Submissive Women

woman-symbolWomen have little official voice in fundamentalism. Look at any list of famous fundies and names will exclusively be male. (Those men will also all be white but that’s a topic for another day.) Women serve a few functions within the fundamentalist church including Sunday School teacher, nursery worker, and piano player. If you ever want to see a fundamentalist squirm, ask him if his church has the biblical office of deaconess.

The rules regarding what women can do are many and complex. Not only must married women submit to their husbands but unmarried women may need to submit to their boyfriend, unless the boyfriend is in contention with the woman’s father and then of course the person who makes the final decision is…her male pastor since he is submitted to by everybody anyway.

As with any fundamentalists rule there is a great degree of nuance. For example, women can teach Spanish to men but not Greek or Hebrew to preacher boys. Women missionaries may teach men as long as the men’s skin is at least 3 shades darker than her own. A female fundy may also lead a teen choir in song but not an adult congregation. She can make meals for the church covered dish supper but not serve out the crackers and Welch’s for communion.

If you believe that the only reason Deborah was chosen to be a prophetess was that there weren’t any men available to do the job, you might be a fundamentalist.

37 thoughts on “Submissive Women”

  1. Great post (although I foresee some ranting comments in the not-too-distant future – but then again, that’s just the charismatic in me talking. πŸ˜€ )

  2. There actually are some real interesting dimensions to the role of women in fundamentalism…see Margaret Bendroth, “Fundamentalism and Gender, 1875 to the Present”.

  3. Oh yes and there is an audible -gasp- if mention is made of asking a woman to lead in prayer.

  4. This has always been one of my pet peeves. What if a woman hates nursery duty, isn’t cut out to teach Sunday School, or doesn’t like to cook? Suppose those aren’t her “gifts”? Then I suppose she is worthless to God? Well, then again, as mentioned in the above post, she could always go on the mission field, where her knowledge of Greek might actually be appreciated.

    And what about the ignorant views like “an unmarried woman no matter what her age (it could be 50) is still under her father’s covering and should be submissive to him.” ?!?! I could go on, but i’ll refrain.

    1. How could you not love nursery duty? You don’t have to pretend to be interested in the sermon if you are in the nursery.

  5. I’m with you, RJW! I once had a pastor request that I cook lunch for a group of men meeting at the church on a Saturday. Nevermind that my cooking repertoire at that time consisted of frozen pizza or macaroni and cheese. Nevermind that my husband was a far better cook than I was (and certainly enjoyed it more). Nevermind that I probably would have been better at mowing the lawn. I was a woman and, therefore, a cook.

    Doesn’t the Proverbs 31 woman “bring her food from afar?” I think some commentaries suggest that verse is referring to curbside pickup from Outback Steakhouse. πŸ˜‰

  6. How is the “office of a deaconess” Biblical?

    I believe that it is Biblical for women to submit to their husbands, just like it is Biblical for husbands to love their wives. The pastor has no authority over the members of his own church, though. I know there are some Fundamentalist pastors that think they have the right to tell a woman what to do, regardless of what her husband thinks, but that is completely unBiblical.

    Also, different churches have different standards in regard to a woman keeping silence in the church. I’ve seen Fundamentalist churches where the men are quiet and the women run the place (except that a man still preaches). Of course, those kind of churches are usually the ones where men have no backbone and the women tear each other apart in prayer meetings.

    1. Check out Romans 16:1 in the Greek sometime and then do some reading on the word diakonos. I promise you’ll find it interesting.

    2. This is the ‘women are bitches and need to be kept in line, amirite?’ line of arguing. It has no place in this century, and no place among people with fully functioning brains.

      1. Sad thing is that it’s true that some women definitely are… well, shrews, harpies, and witches, πŸ‘Ώ and God help anyone who crosses them, and as you said, they will claw each other to shreds over trivialities. Equally sad is that kind can be found in every domination, even atheist. πŸ™

  7. Ever heard the girls in fundy colleges says they have been called to be a preachers wife? Is that a “calling”? There’s also the ones that say they are there for their MRS degree, as if they don’t need any training or education unless it’s about how to get a man.

  8. Darrell, if it wasn’t translated “deaconess” in the KJV then there’s a mighty good reason for it. I don’t need your version of the Greek to correct my Bible, thank you very much.

