18 Activities Women Are Prohibited from Doing According to the Bible

SharePinEmailChristians refer to the Bible for guidance on everyday living and how they should treat those around them. It is made clear that women hold an inferior place to men from the Book of Genesis; the duty of a woman is to support her husband. Freedom and autonomy are sinful, and reaching any position of…

Christians refer to the Bible for guidance on everyday living and how they should treat those around them. It is made clear that women hold an inferior place to men from the Book of Genesis; the duty of a woman is to support her husband. Freedom and autonomy are sinful, and reaching any position of authority is impossible if interpreting teachings directly. Scholars claim the Bible is open to interpretation, but in practice, it is still restrictive when it comes to women’s rights. Here are 18 things the Bible says women can’t do. 

Teach Men

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The epistles from Paul to Timothy states women should be silent and they can’t teach men. The modern church interprets it differently from the exact wording, but there is no denying it is a product of gender roles and the view women must be submissive to men.

Be the Head of the Household

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Men are not to listen to women in matters of importance and must not be subservient to women in family structures. This emphasizes women can’t exert any authority and men have the ultimate say. The Bible sees women as a supporter of their husbands, and only in a single-parent family is she allowed to take on the role of head.

Perform Certain Religious Rituals

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In Corinthians, Paul states women must stay silent in church, prohibiting women from becoming priests. Some theologians and linguists believe the passage is a mistranslation from Ancient Greek, and if spoken to in church, a woman may reply. Even with a different translation, it is repressive and misogynistic.

Be Elders

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Women can’t be in a position of authority if a man is present; this includes teaching in Sunday school. Those who take a strict interpretation of the Bible restrict women to only teaching girls and other women. It is problematic not only in a church setting but also in the practicalities of the modern world; a direct interpretation doesn’t allow women to teach boys in school. 

Have Short Hair

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In Corinthians, it is written that “if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her, for her hair is given to her for a covering.” This line is subject to debate from scholars, but it suggests women use their hair to cover their heads; those with short hair can’t fully cover themselves. It infringes on women’s autonomy and freedom to wear their hair as they choose. 

Wear Men’s Clothing

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The book of Deuteronomy explicitly prohibits women from wearing men’s clothing. In modern times, men and women wear clothes that either sex can wear, highlighting the problem of interpretation and lack of evolution of bible teachings and how they fail to address modernity. 

Make Vows Independently

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A husband can nullify a woman’s vows by saying he does not agree with his wife. This verse from the Book of Numbers removes women’s autonomy entirely. While it does not stop a woman from making vows, she has no independence if her husband disagrees. 

Be Priests

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Women can’t be priests as they can’t teach men, nor are they allowed to speak in church. Ordaining women is acceptable in some Christian churches, but in the Catholic church, it is still forbidden. 

Divorce Their Husbands

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The Bible says a woman must not divorce her husband, even if he is not a believer and is willing to remain with her. In cases of abuse, this is problematic as women don’t have the blessing to remove themselves from a dangerous situation. Modern interpretations are more open-minded but still focus on reconciliation

Adorn Themselves Excessively

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The epistles to Timothy state that women should not wear gold, pearls, or any adornment deemed excessive. The list is not exhaustive, leaving the term “excessively” open to abuse and women not knowing the correct way to dress. The lines are further blurred when arguing intent defines ‘excessive’ as the intent is open to interpretation. 

Have Uncovered Heads in Worship

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In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he writes that women must cover their heads when they worship. In modern Christianity, this is not a rule strictly adhered to, but there are Christian denominations that will not allow women to enter a place of worship uncovered

Be Unsubmissive to Their Husbands

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In the Book of Ephesians, it is made clear women must be submissive to their husbands. The analogy of Jesus being the head of the church like a husband is head of a household emphasizes the importance of the edict. 

Initiate Marriage Proposals

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The Bible doesn’t explicitly say women can’t initiate marriage, but for a woman to do so goes against much of its teachings. A submissive woman wouldn’t approach a man for marriage, so a woman who does is not following the word of the Lord. 

Serve as Deacons

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Deacons hold a lower rank than priests in the church, but women can’t serve as deacons. Women can’t teach men, and their restrictions inside a church make it impossible to have a position involving speaking to men. 

Pursue Their Own Desires

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Christians interpret Genesis and the creation of Adam before Eve as the establishment of a marital hierarchy. Women are here to serve men, and this must be their only desire. They are not free to pursue other desires, severely restricting women’s freedom. 

Be Silent About Their Sins

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Passages in the Bible encourage women to confess their sins; remaining silent is equally sinful. In a male-dominated structure, there is pressure to confess to sins a man doesn’t have to. A judicial system following scripture favors men, repressing women’s voices.

Ignore Childbearing Responsibilities

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Genesis labels non-child-bearing women, emphasizing they are not fulfilling their duty and shaming them. There is no choice in whether a woman wants to bear children; it is an expectation. This idea hasn’t changed, and Christian communities believe a woman must have children.  

Ignore Modesty in Dress

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The Bible says women must dress modestly and without adornment. It’s not clear which types of clothing are modest, leaving it open to interpretation and women at the mercy of judgment from men. 

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