Unveiled: Women, Misogyny, the Bible, and Church

Joe Forrest
13 min readSep 20, 2019

The Talmud — a vast collection of ancient Jewish laws and traditions — said it’s better to “burn the Torah [the first five books of the Bible] than it was to teach it to a woman.”

Saint Clement, considered to be the first Apostolic father of the Church, said, “Every woman ought to be overcome with shame at the thought that she is a woman.”

Tertullian, the 2nd-century theologian who developed the doctrine of the Trinity, said of women: “You are the devil’s gateway; you are she who first violated the forbidden tree and broke the law of God…Woman, you are the gate of hell.”

Saint Augustine, the 4th-century theologian who formulated the doctrine of original sin, said, “Woman was merely man’s helpmate, a function which pertains to her alone. She is not the image of God.”

And Martin Luther, the leader of the Protestant Reformation, wrote, “The word and works of God are quite clear, that women were made either to be wives or prostitutes.”

We shouldn’t dismiss the theological contributions of the early Church fathers, and while it’s (apparently) easy to wave off their misogynistic views as a “product of their environments,” that becomes more difficult the more we dial forward the clock.

In 2006, a former high-profile megachurch pastor said that women “who let themselves go” are partially at fault for their husband’s infidelity and “Jesus Christ commands” wives to service their husbands with oral sex.

A few months ago, John Piper, a well-respected theologian and pastor, said that he believed male seminary students studying to be pastors shouldn’t have women professors.

Paige Patterson, the president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, recently drew the ire of the evangelical community when it was revealed he encouraged a woman to remain in a physically abusive marriage for the sake of her husband’s salvation.

And the Southern Baptist Convention — an interconnected network of Baptist churches that represents the largest Protestant denomination in the United States — passed a resolution in the 1980s that states: “The Sciptures teach that women are not in public worship to assume a role of authority over men lest confusion reign in the local

Joe Forrest

Joe Forrest writes on the intersection of faith, culture, secularism, and politics.