Women in the Org.

by snarf 21 Replies latest jw experiences

  • snarf

    Does anyone know of any links or have any info on women's role in the congregation and why the JW are either right or wrong? I always felt they were wrong, but it was always just a gut feeling. Does anyone have any info on if any women held positions of authority during the Bible times concerning a congregation. I am thinking of the name Priscilla that rings a bell, but not sure, it has been a long time. Any info would be greatly appreciated.

  • lovelylil

    Here is some information from a short article I wrote - it is also on Randy's freeminds website. It has scriptural support for women's roles in the early church and shows that the JW view of women not even being able to hold a microphone is totally backwards view of them. Hope this helps, Lilly

    The view and Role of Women in the Early Church

    What can we learn from it?

    In many churches today (as well as societies) woman are treated as second-class citizens. Some churches do not allow woman to perform even a simple task in the functions of the church such as, researching for sermons, organizing church activities, assisting with seating or sound functions, sharing their thoughts and ideas on matters or any other activities. Some churches however, go completely opposite and ordain woman as ministers, allow them to give public talks and use them in every area of church functions or business. Which way is the correct way? While there can be no absolutes and it is up to the church itself as mandated by their own conscience what role women should play, looking at the view of women held in the early church and more importantly by our Lord Jesus himself can help us have a balanced view in this area.

    Cultural View of women during the early church time Women in the first century were viewed through patriarchal eyes. Women were not given the same rights as men, or for that matter, slaves. They were objects that were meant to please and serve men. A woman’s main function was to run the home and raise the children and her main focus was to be in the home. Women were not allowed to vote. Women not permitted in public prayer nor could a man talk to a woman in public, or for that matter, women were not even allowed to talk in public, and they had to keep their heads covered. Women lived under the rule of the Roman Empire consisting of male authority Most of the ancient cultures either by law or custom, excluded women from religious worship or public domain, which comprised a large part of the world's ideas and cultural and creative contributions. Women were also viewed as "unclean" during menstruation and after childbirth, which would isolate them from society even further during and after each of these events.

    Jesus' treatment of women at that time

    Although Jesus was not a champion of women’s rights, he treated women like people which contrasted his Jewish background and runs counter-culture to how a man treated women (Searching the Scripture p.120).

    Jesus went against prevailing traditions and attitudes toward women. Men did not speak to women in public, did not allow them public prayer and certainly did not allow them to serve in worship services. Jesus spoke to women in public, such as the Samaritan woman at the well (John Chapter 4) and allowed women to become deaconesses. This is contrary to rabbinical trends (Women and World Religions p 312). Jesus’ attitude toward women would have been depicted as being un-Jewish according to the standards at that time.

    The fact that Jesus even conversed with woman, going against the prevailing tradition of the time, must have been seen as an outrage. In the bible book of Luke the text validates the importance of women and their contribution to Jesus' ministry and gives detailed descriptions of how Jesus interacted with them. If Jesus really did treat women as equals, listen to their opinions, taught them and loved them without judgment, women must have flocked to him. Luke commonly uses Jesus’ interaction with women to reveal his concept of Jesus’ character. Two specific examples include Jesus comforting the widow of Nain and having compassion on a prostitute, a practice unheard of in that society or for our own society. Do we have compassion on prostitutes? Do we see them as lonely, lost and exploited or do we look at them as drugged-out women who don’t deserve compassion or forgiveness? Jesus looked beyond externals to the constitution of the soul. In Luke 8:1-3 he includes a summary of the part women played in Jesus’ ministry Accompanying him are numerous female disciples whom he has healed and who now support him and the male disciples “out of their own resources

    Also according to the Luke gospel, it appears that women were greatly supporting Jesus in his ministry. In first Century Jerusalem, it was not common practice for a woman to support a man. It isn’t common practice today. It goes against social mores, yet Jesus allowed these women to support him in his work so he could be free about “his Father’s business”. “Unlike his contemporaries, Jesus was not derogatory about women’s nature, ability or religious capacities.” Both women and men came into Jesus’ vision as individual people who don’t have the burden of stereotype. We see Jesus dealing with a woman personally, intimately and against the grain of prevailing male-female relations and boundaries.

    Luke also records that Paul converted several "Greek women in high standing" in Macedonia. (Acts 16:14, 17:4) It may be relevant that in Hellenistic times Macedonia was famous for producing aristocratic and royal ladies of outstanding vigor, from Olympia’s, mother of Alexander the Great, to Cleopatra VII last of the great rulers of Egypt. For early Christian women, economic status shaped significantly the ways they could participate in Christian Communities.

