What Christadelphians REALLY think about women

The Christadelphian view of women
is 2,000 years out of date
By Credo Quia Absurdum
Listening to Steven Pinker speaking about his book “The Better Angels of Our Nature: The Decline of Violence In History And Its Causes”, which argues that for most people the world is a much safer place than it has even been, I was struck by one of the reasons he postulates as to why the statistics show that there are fewer wars, fewer people dying in war, and less violent crime.  He called it the feminisation of society.

An elderly Christadelphian sister is
shocked to see that her deconverted
friend refuses to wear a hat and fell
asleep because the lecture was boring.
In ancient times women were generally considered second class citizens, often thought of as the property of men with no power or autonomy to determine the course of their own lives.  This is very much the Old Testament status of women.

Very slowly, since the enlightenment of the 18th century the position of women in society has changed.  There are many reasons for this.  The philosophical movements of the age of reason, and the moving away from the dogmatism of the church and religious influences are amongst them. 
Science too has played a part in freeing woman from the drudgery of constant child birth – until the 20th century it was not unusual for women to give birth well into the teens of times (perhaps almost every year of her child bearing years).  Modern medicine and contraception has given women power over this aspect of their lives. 
In the 19th century women started campaigning to be allowed to vote and by the late 20th century women had reached equality with men in many areas of life.   They now play an equal role in many professions and in governments of the western democracies.

Pinker argues that because women are arguable more co-operative and nurturing than the typical alpha male, the emancipation of women has led to a better world for all.

Many Christian churches have moved along with the times and embraced the emancipation of women – though not without some serious controversy.
How do Christadelphians measure up?  Have they moved with the times or are they stuck in the age of their origins, with a very Victorian attitude to women?
John Thomas made his view of women plain:
We hear much in some parts of the world of the political rights and equality of women with men; and of their preaching and teaching in public assemblies. We need wonder at nothing which emanates from the unenlightened thinking of sinful flesh. There is no absurdity too monstrous to be sanctified by unspiritualized animal intellect. Men do not think according to God's thinking, and therefore it is they run into the most unscriptural conceits; among which may be enumerated the political and social equality of women. Trained to usefulness, of cultivated intellect, and with moral sentiments purified and ennobled by the nurture and admonition of the Lord's truth, women are "helps meet" for the Elohim; and much too good for men of ordinary stamp. The sex is susceptible of this exaltation; though I despair of witnessing it in many instances till "the Age to come." But, even women of this excellency of mind and disposition, were it possible for such to do so, would be guilty of indiscretion, presumption, and rebellion against God's law, in assuming equality of rank, equality of rights, and authority over man, which is implied in teaching and preaching. It is the old ambition of the sex to be equal to the gods; but in taking steps to attain it, they involved themselves in subjection to men. Preaching, and lecturing, women, are but species of actresses, who exhibit upon the boards for the amusement of sinful and foolish men. They aim at an equality for which they are not physically constituted; they degrade themselves by the exhibition, and in proportion as they rise in assurance, they sink in all that really adorns a woman. - Elpis Israel 4th Edition p123-4

There is no doubt that there are many Christadelphians who still agree with John Thomas’s outdated opinion, and except in a few enlightened enclaves this remains the position of women in the Christadelphian community to this day.  Perhaps it is not expressed so openly and in such vigorous Victorian prose, but for all practical purposes the role of woman in Christadelphian communities is to be subordinate to the “brethren”.
This scandalous state of living in the past is tolerated by both men and woman, partly because it is believed to be bible teaching, but mainly because most Christadelphians have been born into the community and have never known anything different. 
But as far as the outsider is concerned – even if they are interested in the beliefs – will it not be seen as a barrier to wanting to join with such a group of people living with such outdated social conventions?

Perhaps just one more reason why the Christadelphian community will not survive for many more decades?

1 comment:

  1. What about the poorer women in western society. Their life expectancy is falling. They are being subject to a military draft. Contraception is only for the well off. At least Christa Delphi and live in the real world.


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