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  • Larry Payne

Not a good report

The recent podcast on "Gals, Guys, and God" had the following section on the church and misogynistic practices. "The Christian church has been a hindrance to the thriving and equality of women in the past two centuries. Even now some groups hold doctrines which are misogynistic, denying women leadership opportunities as full clergy. This is true of the Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention, and others, even though a majority of all active members are women! Some have renamed and restricted male power by speaking of how men and women are to complement each other in separate but unequal roles. Patriarchal thought about church life and family roles dominates in these regressive groups.

No matter the semantics, the bottom line is that the guys rule, just as it was in primitive cultures millenia ago. Scholar Beth Allison Barr has revealed the trajectory of this repression in her book, The Making of Biblical Womanhood. She demonstrates how the views of the church have emerged from cultural viewpoints, not Scriptural teachings, writing, “In a world that didn’t accept the word of a woman as a valid witness, Jesus chose women as witnesses for his resurrection. In a world that gave husbands power over the very lives of their wives, Paul told husbands to do the opposite—to give up their lives for their wives. In a world that saw women as biologically deformed men, monstrous even, Paul declared that men were just like women in Christ.”

It is refreshing that most mainline and charismatic traditions have changed and welcome female leadership at all levels. A clear statement of better and progressive theology is presented by the ecumenical group, Christians for Biblical Equality, who state unequivocally, “The Bible teaches the full equality of men and women in Creation and Redemption.”

The doctrines of some church groups are all the more tragic when the evidence of women leaders is everywhere around us. Since my mother’s college years women have won elections, built the war machines of World War 2, won Nobel and Pulitzer Prizes, gained the promise of equal pay by federal law in 1963, took birth control pills, played sports after Title IX, became generals, Supreme Court judges, astronauts, CEO’s, governors, and a Vice-President. These achievements show the absurdity of patriarchal attitudes in any area of life. Clearly, it is morally wrong and theologically errant for the church to stay locked in patriarchy that denies the full image of God in a female person! Perhaps more of us should ask the question of ourselves, “Why am I supporting institutions that deny full equality for women, like Jesus taught?”

(Photo by F. Falinski on

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