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A Gallery of Thoughts on Arts, Culture and Orthodox Christian Spirituality

Three Female Questions to the Church

Answers by the Church to a few questions related to women: Did God create woman inferior to man, does He condemn the feminist movement, and is childlessness a punishment for woman's sins.

They say that Christianity teaches that God originally created woman inferior to man. Is that true?

In fact, relationships of subordination arose only after the fall. Initially, the wife was created equal in honour to her husband, and she was responsible for all her decisions and deeds. John Chrysostom writes about it thus: "In the beginning," declares the Lord, "I have created you equal in honour to your husband and wanted you, being of the same virtue as him, to have fellowship with him in everything, and I entrusted you, just like your husband, with power over all creatures. But due to the fact that you did not use equanimity as you were supposed to, I subordinate you to the husband for this."

Having tasted the forbidden fruit before her husband, without consulting him and having individually decided to break the commandment, the woman was the first to break this equality of honour of the first people, received by them during the creation. According to the words of St. Ephraim the Syrian, she "... out of jealousy did not allow her husband to taste it first; she wanted to be above Adam, assume the top spot and give Adam the one below. Since she wanted to subordinate her husband to herself, the Lord exposed her secrets and told her: he will subordinate you."

However, for Christian husbands this subordination is not justification for abuse and domestic tyranny. After all, the dominance over his wife, given to the husband after the fall, was not a reward at all - why should one reward someone who has also sinned? It is rather a heavy duty, the need to make decisions in the family and bear the burden of responsibility not only for oneself, but also for one's beloved half, for one's beautiful rib, for the one who is the flesh of his flesh.

Is it true that the Church condemns the feminist movement?

In fact, the Church does not condemn this or any other ideological or political movement. The Church condemns only sin. And if there are any calls to commit sin in the ideological program of the feminists, then, of course, the Church treats them negatively. For example, the protection of women's right to abortion by feminists will never receive a church blessing, since the Church considers the artificial termination of pregnancy as the sin of murder. At the same time, the Church welcomes the idea of equal civil rights for women and men in the modern world, making an important clarification: "... While appreciating the social role of women and welcoming their political, cultural and social equality with men, the Church simultaneously opposes the tendency to belittle the role of women as wife and mother. The fundamental equality of the value of sexes does not abolish their natural difference and does not signify the sameness of their vocations in the family or in society. Representatives of some social trends tend to belittle, and sometimes even completely deny, the importance of marriage and the institution of the family, focusing on the socially significant activities of women, including those incompatible or mostly incompatible with women's nature (for example, the work associated with hard physical labor). Quite frequent are calls for artificial leveling of the participation of women and men in every sphere of human activity. The church sees the appointment of a woman not as a mere imitation of man and not as a competition with him, but as a development of all abilities granted to her by the Lord, including those inherent only in her "(Fundamentals of the Social Concept of the Russian Orthodox Church).

They say that childlessness is a punishment for women's sins. Does the church really think so?

In fact: it is possible to affirm this with complete certainty only when childlessness has turned out to be a medical consequence of an earlier abortion. And even in this case, the source of such punishment is the unfortunate woman who deprived herself of the joy of motherhood herself.

The idea that childlessness is a divine punishment for parents' sins existed in traditional societies in which the continuation of the family was one of the principle meanings of marriage, and of all human life. The logic there was roughly the following: a man has sinned - God decided to take away his seed so that the descendants of the sinner would not repeat the sin of their parents. But in the Bible we see a lot of examples in which sinners had children. Moreover, pious and righteous parents could not have children until old age, which happened to the parents of the Blessed Virgin and John the Baptist.

If a childless woman has had some serious sins in her life, she needs to repent for them in a confession not for some "practical" purpose (for example, to give birth to a child), but in order to cleanse her soul, to restore the connection with Christ that was broken by sins. And children are God's blessing. The Lord Himself enables a new human life, parents are only performers of this miracle - the birth of a human. And no childlessness can be an obstacle if He decides that it is time for a woman to become a mother.

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