The world’s largest religion is Christianity with almost 33% of the global population. This religion focuses on Jesus Christ in three persons and the belief of afterlife. The teachings of Christianity speak of biblical equality between man and woman. Genesis, first book in the Old Testament, explains that the creation of woman and man was in accordance with God’s image, and both have equal and shared responsibilities of creating and raising children and having the same direct relationship with the Lord.
Also, men and women have authority over other creations and have partnership that is equal. The Bible teaches that man and woman were co-participants in the Fall: Adam was no less culpable than Eve. The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ came to redeem women as well as men. Through faith in Christ we become children of God, one in Christ, and heirs to the blessings of salvation without reference to racial, social, or gender distinctive. According to Acts chapter 2 verses 1 to 21 in the bible, the Holy Scriptures teaches that at Pentecost the Holy Spirit came on men and women alike.
Without distinction, the Holy Spirit indwells women and men, and sovereignly distributes gifts without preference as to gender. The Bible teaches that both women and men are called to develop their spiritual gifts and to use them as stewards of the grace of God and both men and women are divinely gifted and empowered to minister to the whole Body of Christ. Aside from that, the Holy Scriptures of Christianity teaches that in the New Testament economy, women as well as men exercise the prophetic, priestly and royal functions (Bilezikian, 2000, p. ).
However, the role of women in the modern period is apparently not exercised the same way the Bible vindicates it. The most controversial concern in religion nowadays is the role of women in the church. The authority of women during medieval to Reformation and now to modern period is still bound to limitations. Church leaders are challenged with issues pertaining to the role of women in the church. The restrictions in the religious role of women have transpired for approximately the entire period of church history.
Since women are not given leadership roles in the church, instead they get involved in missionary work. The dedication and vehemence of women to follow God’s deeds is through participation in the mission field. There are also several church ministries that allow women to join in. Presently, there are several roles of women in the church they can be catechists, youth workers, theologians, lectors, altar servers, lay chaplains and social workers. The main functions of catechist are to be a liturgist, teacher of religion and community leader.
According to the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, a catechist may be wedded or unmarried, may be old or young. This work may be assigned in villages and communities where there is an absence of a priest. Acting as a community leader, this task is to help the people understand God’s love through behavior and words. Social dilemmas like discrimination, alcoholism and tribalism are part of the responsibility of a catechist. Through conveying ideas and experiences, this job make the people in the community believe in the catechist as a person of faith.
Women as catechist may function as teacher in religion. They may be assigned in schools, teaching both baptized and non-Christian students. These can be found in government schools, where the State allows religious instruction, as well as in Catholic schools. There are also Sunday catechists, who teach in Sunday schools organized by the parish, especially where the State does not allow religious instruction in its schools. Catechists who collaborate in different forms of apostolate with ordained ministers, whose direction they willingly accept.
The tasks entrusted to them are multiple: preaching to non-Christians; catechizing catechumens and those already baptized; leading community prayer, especially at the Sunday liturgy in the absence of a priest; helping the sick and presiding at funerals; training other catechists in special centers or guiding volunteer catechists in their work; taking charge of pastoral initiatives and organizing parish functions; helping the poor and working for human development and justice.
This type of catechist is more common in places where parishes cover a large area with scattered communities far from the center, or where, because of a shortage of clergy, parish priests select lay leaders to help them (Frend, 1984, p. 46). Among the religious roles in the church, many women choose to join the congregation dedicating one’s life to God through abiding chastity and obedience vows. It is commonly known as vocation. Many women prefer the life of a nun and statistics show that it remains to be the leading role of women in the church.
For centuries, the accepted vocation for a woman wishing to give service in Christ’s Church was to enter the religious life, whether as an enclosed contemplative nun or as an active religious sister. There are upwards of 800,000 Catholic women in religious life around the world today. Over the past five years, Roman Catholic communities around the world have experienced a curious phenomenon: more women, most in their 20s and 30s, are trying on that veil.
