Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Role of Women in Church

I'm just curious as to what the different opinions are on here.

What do you think women can/should do in church? Lead, pastor, teach? Are they supposed to be silent and do nothing? Clean? Do they need to have separate ministries, and if so, what?

I know it's a vague kind of question, and it's not one of my leading questions either, but I really just want to know what you guys think - what's the 'place' of women in church, and why do you think what you think?


  1. Did you spy on me yesterday? Samer and I were discussing this topic. I think it stemmed from my latest post "Jesus & Women" and also the fact he talked to 3 German males on Sunday night who were discussing this topic. Weird timing to read this now from you!

    I've heard good points from both sides. Growing up in the Independent Baptist church, we did not have women preachers, but we did have women singers, Sunday School teachers, program directors and so forth. Ushers, deacons, preachers -- all men. My church now is non denominational or interdenominational and we have a woman choir director and woman children's pastor. Ushers, deacons, main preachers -- still all men.

    But I've heard good arguments for the other side and have friends in other denominations who have women leaders.

    What do you think?

    Also, the Germans that Samer talked to said basically


    as a form of hierarchy and this is what we were discussing as well. Within the family and church. I'd like to know your opinion of this. Samer thought maybe this was one place where Christianity put down women. Do you agree?

  2. I feel that men and women naturally fall into different roles. But I don't think religion or any other "system" should rigidly box people into roles based on gender. People should be allowed to do what they're good at. That would probably mean there'd quite naturally be much more male than female pastors, which is fine, but those few women that would make good pastors should get the chance, I think.

    If religion historically prescribed gender roles, I personally would imagine it was a matter of cultural sensitivities and not a universal rule from God.

  3. One of the Protestant churches I attended for a while had a woman reverend. She was wonderful, such an amazing speaker. I do not think women could lead in the Catholic church because its been basically set up so that can't happen but outside of that it seems to work fine. Its very even in protestant and other Christian churches.

    Religions were set up by men so naturally they were designed to have men lead and women follow. Amazingly, women in all faiths are starting to take back some of their equality. I even see this at the mosque, women requesting to recite, teaching girls to recite, Eligant speeches given for women by a woman NOT a male Shiekh. Its good that all faiths are progressing to a more inclusive attitude.

  4. Susanne,

    Yes. I'm stalking you with my incredible psychic powers. Fear me! *makes mysterious woowooie noises and waves hands about. mysteriously.*

    Maybe it's something in the water? Anna did a post about her impressions of the role of women in Orthodoxy, and it made me think about it.

    The MS Lutheran church I grew up in had women teachers, choir directors, etc. I'm fairly certain they were on the board of 'Elders' as well. But women could never be pastors.

    I personally don't think women should be pastors or priests. (I can't tell you how much it disconcerts me every time I see a female 'priest' in a clerical collar.) It has nothing to do with the 'value' of the person - we're all equal, spiritually. Rather, for me, and I know it's a really simplistic argument - the priest acts in the person of Christ. When he offers the Holy Gifts, he is acting as Christ, offering Himself. Christ was a man, so the priest, acting as a type of Christ, must be a man. Like I said, I know it's kind of simple, but there you go.

    Plus, we could bring up the issue of a woman's 'monthlies' - if, like me, you follow that a woman shouldn't receive during that short period of time, what do you do when your female 'priest' is ritually unclean? Cancel? And what if she becomes pregnant? My understanding is that only ordained people can enter the Sanctuary, and while the mother might be ordained, her child isn't. So what then?

    *rolls eyes at 'the Germans'* I think it goes thusly:
    / \
    Men Women

    Here's hoping that displays right. It probably won't. But it should show that men and women are equal under God.

    Yes, we have different roles, and sometimes the man's role is to be 'in charge', but that doesn't hold true for everything.

  5. Sarah,

    Hmm...but does a woman have to be a 'pastor' to exercise her abilities? Or is it a case of women overcompensating for being held back for so long? That we feel the need to prove that we can do everything the boys can do. And *better* too! :)

  6. LK,

    No, women will never be priests in the Catholic church. If it ever does happen...I can't even imagine it. That'd be the end of it. I mean...that'd be the ultimate proof that the Catholic church is *not* the Church of Christ.

    I think it 'works well' in Protestant churches because they lack the Sacraments, so it's not an issue. Anyone, given the skill and desire, can get up and speak.

    Hmmm...can women be Imams or Sheiks?

  7. Yes actually they can :) They can even be Ayatollahs. Im not sure they can be a marja though (The person a Shia follows to get advice from and practice proticol). Pretty much the difference is you cant lead congregational prayer if men are present. Bending over in front of men is not considered appropriate. And, of course, you run into our monthly issue. But there are some mosques with women sheikhs. They are rare but they exist. Most men do not want them so its really hard for a woman to get to that position. The men will pretty much throw a fit if a woman wants to rise to that position but the schools are starting to have almost as many women on the scholarly path as the men wooo! There are a lot of women speakers who travel and talk. I really need to get to one of those. They have one every month at my local mosque. Its just been too cold for me to walk there.

