top of page

Why the Church is No Place for Women

For centuries, since the adoption of Christianity as the formal religion of Rome, women have been put in a subservient place within the Christian church. The Gospel of Mary was redacted from the bible. Women weren’t allowed into ministry.

According to Relevant Magazine, Many Christian churches ascribe to some form of “benevolent patriarchy” commonly known as Complementarianism. This belief gives men the role of authority over the wife and children, and only allows men to be church leaders. Women are expected to submit unilaterally to men.

Christianity has been used to suppress women for generations, to put them in their place, and to keep them voiceless. This still happens today, as we are seeing a resurgence of the patriarchy in America under a rise of Christian Nationalism fueled by former president Donald Trump.

Church Leadership is overwhelmingly male

When women don’t have representation in leadership, women’s issues are often overlooked. Struggles that women face on a daily basis aren’t taken seriously or given importance. Things like sexual abuse, abortion rights, women’s right to work, or equality within the family unit are not addressed.

According to Pew Research, While many major religious denominations in the United States now allow women to pastor churches and synagogues, only 11% of American congregations were led by women in 2012, according to press reports of an upcoming National Congregations Study survey. That figure hasn’t changed since 1998. Many of the nation’s largest denominations, including Roman Catholics, Southern Baptists, Mormons (Latter-day Saints), and the Orthodox Church in America, do not ordain women or allow them to lead congregations.

Denying women equality in leadership roles discounts women’s voices, women’s issues, and makes women into second-class citizens.

Not only are women not allowed to lead in the church, they are considered to be subservient to their husbands in the home. This reinforces a patriarchal hierarchy where men have more power in all aspects of a religious family’s life. Men are the decision makers, and women have to placidly follow.

According to Truth and Tidings, Before Paul turns to discuss the qualifications for overseers in his first letter to Timothy, he asserts that “a woman should learn in quietness and full submission.” He continues: “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent” (1Ti 2:11–12 NIV). He makes the same argument in 1 Corinthians 14 where he writes, “The women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says” (v34 ESV). Paul bases his inspired teaching not on current cultural issues in Ephesus or Corinth but on the man’s priority in creation (1Ti 2:13) and the woman’s “priority” in the fall, where the headship order was reversed from God-man-woman-serpent to serpent-woman-man-God (v14).

The idea of male leadership is based on these letters from Paul, and not on the teachings of Jesus himself. Jesus didn’t assert any kind of hierarchy within his followers, and women were among them.

Overcoming the idea of women as subservient upends the teachings of both the old and new testament, and the bible is often used to enforce “keeping women in their place.” This is an antiquated notion that was based on the social order of the time in which the bible was written, nearly 2000 years ago.

You would think that social progress would have come forward in the church as it has in secular society in the intervening years. However, the bible is still being used to persecute women and keep them subservient within the church and the household.

Original sin is blamed on women

One of the reasons for the assertions that men should be in control in the church is based on the concept of Original Sin, which was brought into the world when the Serpent tempted Eve in the garden of Eden.

The problem with attributing the fall to women by reading this passage is that the entire story was meant to be allegorical, not an exact re-telling of events. We know from scientific research that the world wasn’t created in seven days as the first creation account posits.

With the whole story meant to be allegorical, this brings into question the direct reading of the text.

More likely than trying to be read directly, the passage is likely trying to discredit other religions of the time in which the early Hebrews lived. The Babylonian goddess of creation, Tiamat, was visualized as a serpent who had created the world with the assistances of her spouse.

There are many other such allegories in the Old Testament which aim to discredit other religions of the time. Without knowing this historical context today, it is easy to see how the passages are interpreted literally instead of as allegory, as they were originally written.

According to Tales of Times Forgotten, Allegorical and figurative interpretations of the creation stories in the Book of Genesis are just as old as literal interpretations and, in fact, some of the most influential pre-modern Christian theologians rejected the literal interpretation of the Genesis creation stories entirely.

Just like the parables of Jesus later in the Bible, many of the stories in the Old Testament weren’t meant to be taken literally either. When we do so, we miss important nuance in the text, and it allows for moral extrapolations to be made based on these stories which are traditionally unfounded.

