Misogyny in Christian History

Misogyny in Christian History July 5, 2013

Valerie Tarico has a collection of 20 quotes from Christian leaders, from the early church fathers to modern fundamentalist preachers, showing extraordinary misogyny. I haven’t traced the origin of these quotes, so I’m trusting Tarico’s research here, but some of these are truly appalling:

In pain shall you bring forth children, woman, and you shall turn to your husband and he shall rule over you. And do you not know that you are Eve? God’s sentence hangs still over all your sex and His punishment weighs down upon you. You are the devil’s gateway; you are she who first violated the forbidden tree and broke the law of God. It was you who coaxed your way around him whom the devil had not the force to attack. With what ease you shattered that image of God: Man! Because of the death you merited, even the Son of God had to die… Woman, you are the gate to hell. –Tertullian, “the father of Latin Christianity” (c160-225)

What is the difference whether it is in a wife or a mother, it is still Eve the temptress that we must beware of in any woman… I fail to see what use woman can be to man, if one excludes the function of bearing children. –Saint Augustine, Bishop of Hippo Regius (354 – 430)

As regards the individual nature, woman is defective and misbegotten, for the active force in the male seed tends to the production of a perfect likeness in the masculine sex; while the production of woman comes from a defect in the active force or from some material indisposition, or even from some external influence. –Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church, 13th century

Those are three of the most legendary thinkers in the history of the church. But the protestant reformers were just as bad:

The word and works of God is quite clear, that women were made either to be wives or prostitutes. –Martin Luther, Reformer (1483-1546)

No gown worse becomes a woman than the desire to be wise. –Martin Luther, Reformer (1483-1546)

Of course, Luther said even worse things about Jews, demanding that his followers commit violence against them. None of this should be at all surprising, of course. The Bible is a deeply misogynistic book from one end to the other.


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