causes grace in others and so salvation.” (Rosarium C. 27, qu. 1, Ch. 2)

Friar Cherubino of Siena (late 1400’s A.D.)

In his Rules of Marriage, he operationalized the process by which a husband was to rule his wife, recommending:

“When you see your wife commit an offense, don’t rush at her with insults and violent blows, scold her sharply, bully and terrify her. And if this still doesn’t work, take up a stick and beat her soundly, for it is better to punish the body and correct the soul than to damage the soul and spare the body, then readily beat her, not in rage but out of charity and concern for her soul, so that the beating will redound to your merit and her good.”

St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491 - 1556 A.D.)

"The enemy is like a woman, weak in face of opposition, but correspondingly strong when not opposed. In a quarrel with a man, it is natural for a woman to lose heart and run away when he faces up to her; on the other hand, if the man begins to be afraid and to give ground, her rage, vindictiveness, and fury overflow."

Jakob Sprenger & Heinrich Kramer (15th cent. Jesuit Inquisitors)

Sprenger and Kramer
Sprenger and Kramer
Malleus Malificarum

A few samples that follow below are from their book the Malleus Malificarum (Hammer of Witches), which served as a manual for identifying, judging and punishing witches. It was endorsed by Pope Innocent VIII in 1484 A.D. and helped cause thousands of innocent women and some men to be burned at the stake:

“What else is woman but a foe to friendship, an unescapable punishment, a necessary evil, a natural temptation, a desirable calamity, a domestic danger, a delectable detriment, an evil of nature, painted with fair colours.”

From p. 44 of the English translation by Dover Publications, 1971:

“It should be noted that there was a defect in the formation of the first woman, since she was formed from a bent rib, that is, a rib of the breast, which is bent as it were in a contrary direction to man. And since through this defect she is an imperfect animal, she always deceives."

Pope Innocent VIII

“I had rather dwell with a lion and a dragon than to keep house with a wicked woman. All wickedness is but little to the wickedness of a woman. And to this may be added that, as they are very impressionable, they act accordingly.”

”… that since they (women) are feebler both in mind and body, it is not surprising that they should come under the spell of witchcraft.”

“But the natural reason is that she (woman) is more carnal than a man, as is clear from her many carnal abominations. And it should be noted that there was a defect in the formation of the first woman, since she was formed from a bent rib…. And since through this defect she is an imperfect animal, she always deceives.”

From p. 46:

“If we inquire, we find that nearly all kingdoms of the world have been overthrown by women. Troy, which was a prosperous kingdom, was, for the rape of one woman, Helen, destroyed, and many thousands of Greeks slain.” (Note: Blaming the rape victim for all of this??)

Witch Burning

“. . (I)t is no wonder that the world now suffers through the malice of women.”

“Let us consider another property of hers, the voice. For as she is a liar by nature, in her speech she stings while she delights us.”

From p. 114: “...(T)hey (witches) have been copulating with Incubus devils: Yet sometimes, howbeit this is rare, at the end of the act a very black vapour of about the stature of a man, rises up into the air from the witch.”

Even from the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas: “Simon Peter said to [the disciples]: Let Mary be excluded from among us, for she is a woman, and not worthy of life. Jesus said: Behold I will take Mary, and make her a male, so that she may become a living spirit, resembling you males. For I tell you truly, that every female who makes herself male will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”

St. John Eudes (d. 1680 A.D.)

“It is a subject of humiliation of all the mothers of the children of Adam to know that while they are with child, they carry with them an infant…who is the enemy of God, the object of his hatred and malediction, and the shrine of the demon.”

From the Protestant Realm

Martin Luther (1483 – 1546 A.D.)

Martin Luther
Martin Luther

“Even though they (women) grow weary and wear themselves out with child-bearing, it does not matter; let them go on bearing children till they die, that is what they are there for.”

"The word and works of God is quite clear, that women were made either to be wives or prostitutes." (Works 12.94)

"How often have not the demons called 'Nix,' drawn women and girls into the water, and there had commerce (intercourse) with them, with fearful consequences."

"Men have broad and large chests, and small narrow hips, and more understanding than women, who have but small and narrow breasts, and broad hips, to the end they should remain at home, sit still, keep house, and bear and bring up children." (Table Talk)

“The Devil can so completely assume the human form, when he wants to deceive us, that we may well lie with what seems to be a woman, of real flesh and blood, and yet all the while ‘tis only the Devil; and…the result of this connection is oftentimes an imp of darkness, half mortal, half devil.”

"No gown worse becomes a woman than the desire to be wise."

“God has created men with broad chests and shoulders, not broad hips, so that men can understand wisdom. But the place where the filth flows out is small. With women it’s the other way around. That’s why they have lots of filth and little wisdom.”

“Women are ashamed to admit this, but Scripture and life reveal that only one woman in thousands has been endowed with the God-given aptitude to live in chastity and virginity. A woman is not fully the master of herself. God fashioned her body so that she should be with a man, to have and rear children…No woman should be ashamed of that for which God made and intended her.”

“Woman must never complete anything without man: Where he is, there she must be, and bend before him as before a master, whom she shall fear and to whom she shall be subject and obedient.”

