Women and Teaching


I’m thinking about becoming Catholic, and only one thing stands in my way now-- the issue on women teaching. The Bible, and many homies from early church fathers such as John Chrysostom, say that women are always prohibited from teaching. Yet the Catholic Church allows women in many teaching positions. How do these things go together?

Also, if I were to be interested in becoming an author of literary fiction, would that be considered teaching as readers could learn life lessons from my books?

Thanks :slight_smile:

Meaning of Didaskein and Women Teaching

That topic is taken out of context so much it’s mind-boggling. To sum it up, women are not to “teach”, as in give a homily during a liturgy. Otherwise, how do you explain centuries of nuns teaching in the villages and the schools? Even the most traditional Catholic colleges have women professors…

What websites have you been visiting to make you think you cannot teach or write?


I came from a non-denominational background before I converted as well. This was a slight issue for me until I thought of all my bible school teachers or VBS volunteers. All women.


I haven’t been visiting any websites, I was just confused about the Scripture :smiley:
I know that John Chrysostom said ‘The woman taught once, and ruined all’. He, at least, thought that women couldn’t teach.

What is your opinion about my second question?


You need to look at what he was speaking about. Was it teaching math, science, French, scripture? Or was he referring to Eve telling Adam what to do, in a pastoral sense, as the final authority? The latter, dear one, the latter. You need some strong catechesis to help you discern things from the ECF (and Sacred Scripture) before you go tackling things like that on your own. Take a look at the Church and her Saints. How many female saints were teaching nuns? A vast portion of them. Look at the female Doctors of the Church (not St Gianna, but she’s a good role model for women of today, too). They all TAUGHT. That is not forbidden. What they didn’t do is give homilies at Mass.


From St John Paul: https://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/letters/1995/documents/hf_jp-ii_let_29061995_women.html


In my former Baptist upbringing, we were taught that it mean women should not be teachers of men, i.e., a woman should not be the pastor of men. Women always taught Sunday School classes, VBS, Bible studies. In the good old days, men would teach the adult Sunday School classes.


I think you’re taking a literal interpretation to an extreme that was never intended. Of course the Church does not prohibit women from writing literary fiction. But then the Church also does not prohibit women from teaching. If you are going to say that women cannot write literary fiction because people ‘could learn life lessons’ then you had better also ban women from becoming doctors, nurses, midwives, physiotherapists, optometrists, dental surgeons, lawyers, accountants, university professors, school teachers, musicians, actors, artists, and politicians, since it is likely that in all of these roles they will either teach explicitly (most senior doctors, for example, will at some point become responsible for teaching medical students and junior doctors) or implicitly (e.g. learning what you call a ‘life lesson’ from watching a film or a play).

I believe that what sacred scripture and the Church’s tradition prohibits is women giving theological instruction in the context of public worship. It is not even prohibited for women to give theological instruction in an educational setting such as a school or university. When I was at university there was a lecturer in the theology faculty who was a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur. There are, of course, many Catholic women, religious and secular, who are distinguished academics (look up Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza for example).

Finally, you must have heard of the great Scottish Catholic novelist Dame Muriel Spark, probably best known for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.


Not to worry COME ON HOME:grinning:

1 That was a different age and culture

2 Mother’s have always been a critical part of teaching their offspring {Mary taught Jesus}

3 For many-hundreds of years Women Religious have been deeply involved in education

4 St John C and the like were speaking {if my memory serves} about in Church as ONLY a Priest or Deacon CAN give the homily; not claiming that women have NO right to teach the faith.

And feel FREE to become an author; no prohibitions against that.

God Bless you, and may He guide your life path;

To Jesus THROUGH Mary,


Might as well bar women from motherhood since mothers are the first teachers of their children.


we women teach. we run ministries within our Diocese that include catechism of new catholics, baptism sponsorship, we run prayer groups, funeral and comforting groups, we teach other women and men what the functions of our ministry is, be it a special minister for communion , or to help prepare a family for baptism.
we have the Catholic women league. we teach each other lots of things.

we have the legion of mary.

in Australia the Plenery Council is coming up, women have a voice, as do men, as to what we want to see in the church.

please do not read the Bible literally and apply modern day customs and cultures to a 2000 year old document.
If we were all to do that, we would have parapets on our houses, as a recommendation in the New Testament too.


you can become a teacher, a writer, an artist, anything you want. Just remember to serve God first , through it. I would recommend reading a little on Hermeneutics and Biblical Exegesis , for how to read the Bible.

there is also a great book called Reading the Bible, edited by Maurice Ryan.


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