WOMEN IN RELIGION

THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

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Women are a very active part of the church, they have lots of roles and responsibility within the church however, differnt denominations have different ideas of what a woman should be allowed to do without excercising full authority over a man using the Epistle of Paul as a justification. Clement of Alexandria once said that, "Many women have received power through the grace of God and have performed many deeds of manly valor”. On the other hand, Saint Augustine, Bishop of Hippo Regius belives that women do not possess the gift of God only when she is together with a man. According to him, a woman is designed as a help mate which is a duty for her alone as the man is in himself the image of God.

Pope Francis instituted a commission to examine role of female deacons in the Catholic Church, a movement he believed will be beneficial to the church. This move came as a result of complaints from Advocates of women serving as deacons stating that they are under-represented in the Church's hierarchy and decision-making processes. However, the pope said that he did not see women becoming priests, a motion that was once rejected by Pope John Paul the second in 1994.

According to James O. Baird, an author, there is a great deal of confusion today as to women's roles both in the home and in the church hence. Biblically, it is stated that the role of a woman includes bringing up children, showing hospitality to strangers, washing of the saint’s feet, relieving the afflicted and diligently following every good work. The leader of the King’s Church evening site, Lukundo, said that she feels that women in the church should be bold enough to do whatsoever that they feel God has called them to do irrespective of their gender as that will be their role. She said there is a tension between what God has called them to do and the space that they have to do it based on culture. She also spoke about what she thinks about women being allowed to preach. She encourages all women not be bitter at their spouses but should be patient as we are all on a journey to more revelation and discovery.

Lunkndo spoke about the challenges women face within the context of the church.

She also spoke on women leadership

Pastor Joeseph Taiwo, the Senior Pastor of New Life Gospel Church, said that what the bible meant by women should not preach is that women ought not to excercise authority over men. He said, "Saying a woman should not preach is like saying they should not evangelise or talk to people about Christ". According to him, Wome should be nder the authority and leadership of men because they are weaker vessels.

He spoke on his other reasons why women should be under the leadership of men and what he feels are the role of women within any church community.

The society views not allowing women to preach as chauvinism or discrimination however, many different churches and religious organizations have different doctrines to back this believe in accordance to their interpretation of the bible passage that states that, “But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being quite deceived, fell into transgression” 1Timothy 2:12-14. According to John Piper, Chancellor of Bethlehem College and Seminary, the bible draws a distinction between the church and the home. He said, “At home men are proving their fitness to be elders (pastors), and at church they are the ones who are given that role”. He views teaching and exercising authority as the role of elders which automatically are men however he is of the opinion that it’s not a problem for a woman to minister in hundreds of ways in the church, but the office of leadership and teaching of men is preserved for spiritual and godly men.

There are many objections to this view of women in pastoral ministries. One of the most common theory of this is that Paul the author of the scripture mentioned above was only reacting against the female-led customs of the Ephesian idolaters, and the church needed to be different which meant that Paul only restricted the women of Ephesus from teaching men. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul described the Christian faith as one in which distinctions of race, social status and gender do not apply. He said, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave or free, there is neither male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” Galatians 3:28. Another objection is that Paul was referring to husbands and wives and not men and women generally.

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Another reason for justifying the fact that women should not be pastors is the fact that at the time of creation Eve was easily deceived which in turn led to the downfall of Adam. The scripture above justifies the fact that God chose to give men the authority over women because women are more easily deceived yet they are left to care for their children who are also more susceptible to deception as well as their husbands. The author, Claire Drury, once said that attitudes to the position of women in Christianity depends first on which biblical texts one chooses, then on how one reads the bible and how much weight is given to the contexts in which it was written. With the ever increasing fight for gender equality and the rise in western modernity, Christian women have begun to assert their right to equality inside the church as well as in secular life as is the case with catholic nuns who called on the pope to appoint them as deaconesses in the church in other for them to be able to do so much more than they are already doing. According to Clare, some modern scholars have recognized that many of the most influential ideas about women in the church have come from celibate male writers whose fears about their own sexuality were projected on to women thereby projecting a negative stereotype towards women hence, keeping them at a safe distance and in a secondary position within the church.

PUBLIC OPINION

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Members of the public have varying opinions regarding women leadership in the church. Supporters of women leadership in the church said that women are more organized and passionate in everything they set their minds to do. They also said that women are more principled and serious minded and that women are better managers considering that they are an integral part of the church community. On the other side of the fence are the critics of women leadership in the church who believe that men are more superior to women hence the need for them to lead men in every area of society. They also feel that women are not patient and that women make quick decisions and can be extremely sensitive to issues. Some people simply do not care who leads in any religious setting. The public also said that allowing women to become leaders in the church will make them more dedicated in doing God's work and no one understands a woman better than another woman. Oladunni, a postgraduate student of social care is of the opinion that women should not be active leaders in the church because it requires dedication and commitment. She said that women already have so many responsibilities in the home to take care of and adding to their portfolio only leaves them feeling overly stressed. On the other hand, Godwin A, also a postgraduate student has a contrary opinion. According to him, Ability is not defined on the basis of Gender. He said, “All genders are endowed with leadership skills or have dispositions to acquire, learn and develop to be leaders”.

Graph Showing the public opinion

TOTAL NUMER= 100

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Women have very important and specific roles within the church. They can be leaders however, in many christian denominations, women will still be limited with regards to how far they can go in reaching their full potential without having authority over the men. There are many women bishops who have authority over men within pentecostal churches however the answer to how right or wrong that is remains with individuals and the church.

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