Are Women More Religious than Men?

by ShaunKing on September 10, 2009 · 24 comments

Later today in my “Gender in US Religion” course @ Candler School of Theology, we are going to be discussing and answering the question, “are women more religious than men?

All of the indicators point to a big ‘ol yes.  As a matter of fact, research seems to suggest that women are more religious than men in all religions in all countries with very few exceptions.

Why is this? Why are women more religious than men?

I would love to hear your thoughts before my class this afternoon…but let’s keep the conversation going after that.

  • Debra Stewart

    No. Women are not more religious. In many cases they are more emotinal which allows them to demonstrate their spirituality. That’s my opinion, no research done.

  • http://uppitynegronetwork.com the uppity negro

    Seeing as how this was a class topic for me earlier this week….it was suggested the reasoning behind why women are more religious was because they are able to identify more easily with a "lowly, meek and mild" Jesus. Simply stated, the Jesus we portray isn't masculine enough for men to identify with. And also, I'm coming from the Black Church perspective, so I'll admit my POV may be jaded to some extent. I've only worked in a predominantly white church for a summer, and I wasn't there long enough to get an impression either way. But still, with football season starting up and basketball not far, I mean, many men still would prefer to be in the living room on the couch and not in church–and that's totally across racial lines.

  • Chris

    Good question! I think traditionally women are more religious then men. In my experiences in Life thus far I have seen the reverse. When I was married I was the more religious one. I would push us to go to church together as much as we could. It was the opposite of what I was used to seeing. I grew up watching my parents. My Dad worked while my Mom took us to church. For sometime I thought, this is the order of things. I think both man and women should be spiritually yolked. I do think people in general reach different levels in being religious. I guess you could say women reach a certain level before men do….I am assuming.

  • Alisen Redmond

    Could it also be said that the poor are more religious than the wealthy?

    Could it then be about spirituality offering a place of belonging?

    Spirituality tends to force us to come to terms with our brokenness, our need for community, and our need for God.

    This is much more difficult for the powerful and wealthy. Addressing those needs is often seen as a weakness instead of a strength.

    And men fall into the "powerful and wealthy" category much more often than women.

    So, it's probably not a trait inherent of gender itself, but a result of gender stratification and how it effects one's thinking.

  • Dhana Foster

    agree with Debra….our frequency allows us to understand the attributes of our Creator. Not really more religious, just more tuned in….

  • Luce

    I’m wondering about this myself with a male friend. He says he wants to hear from God but he says he doesn’t pray much and he doesn’t read his bible.

    Someone commented its a sense of belonging. I also think its a matter of pride. We will break down (or allow to be broken down) the spirit of pride faster than males. Why? Men don’t think its pride but its the pride stopping them from seeing its pride.

    So, are women more “religious”? I think we acknowledge quicker that we are merely dust and we need a Savior.

  • Alisen Redmond

    Eh, but that would assume that spirituality is mainly an emotional thing. And while there is an emotional aspect to spirituality, "religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress. . . " (James 1:27). The early church saw worship as very political; it was a matter of allegiance. It is action, a lifestyle.

    I guess it all depends on how we are defining "religion."
    And Christian spirituality has been redefined so many times that a very large portion of what we deem familiar (I would assume) would be completely foreign to the early Church.

    So, it all depends.. lol

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/shaunking shaunking

    Here's the thing though man….studies show that women are more religious than men in all religions and in nearly every country.

    So it's not just about the emasculation of Jesus in America. Your thoughts?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/shaunking shaunking

    Hey Alisen,

    This is an amazing thought. I think your insight with this is spot-on. Men around the world tend to regularly think they can do life without help – creating the thought that they don't need anybody else in life – including God.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/shaunking shaunking

    Are you saying that men are more religious than women?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/LoudProtestant LoudProtestant

    I believe most women are more religious/spiritual than men because women are natural nurturers, maternal and more open to love. That's why some women can fall in love quicker than men because their hearts are bent toward love. They desire to love and be loved by someone so a relationship with an all-loving God can more quickly become a reality, even if they can't see Him or Her–depending on the faith tradition. Whereas men are very rational creatures so the chances of them being open to religion and spirituality based on something unseen doesn't jibe well with them. Just a thought…

  • Lady

    Ok so we can look at this in 2 ways. One is simply by numbers, there are more women in the world than there are men so in any study by percentage it would look like there are more women who are more religious than there are religious men. My second thought is from womens position in most societies no one really thinks in terms of the oppressed vs the oppressor but historical women have occupied the position of the oppressed and even more often the position of the double oppressed because of their race and their sex or their social class and their sex. From that position when the world has left you brokenthat is when most find religion or where religion finds them. When the world doesn't make sense, religion speaks to the deepest part of the self that requires more than thought but thought, emotion and action.

  • Lady

    Ok so we can look at this in 2 ways. One is simply by numbers, there are more women in the world than there are men so in any study by percentage it would look like there are more women who are more religious than there are religious men. My second thought is from womens position in most societies no one really thinks in terms of the oppressed vs the oppressor but historical women have occupied the position of the oppressed and even more often the position of the double oppressed because of their race and their sex or their social class and their sex. From that position when the world has left you brokenthat is when most find religion or where religion finds them. When the world doesn't make sense, religion speaks to the deepest part of the self that requires more than thought but thought, emotion and action.

