“Women who are Jehovah’s Witnesses follow the example set by women in the Bible. (Proverbs 31:10-31) Although they don’t assume a leadership role within the congregation, they have a full share in the public ministry. They also teach Bible principles to their children. (Proverbs 1:8) By their words and actions, Witness women work hard to be an influence for good.—Titus 2:3-5.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses’ definitions of “preacher” and “minister” are very different from those of most religions, which makes this article rather misleading. The primary definition of preacher given in the Merriam-Webster dictionary is “a person who delivers a sermon publically,” and a minister is defined as “one officiating or assisting the officiant in church worship.”
This is not how preachers/ministers function for Jehovah’s Witnesses.
When Watchtower says that women within its organization are able to be preachers/ministers, they mean that they are able to go out in the door-to-door ministry. But this is one of the only things that women are allowed to do within the religion.
Women within the Jehovah’s Witness religion:
- Cannot become members of the Governing Body
- Cannot become Circuit Overseers
- Cannot become Elders
- Cannot become Ministerial Servants
- Cannot conduct a Bible Study if there is a baptized male present without wearing a head covering.
- Cannot be an attendant at the weekly meetings (i.e. holding the door open, monitoring the parking lot, taking the count of how many are in attendance, etc.)
- Cannot carry microphones to those giving comments at the meetings
- Cannot adjust the podium microphone or anything else on the stage during the meetings
- Cannot operate any of the audio/visual equipment during the meetings
- Cannot say a public prayer at any meeting (field service, midweek meeting, weekend meeting, etc)
- Cannot pray out loud for her husband or male child at home if he is a baptized Witness
- Cannot “scripturally” divorce their husband for any reason other than adultery, even if they are being physically, mentally, sexually or emotionally abused. (See: How Do Witnesses View Divorce?)
In “extreme” cases where no baptized men are available, women may be able to carry out meeting assignments such as handling microphones, publically reading the Watchtower or operating sound equipment, but they must do so wearing a head covering to demonstrate their submissiveness.
Watchtower has a long history of misogynistic remarks in its publications:
- “Equality in every sense would do away with sound laws that govern the type of work women can be asked to do. If you are a woman, would you really want equality with men in digging coal out of a mine thousands of feet underground if men did their share of the housework? Would you really want to spend equal time plowing fields and shoveling manure with your farmer husband if he agreed to help you cook and clean at home? Is that what you prefer? g72 5/22 pp. 5-9
- “…motion pictures, magazines and advertisements are filled with females in sexually suggestive situations or poses. Who is to blame? In most cases it is the men who control the production of these things.
Yet, who forces the women to perform or pose? You will find that nearly all the women do it of their own free will…Thus, women do allow themselves to be used in ‘sexist’ ways. They do become prostitutes of their own free will. They do willingly pose for immoral purposes. And many women do wear sexually suggestive clothing, including very short dresses. So a large part of womankind must share the blame for encouraging males to be ‘sexist.’ g72 5/22 pp. 5-9
- “What makes a woman truly praiseworthy? “Charm may be false, and prettiness may be vain,” states Proverbs 31:30, “but the woman that fears Jehovah is the one that procures praise for herself.” Included in the fear of Jehovah is the need to submit willingly to the divine arrangement of headship. “The head of a woman is the man,” just as “the head of every man is the Christ,” and “the head of the Christ is God.”—1 Cor. 11:3.” w10 5/15 pp. 12-17
- “…the title “Long-Suffering” has been changed to “Exercise Patience,” and the lyrics have been adjusted accordingly. The change of the title “Guard Your Heart” to “We Guard Our Hearts” was most considerate. Why? In the audience at our meetings, assemblies, and conventions are many new ones, interested ones, young ones, and sisters who by singing the words would be put in the awkward position of telling others what to do. So the title and the lyrics were modified.” w17 November pp. 3-7
For an in-depth guide to Women’s Place in Jehovah’s Witnesses, head over to the wonderful website JW.SUPPORT