There are many examples of differences in perceived roles between
men and women that have led to women being discriminated against:
Men have normally held power. Most people
live in societies controlled by male attitudes and values.When women were
allowed to enter paid employment,
many jobs were barred to them. Today, women do most of the world’s
work, but get 10% of world income and own 2% of world property.
Male terms are used - chairman, masterpiece, statesman,
forefathers, God the Father.
In 1918, women got the vote, but only
women over 30 who had property, or been to university. In 1928 - women
allowed to vote as equals with men.
Women have been stereotyped as suitable only as mothers, child-rearers
and servants of men. In the past, women spent almost all their adult lives
and looking after children. Education was limited. Very few jobs were available
to them. They were expected to marry, give up jobs and look after husband
/ family. This changed after World War II; it was more acceptable for women
Sexism and the Law
The Sex Discrimination Act 1975
for employers to discriminate against job applicants on the basis of gender.
Men and women should have equal
opportunities for training and promotion.
Women should not work underground
Church did not have to have women priests.
Despite the Sex Discrimination Act 1975,
all is not fair…..
take time out to have children, it can mean falling behind in promotion.
Some firms are reluctant to train women for responsible posts in case
they want more time off than men, e.g. have children, or look after sick
earn on average 25% less than men for doing the same job.
Women hold far fewer
positions of power and influence.
A small percentage of MPs are women.
Women are the majority of churchgoers,
but some Churches will not allow women leaders.
Some questions to think about………
Can women expect the
same careers as men, if pregnancy and childbirth take up so much time and
On the other hand, shouldn’t parenting
be shared between men and women?
Shouldn’t employers make the effort
to support family life, e.g. by providing
flexible working hours?
Sexism and the church
The Bible reflects the social realities
of Old Testament times and ancient Jewish society.
Genesis 1-3: Eve is made from Adam’s rib to be his helper – inferior?
Eve gave into temptation first. As a punishment God says, “Your
husband will rule over you.”
Bible Times - patriarchal (male-dominated).
Men could divorce women, but not vice versa; rape/adultery - violation
of man’s ownership rights; women
- “unclean” for much of adult life (menstruation); God is called “Father”, “He”, “Him”,
Was Jesus sexist? Jesus had no female
disciples; he called God “Father”.
Was St. Paul sexist?
“Women……be subject to your husbands.” Ephesians
“A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I permit
no women to teach or have authority over men, she is to keep silent. ” 1
The Church seems to have supported sexism:
For 2000 years, Church has reinforced
society’s view that a woman’s
place is in the home.
“Women should remain at home, sit still, keep house and bear children" Martin
RC Church does not allow abortion or contraception; family
life is the most
important thing for society. Does this deny women their rights?
"The language of the church is sexist
too. Why is God always Male? Surely God, the creator of everything, is
both male and female.”
Rev. Nan Peete
Reasons why the church should
not be sexist
Jesus’ treatment of women was revolutionary
- he did not share the common view of women. Jesus:
Taught in the Jerusalem Temple “Court
of the Women”.
Had women followers (Martha, Mary, Mary Magdalen),
and preached to women(Luke 10:38-42).
Treated outcast women with respect
(e.g. Samaritan Woman, John 4:7-30), and talked openly with “unrespectable” women
such as prostitutes.
First revealed himself as Saviour to a Samaritan
woman (John 4:7-30).
After the resurrection Jesus appeared first
to women (Matthew 28:1-10).
Jesus showed “feminine” qualities – love,
tenderness, gentleness, compassion. Cried openly in public.
Gospel says Jesus took as much notice of women as he did of men.
The Bible and Sexism
In the Bible, God frees the oppressed
and helps those struggling for liberation/freedom.
God created all people
equal. God is even referred to in female terms at least three times.
are women who had important roles in encouraging people to follow God:
Queen Esther saved the Jews from death; Ruth set an example of love
and loyalty; Deborah was a prophet, and her wisdom was much admired.
St. Paul seems to be contradictory. Above he says that women should be silent,
etc., but he also had some radical messages that were revolutionary in the
Husbands must love their wives like Christ loves the church
and, love them as they love their own bodies:
“He who loves his wife
“ There is neither male nor female
for your one in Christ Jesus”
Churches in favour of women
United Reformed Church and the Salvation
Army have always allowed women to be ministers.
The Baptist Church allows women to be ministers
now since the 1920s.
The Church of England allowed women to become
vicars in 1992. It caused widespread division with some male leaders, and
men and women, leaving
Arguments for the ordination of women
Jesus came to break down barriers of
sex, nationality, race, etc..
Jesus’ attitude towards women was revolutionary – see
Men and women are made in the image of God.
In the past, society did not allow
women a leading role, but times have changed.
Jesus chose men because women
were not listened to publicly in his society. If Jesus came today, he
would choose men and women without question.
Churches against women
The Roman Catholic Church and The Orthodox Church will not allow women priests.
Arguments against the ordination of women
Jesus chose men to be his Apostles and the foundation of the Church, not
Jesus’ authority has been passed on through men – we
should not ignore this powerful tradition.
2000 years of tradition cannot be wrong, surely?
Ordaining women is a stumbling
block against great unity between churches. The R.C. and Orthodox churches
are totally opposed to women priests!
When celebrating Eucharist, the priest
represents Christ who was a man. Women cannot play this role.
to the role of women
Christians disagree about the role of women.
Some believe men and women should be treated
the same in every way, e.g. be leaders, preachers and priests, too. Christians
should recognise that everyone
is made in the image of God. At Pentecost the Holy spirit was given to men
and women equally. Women should have important roles in the Church, not just
arranging the flowers, organising the crèche or making tea! Christianity
has been responsible for women being treated as inferior. The Bible, and the
way it has been interpreted, has encouraged injustice. If a woman feels God
is calling her to be a priest, who can argue?
Others believe that men and women are equally
valuable to God, but have different roles and important differences, physical,
psychological and emotional. They
have different gifts which should be put to different uses. It is no good pretending
that men and women are the same – they are not. Jesus did not choose
men to be his Apostles by accident. Some roles in the church are more suitable
for men. Who says raising a family is not important? It is the most important
job in the world. We are equal, but different. Women should stop trying to