Thomas Aquinas was the most influential
theologian in the Middle Ages. Most later theologians copied their arguments
In Thomas time women were excluded from the ordained
ministries. Thomas had to find justification for this as a theologian. The main
reason, he decided, was womans inferior nature.
Thomas based his reasonings on what he read in Aristotle's work, whose books became known in Europe at the time through Arab scholars.
Like Aristotle, Thomas believed that only the male seed carried life. Following Aristotle's assessment, he
judged women as having less intelligence and being weak in character. Everything was determined by God in the laws God laid down as Creator in nature.
page we outline Thomass teaching. To read the exact words of Thomas,
click on the links indicated!
For an analysis of the validity of Thomass arguments,
God created MAN first making him the origin of the rest
WOMAN out of man and for man.
God created MAN in his own image in the full sense of the
term since God is the source of everything.
WOMAN in his image only to the extent that she too has a mind.
DIFFERENCES AT BIRTH
The active force in the male seed derives
its power also from the stars.
A MANs seed contains the future
procreation, a WOMAN only contributes her womb - which is like a
ploughed field in which a grain of seed has been sown. The woman feeds the
When a MALE child is born the birth is
child is born through an accident. The semen is weak
or the material [in the womb] is unsuitable, or because of the action of some
external factor such as the winds from the south which make the atmosphere
Gods overall plan women do serve a purpose. They are useful for
generation. After all, in his providence, God can even make use of
speaking, every WOMAN is a monster of nature.
sexual organs too will rise at the resurrection. For resurrection
repairs the defects of nature.
OTHER GENDER DIFFERENCES
MAN has the greater power of
reason. Because God ordered [= streamlined] him for intellectual
not ordered to intellectual operation. Though a WOMAN is carnally united
to a man in generation, she is not united to him in his higher
That is why
St. Paul forbade women to teach or to have authority over men.
A MAN naturally commands
subject to men. For man is the beginning and end of WOMAN.
WOMANs hair is a sign of her subjection to man.
WOMAN a helper to man, but only for generation, not for a mans other
MAN is in a state of
MEN signify eminence in
WOMAN is in
a state of subjection. The FEMALE SEX cannot signify eminence of
degree [= women cannot be the expression of perfect human
Therefore, it is MEN who can represent
Christ at the Eucharist.
WOMEN cannot represent Christ at the Eucharist.