The role of women within the society has all along been debated, but all begin with the religious views on their position in the society relative to what men play in the same contexts. For one, women are traditionally held by all religions are being second to man but the extent to which this viewpoint is implemented depends on the faith (Johnstone 45). For instance, Judaism holds the woman as an essential element in creating a sanctuary at home for G-d but still restricted their roles in the synagogue (Webber 143). On the other hand, Christianity, historically, had limited the role of women as being a servant of the Lord and man but has changed with the New Testament (Grenz and Kjesbo 101). Islam is the most subordinate when it comes to the role of women in the society, of which they are obliged to obey the passive and supportive role that the religion recommends (McGinty 233). Hence, in Christianity, Judaism, and Islamism, women have historically played minor roles but on different measures, although modernity and rise in feminism have seen a relaxation of the role that women play in these religions.
To begin with, the role of women in the main religions of the world is first compared by looking at the role of women in Judaism, both at the traditional and the modern contexts. The role that women play in Judaism has all along been misunderstood and misrepresented. Accordingly, their position within the society is not that lowly as the contemporary society thinks. Instead, women's role in the society is traced to many years back, especially during the biblical periods when they held superior positions than always considered by the modern scholarly explorations. Women play similar roles just like men in the society, of which the religion does not have an exclusive view of superiority concerning masculine or male characteristics. Judaism, as stipulated by G-d, the Supreme Being maintains both feminine and masculine qualities (Webber 143). Hence, the religion upholds that man was created under dual gender, and as such, there is no distinction between having male or female as either superior or subordinate. Therefore, unlike other religions that regard the role of women as subordinate, Judaism does not hold women with this type of role.
Nonetheless, within the household context, Jewish women have the task of making the home as sanctity to G-d, and as such, she is regarded as the mainstay or the character that determines the Jewish atmosphere at home. In Judaism, home is supposed to be established as a sanctuary, and things like eating are not done for the sake of man's needs but a way of giving thanks and a form of a sanctuary (Webber 145). Hence, a woman is supposed to keep the home holy and give it the Jewish atmosphere. Various matters within the society are attached to the woman, of which the natural order of things, as stipulated by G-d, she is the source as well as the origin of holiness within the physical world. However, there is still the separation between men and women within the hierarchy especially in the synagogue of which women have limited authority over men and as such, an indication of elements of subordination of women in the religion (Webber 148). For example, in the synagogue, the presence or attendance of women is not recognized. On the same note, the religion holds the recognition that humanity has the nature of rebelling against the authorities of which women exercising authority over men is not encouraged.
Conversely, women in Judaism holds more ranks when compared to other religions. For instance, most are currently serving the roles of advocates within the rabbinical courts, and most are serving within the Orthodox congregations, roles that resemble those of rabbis who are not assigned any particular title (Johnstone 45). The role of women in Judaism has shifted with western education with many currently finding ranks in leadership positions as judges, heads of state and corporations and as such, a change to the secondary roles they play in the synagogue.
The role of women in Christianity has been discussed from a historical perspective and as such, their contribution to the establishment and development of early Christianity. Women in Christianity have been documented to have shaped the faith, beginning with the New Testament when Mary, Martha, and Magdalene were the first to appear at Jesus's tomb and also have been mentioned severally in the New Testament for preaching the Gospel like Tabitha (Grenz and Kjesbo 20). Despite the role that women played in shaping Christianity as a faith, the religion has ever since remained restrictive on the role of women. For instance, most organized churches assign leadership roles to males. For example, Orthodox and Catholic churches have men strictly serving as deacons or priests. On the other hand, only men have been assigned the executive leadership roles in the church like a bishop, pope, and patriarch.
However, the role is only changing within the Protestant dominations that are currently relaxing the life-long constraints of women in the church whereby women are now ordained to be ministers although there are still significant limitations to the role and functions of women within the church. For example, the Christian leaders have all along taken a patriarchal stand when naming the leadership in Church including names like Pope or Papa, Abba or Father(). By using such language, the role and contribution of women within the society has been limited or reduced to playing subordinate roles. The apostles of Paul too shows how women should be veiled within the Church and as such, signal how they are committed to subordination to men, of which man is considered as being headed by Christ while a woman too deemed to be led by her husband (Grenz and Kjesbo 101). Therefore, from in-depth exploration of Church and its stand on the role of women, the female character should respect the man as her master and as such, attribute to him the same fear as she fears the Lord.
Modern Christianity has changed the role of women in the society. In fact, in the western societies, of which Christianity is dominant, the rise of feminist organizations and voices implies that Christianity is shifting towards recognizing men and women are more or less the same (Johnstone 45). In this sense, the roles are changing of which women are barely regarded as playing the subordinate roles to men but instead, the religion is fast moving towards gender equality. However, women still have the position of looking at the household and having the responsibility of serving the husband.
Judaism and Christianity have too much domineering to women when compared to Islamism. Although common misconceptions have been held about the role of women in Islam, most of the observations are true and confirmed as promoted by the religion. Islamic faith does not separate public and private life hence influence the behaviors, practices, and values that women hold in the society (McGinty 233). One of the major areas of consideration is that for women in the society, their roles are reduced to rearing children and becoming good wives. In this sense, they are supposed to remain submissive to the males and as such, play the minor roles of supporting the household. A woman in Islam is precisely intended to stay dormant in public life, in particular on the issues of political participation. The voicelessly in the society explains why the religion force women to organized marriages. Women in the religion are expected to be servants to their husbands, cleaning the house, raising children, preparing meals, and as such, ensuring good representation of the family during social settings (McGinty 233). The religion encourages the separation of gender or sexuality values and roles. Women are supposed to behave according to what the religion states are the accepted morality and values.
Although women in the society have been much oppressed and have less voice in political participation, the religion is fast moving with changes in the society. For example, a Muslim woman is not necessary expected to play the role of a wife and a mother. Women are currently permitted to attend the Hajj pilgrimage, exercising their rights of voting, engaging in politics, having jobs, running business among other freedoms that never existed in the society (Johnstone 45).
In summary, the exploration has centered on the role of women in Christianity, Judaism, and Christianity and brings more light on which religion or society is more oppressive or providing women with autonomy. For one, Judaism is seen as glorifying the woman character but still, restricts her role in Synagogue. Christianity, especially modern Christianity has empowered the role of a woman but still promotes subordination and passiveness to man. However, Islam still regards women with passive roles. Changes brought by feminism are challenging the traditionally held roles of women and has cut across all the religion with women now have more power, autonomy, and gender equality increasingly being encouraged in all the religions.
Grenz, Stanley J, and Kjesbo, Denise Muir. Women in the Church: A Biblical Theology o women in ministry. InterVarsity Press, 2010. Print.
Johnstone, Ronald L. Religion in Society: A sociology of religion. Routledge, 2015. Print.
McGinty, Anna Mansson. "Review of Maaike Voorhoeve (ed.), family law in Islam: Divorce, marriage, and women in the Muslim world." Contemporary Islam 9.2 (2015): 233. Print.
Webber, Jonathan. "Between law and custom: Women's experience of Judaism'." Women's Religious Experience (2014): 143-62. Print.
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