Catholic centers at universities, report growing numbers of women entering discernment, or the official period of considering a vocation. Career women seeking more meaning in their lives and empty-nest moms are also finding their way to convent doors. This is a welcome turnabout for the church. As opportunities opened for women in the 1960s and ’70s, fewer of them viewed the asceticism and confinements of religious life as a tempting career choice.
Since 1965, the number of Catholic nuns in the U. S. as declined from 179,954 to just 67,773, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University. The average age of nuns today is 69. But over the past decade or so, expressing their religious beliefs openly has become hip for many young people, a trend intensified among Catholic women by the charismatic appeal of Pope John Paul II’s youth rallies and his interpretation of modern feminism as a way for women to express Christian values. Becoming a nun typically takes seven to nine years.
After the period of discernment, a woman enters a religious community as a postulant, and she reflects upon her vocation and helps with chores around the convent. At the end of what is primarily a yearlong spiritual retreat, the postulant and her advisers in the community decide whether she will become a novice and study Catholic theology and ministry for up to two years. She may then take her temporary vows. After an additional four to eight years during which she serves the convent’s mission, she makes her final vows and becomes a professed nun (Schmidt, 2006, p. ).
The prominent women in the modern period were Mother Teresa, founder of the Missionaries of Charity and Sister Joan Chittister, a Benedictine nun. Beyond Mother Teresa, Chittister, and a few other notable names and saints, women may not always be recognized for the work that they do for society and the church. Women who are strong in their own faith, however, play the most important role in the church: they are the torch-bearers of the faith, passing it to the next generation of Catholics (Malone, 2003, p. 89).
Gender issue seemed to manifest in almost every aspect in society. Christianity being the dominant religion faces the sensitive issue of biblical inequality. It holds a standard of belief that gender characteristics of men and women would draw out restrictions on women in the church. In the modern period, Vatican II discusses the issue regarding the ordination of women. The leadership of women to church roles is in question. Although women may do several roles like altar servers, lectors, catechists and even lay chaplains, priesthood may only be granted to men.
In line with this gender debate, surveys are being conducted by different Christian and Catholic groups. According to Christianity Today research department, the survey they performed showed 80 percent of the readers strongly do not adhere to the belief that men should be the head in the home and church by divine privilege. Another famous Catholic website named womenpriests. org greatly wanted to substantiate the ordination of women given that 90 percent of Catholic scholars support the idea of women ordination in the Catholic Church.
Aside from Catholics, several Christian religions support this concept. Supporters range from male and female theologians, to nuns, and ordained priests that have left their jobs due to the inequality being presented. The Catholic Church is a backwards, primitive religion that is not changing with the times. As women try to answer their call to ordination they get nothing but a “No” (Malone, 2003 p. 95). However it is the pope, being the highest leader in the church that denies women the opportunity to join the vocation of priesthood.
Although the pope gave praises and good remarks to the importance of women in the church, the acceptance of women in vocation of priesthood is in doubt. Women are not permitted to gain authority over men since they are restricted to being mothers and nuns. In the church, spiritual gifts of women are to be recognized, developed and used in serving and teaching ministries at all levels of involvement; as small group leaders, counselors, facilitators, administrators, ushers, communion servers, and board members, and in pastoral care, teaching, preaching, and worship.
In the Christian home, husband and wife are to defer to each other in seeking to fulfill each other’s preferences, desires and aspirations. Neither spouse is to seek to dominate the other but each is to act as servant of the other, in humility considering the other as better than oneself (Torjesen, 1993, p. 116). Women made a great contribution in the spread of Christianity particularly in the modern period.
Though female role models are less compared to the male counterparts considering the idea that leadership positions are not available to women, they provide inspiration to the believers of Christianity. Hopefully in the coming years, Christianity will renew its principles by providing women the same equal rights as men in consenting to their vocation in priesthood and granting privilege as head of the household and not the traditional submissive role of a plain wife.
Cite this Role Of Women in Christianity Beliefs
Role Of Women in Christianity Beliefs. (2016, Sep 22). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/role-of-women/