Since we live in a culture that is obsessed with gender identity and gender issues, it is not surprising to find Christianity on the receiving end of serious criticisms regarding its view of women.
Christianity–particularly if it embraces a complementarian theology–is viewed by many in our culture as oppressive and harmful to women. It does not provide, we are told, a friendly and welcoming environment where women can grow and thrive.
But, this is not just a problem for modern Christianity. The oppression of women, it is argued, was especially a problem in early Christianity. After all, in the first few centuries of the church, critics insist that the Christian culture was still very much a patriarchal one still beholden to the misogynistic views of the apostle Paul.
Leaving aside the questions about modern day Christianity, I want to ask whether these claims about early Christianity–particularly in the second century–are, in fact, true. Is it really the case that second-century Christianity was a hostile environment for women? [Read more…]