"For woman seems to be a creature somewhat different from man, in that she has dissimilar members, a varied form and a mind weaker than man. Although Eve was a most excellent and beautiful creature, like unto Adam in reference to the image of God, that is with respect to righteousness, wisdom and salvation, yet she was a woman. For as the sun is more glorious than the moon, though the moon is a most glorious body, so woman, though she was a most beautiful work of God, yet she did not equal the glory of the male creature." (Commentary on Genesis, Chapter 2, Part V, 27b.)

"God created Adam master and lord of living creatures, but Eve spoilt all, when she persuaded him to set himself above God's will. 'Tis you women, with your tricks and artifices, that lead men into error."

"We may well lie with what seems to be a woman of flesh and blood, and yet all the time it is only a devil in the shape of a woman."

Menno Simons
Menno Simons
Anabaptist Leader

Menno Simons (Anabaptist Leader) (1496 – 1561 A.D.)

In a message to women: “Remain in your houses and gates unless you have something of importance to regulate, such as to make purchases, to provide in temporal needs, to hear the word of the Lord, or to receive the holy sacraments, etc. Attend faithfully to your charge, to your children, house and family…”

John Knox (1505 – 1572 A.D.)

“Woman in her greatest perfection was made to serve and obey man... Nature I say, paints [women] further to be weak, frail, impatient, feeble and foolish: and experience has declared them to be inconstant, variable, cruel and lacking the spirit of counsel and regiment [or, leadership]." (The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women.)

John Knox
John Knox
Presbyterian Church Founder

"To promote a woman to bear rule, superiority, dominion, or empire above any realm, nation, or city, is repugnant to nature; contumely [an insult] to God, a thing most contrary to his revealed will and approved ordinance; and finally, it is the subversion of good order, of all equity and justice." The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women: The First Blast to Awaken Women Degenerate

"But now to the second part of nature, in the which I include the revealed will and perfect ordinance of God; and against this part of nature, I say, that it does manifestly repugnant that any woman shall reign and bear dominion over man. For God, first by the order of his creation, and after by the curse and malediction pronounced against the woman (by reason of her rebellion) has pronounced the contrary." (The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women: The Empire of Women is Contrary to the Revealed Will of God)

"And now, to put an end to The First Blast. Seeing that by the order of nature; by the malediction and curse pronounced against woman, by the mouth of St. Paul, the interpreter of God's sentence; by the example of that commonwealth in which God by his word planted order and policy; and, finally, by the judgment of the most godly writers; God has dejected woman from rule, dominion, empire, and authority above man: moreover, seeing that neither the example of Deborah, neither the law made for the daughters of Zelophehad, neither yet the foolish consent of an ignorant multitude, are able to justify that which God so plainly has condemned; [142]let all men take heed what quarrel and cause from henceforth they do defend." (The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women: Conclusion)

Christ goes to the core of the problem: "But the things that come out of a person's mouth come from the heart, and these defile them." (Matt. 15:18)

John Calvin (1509 - 1564)

"Thus the woman, who had perversely exceeded her proper bounds, is forced back to her own position. She had, indeed, previously been subject to her husband, but that was a liberal and gentle subjection; now, however, she is cast into servitude."

"Woman is more guilty than man, because she was seduced by Satan, and so diverted her husband from obedience to God that she was an instrument of death leading to all perdition. It is necessary that woman recognize this, and that she learn to what she is subjected; and not only against her husband. This is reason enough why today she is placed below and that she bears her ignominy and shame."

"On the first post-resurrection appearance of Jesus to women rather than to men: 'I consider this was done by way of reproach, because they [the men] had been so tardy and sluggish to believe. And indeed, they deserve not only to have women for their teachers, but even oxen and asses... Yet it pleased the Lord, by means of those weak and contemptible vessels, to give display of his power." [Commentary on the Gospel of John (John 20)]

"On this account, all women are born that they may acknowledge themselves as inferior in consequence to the superiority of the male sex." [Commentary on 1 Corinthians (1 Corinthians 11)]

Form his commentary on 1 Timothy 2: "Now Moses shews that the woman was created afterwards, in order that she might be a kind of appendage to the man; and that she was joined to the man on the express condition, that she should be at hand to render obedience to him."

"Augustine is so wholly with me, that if I wished to write a confession of my faith, I could do so with all fullness and satisfaction to myself out of his writings." (https://blog.logos .com/2012/01/5-things-you-didn't-know-about-john-calvin-and-should/)

"Let the woman be satisfied with her state of subjection, and not take it amiss that she is made inferior to the more distinguished sex." (Oliphant, J. (2011). AQA Religious Ethics for AS and A2. New York, NY: Routledge.)

John Dod (1549 - 1645)

"Even as the church must fear Christ Jesus, so must the wives also fear their husbands. And this inward fear must be shewed by an outward meekness and lowliness in her speeches and carriage to her husband.... For if there be not fear and reverence in the inferior, there can be no sound nor constant honor yielded to the superior." (A Plaine and Familiar Exposition of the Ten Commandements, Puritan guidebook first published in 1603)

The second duty of the wife is constant obedience and subjection." (A Plaine and Familiar Exposition of the Ten Commandements, Puritan guidebook first published in 1603)

Matthew Poole

Basically sharing the belief of John Wesley, but with the limitation of "But setting aside that extraordinary case of a special afflatus (strong influence of the Spirit), it was doubtless, unlawful for a woman to speak in the church." (Annotations upon the Holy Bible, 1652)

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