In chapter seven, Dr. Stark addresses how the Christian faith appealed to women, and how that combined with related factors to increase the proportion of the population that was Christian.
It is popular in our times to badmouth the Church with regard to women. However, Christianity is almost singularly responsible for elevating women from chattel. Sure, there is much room for improvement, but women were hardly anything in most regards in most circumstances until Christianity started taking hold and changing hearts within society.
Women were given in marriage, usually without their own say, at almost any age. Men could force the wife to abort, or worse; he could simply expose the child, especially if the child were female. That, of course, means infanticide. The parents, specifically the father, could simply take the infant outdoors and leave her. Men could divorce wives for most any reason.
Women were expected to be chaste, but there was a double standard for men. A man tended to sleep with his wife to have a child, but he sought out prostitutes for most of his sex.
Christianity would not sanction such.
There is still a long way to go in society, but things are better. Of course, there is a long way to go both outside the church and within.
Things were bad generally compared to today, but they were especially bad for women. Christianity started changing that, and many women became Christian because of it.
The church needs to ensure it maintains the highest regard for women. With our documentation of history as it is now, I believe it is unreasonable for churches to prohibit women from any offices in the church. We need to hold to the standard of neither male nor female, nor any other external distinction. A faithful and capable servant must be honored as such and accorded appropriate position and authority.
Dr. Stark emphasizes compassion and integrity as keys to the growth of Christianity. We need to diligently ensure we stay true to the dignity of all and to the integrity of each of us individually.