    Early Church's treatment of women

    The Book of Ephesians endorses the rigid social and domestic hierarchy of the day but makes the system more humane by insisting that Christian love apply to all and that men love their wives as Christ loves the church. (Ephesians 5:25) Women whose husbands die were “better off” because they didn’t have divided loyalties and could be of more service to the church. If an unbeliever leaves believing spouse, she is “exonerated” from the stigma of divorce. The advantages sometimes belonging to the unmarried state as furnishing better opportunities for doing good, did much to create the impression that to abstain from marriage is a praiseworthy act of self-denial. The most esteemed writers, from Cyprian back as far as Justin Martyr, give special honor to the class of women who from early times chose to remain single and devote themselves to doing good (History of the Christian Church p. 62). Women were allowed to hold the position of deaconesses in the early church. Although limited as to their functions, women could become deaconesses but they were not allowed to baptize or preach. Many women opened their homes to the church, which is comprised of a body of believers rather than a building. Lydia is mentioned in Acts for opening her home. And Paul thanks Phoebe in Romans chapter 16 for her administration of church duties and asks other believers to support her administration. Women made considerable contributions to the development of Christianity in the first four centuries (Searching the Scriptures p. 291). The book of Acts also mentions Tabitha, Lydia and Mary who opened their homes as well. Women were given the opportunity for service and purpose in the home and outside of the home in the community.
    Contrary to some popular teaching about biblical submission, the Bible never portrays women as silent shadows that have little to contribute mentally or spiritually. In fact, women played an important role in Jesus' ministry and in the spread of Christianity. The following list contains just a few of the valuable spiritual contributions women have made in the history of the church.

    • Mary and Martha were close friends of Jesus (Luke 10:38-39)
    • Mary anointed Jesus prior to his death. (John 12:3)
    • Many women lamented Jesus' crucifixion (Luke 23:27-31 and John 19:25)
    • Women were the first to visit Jesus' tomb on Resurrection morning (Luke 23:55-24:1)
    • Early church leaders responded positively to widows' complaints (Acts 6:1-6)
    • Dorcas was "abounding with deeds of kindness and charity" throughout her community. When Peter later raised her from the dead, many people believed in Christ (Acts 9:36-42)
    • The church gathered in Mary's home to pray for Peter (Acts 12:12)
    • Women gathered for worship at Philippi, where Paul spoke to them (Acts 16:13)
    • Lydia was a successful businesswoman. She became a Christian and prevailed upon Paul and his colleagues to meet in her home (Acts 16:14-15)
    • In Thessalonica " a number of the leading women" were responsive to Paul and Silas' teaching (Acts 17:4)
    • In Berea "many…believed, along with a number of prominent Greek women." (Acts 17:12)
    • Priscilla and Aquila, her husband, were partners in church work (Acts 18:2 and 18:19)
    • Both Priscilla and Aquila corrected Apollo’s theology (Acts 18:26)
    • Paul mention Phoebe as a "servant of the church… a helper of many and myself" (Romans 16:1)
    • Paul calls Priscilla "a fellow worker" (Romans 16:3)
    • "Chloe's people" gave Paul information on the Corinthian problems (1 Corinthians. 1:11)
    • Paul lets unmarried women "stay as they" are so they can serve the Lord and not be forced into marriage (1 Corinthians 7:28)
    • Widows were given special attention, assistance and care (1 Timothy 5:3-6)

    Strengths of women that can balance out men’s abilities

    Many women are quoted in the bible for their strengths, which are meant to balance the strengths of men. The Hebrew bible mentions Deborah who was a judge and a prophetess (Judges 4-5) and she is credited with a military victory.

    Whereas men have physical strength, logical thinking and can see things in only black and white, women are the nurturers, add emotional depth and can see the gray areas; women also have the ability to give birth, which requires a high tolerance of pain! Women and men however can share similar qualities such as intelligence, a sense of humor creativity and the ability to lead and teach.

    In the Genesis account of creation, we read how God created both men and women. Women are of equal value in God's eyes. Although men and women are created for different purposes and as many psychologists can attest, have different thinking patterns, women were meant to be an integral part of humanity and have purpose and significance in God's creation and purpose. If not, why would God ignore half of the population He created?


