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Women, Feminism and the Church

James Dodson

Women during a Lutheran service sometime around 1525.

Women during a Lutheran service sometime around 1525.


“In other words, there are two different views of matrimony: one derives from the smart alecks and sophisticates, that is, the principal fools and blind men in the sight of God. These fellows view the state of marriage as a superfluous, presumptuous human thing that one could dispense with and do without, just as I can do without an extra jacket or coat. Then they fill the world with their foolish and blasphemous scribbling and screeching against the married state, advising all men against it, although they themselves feel—and abundantly demonstrate by their actions—that they cannot do without women, these being created specifically for marriage; instead they run after and plague themselves with whores day and night.

Of this kind is that arch-fool, Johann Schmid of Constance, that renowned whoremonger, who has written an immense book, recently printed in Leipzig, against the state of matrimony. He tries to talk everyone out of it but says nothing more than that there is much effort and labor connected with it, as though this were not sufficiently known throughout the world and as if this ass must first teach us what every village peasant knows. If I were chastity herself, I could think of no greater and more unbearable shame and disgrace than to be praised by such rascals, whoremongers, and enemies of chastity. They rail against us, charging that we are enemies of chastity and promoters of marriage who prefer to see men married; and we are to consider them extremely wise, though they cannot but devote themselves to incessant fornication and though they praise chastity with their pens only and defame the married state.

They are rascals, not only on the surface but in the bottom of their hearts, and they are unworthy of an answer. And what matter if the whole world were to complain about the state of matrimony? We see right before our eyes that God daily creates not only men but also women and maintains their lives; and yet it is certain that he does not create any woman for the purpose of fornication. But since God’s work and Word stare us in the face, declaring that women must be used either for marriage or for fornication, these heathenish pretenders should shut their blasphemous mouths and leave God’s Word and work uncriticized and unhampered; unless perhaps they would like to teach us according to their own famed sagacity and contrary to God that all women should be strangled or banished. This would make a fine fool of God: what He does is no good; what we do is well done.

Now therefore since God created woman that she should and must be with man, it should suffice us that God is on our side, and we should honor the married state as a divine and noble institution. And if the wiseacres do not want to enter it, then let them continue in their heathenish blindness to practice rascality and fornication so long as God may allow it. We have God’s Word on our side; that will remain and not be moved by such blundering Smiths, though they were more numerous than the sands of the sea. Still it is a great sin and shame that we Christians have become such great fools that we first have to ponder and decide whether women ought to be married or not, just as though someone should ask whether he ought to eat and drink in this life.”—Martin Luther, Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7. (1523)



Homily on 1 Corinthians 11.—On the Veiling of Women.-John Chrysostom (347-407).-A very careful exegesis of Paul's discussion on the veiling of women in 1 Corinthians 11. Chrysostom concludes that the veiling of women is not religious but natural because it is a sign of the subjection and inferiority of the women to her husbands together with other observations.

Commentary on 1 Peter 3:1-6.-1523-Martin Luther.-Luther explains how the apostle would have women behave in all departments of life. He discusses modesty of apparel and the need for women to be submissive to their husbands.

Commentary on 1 Timothy 2:9-14.-1528-Martin Luther.-Luther instructs women on modest, including discussion regarding attire and headcoverings. Underlying the entire discussion is an emphasis upon the woman's social subordination to man in family, church and nation.

A Sermon on the Adorning of Women.-1555-John Calvin.-In this sermon, Calvin explains what it means for women to maintain modesty in both their inward and outward frame including a circumspect modesty in their appareling.

The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstruous Regiment of Women.-1558-John Knox.-This is one of the best and most forward strikes against the right of women to exercise political office written by a notable Reformer. This is not for the weak minded and should make many who think of themselves as Reformed ask themselves so fundamental questions. Knox was no proponent of a sad passive obedience and, as witnessed in this writing, he thought women should wear veils but not crowns.

A Discourse on Women Prophesying and Headcoverings.-1665-Joseph Mede (1586-1639).-An interesting discourse on 1 Cor. 11:5 explaining what Paul meant when he spoke of women prophesying.  In the course of the discussion, he throws some light on the function of precentors and the antiphony between the preceptor and the congregation (much like lining of the Psalms). Pointedly, he also discusses what Paul meant to teach respecting headcoverings or veils for women in the worship of the church.

Spiritual Armour To Defend the Head From the Superfluity of Naughtiness.-1688-Thomas Wall (fl. 1680-90).-This is a very detailed examination of hair and headcoverings by a non-Conformist Puritan controversialist who was a friend of Henry Ainsworth. Wall does not stop at hair but addresses many things respecting attire.

On Female Education.-1803-Samuel Miller.-In this extract, from his Brief Retrospect, Miller addresses the rise of the real first wave feminists led by Mary Wollstonecraft and her wicked book on the Rights of Woman. This is a fine critique which declares that feminism was anti-Christian from its inception.

The Appropriate Duty and Ornament of the Female Sex.-1808-Samuel Miller.-Mr. Miller believed that there are real differences between the sexes and that it ought to be reflected in many ways. However, just because women are not men does not mean they can do no good in society.

On the Right of Females to Vote in the Election of Ministers and Elders.-1822-Thomas McCrie (1772-1835).-This is a short examination on the question of women voting in church elections. McCrie discusses some of the reasons and the history behind excluding women from suffrage in the church.

Women's Rights Women.-1871-Robert L. Dabney (1820-1898).-What is it that the women's rights movement really wanted?  Dabney addresses the foolishness of feminism and predicts that it will lead the way to the acceptance of sodomy. What a strange idea!?!

The Public Preaching of Women.-1879-Robert L. Dabney (1820-1898).-Dabney brings the answer of Scripture to the rise of the feminism and faddish notion that women may be preachers of the Word of God. Along the way, he also discusses the use of headcoverings, or veils, in the public life of women.

Woman-Suffrage as Judged by the Working of Negro-Suffrage.-1882-Austin Phelps (1820-1890).-This is the first of two essays examining the movement for woman's suffrage. Phelps compares it to the drive to give the vote to freed negro slaves after the American Civil War. He believed that suffrage was not a right and that it had been given to freed blacks before they were ready to exercise the responsibility whereas he believed that women could never be made ready to be proper recipients.

Reform in the Political Status of Women.-1882-Austin Phelps (1820-1890).-In this second essay, Phelps explains why he believes that giving women the right to vote in civil elections is against nature and will be detrimental to American society. He also warns that it will be hard to regain the country and culture once women start voting.

Paul on Women Speaking in Church.-1919-Benjamin B. Warfield (1851-1921).-What exactly did Paul mean when he prohibited women from speaking in the church? Warfield examines the Greek and the grammar to explain what he meant.