    Basically its possible but a really slow process because the men don't want them.

  8. Amber - no, I guess women don't have to be pastors to exercise their abilities, but at least in the type of churches I went to, I can't see any reason why not. The things you mentioned wouldn't have been an issue (I don't even know what's meant by offering the Holy Gifts!)

    But then I don't know if I've come across a female pastor. And admittedly, the idea feels odd. Maybe because it's about leadership and I think generally men are more convincing leaders.

  9. LK,

    Interesting, and good to know. But, of course, technically being allowed, and *actually* happening are often two very different things. But I'm glad to hear there are more women pursuing such avenues. :)

    Oh! I have a plan for the prayer issue! In a mosque with a female Imam, put the men behind the curtain! ;)

  10. Sarah,

    Sorry. Holy Gifts is another term for the Eucharist.

    I've never been in a church that had a female pastor. I'll admit that, should I accidentally find myself in one, I'd probably get up and leave. It's terribly rude, and goes against the grain, but I don't know that I could actually sit there.

  11. Amber thats what I said!!!

    We pray all the time without being able to see the Imam. So they could do the same lol

  12. You already know a little of what I think. :-)

  13. Amber, I have never really thought about this. I have never had a female pastor/vicar. So I cant comment on that.

    All I can think of, is you are to look to the man/husband for guidance. From from that instance, a woman guiding a congregation of men would seem odd.

    I have been to quite a lot of different churches etc and sampled many different denomenations of "protestants", am not even sure that is the term I am looking for.

    The baptist church I attend here is completely different to the church I grew up with in my home town.

    The one here is more, what my family would call happy clappy.

    My home town church is on Songs of praise quite often. And is more reserved.


    Unforetunately I am not happy in my present parish. But when we move I will try there.

    I always had a female sunday school teacher and a female helper. As there were quite a few of us.

    This leads me on to pose you a question that I have been also thinking alot.

    How is school different in the US, compared to the UK. When I was at school I went to a CoE school, junior and secondary school. we sang hymns and had prayers every day. This is no longer done.

    When at school if you said you went to church, everyone thought there was something wrong with you and I did get bullied for this.

    I was wondering how it is in the US in comparison? and when you have children, will you home school?

    Home schooling in the UK is pretty much unheard of. And is normally resigned to children who have been expelled from schools.

    I dont know now, but this is how it was when I was at school.

  14. I think women are called to all areas of ministry, as are men. We all have gifts and I think that it would be wrong not to use those gifts for God. The verses used to limit women are understood in many different ways and without any limitation elsewhere in the Bible I think that if Paul IS saying that women can't lead, he's wrong and speaking for himself, not God. But I really don't believe that's what he's saying, given that he talks about women prophesying and addresses letters to female leaders.

  15. Anna,

    Yep. Again, great videos. :)

  16. Slice,

    'All I can think of, is you are to look to the man/husband for guidance. From from that instance, a woman guiding a congregation of men would seem odd.'

    There is that, too. I've heard the home called a 'little church' and following that thread, the husband would be the 'priest' in a manner of speaking.

    'I always had a female sunday school teacher and a female helper. As there were quite a few of us.'

    And that's always been the case for me as well. From my perspective, it's not as though women are asked to step aside and do nothing - there are a million jobs within the church that they can fill. There's just a very specific set of jobs that they can't. Why is that such a problem?


    In public school, there is (at least in my experience) no prayer, hymns, etc. In my high school there were Christian 'clubs' that met before school, but nothing that was school wide, mandatory. Religion is pretty much a non-entity in school in that respect. Most of us didn't care about religion, and avoided the 'freaks' that did. We had far more important things to do with our time. :) I'm sure some of the other kids bullied the religious kids, but thankfully I didn't hang out with those kind of groups. Now, I also attended a private, church run school for a while, and of course there we had prayer and hymns and Bible study that was all mandatory. Not that that automatically made us religiously inclined, by any means. It was (for most of us) just something that we had to do.

    'and when you have children, will you home school?'

    I would like to, but I have no idea if it will be practical at the time. I'd also like to live on a farm and be a stay-at-home wife/mother. But finances and circumstances may not work out that way. So ideally, yes. I would want to home school, but I'm practical enough to know that it may not be possible.

  17. Sanil,

    I knew that would be your answer. :)

    Have you done a post on why women can be ministers? If not, when you have time (I know you're very very busy with school) you should do one. I'd be interested in seeing your thinking on this in more detail.

  18. Oddly enough, it never occurred to me to do an entry like that. Huh.

    I think because I'm not seeing many reasons why they CAN'T be. I understand yours, but I don't have those. We don't see sacraments the same way. But I'll look into it some more, maybe talk about women in leadership in the Bible and such. Thanks!

    I have 2 or 3 papers to write in the rest of this week, I can't remember which. If I get them done before more homework gets piled on, I'll start that entry.


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