    Searching the Scriptures - publisher Herder & Herder 1997, Author: Elizabeth Fiorenza

    Women and World Religions - publisher Prentice Hall, 2001 Author: Lucinda Joy Peach

    History of the Christian Church - publisher Hendrickson Publishers, 1996

    Article by: Lilly Cruz


  • looking_glass

    snarf - in the early days when the religion was in it's infancy stage, there were not enough men and women were used a lot (also doing research you can easily find that Taze's wife contributed quite a bit to stuff). However, once the Judge came into power, the roles for women were diminished greatly.

    In congos that were in areas that did not have elders there were women who did give talks and gave the prayers - essentially lead the group. For example, I know in S. IL there were congos where there were only sisters who lead everything for years up till the 60's at which time the Society sent out males to do special assignments and the boyz took over. Of course the women always had to wear a head covering, they could not stand at the podium and giving a talk, but rather had to sit the whole time. They did have a name for those women (sisters) who ran the show back then, but I am drawing a blank on what they were called.

    Based on my convos w/ family and friends who were in the religion during the 60's and 70's, the society seemed to feel that the women's movement was taking over the US and they decided to put their foot down and either disbanded halls that did not have at least one loser guy to run it. The society felt that the Jezebel influence had taken over certain halls.

  • Arthur

    My views on this are probably totally "unscriptural". I always found it utterly stupid that women could not speak from the podium, offer prayers, or even serve as Ministerial Servants in the congregations. I have always insisted that the head covering practice is absolute bullsh#t. (pardon my French) As if the Almighty God is going to be unnerved by a woman praying in front of a man without a paper napkin on her head.

  • lovelylil


    I totally agree with what you said. The "rules" about women in the org. are totally ridiculous and most mainstream churches are much more balanced in their views of women. I noticed the cultic ones like the JWs, Mormons, and fundamentalist groups all degrade women. The men in these groups are just trying to make themselves more important than they really are.

    Just where do the JWs get that you must have a p***s to be "qualified" to hold a microphone?

    In most of the congregations I was in - the women went out much more in service than any of the "brothers" and conducted about 90% of the bible studies. Also most were far more intelligent and well spoken than the men and yet were reduced to some subservient position under them. It was so disgusting - so glad I got my daughter out of there. Lilly

  • Arthur
    Just where do the JWs get that you must have a p***s to be "qualified" to hold a microphone?

    Maybe they believe that the microphone is a phallic symbol.

  • lovelylil

    LOL - good one Arthur!

  • SirNose586

    The org is really setting themselves up for tough days ahead, with brothers becoming some sort of commodity. Men being baptized elicits louder applause because people know brothers are becoming harder to come by. Some of these sisters are in a really sad condition...specifically, there's a pioneer family, mother and daughter, in my hall. When there are no brothers to lead them, to tell them exactly what to do, they panic. Service time is another example. The sisters are so glad to see brothers at some service meetings, because even if you do a slipshod job of handling it, they are glad that at least ONE brother showed up. I can think of one tough old bird who could conduct the meetings herself, but she's on the fringes of the congregation from years of speaking her mind (also that her kids left the org as spectacular wastrels). If all the brothers were to up and disappear tomorrow, the org has left far too few women with the leadership and independence to be able to run the show.

    They do most of the preaching and get none of the perks. The woman's role in the JW org is really an anachronism.

  • Gill

    Sadly , many women are easily led by this 'Man made' organization and will believe anything they are told and follow anything they are instructed. I was one such woman .....as I see it, I know I was academically a high achiever, but when it came to religion and the WTBTS I was pumelled into it as a child and still believed all that crap, or at least thought I did, into my thirties. So how does an apparantly intlligent woman get trapped and caught in the WTBTS stranglehold. I think that because women do NOT actually have any roll in the WTBTS cong except as the foot stools of the men, they do not actually get involved in the running of the Org and never see what really goes on with Elders, Co and Do's, and right at the top at Bethels and Brooklyn. Seeing the running and 'why' things happen would soon switch on the minds of these ordinary women who continue to believe in the God like or Star like qualities that they are told Elders have and are! (Enough to make you puke) The women are kept in the dark and so stay in la la land for longer and believe it more! In my family, it was my husband who left first, my husband told me it was all a pile of s*&t! and me who took far longer to wake up. Women in the Org are kept blind, bound and stupid! That's why the women are harder to free than the men! IMHO!

  • diamondblue1974

    Whilst equality is more socially acceptable nowadays the fact still remains that we live in a male dominated environment which is often oppressive to women in general on a number of levels. On a sociological level religion often is about control and power and so its not surprising that women come off worse in such environments especially where the organisation concerned is not forward thinking and is old fashioned.


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