Misogynist Quotes from Church Fathers and Reformers
Here are some quotes from well-known Church leaders and theologians that do not in any way reflect what the Bible says about women.
Clement of Alexandria
Theologian and Greek Father, 2nd century
“Every woman should be filled with shame by the thought that she is a woman. . . . the consciousness of their own nature must evoke feelings of shame”
Theologian and Greek Father, 2nd-3rd centuries
“Men should not sit and listen to a woman . . . even if she says admirable things, or even saintly things, that is of little consequence, since it came from the mouth of a woman.”
Fragments on 1 Corinthians
The Father of Latin Christianity, 155-245
”And do you not know that you are (each) an Eve? The sentence of God on this sex of yours lives in this age: the guilt must of necessity live too. You are the devil’s gateway: you are the unsealer of that (forbidden) tree: you are the first deserter of the divine law: you are she who persuaded him whom the devil was not valiant enough to attack. You destroyed so easily God’s image, man. On account of your desert—that is, death—even the Son of God had to die. And do you think about adorning yourself over and above your tunics of skins?”
On the Apparel of Women, Chapter 1 (Read it here.)
Archbishop of Constantinople and Doctor of the Church, 4th century
“God maintained the order of each sex by dividing the business of life into two parts, and assigned the more necessary and beneficial aspects to the man and the less important, inferior matter to the woman.”
Priest, Theologian, Doctor of the Church and Latin Father, 4th-5th centuries
“Woman is the root of all evil.”
Bishop of Hippo, Doctor of the Church and Latin Father, 354-430
“I don’t see what sort of help woman was created to provide man with, if one excludes procreation. If woman is not given to man for help in bearing children, for what help could she be? To till the earth together? If help were needed for that, man would have been a better help for man. The same goes for comfort in solitude. How much more pleasure is it for life and conversation when two friends live together than when a man and a woman cohabitate?”
“. . . the woman together with her own husband is the image of God, so that that whole substance may be one image; but when she is referred separately to her quality of help-meet, which regards the woman herself alone, then she is not the image of God; but as regards the man alone, he is the image of God as fully and completely as when the woman too is joined with him in one.”
On the Trinity Book 12 7.10
Doctor of the church, 13th century
“As regards the individual nature, woman is defective and misbegotten, for the active force in the male seed tends to the production of a perfect likeness in the masculine sex; while the production of woman comes from a defect in the active force or from some material indisposition, or even from some external influence.”
Summa Theologica, Vol. I, Q. 92, Art. 2: 489.
German priest, theologian and Protestant Reformer, 16th century
“The woman certainly differs from the man, for she is weaker in body and intellect. Nevertheless Eve was an excellent creature and equal to Adam in so far as the divine image: that is, righteousness, wisdom and eternal salvation, is concerned. Still, she was only a woman. As the sun is much more glorious than the moon (though also the moon is glorious), so the woman was inferior to the man both in honour and dignity, though she, too, was a very excellent work of God.”
From Luther’s Commentary on Genesis.
French theologian, pastor and Protestant Reformer, 1509-1564
On the first post-resurrection appearance of Jesus to women rather than to men: “I consider this was done by way of reproach, because they [the men] had been so tardy and sluggish to believe. And indeed, they deserve not only to have women for their teachers, but even oxen and asses. . . . Yet it pleased the Lord, by means of those weak and contemptible vessels, to give display of his power.”
From Calvin’s Commentary on the Gospel of John.
“On this account, all women are born that they may acknowledge themselves as inferior in consequence to the superiority of the male sex.”
From Calvin’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians (Chapter 11)
Scottish clergyman and Protestant Reformer, 16th century
“[Women are] weake, fraile, impatient, feeble and foolish.”
“[Women are] unconstant, variable, cruel and lacking the spirit of counsel and regiment” and “woman in her greatest perfection was made to serve and obey man.”
From his The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women.
Photo credit: Church Fathers, an 11th-century Kievan miniature from Svyatoslav’s Miscellany (Wikimedia Commons)