Essay Example on Gender Roles in Religion: Women in Leadership?

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  870 Words
Date:  2023-09-08


Gender roles are issues that not only affect the secular world but are also ingrained in the religious doctrines. Different religious sects hold different perspectives and interpretations of what should be the role of men and women, aside from roles based on biology such as childbearing. Concerns arise about the roles and position of women in the church, such as taking up leadership roles like being priests or pastors. While some churches agree to have women take up leadership in the church, some disagree on this. There are equal and complementarian views regarding gender, all drawn from the Scriptures. The egalitarian perspective views the roles of women and men as equal and should be based on the gifts that an individual has, as opposed to their gender. The complementarian view sees women as helpers of men in fulfilling their God-assigned responsibility based on the creation narrative of Adam and Eve.

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Gender Roles according to different author perspectives

Wendy Alsup in 'equal but different: a complementarian view of the sexes' writes about the imminent differences that males and females have from the point of creation. She points out that men were created to rule the world while women were explicitly created as helpers of men (Chatraw & Prior, 2019). Alsup mentions how the Bible does not give the perfect complementary nature of the life of Adam and Eve before the fall. After the fall, she writes, the woman was told that she would 'desire' the man who would rule over her (Chatraw & Prior, 2019). She views this as the onset of men oppressing women. She believes that 'the body of Christ was broken so that the bodies of people are made whole' (Chatraw & Prior, 2019). She points out at distinct roles of men and women that should be viewed as so and the overlaps that mean people are equal.

Tish Harrison Warren presents an impartial view of the sexes' Both Men and Women are called to lead.' Her view is that both men and women should work in 'mutual submission' with each other, inside and outside the church (Chatraw & Prior, 2019). Her focus is on ordination and the role of women in the church, which is often a contested topic. Warren argues that the role of 'helper' given to women in Genesis does not denote subjugation or hierarchy (Chatraw & Prior, 2019). She mentions that God used women leaders in the Old Testament, such as Deborah and Ruth, and that women testified to the resurrection of Jesus (Chatraw & Prior, 2019). She links the subjugation of women before the nineteenth century to the ontological inferiority of women (Chatraw & Prior, 2019).

Another complementarian view is of Owen Strachan in the article 'the beauty of centering life around the home: a complementarian perspective on women and work.' Strachan points out that the role of women is in the home and in raising children. He states that 'God never moves away from this initial plan' (Chatraw & Prior, 2019). He quotes Proverbs 31 on the role of women as homemakers. Strachan criticizes the ideology of feminism that women should have it all in a work-life balance Chatraw & Prior, 2019). He views women working at home as a service to God, as opposed to working outside and defining oneself with the Marxism ideology (Chatraw & Prior, 2019).

In 'women's work is in the home and out of it, Katelyn Beaty points out the discipleship gap for working women. Beaty notes that church work is treated as masculine while the work at home is feminine (Chatraw & Prior, 2019, p.178). She highlights that working women are not a new concept, and women have always had to work, except among elite families. She also points out that in colonial America, sermons on raising children targeted both women and men, who actively participated in raising their children (Chatraw & Prior, 2019). She calls out for churches to support women's work and mentions that the proverbial woman demonstrates women in the economy (Chatraw & Prior, 2019).

The discussions above include both complementarian and egalitarian views of women working outside the home, and equality of sexes. All the authors agree that women and men were created in God's image and, therefore, equal. The responsibility of taking care of nature and procreating was bestowed upon both, but complementarianism insists that women being assigned as helpers to men make them unequal. Alsup further justifies the oppression of women by men using the statement decreed by God after chasing Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. Egalitarians insist that women working outside the home are going contrary to God's plan.


Gender roles are both secular and religious issues since both of them impact on the expectations placed on different sexes. Religious views of what men and women should do shape the roles assigned to them, and which they are required to uphold as part of their religious practice and service to God. Complementarians view the roles as being complementary, with women being men's helpers. Egalitarians believe in equality and women being able to carry out similar roles to men inside and outside the church.


Chatraw, J. D., & Prior, K. S. (2019). Cultural engagement: A crash course in contemporary issues. Zondervan Academic.

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