Bitesize has changed! We're updating subjects as fast as we can. Visit our new site to find Bitesize guides and clips - and tell us what you think!
Print

Religious Studies

Christian: prejudice and discrimination

Inequality in the Christian Church

Many people think that the Christian Church is sexist. It does not treat men and women equally.

The teaching of St Paul is often quoted to support the way some churches today treat women. From the extracts below, it would seem that he believed that the role of women was different to that of men, and secondary to it.

St Paul said:

Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to enquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

1 Corinthians 14:34-35

Now I want you to realise that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonours his head. And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonours her head - it is just as though her head were shaved. If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head. A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man.

1 Corinthians 11:3-7

Female bishop

The Right Reverend Kay Goldsworthy - Australia's First Female Bishop

Jesus, however, always showed by his actions that he respected and valued women. He included them among his closest companions, and sometimes went against the conventions of his time which kept men and women apart. Jesus made it clear in the Parable of the Good Samaritan how his followers should treat people – he made no distinction between men and women.

Some Christian denominations have recently begun to allow women to be priests or ministers (eg, Church of England and the Methodist church). Some remain opposed to this (eg, the Roman Catholic Church). Some Christians believe that women are second to men, that men should lead and women should follow (see 1 Timothy 2:8–15).

So although Christianity teaches that everyone should be equal and should be treated the same, this doesn't always happen.

Back to Prejudice and discrimination index

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.