Confronting Sexism in the Church: How We Got Here and What We Can Do About It, By Heather Matthews
Confronting Sexism in the Church
  • Length: 224 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.5 × 8.5 in
  • Published: August 27, 2024
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: A0818
  • ISBN: 9781514008188

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How to Fight Sexism in the Church

Despite the real progress that has been made in recent years, women continue to be silenced, wounded, and relegated to the sidelines in our churches. Many churches—even churches that outwardly affirm and platform women—remain unaware of the patterns and cultures at play that set up unseen barriers for women.

This is a book for Christians who want to learn how to do better. Heather Matthews has experienced sexism in the church firsthand. In Confronting Sexism in the Church, she explores the history and culture of sexism in our contemporary evangelical world and describes the many ways—subtle and not so subtle—that it lives on in the church today. She gives simple, practical steps for how Christians can actively fight sexism in its many forms.

The mistreatment of women has been part of the human experience from the very beginning—but in Christ, women are set free to be all they've been created to be. This book invites churches to live out that reality in all its fullness.

"This book promises to be a valuable resource for evangelicals addressing gender inequality in their communities. Matthews offers a helpful synthesis of recent scholarship and events, issuing a gentle but fervent call for better theology and practice in a tradition she loves."

Lisa Weaver Swartz, assistant professor of sociology at Asbury University and author of Stained Glass Ceilings: How Evangelicals Do Gender and Practice Power

"Brave and bold, Matthews practices what the title of her book proclaims: she confronts sexism by naming it. Readers grieved by misogyny and oppression will find ample data to support the cause for liberation and justice. My deepest hope, however, is that readers suspicious of women in leadership will read as well. Matthews leaves space for exegetical discussions to continue, but faithful hermeneutics cannot take place without listening to testimony. This is a word that deserves to be heard."

Amy Peeler, Kenneth T. Wessner Chair of Biblical Studies at Wheaton College

"A compelling and fresh work on the issue that continues to hinder the church from being all God intended at its creation. The well-researched biblical and historical foundation of this book is strong. The roadblocks are firmly addressed, and solutions are discussed. Yes, pain of women attempting to follow God's call and also pain of the author are carefully articulated. Yet, there is hope for the future with well-defined pathways for the flourishing of the church now and in the future. Confronting Sexism in the Church is a book for these days for both women and men leaders. I personally was deeply moved and motivated to keep removing the barriers of sexism in the church."

Jo Anne Lyon, general superintendent emerita of the Wesleyan Church

"Confronting Sexism in the Church functions like an MRI for the church, revealing in detail the church's historical struggle with sexism, which is a condition that limits the church from reaching its full potential. Thankfully, when we see a problem, we can work to change it, and author Heather Matthews gives us the gift of helping us to identify the malady. Further, she also prescribes a cure, offering an array of antisexist action steps at the interpersonal, leadership, organizational, and societal levels. Confronting Sexism in the Church is a must-read for every faith community that is serious about excising the problem of sexism and bringing full healing to God's church."

Rob Dixon, senior fellow with the InterVarsity Institute and author of Together in Ministry: Women and Men in Flourishing Partnerships

"Heather's work emerges from solid research and significant experience but also from the wisdom of her wounds, which makes for a compellingly prophetic, humbling, yet hopeful must-read that men in particular must heed. This is a labor of love for the church that we'll all benefit from immensely."

Chuck DeGroat, professor of pastoral care and Christian spirituality at Western Theological Seminary and author of When Narcissism Comes to Church

"What a gift this book is to men and women in the kingdom! With a thorough and fascinating look at the past and the roots of sexism in the church, Heather Matthews then offers a path toward a better way. I found her writing to be honest, constructive, and extremely hopeful. I wish I had this book years ago when I was just starting out in ministry."

Nancy Beach, leadership coach and coauthor of Next Sunday

"It's hard to address problems we do not see. That is why this book is essential! A personal and thoroughly researched window into women's lived experiences navigating sexism and abuse in the church, home, and culture, Heather Matthews expertly addresses flawed theology and its impact on women and communities."

Mimi Haddad, president of CBE International

"In this enlightening debut, pastor Matthews explores sexism’s deep roots in the evangelical faith. . . . The ambitious scope of her argument and willingness to advocate for change inspires. Christian feminists will be energized."

Publishers Weekly, May 2024

Read an Excerpt


Foreword by Scot McKnight
1. Naming the Problem
2. What Is Sexism?
3. Theology of Antisexism
4. A Brief History of Sexism in the Church
5. A Brief History of Antisexism in the Church
6. The Price Women Pay
7. Politics, Power, Pornography, and the Perpetuation of Sexism
8. Confronting Sexism in Relationships
9. Confronting Sexism in Christian Leadership
10. Confronting Sexism in a Church or Organization
11. Confronting Systemic Cultural Sexism


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Heather Matthews

Heather Matthews (DMin, Fuller Seminary) is the doctor of ministry program manager at Wheaton College Graduate School. She has also worked as a pastor, church planter, nonprofit leader, and missionary.