Quotations Track Church's Anti-Woman Legacy


"I am not giving permission for a woman to teach or to tell a man what to do. A woman ought not to speak, because Adam was formed first and Eve afterwards, and it was not Adam who was led astray but the woman who was led astray and fell into sin. Nevertheless, she will be saved by childbearing" (1 Ti 2:12-15).

Clement of Alexandria (150?-215?): "Every woman should be filled with shame by the thought that she is a woman."

 

Tertullian (160?-220?): "Woman is a temple built over a sewer, the gateway to the devil. Woman, you are the devil's doorway. You led astray one whom the devil would not dare attack directly. It was your fault that the Son of God had to die; you should always go in mourning and rags."

 

Ambrose (339-97): "Adam was deceived by Eve, not Eve by Adam…. It is right that he whom that woman induced to sin should assume the role of guide lest he fall again through feminine instability."

 

Jerome (345?-420): "If it is good for a man not to touch a woman, then it is bad for him to touch one, for bad, and bad only, is the opposite of good."

 

John Chrysostom (349-407): "Amongst all the savage beasts none is found so harmful as woman."

 

Augustine (354-430): "Woman was merely man's helpmate, a function which pertains to her alone. She is not the image of God but as far as man is concerned, he is by himself the image of God."

 

________: "Nothing is so powerful in drawing the spirit of a man downwards as the caresses of a woman."

 

Pope Gregory I (540-604): "Woman is slow in understanding and her unstable and naive mind renders her by way of natural weakness to the necessity of a strong hand in her husband. Her 'use' is two fold; animal sex and motherhood."

 

John Damascene (645-750): "Woman is a sick she-ass ... a hideous tapeworm ... the advance post of hell."

 

Thomas Aquinas (1225-74): "[Woman] was made only to assist with procreation."

 

________: "Such is the subjection in which woman is by nature subordinate to man, because the power of rational discernment is by nature stronger in man.''

 

________: "Woman is [a] defective and misbegotten male [probably defected due to] some external influence, such as that of a south wind, which is moist."

 

Malleus Maleficarum (1486): "When a woman thinks alone, she thinks evil.... They are feebler both in mind and body. It is but surprising that they should come more under the spell of witchcraft."

 

Martin Luther (1483-1546): "Women should stay at home, keep house and bear children. If a woman dies from childbearing, let her die. That is all she is here for."

 

________: "The word and works of God is quite clear, that women were made either to be wives or prostitutes."

 

John Calvin (1509-64): "Thus the woman, who had perversely exceeded her proper bounds, is forced back to her own position. She had, indeed, previously been subject to her husband, but that was a liberal and gentle subjection; now, however, she is cast into servitude."

 

________: "Woman, by nature (that is, by the ordinary law of God) is formed to obey; for the government of women has always been regarded by all wise persons as a monstrous thing, and therefore, so to speak, it will be a mingling of heaven and earth, if women usurp the right to teach."

 

John Knox (1513-72): "Woman was made for only one reason, to serve and obey man."

 

John Wesley (1703-91): "Wife: Be content to be insignificant. What loss would it be to God or man had you never been born."

 

Southern Baptist Convention (1998): "A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ."

 

SBC (2000): "While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture."

 

Miguel A. De La Torre (today): "Why would a smart, gifted woman be attracted to a Christianity defined by men attempting to preserve and justify their patriarchal authority?"

 

How might our faith have developed differently if the church had chosen instead to take St. Paul at his word that in Christ Jesus there is neither male nor female?

 

Miguel De La Torre, a Cuban American, is professor of theologies of liberation at Hope College in Holland, Mich. He is a graduate of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a former Baptist pastor in Kentucky. His column also appears in the Holland Sentinel.

 

Order Miguel De La Torre's book Reading the Bible from the Margins now from Amazon.com

 

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