Sexual Abuse in the Church

Not only are women not allowed to participate in the clergy in many denominations, there is rampant abuse of both women and children in the church that is often excused by church leaders.

According to Herman Law, Studies reveal that childhood sexual abuse is as prevalent in the Baptist Church as it is in the Roman Catholic Church. Yet this denomination often has no procedures for tracking abusive clergy who are transferred out of state, for removing accused abusers from ministry, or for informing congregants that their officials have been accused of violating children.

With rising allegations of sexual abuse within the church, it is time for women to stand up and make their voices heard. Although many Christian women are keeping silent, one prominent woman within the Southern Baptist Church is refusing to be silent and allowing the epidemic of sexual abuse to continue. This woman is bible study leader Beth Moore. Had she been a man, likely she would have been a minister herself, however the Southern Baptist Church hasn’t allowed women into the ministry.

According to NPR, For almost three decades, Beth Moore was a committed evangelical Southern Baptist. She was also a superstar in the Southern Baptist Denomination. Moore shared her love of Jesus and the Bible with millions of evangelical women at Bible study gatherings across the country, events that often drew stadium-sized crowds. But when the infamous Donald Trump Access Hollywood tape surfaced, Moore was stunned. She’s a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and felt Trump’s comments bordered on criminality. When the Southern Baptist Denomination said nothing, and continued to support Trump, Moore made the decision to walk away from the Church.

We can look to Beth Moore as an example of a highly spiritual woman who finally said “enough is enough” and stood up for herself and other women who have been abused within the church.

According to The Catholic Reporter, in 2018: More than 140 evangelical Christian women from across the political and theological spectrums have signed onto a statement calling churches to end the silence around violence against women and the church’s participation in it.

If more women can take this as an example and leave these ultra-conservative denominations which advocate the subjugation of women and excuse sexual abuse, perhaps their male counterparts will take notice.

Abortion rights

With the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court of the United States, abortion rights for women are under attack nationwide. This change, and the resulting anti-abortion legislation, is largely influenced by Christian Fundamentalists within the Republican party.

Christian Fundamentalists believe that life begins at conception. This has lead to the idea that abortion is murder, and as such, should be outlawed.

The problem with this viewpoint, though, is that the Bible never directly says anything about abortion at all, although abortions were practiced during the biblical times in many cultures.

In fact, according to The Conversation: Exodus 21, for example, suggests that a pregnant woman’s life is more valuable than the fetus’s. This text describes a scenario in which men who are fighting strike a pregnant woman and cause her to miscarry. A monetary fine is imposed if the woman suffers no other harm beyond the miscarriage. However, if the woman suffers additional harm, the perpetrator’s punishment is to suffer reciprocal harm, up to life for life.

Since the Bible never speaks to abortion directly, either for or against, it is shaky ground for Christians to use biblical values to condemn abortion. The Bible explicitly condemns a lot of things, along with providing their punishments. For example, in the book of Leviticus, there are 76 different things that are prohibited to the Hebrews.

Why would God bother condemning all of these things separately, and provide separate punishments for them, if there are additional things that he wanted to condemn as well? The fact that the Bible doesn’t speak to abortion is, in itself, telling. It was never forbidden, therefore, there is no basis for Christians to call on when they are advocating for banning abortion.

Liberal values are Christian values

If you look at the New Testament, and the commandments of Jesus himself, what he calls for most is kindness, and treating everyone you meet with compassion.

According to Mark 12: 30–31, Jesus tells us: 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

For some reason, it seems like Christians like to cherry pick the Bible, and ignore the words of Christ himself when they are interpreting modern day Christianity. These commandments in the book of Mark, according to Jesus himself, are the most important commandments.

Jesus says nothing about condemning others for their sin, in fact he says quite the opposite in John 8:7, 7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.

According to Jesus, no one is without sin. So, we should withhold judgement from anyone else. When Christians judge others, when Christians persecute others, they are going in direct opposition to the teachings of Christ himself.

It seems to me that, in modern times, the Church in America has become corrupted, much the same way the church had been in the time of Jesus. Look at Matthew 21:12–14: Jesus went straight to the Temple and threw out everyone who had set up shop, buying and selling. He kicked over the tables of loan sharks and the stalls of dove merchants. He quoted this text: My house was designated a house of prayer; You have made it a hangout for thieves. Now there was room for the blind and crippled to get in. They came to Jesus and he healed them.

