Gender and religion

There are several notable issues relating to gender and religion. These include both religious comment on secular society and views regarding traditional forms of religious communities themselves. For example, internal religious issues include: the roles and rights of men and women in religious government, worship, theology, and education. Religious persectives on social issues in the general community notably include comment on values regarding family units or norms of sexual behaviour. For example, contrasting religious perspectives have been expressed that either endorse or condemn alternative family structures, including homosexual relationships.

Literature review

Jewish and Christian religious views are traditionally based on the Bible. The first chapter of the Bible in all traditions includes the claim that God created the gender distinction in mankind :

More detail regarding the creation of man and woman is given in Genesis 2, where God says that it is not good for the man to be alone, and makes a woman to help him, creating her from his rib.

Gender segregation

Many religions have traditionally practiced sex segregation.

In traditional Jewish synagogues, the womens' section is separated from the mens' section by a wall or curtain called a mechitza. Men are not permitted to pray in the presence of women, to prevent distraction. The mechitza shown in the picture on the right is one in a synagogue affiliated with the 'left wing' (more modern side) of Modern Orthodox Judaism, which requires the synagogue to be of the height shown in the picture. More traditional or 'right wing' Modern Orthodox Judaism, and all forms of Haredi Judaism, requires the mechitza to be of a type which absolutely prevents the men from seeing the women.

Feminist religious movements

Feminist theology is a movement, generally in Christianity and Judaism, to reconsider the traditions, practices, scriptures, and theologies of their religion from a feminist perspective.

Several theologians have considered women as morally inferior to men, and many have considered women the source of temptations, especially sexual temptations, for men. In traditions where God is considered male, there is sometimes a view that men are more like God than women, in some cases leading to a view of male superiority and female inferiority.

Likewise, those who practice feminist spirituality may adhere to a feminist re-interpretation of Western monotheistic traditions. In these cases, the notion of God as having a male gender is rejected, and God is not referred to using male pronouns.

Women as theological figures

Female theological figures have played a significant role in the development of various religions and religious hierarchies. The Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus of Nazareth, is key figure in Catholicism while Nakayama Miki was the founder of Tenrikyo, which is arguably the largest religion to have a woman founder.

Gender of God

The gender or genderlessness of God is a controversial issue in monotheistic and some henotheistic religions. In Christianity, however, one Person of the Trinity, the Son, is believed to have become incarnate as a human male. Most Christians believe that the other two Persons in the Trinity, the Father and the Holy Spirit, have never been incarnated, hence having male gender rather than male sex.

See also

External links

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