Status of women
Women as religious leaders:
|Racism: unequal treatment because of race;|
|Sexism: unequal treatment because of gender;|
|Homophobia: unequal treatment because of sexual orientation;|
|Religism: unequal treatment because of religion; 1|
|Xenophobia: unequal treatment because of nationality|
Many sincere, deeply devout people object to being referred to as racists, sexists homophobes, etc. They generally point to passages in their holy texts -- the Hebrew Scriptures, Christian Scriptures, Qur'an, etc. -- which they interpret as requiring them to discriminate against others. However, discrimination against others based on a holy text is still discrimination. Further, it is a violation of a major theme that permeates all holy texts and religions: the theory of reciprocity -- often called the Golden Rule.
The feminist movement has raised the public's consciousness about the unfairness of gender discrimination. Modern-day secular society has responded by eliminating sexism in employment, education, accommodation, etc. A large portion of the public has accepted that women should be given the same career opportunities that men have long enjoyed.
It is obvious that, early in the 21st century, the largest institutions in North America that continue to deny equal rights to women are conservative Christian denominations: Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy and many denominations within Protestantism, like the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Southern Baptist Convention. These groups interpret Bible passages as requiring women and men to follow defined, sexually determined roles. In opposite-sex marriage, for example, men are to lead and women are expected to be submissive to their husbands. In religion institutions women are not to be placed in a position of authority over men. A logical result of these beliefs is that women are not to be considered for ordination. There is no wiggle room here, unless their theologians follow more liberal Christian theologians and take a different approach to biblical interpretation.
Gender discrimination appears to becoming as abhorrent to the public as racism. Conservative denominations may well be under increasing pressure to conform to the non-sexist standard found in liberal faith groups and secular groups. Faith groups will be expected to evaluate candidates for ordination on the basis of the candidates knowledge, sense of calling from God, personality, commitment, ability, etc -- but not on the basis of gender. Gender discrimination will be viewed by many as a millstone around the necks of conservative denominations. It will present a serious barrier to the evangelization of non-Christians. Whenever religious institutions are perceived by the general public as operating to a lower ethical standard than the rest of society, religious conversion becomes increasingly difficult to achieve.
|The status of women in society and religion:
|When various faith groups started to ordain women: Part 1 Part 2|
|Status of female ordination and consecration:|
|Bible and other ancient sources:
|The continuing debate:
|B.M Ashley, "Justice in the Church : Gender and Participation (The McGivney
Lectures of the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, 1992),"
Catholic University of America Press (1996) Read reviews
or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store|
|E. Behr-Sigel, "The Ministry of Women in the Church," Oakwood Publ.,
this book An analysis by an Orthodox theologian.
|J. Chapman, "Last Bastion: Women Priests; the Case for and Against,"
Heinemann, (1989) Order this
|M. Chaves, "Ordaining Women: Culture and Conflict in religious Organizations,"
Harvard Univ. Press, (1997). Review/order
this book The author "discovers that groups having strong
sacramentalist or strong fundamentalist beliefs are the most likely to use restrictive
views of womens roles in the church as a protest against modernism and liberalism."
|K.K. FitzGerald, "Women Deacons in the Orthodox church: Called to Holiness and
Ministry," Holy Cross Press (1998). Order this
|R.T. France, "Women in the Church's Ministry: A Test-Case for Biblical
Interpretation," Eerdmans Publ., (1997). Review/order
|S.J. Grenz & D.M. Kjesbo, "Women in the Church: a Biblical Theology of
Women in Minstry," Intervarsity Press, (1995)
|A.F. Ide, "God's Girls: Ordination of Women in the Early Christian and Gnostic
Churches," Tanglewould Press, (1986). Order this
|J.G. Melton, "Women's Ordination: Official Statement from Religious Bodies and
Ecumenical Organizations," Gale Research, (1990) Order this
|E.P. Mitchell, Ed., "Women: To Preach or not to Preach; 21 Outstanding Black
Preachers say Yes," Judson Press, (1991). Review/order
|P.S. Nadell, "Women Who Would Be Rabbis: A History of Women's Ordination,
1989-1985," Beacon Press, (1998). Review/order
|K.J. Torjensen, "When Women Were Priests", Harper, San Francisco
Review/order this book
|VIDEO: "Women's Ordination: the Hidden Tradition," is a 58 minute British videotape of the history of women's ordination in Christianity. It "investigates Church history which suggests that the evidence of history is not as clear-cut as it might appear. For it would seem that in the fifth century, Pope Gelasius I sent a letter to the bishops of Southern Italy instructing them to stop ordaining women." It is now available in the U.S. from: http://www.womensordination.com Call Reel Spirit Productions at (281) 376-6229|
This page translator works on Firefox,