Women have always played a crucial role in the establishment of the Christian church, but I’ve noticed that their contributions are often footnoted and forgotten. When we read philosophy and theology addressing the roles of pastor, apostle, disciple, missionary, etc., we subtly assume a masculine context unless women are specifically brought up. In this post […]
Here is Part 2 in our series on women in church history.
According to the small handful of literate monks, bishops, and noblemen in the middle ages, the status of women in medieval Christianity was quite the polarizing issue. In Her Story, Barbara MachHaffie notes that on the one hand, women are “denounced in strong terms as wicked and inferior” leading in the worst of cases to witch-hunts throughout the fifteenth to eighteenth centuries (HS. 49). On the other hand, women were also praised by Christianity and idolized as symbols of the Virgin Mary as illustrated by the ideal women preserved for us in the well-known tales of medieval chivalry (HS. 49).
Christians don’t know very much about feminism. It’s one of our “knowledge blind spots”. This wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, except that today we find ourselves in the middle of a 35 year-long debate on what the Bible says about a “woman’s place”. And for a group of people who hate when we ourselves are misrepresented in the media, we sure make a lot of public claims about this topic that we know so little about.
In my own journey, I became a Christian and an egalitarian before I had even grown into a woman. I didn’t learn about feminism until I was in graduate school. And, if I’m honest, I did so begrudgingly.