The Christian Attitude to women.
Christianity is one of the three major world faiths, there are over 2.2 billion Christians and 42 million in Britain consider themselves practicing Christians. Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God who died to redeem mankind, was buried and on the third day rose again from the grave. It is a purely monotheistic religion which believes in the Trinitarian concept. The sacred text include the Old Testament (33 books) and the New Testament (27 books). Some of the holy days include Easter and Christmas. (Christian Denominations, November 2015)
Christianity was founded over 2000 years ago and over the years there have been a split in denominations leading to different practices. The Christian attitude to women depends on the denominations, teachings and beliefs of individual churches. For example most protestant churches allow women leaders, pastors and deacons. However, there is a general notion that religion in itself is sexist. It is argued that the role of women in the church especially that of the Catholic Church is minimal, almost non-existent and depreciating. Similarly, they argue that women are being treated as second class citizens. Some feminist such as Mary Daly and Daphne Hampson view the Bible as toxic and reject the authority of the Bible labelling it as hierarchical and in support of patriarchy. However Christian feminist reject this claim stating the Bible verse ;There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (New International Version) Galatians 3:28. This verse explains that in the eyes of God, we are all equal. Christian feminist argue that male domination over women occurs as a result of misinterpretation by male scholars. Generally speaking the Christian attitude to women is one of love, care and compassion. Men are encouraged to love their love their wives, “just as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her.” (Ephesians 5:23). In this particular Bible verse, Jesus uses the analogy of him dying for the church (the Christian population) to explain how Men are expected to love their wives. Additionally, a feminist critique might be why is the injunction the other way round, for women to love their husbands; however this is just a matter of semantics. Women are also encouraged to love their husbands. For example in the Book of Titus, women are told to love their husbands and children. (The Good News Bible originally published in 1966)
The argument that the role of women in the Church is minimal and non-existent is true to an extent, it is dependent on the church itself and the doctrines which it follows. Considering the example of Jesus Christ, his attitudes towards women was one of great regard and immense respects. He defied the conventions of his time and refused to conform to the multicultural and sexist attitudes that existed in his era. Jesus was born into a hostile, Jewish community which regarded women as inferior and beneath women. However, he abolished such stereotypical attitudes to women; he considered men and women equal. One of such examples is indicated on a visit to Mary and Martha home, two women friends of Jesus, Martha took the typical woman’s role, she went about cooking and serving whilst Mary listened to the teachings. Martha was angry and chastised Mary but Jesus cautioned Martha saying “it is not to be taken from her “Contextually, this was in a society where women were denied of simple privileges such as attending meetings, testifying in court or daring to speak to a man. Additionally, many individuals are quick to point out that the fact that the Bible encourages women to submit to their husbands. However as Ron Rhodes point out, the act of submission is a mutual affair, Ephesians 5:21-24 instructs men and women: “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ…" The phrase “submits to one another" is of utmost importance and should not be neglected. This means that both parties ought to submit each other, treating each other with love and respect just as Christ would have done. Similarly, when Christ resurrected, he appeared to women first despite the fact that women were considered frivolous and too weak to appear in court. This act consolidates the fact that for his era, Jesus treated women with respect and dignity.