Is the Church a Patriarchy?


Your Evangelicals are a very different crowd than my Evangelicals.


I just remembered the correct name for the Evangelicals I used to know.

They’re called Christian Reconstructionists.


I appreciate your perspective coming from a different country. I’m in the United States and have been to several dozen parishes and have never once heard complaints about women in these or other roles. In many cases there are more women serving than men.


The Church is the people… and the people are not a patriarchy.

The institutional church is definitely a patriarchy and that fact is pretty sad


As for abortion, the church’s teaching from the catechism is:

2271 Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law

As for rape, the church’s teaching from the catechism is:

2356 Rape is the forcible violation of the sexual intimacy of another person. It does injury to justice and charity. Rape deeply wounds the respect, freedom, and physical and moral integrity to which every person has a right. It causes grave damage that can mark the victim for life. It is always an intrinsically evil act. Graver still is the rape of children committed by parents (incest) or those responsible for the education of the children entrusted to them.

I guess it is up to the reader’s judgement to see which is condemned more clearly, they both seem very clear to me.


Interesting questions.

Many years ago, before I was even Catholic, I heard Gloria Steinem speak. She mentioned the theory that architecturally, many older churches are designed like women’s bodies, with breast-shaped cupolas on the outside and an interior shaped like the reproductive organs - the side naves being the fallopian tubes, for example, and with a notable sprinkle of water at the baptismal font.

Although Steinam was presumably trying to mock the Church, I remember thinking, “What’s wrong with that? That sounds really cool!” I was fascinated by how the Church, whether consciously or not, expressed its femininity through architecture - including the imagery of birth/re-birth.

I am a feminist and still think its pretty neat. :sunglasses:

The bottom line is that I don’t think there’s a black and white answer. Historically, the Church has been a product of the patriarchal cultures that have defined it, or at least tried. But in the end, at least ideally, it has a feminine and masculine side to it.


Your definition is imprecise.

Counting decendents through the male line is called “patrilineal”. Jewish culture is an example of a patriarchal society that is not patrilineal.

But arguing over definitions is literally arguing semantics. It doesn’t touch in the issues why “the patriarchy” is criticized.


Evangelical is an umbrella term that gets dangerously sweeping sometimes. It’s probably better to refer to some Evangelicals or “certain denominations.”


It’s almost as bad as saying “Protestants believe…”


The Church is also the Mystical Body of Christ, with Christ as Her head. She is also the Bride of Christ. Notice we describe the Church as a ‘She.’

I’ll be as bold to say the concern over the the Church as a patriarchy is driven by the modern semi-Marxist way of thinking.


That’s kind of important. Like how we caution on the use of “Protestants”, it’s the same with “Evangelicals” since we aren’t all of one mind. Many Evangelical churches allow women pastors due to the Pentecostal influences being greater in parts of Evangelicalism. Others allow husband and wife co-pastors. Others only allow men to be pastors.


Because that’s how many political activists brand it and their simplistic thinking process isn’t helpful.

The line of thinking is this: things are going wrong. Oh look, mostly men are in charge. Therefore, men are the problem. It’s inherent too because magically, correlation is always causation, at least for this issue because, well just because. Men aren’t perfect, therefore, women are. So instead of constructive criticism and offering advice, let’s just antagonize them, stereotype all men and ignore complex details. Women will magically fix everything.

A more thoughtful person would notice problems exist because we’re humans. It’s a human problem. Not a male problem. Not a female problem. The more time these activists stir up anger and resentment, less time is spent on real analysis and discussion that might actually help people failed by their leaders.

And to make themselves sound smarter, like any good pushy activist who can’t see complexities in life, they use a bunch of jargon and buzzwords and attach meanings and connotations to them that are well beyond what those words actually mean.


Yes, the people of God make up the Mystical Body of Christ…and the Church… those two are synonymous.

Some people do

Probably more driven by the civil rights movement


I’d like to point out a Chestertonian paradox here:

Some accuse the Church of being a ‘patriarchy’ in which women are not worth as much as men.

Others accuse the Church of excessive generation—Nay, even Worship!—of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

How could a Church that supposedly keeps women down also excessively venerate the Mother of our Lord?


The imbalance is the issue. Men and women are different. But exploiting those differences for self-serving benefit, as patriarchal cultures all too often do - e.g. using them as an excuse to exploit women sexually, deny them an education, or even just weasel out of co-parenting and helping around the house - is not OK.


Mary is an exception in the Church, not the rule.


Merriam Webster and Oxford disagree


The veneration of our Lady isn’t a problem in and of itself. But patriarchal cultures have twisted it in order to place expectations on women that aren’t placed on men. For example, someone on CAF - I can’t remember who or when - pointed out that Christ was as much of a virgin as Mary. But women in patriarchal cultures have traditionally had their virginity under greater scrutiny than men.

This thread is arguably more about culture than it is about religion.


An exception to what?


I’m not saying the veneration of Mary is a problem at all.

I’m saying that some people see this religion of ours as male-dominated, patriarchal, etc.

But others see it as excessively loving and respectful, even worshipful, of the Mother of God.

So perhaps it’s the contradicting critics who are wrong and the Church, once again, who is right.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit