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'The Making Of Biblical Womanhood' Tackles Contradictions In Religious Practice

Historians in the News
tags: gender, Christianity, religious history, womens history



 

White evangelical women are often taught that their calling is to be passive in the church, to be submissive to their husbands and to stay out of the pulpit.

History, though, says otherwise.

In her new book, The Making of Biblical Womanhood: How the Subjugation of Women Became Gospel Truth, historian Beth Allison Barr traces cultural sources of patriarchy that have all but erased women's historical importance as leaders of the faith.

Barr is a Southern Baptist and a pastor's wife. In an interview with NPR, she describes the day she realized that "what we found in the Bible about what women were supposed to do did not match with what my church was saying women were supposed to do." Eventually, she and her husband left that congregation — no longer able to tolerate the contradictions, she said.

Interview Highlights

On the day her two worlds — her church and her life in academia — collided

I came home from church one day. The pastor had been teaching on women's roles in the church, and during that sermon, one of the women and [one of the] men were called up to give a testimony at the end. And the testimony that they gave was that no matter if the woman agreed with her husband or not, she should always tell him, sure, and just do whatever he said, because that was what women were called to do. And I'd recently been teaching on women in the early church — and I had this moment where I realized that what we found in the Bible about what women were supposed to do did not match with what my church was saying women were supposed to do. And that in Romans 16, we see women leading in the church as teachers, as apostles, as deacons. And yet I was in a church that was telling me I couldn't even teach Sunday school without permission of our pastor.

Read entire article at NPR

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