Would Jesus condemn the Church today in the same way? Would the Church’s fusion with the Republican Party in the US upset Jesus just as much as the ways in which the church had gone astray in previous centuries? Think about Christian values, and ask yourself, are these the values of Christ, or the values of men?

Today, we see people fighting for social justice and advocating for equality and change. Typically, these people are liberals. This fight for equality in society is aimed at achieving social justice.

According to Heritage, There are two commonly held conceptions of the increasingly ubiquitous term social justice: the fair distribution of goods and the fight against oppression.

For years, liberals have been leading the fight for social justice. This is a fight to ensure fair treatment of currently marginalized social groups like women, racial and ethnic minorities and the LGBTQ+ community. If you believe in a fair and just society for all, the way Jesus did, then you are actually subscribing to liberal political values.

Women need to stop voting republican

Since most women’s issues are social justice issues, it is important for all women to come together to promote our own best interests. Women supporting women gives us strength. It allows us to make our voices heard, and allows us to advocate equality for women within society.

To make this happen, women need to separate themselves from the Republican party, which is corrupting the church and the teachings of Jesus.

The Republican Party is Destroying Christianity in America It is saddening that so many white, evangelical women keep voting Republican, despite the worsening moral bankruptcy of the party as a whole, and most especially when it comes to the Trump presidency. Ask yourself, what would Jesus think about Trump? This should be the answer that guides your moral compass in this issue.

According to Sage Journal, I find little evidence that evangelical Republican women are cross-pressured by their gender identification. They are no less committed to the Republican Party and no more critical of Donald Trump than other Republican voters in 2016.

If you look at the issues that the Republican party is supporting, and the ways in which women and other minorities are treated with hostility within the Republican government, it is easy to see that this morally bankrupt party is not aligned with the values of true Christianity, as explained in the words of Jesus himself in the Gospels.

The church has increasingly strayed from being a moral light in the darkness as it has become more and more synthesized within the Republican party in the past decades. Christianity and Christian values have drastically changed, and not for the better.

It is time for more women within the church to step up, speak out, and separate themselves from this toxically corrupt version of Christianity in America.

Your vote is your voice.

Use it to show sisterhood with your fellow women, to show your desire for a return to the words of Christ himself, and to help other women and minorities achieve equality within society. If you value social justice and compassion, then you are more liberal than you realize. It is time to make your political values match the values of your heart.

We can do better. We should do better.

Evangelical women are a huge voting block in the United States, and up until this point many have consistently swayed Republican. This is in spite of the fact that Republican politics don’t align with their own values, or their own best interests when it comes to issues like rape and abortion.

Women have endured generations of oppression in the Church, ever since the time of the Pauline epistles. Christianity isn’t a religion for women, and it never has been. The more we wake up and realize this, the better we can fight back against this systemic oppression and achieve equality for women in society. It isn’t the teachings of Christ that have caused this inequality in the Church, it is quite the opposite. Men throughout history have created a religion that espouses the ideas of holding women down by creating a religious social hierarchy that puts men at the head of both the church and the family.

This isn’t what Jesus taught. You can still follow Jesus and stop ascribing to the current, corrupt practice of Christianity in America today. The faith you hold in your heart doesn’t have to conflict with your ideas about right and wrong. Whenever you advocate for kindness, compassion and forgiveness, you are practicing the work of Christ.

Remember that Matthew 25:31–40 tells us, “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, “I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (NIV)

The kingdom of heaven belongs first and foremost to those who show compassion. Being a good person in God’s eyes isn’t based on theology. It isn’t based on ‘right’ belief. It isn’t based on enforcing some confusing idea of morality that is based on political ideology.

Being a good person, in the eyes of Christ is about showing kindness to those who are in need. The more we can remember this, the more we realize that creating social justice in society will be the biggest help to the whole world. When we act in this way, we remake ourselves in the image of Christ.

Isn’t that what Christianity is supposed to be all about?

Related Posts

See All


bottom of page