Welcome to a new occasional series of mine: “Quotable quotes”. I will from time to time pass on some interesting quotes that have been brought to my attention, often as a result of the sermon I watch and hear each week.
An argument commonly used by Complementarians is that the church has 2000 years of tradition of men being in leadership.
To which the Egalitarian replies dryly, “Yeah, look how good that has worked out.”
Indeed when we look at church history, we see a history of division. Perhaps if there had been a few more collaborative types in leadership along the way it may have been quite different. Instead we have gotten smaller and smaller islands of “doctrinal purity” where minor issues become elevated to salvation issues as to who is in and who is out. As the joke goes: “As far as I can tell, the only people who are getting into heaven are me and my wife – and I’m not so sure about her.” Not sure if this joke is funny or sad, because it is so close to true.
In fact the church, to its own detriment, has had a long history of disparaging women which continues to this day. For those who think they stand on the side of tradition, here is what tradition has brought us (quotations come compiled via my church’s recent sermon series):
“Every woman should be filled with shame by the thought that she is a woman” – Clement of Alexandria (2nd Century)
“Women are the Devil’s gateway” – Tertullian (2nd Century)
“God maintained the order of each sex by dividing the business of life into two parts, and assigned the more beneficial and necessary aspects to the man, and the less important, inferior matter to the women” – Chrysostom (4th and 5th Centuries)
“The woman together with her own husband is the image of God, but when she is referred separately, which regards the woman alone, then she is not the image of God.” – Augustine (4th and 5th Centuries)
“As regards the individual nature, woman is defective and misbegotten, for the active force in the male seed tends to the production of a perfect likeness in the masculine sex, while the production of woman comes from a defect.” – Thomas Aquinas (13th Century)
“Because the female sex is more concerned with things of the flesh than men; because being formed from a man’s rib, they are only imperfect animals and crooked whereas man belongs to a privileged sex from whose midst Christ emerged.” – Malleus Maleficarum (15th Century)
“Girls begin and to talk and stand on their feet sooner than boys because weeds always grow up quicker than good crops.” – Martin Luther (16th Century)
“Since God was thinking of the man, it certainly follows that the woman is only an accessory. And why? Because she was only created for the sake of man, and she must therefore direct her whole life toward him.” – John Calvin (16th Century)
“Nature I say, paints woman further to be weak, frail, impatient, feeble, and foolish: and experience has declared them to be inconstant, variable, cruel, and lacking in the spirit of counsel and leadership.” – John Knox (16th Century)
“A woman ought not to teach because she is more easily deceived, and more easily deceives.” – John Wesley (18th Century)
“God has made Christianity to have a masculine feel. He has ordained for the church a masculine ministry.” – John Piper
“I would have given my Church my head, my hand, my heart. She would not have them. She did not know what to do with them. She told me to go back and do crochet in my mother’s drawing room; or if I was tired of that, to marry and look well at the head of my husband’s table… ‘You may go to the Sunday School if you like it,’ she said. But she gave me no training even for that. She gave me neither work to do for her, nor education for it.” – Florence Nightingale.
How do you respond when you read these quotes. Women, especially those who might not usually comment much or at all, I am especially interested in hearing from you.