    1. Please tell me you’re joking. That’s just about the most ignorant thing I’ve heard in a long time. That’s like saying I’d rather have my Anglo-Saxon, American high school teacher to teach me spanish, instead of my friend from Spain.

  9. “If you use your KJV to correct the original Greek…you might be a fundamentalist”

  10. Yeah, there was a very good reason the translators of the King James didn’t use “deaconess.” It’s because the Church of England didn’t have any deaconesses and the translators didn’t want to rock the boat.

  11. I grew up in what I call a Fundamentalist Lutheran church and I gave the pastor conniptions during confirmation classes wondering why women were not allowed to do anything in the church except cook and clean.

    To this day, women are not allowed to vote or hold office in church. Even if the woman is the CEO of a major corporation, an 18 year old boy apparently has more knowledge for the church than she does.

    This lack of respect for women and their gifts is one of the reasons why I am no longer a Lutheran.

    1. Not true for many, many Lutherans. The ELCA just elected a woman as our national Bishop and have been ordaining women since the early 70s.

  12. “I donΓƒΒ’Γ’β€šΒ¬Γ’β€žΒ’t need your version of the Greek to correct my Bible, thank you very much.” ~ 1611girl

    “Because you’d much prefer the Latin Vulgate to do the ‘correcting’.” ~ me

    (Almost every English “translation” of the Bible is based on the Latin Vulgate, not the original Hebrew and Greek.)

    1. @ Shelly

      Are you sure of that?

      I thought many of the contemporary English language Bible versions are based on the Critical Text, which uses Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus, etc, which is why King James Version Onlyists hate the NIV, NASB, etc. so much?

      It’s been several years since I’ve read up on this stuff.

  13. You realize the KJV is the most woefully mis-translated English edition of the Bible ever made, right?

  14. If a man tried to tell me what I can or can’t do, he’d wind up with his azz as my footstool.

      1. There’s one site that instruct the husband that if his wife begins to cry and plead for him to stop, that he should continue.

        Um, that’s domestic violence. Christian or no.

        1. Christian DD or even Non Christian DD is a consensual relationship. If the woman willingly consents and wants that in her relationship it is not abusive. If you read the information fully you are see they are talking about consensual relationships. once consent is withdrawn, then it would be abuse if it continues, yes.

        2. Don’t want to remove women’s agency, but I think there are some concerns about going into a D/s relationship that encompasses your whole life (no breaks) without a real out.

    1. what the????????? I seriously thought this was a joke when I started reading it…. WOW!

    2. This is pathetic, let’s get that prayer request out on Wednesday night as to whether you should spank me dear… πŸ™„ πŸ™„ eeww. God will make it happen in his time… Loony bin material.

  15. Yet another topic that fundies choose not to even bother finding out what God thinks about. If you are a male with a disposition towards tyranny and an eye for weak willed women, you might be a fundy pastor.

    Even better, if you secretly despise and even hate women, you’ll make a fine member in your local fundy church. If you’re not this way, better get used to most of your friends in the fundy circles being this way. They seriously don’t understand why you aren’t their best friend when they tell you all their “stupid women” jokes.

  16. I met a couple of guys with this mindset in Bible college (though not as many as I was expecting, but maybe I just didn’t meet the others). Despite what I think of my fundy U’s legalistic standards and their attitude, I did learn a lot about the Bible and better ways to study it (there are great teachers even in fundy U’s!).

    I got a degree in Bible, so the guys with that mindset usually assumed I wanted to be the wife of someone in “full time ministry” or that I was only going to stay until I found a man. πŸ™„ Getting an undergrad in Bible was permissible, though of course they probably thought that I would never understand the Bible like they assumed they did.

    Now, seminary was different. Most of the guys, surprisingly, treated the girls with the same respect they treated other guys. But there was always those few who thought the school was becoming liberal for allowing women in seminary. I guess they were just threatened by the idea that a woman can understand the Bible just as well (or better) then they can.

    I guess its easier now to laugh at the attitudes of some of those guys, since I’m no longer at a school or a church that has 6,098,435,743,823,943 rules detailing what women can do, say, wear, and think, instead of just going by what the Bible actually says. Its so frustrating to be in a situation like that, knowing that if you dare to bring up the lack of Biblical support for a majority of their opinions on women, you will be instantly labeled rebellious. πŸ™

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