Posts Tagged ‘women in church leadership’

Women in Church Leadership (Part 2)

Friday, March 4th, 2011 by Diane Chandler

On January 21, 2011, I posted a blog entitled, “Women in Church Leadership” and thank all who interacted around that discussion.  This blog continues the conversation.

Church history travels along a circuitous path that has seen both advances and restrictions regarding gender equality and women serving in church leadership. In part, these restrictions derive from theological reflections and writings of some the church’s early fathers, thinkers, and theologians. For example, Tertullian (160-220) said of women: “You are the devil’s gateway: you are the unsealer of that tree: you are the first deserter of the divine law: you are she who persuaded him whom the devil was not valiant enough to attack: you destroyed so easily God’s image: man. On account of your desert – that is death, even the son of God had to die.” Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) spoke of women as “misbegotten males.”  And Martin Luther (1483-1546) believed that women should not participate as priests so as to protect order and decency and because of women’s “inferior attitudes.”

As women engage in educational and literary endeavors to counter traditional and oppressive scriptural interpretations that preclude them from expressing their giftedness in the church, they often counter what Paulo Freire describes in his book, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, as the “culture of silence of the disposed” that results from a sense of domination Freire contends that each person has a right to speak and to name the world in an “incessant struggle to regain their humanity.” Women have indeed, to use Freire’s words, perceived “the reality of oppression not as a closed world from which there is no exit, but as a limiting situation which they can transform” (p. 34).

Contemporary biblical scholarship has challenged the misuse of Scripture and theological perspectives that demean and denounce women and minorities. Author Michael Joseph Brown cites in his book The Blackening of the Bible, the racism associated with biblical interpretation in reinforcing slavery from the work of Howard Thurman, an African American and former dean of theology at Howard and Boston University and a civil rights activist. Read the rest of this entry »