  • Min. Toni

    Shaun,
    As Luce said, women are more likely to acknowledge their need for a Savior (without worrying about what others think.) I don't particularly like the word "religious", but I do understand the question. In h the next few comments, I am speaking of men in a general sense. Society has taught men that to be spiritual is to be weak (what could be further from the truth). The most basic teaching of Christianity (love in its purest form) is also considered a weakness by many men. (I can only really speak of religion in the black church.) Because of what our men suffered (having everything they loved and cared for taken away) through slavery, Jim Crow, etc. it has been very difficult for them to learn how to "connect", especially with anything other than what they can see or touch. Praise be unto God, though, it's changing! Men are learning that it's okay to be religious (spiritual), to love God and their families.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/klreed189 klreed189

    This conversation reminds me of a book called "Why Men Hate Going to Church"
    I never read it but was always intrigued by it, maybe you have read it?

    This is a very interesting point of conversation.
    I would love to be able to sit in with your class today and join the conversation. I really have no answer or idea as to why this might be true.

  • http://www.kellyclinger.com kclinger

    Women are more emotional and therefore are more drawn to experiences that appeal to their feelings.

    Also, women are weaker and would need to turn to God more for strength. I also think that with the number of women without fathers and husbands would result in us needing a father/husband figure and God would be the perfect one to fill that role.

  • danielle w.

    I don’t think its a matter of being more “religious” but moreso the fact that we r more emotional thus allowing us to show more vulnerability. I think its in a man’s nature to not show any type of “weakness” so when it comes to showing any type of affection or emotion, women r more prone to being more expressive.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/mattgwin mattgwin

    Some great comments and discussion. Often times churches in society today are much more geared towards a feminine audience. The style of music is soft or even the loud songs are more emotional and laid back. I know this is not true everywhere, but probably safe to say it is true in most churches. The primary message to men cannot just explain how to be "a nice person", but must tap into their deep desire to make a difference and for adventure. This is not to say that men cannot be emotional, but the way we program our services needs to be more balanced and take into account the way men think and respond. I don't believe men are less religious, but display it in a different way.

  • ag1808

    Great topic! My comment and experience has included many of the same issues and perspectives as shared above. One thing I didn't see mentioned specifically yet is vulnerability and trust. Most men I know who say they believe in God but still choose not to "be religious" or be obedient in this way to His word (i.e. commit to attend and serve in a church to grow in relationship with Him) have issues with privacy and trust. They don't want to open themselves up to judgment of other people and/or don't trust God to lead, cover and bless them in this community.

  • http://uppitynegronetwork.com the uppity negro

    Well, like I said, my experience is rather limited and I'm speaking from my experience as far as I see it. Don't really have an answer as to why.

    But I will say this, "religious" as is the word "spiritual" is such a broad term and has so many subjective definitions. What may be religious for one may not be for another. The question is rather open ended and I don't think should suffice with just an answer of "yes" or "no."

  • http://www.swordofgoliath.blogspot.com LaVonne

    In the natural & in the spirit, women are more likely to stop and ask for directions. Many men are "religious" and lead "religious" groups, but women are more likely to seek direction from God & follow His leading. Someone who is religious does not necessarily live by the Spirit of God or seek Him.

  • http://blissthejournalist.wordpress.com Bliss

    An "alpha" complex maybe?

    I don't buy into the idea that this is because women are more emotional, identify more with an emasculated Jesus (in terms of Christianity) and such. As far as saying women are more emotional, that isn't true. Women just more often show their emotion in visible ways. In fact a guy friend of mine admitted he barely ate or slept after a break up, and was on the verge of a break down for about two weeks. I never noticed, and it was because he hid it. Basically same emotions, different manifestations for the sexes (he said men are like this in general too).

    The reason I believe this is because I think true Christianity itself tells us otherwise–it is a belief for all. Does anyone really think God would send His Son to only halfway identify with His children for some random, biological reason (women more emotional)?

    That just doesn't make sense.

    I think the problem lies in the idea of having something/someone one above you authoritatively. As a woman myself, I am already used to the social/cultural chain of command that is men, then women and finally children (note: I'm going off of how societies by and large have operated on these levels, and yes, I studied this, lol!). Because of this, and especially in places where religion isn't exactly the most popular thing to embrace, this would mean the men aren't obligated (in their minds) to be in submission to anyone. I think this is why you can find this same issue in the workplace as well–give a guy a female or highly efficient/competent male boss, and see how he reacts. On average, even if they don't openly admit anything, many guys would admit otherwise that this sort of rubs them the wrong way.

    With that said, I don't think the issue has to do with religion at all really, but rather the acknowledge of power. It's largely an authority thing.

    ~bliss

  • http://blissthejournalist.wordpress.com Bliss

    Forgot to add: As far as protestant, Christianity in America is concerned is also doesn't help that a lot of churches are geared toward few demographics either. I sometimes feel out of place as a single, young (I'm in my twenties) female. A lot of times programs are geared toward families and such, and I can see how this would make anyone, male or female, a little apprehensive sometimes.

    ~bliss

  • lady_atl

    Women are more religious or more spiritually inclined than men because it's a heart condition. As we all know, women love with their whole heart (and boy do they) . . . no proof of reciprocating energy in most cases, they just fall and fall hard, and men do too . . . uhmm . . .eventually! but men first need proof of _____ (something that solidifies their committment to something e.g love, trust etc) ~ so they need to get to a place of seeing their need for God first while women we just trust that God says He loves us and so He does . . . that's my two cents and i could be wrong but overall a great discussion.

Previous post:

Next post: