Bible Contradictions #48: Can women teach in church?


Bible contradictions 48

The Catholic church is steadfast in its insistence that women cannot enter into the priesthood. It’s one of the more backwards social stances held by the church. The best we’ve seen from the Catholic church is the pope saying:

The reservation of the priesthood to males, as a sign of Christ the spouse who gives himself in the Eucharist, is not a question open to discussion … But we need to create still broader opportunities for a more incisive female presence in the church.

In other words, women are and always will be forbidden from priesthood, but he’s willing to give them more authoritative roles in the church. What those roles are, however, is unknown.

But when we look across the Christian isle towards the other churches, we see many female preachers, rectors, and other clergy members. So why the divide? Well, it might have something to do with this issue’s uncertainty in the bible.

In Acts 18:26 a young and energetic but vaguely naive priest named Apollos spoke at church, a woman named Priscilla took him aside and taught him the correct way to priest. In Romans 16:1 Paul refers his readers to “Phebe our sister,” who is a deaconess. A few verses later in Romans 16:7 Paul calls his relative Junia prominent in the church. These verses might explain the female rectors in the Pentecostal church.

But we all know those other verses — the anti-woman ones. In 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 Paul says it’s shameful for women to speak in church. In 1 Timothy 2:11-12 we are told that women cannot have authority over men, which means women cannot hold leadership roles in the church, especially as priest (and it also means Sarah Palin can never run for president).

I’ve read through some apologetic interpretations of this contradiction (here is another one). Unfortunately, the authors of these interpretations go out of their way to perpetuate the subjugation of women under men in terms of priesthood roles. In other words, they defend the anti-woman verses while tearing apart the pro-women verses. None of them attempt to reconcile the bible with modern standards of decency. The simplest solution is to liberalize the church in terms of gender roles. Other churches have done this will no ill effects. God has not smote a single female church leader. But agencies such as the Catholic church continue to refuse women into the priesthood. This might be one reason for the generational shift away from Catholicism (and maybe even the generational shift towards non-religion).

About Rayan Zehn

I'm a political scientist.
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25 Responses to Bible Contradictions #48: Can women teach in church?

  1. The Catholic clergy is modeled after Jesus and the Apostles who were all male.

    Yet Jesus, Son of God, was born of woman and submitted to his mother throughout his lifetime.

    Christianity teaches that male and female, both precious attributes, are different.

    Atheism and other postmodern philosophies demand that their acolytes ignore the obvious, that is, male and female are different.

    Within the Church itself, women are everywhere doing everything, except those duties reserved for the clergy.

    • Rayan Zehn says:

      “Atheism and other postmodern philosophies demand that their acolytes ignore the obvious, that is, male and female are different.”

      Um, that’s incorrect. Every human being on the planet understands gender differences. I can’t get pregnant, for example. I never have to consider how pregnancy will affect my body. That is a difference between men and women. That is a gender issue.

      What it sounds like you’re saying is that you accept that priesthood is a genderED (not gender, but gendered) issue, which is, by definition, an anti-woman stance. And that’s messed up. I don’t care what the bible says. In terms of ability to lead spiritually, there is no difference between the genders.

      • Rayan,

        You are pro-gay marriage. That means you don’t have the foggiest idea about gender differences.

        But Christian brethren such as myself celebrate that the atheist is still able to tell the difference between a penis and a vagina.

        That puts you in company with your peers: every 4 year old on planet Earth.

      • Rayan Zehn says:

        So you’re saying the bible is correct, women are less able to lead spiritually? And they should never be permitted to do so?

      • Rayan,

        Women are as able as men to lead.

        The fundamental duty of the priest is purely sacramental, however.

        Objecting to an all male priesthood is as ridiculous objecting to men not being able to have babies.

      • Rayan Zehn says:

        So you accept that this is strictly prejudice against women in terms of the priesthood. Got it.

      • Rayan,

        An all male priesthood is as prejudicial against women as not being able to have babies is prejudicial against men.

      • Rayan Zehn says:

        It’s physically impossible for men to have babies. It’s physically possible for women to enter the priesthood. Women are not allowed to enter the priesthood solely by virtue of their gender. That’s the definition of prejudice. There’s no way to spin that to make it sound like it’s not prejudice.

      • Rayan,

        Christianity takes into account the nature of things.

        Men are men. Women are women.

        Men are priests. Women are the font of new life.

        These aren’t bureaucratic rules, these are the nature of things.

      • Rayan Zehn says:

        Well the Christian “nature of things” looks suspiciously like sexism and semi-misogyny. Like I said in my post, this stance probably has a lot to do with the generational shift away from Catholicism. The church may want to reconsider these positions.

      • Rayan,

        The way of things is neither Christian nor atheist.

        E = mc2 is a natural law that works throughout the universe.

        Human nature, male and female, also governed by natural law.

      • Rayan Zehn says:

        Sexism at its worst comes in the guise of religious dogma and doctrine. But I still can’t help but feel even more betrayed by your bastardization of “natural law.” Male and female behavior is in no way as objective as gravity. But I can see where you’re coming from. You’re using the old antiquated version of natural law instead of what we now understand about nature. This is a classic Catholic teaching, so I can forgive you for not being up to date. We now call “natural laws” the laws of science, and, contrary to Aquinas et al, who didn’t understand science, they don’t apply to human behavior. Human behavior cannot be delimited by scientific laws.

      • Rayan,

        Mother Nature is not sexist.

        And Mother Nature only comes in one version, not new nor old.

        Atheists betray their wastrel philosophy whenever they try to redefine what has always been known or when ever they try to demonize logical, reasonable, time-tested points of view with pejorative labels like racist, bigot, sexist, homophobe.

      • albinogoth says:

        Seriously? You only claim it’s natural without giving evidence. The fact that there are other religions and even other denominations of Christianity that allow women to lead spiritually shows that it isn’t a matter of nature.

        As such, you can’t compare women being rejected from the priesthood to men not being able to have babies. It’s a complete non-sequitur.

      • Goth,

        My explanation was simple and easy to understand.

        I cited the obvious as proof of my claims.

      • albinogoth says:

        Except it’s not obvious, as I clearly showed by providing examples.

        Or are you allergic to evidence and truth?

      • Goth,

        To be an atheist means to disable your ability understand the obvious.

      • albinogoth says:


        If it were obvious, then there would be no religious divisions, would there? This is not proof against god, but it does show that if there is a god, the evidence is not obvious.

        Perhaps that’s why religious fanatics like to kill off people who ignore the “obvious”?

      • Goth,

        The greatest mass murders in human history were committed by atheists.

      • albinogoth says:

        And this is relevant… how? Your holy texts claim your god is an even worse mass murderer, and even more psychotic as he doesn’t end their torment with death. He tortures for eternity the sin of being born imperfect.

        And yet, it’s irrelevant to the point that there is no obvious agreement on what religion is true, or what god even is. Even two different Catholics will have differing opinions on the topic. So, no. You can’t claim something is obvious.

      • Goth,

        Here is you arguing with yourself and losing:

        Goth trying to demonize religion: “Perhaps that’s why religious fanatics like to kill off people who ignore the “obvious”?”

        Goth responding to the fact that atheists are responsible for the greatest mass murders in human history:

        “And this is relevant… how?”

        Evidently, in the alternate universe according to Goth, when atheists commit the greatest mass murders in human history it’s irrelevant, but when religious people kill people it’s a sin just like God said.

        Goth proves that inside every atheist there’s a religious person just trying to get out.

      • albinogoth says:

        I don’t condone mass murder or genocide by anyone. But here’s the thing, the atheist mass murderer doesn’t do it for atheism. So what is your point? Right. You don’t. Flailing theists who defend the claimed evil actions of their god are funny.

  2. mzpresser says:

    Thanks for the post. Very thought provoking.

  3. Pingback: Bible Contradictions #48: Can women teach in church? | Christians Anonymous

  4. Karsten says:

    But unto the wicked (God-less) God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth? Seeing thou hatest instruction, and casteth my words behind thee. Psalm50:16-17 KJV

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