Female Priests - Printable Version
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- DanielM - 18-04-2010
I have been looking through the topic for the past few days and trying to find a way to enter in but alread it seems you have hit it on the head there. It is one of those tragic moment in which the zeitgeist and the church collide.
Looking through some of the books by HH Pope Shenouda and some other sources from within the Orthodox Tradition it seems that the main reasons against the Ordination of women are scripture and Tradition, the two very things which the church itself is built on.
Scripturally, there are no female friests, there are prophetesses and women that minister to God, but they were never priests. If God had wanted women to be briests. Who can prevent God? Surely this works bith ways. When the Lord Jesus Christ chose the twelve Apostles to be the first priests or archpriests, or the first bishops or ecumenical bishops, they were all men. And the first bishops consecrated by them were also men. Again if this needed to be changed it would have been changed, if God would have willed a woman bishop there would have been woman bishops.
It is the same with church tradition, throughout history there is not one example of a female priest. Not one example in Bible, nor in Tradition, and we have to trace and follow the teaching of the Bible, because the Christian life is a life handed down from one generation to another generation. As paul Said to the Corinthians about the Eucharist "For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you" (1Cor. 11: 23).
The church we are given is the Church which God has given us, so why change it?
As was mentioned before, this is not a matter of men trampling down women, after all the highest honour any human has recieved was given to a woman, the ever Virgin Mary. There have also been women throughout history to have done great things, but they have not been not Priests. Women certainly do play a vital role in the church, yet it is not one of the priesthood.
As pope Shenouda has said in his second lecture on the Ordination of Women:
"The Body of our Lord has its dignity, its respect, its work, its
importance. We cannot say that all members may be heads, all
may be eyes, may be arms, may be hearts! We cannot say this.
If a woman is not called to be the head, perhaps she is
called to be the heart, and no difference."
To me, this has the same message to it as Saint Paul in his Epistles to the Corinthians by saying that Man is the head of the Woman. This does not mean man rules over woman, but that man and woman work together with man as the head and woman also working for God.
In my view it is not one of Sexism (which in todays society can mean anything and nothing) but one of classifying the gifts of God for what they are, not what you want them to be.
- John Charmley - 18-04-2010
Yes, I think that like Antony-Paul you pretty well nail this one down: Tradition and Scripture. Of course, the Anglicans add 'Reason' to that to make a trilogy, and one would hardly wish to be seen to e rejecting that!
Yet to let it predominate is, effectively, to make one's own perspective king. I have seen few arguments for women priests that did not convince me they were right - terms of this western world and its norms. But who died and made us normative for everyone else?
It is, of course, easy for HH Pope Shenouda to say what he does about women, as the society within which he lives has in it little mementum for the ordination of women; that does not negate what he says, but if we said it here it would, rightly, get the bum's rush from most women and many men. Indeed, it can be difficult importing some of his arguments into the West. I was once upbraided by an Anglican friend who quoted some remarks from HH Pope Shenouda on the subject of homosexuals which, I have to admit, would have had him having his collar felt by the old Bill had they been made in the British press. Egyptian society operates on norms which our own has long abandoned.
But if we rest where you advise, Scripture and Tradition, then in the case of both this subject, and the other one, we have reasoned arguments to suggest that the employment of Western norms alone is not a reasonable solution to the perplexity.
ADDENDUM - John Charmley - 03-05-2010
As the Church of England comes nearer to allowing women bishops, no doubt this question will again be raised in the media, with the usual comments about those churches which do not allow for this being dominated by patriarchal notions. Well, whilst not denying that, as in many institutions headed by men there can be an element of mysogeny in the Church, it remains essential to state that the objection is not that we do not want women to be priests, but that Our Lord Himself did not make them so, and neither did His Apostles and their disciples.
It is not, therefore, about what we want, it is about what God has revealed He wants. We are not to place ourselves and our wishes above what has been revealed.
- vrc - 07-05-2010
May I offer my humble, female view?
Firstly, I disagree with the several remarks about females being mothers, nurturers and prone, when entrusted with priesthood, to lasciviousness.
As a female, i have never been the slightest bit interested in becoming a mother, giving birth or any of the other assigned 'female' attributes. I believe that some 33% of females never become mothers, so to link them perpetually to that role is false.
However, I do feel spiritual calling by Grace. My understanding is that God is Spirit. I do not believe that Spirit is either male or female, as it is not incarnate in a body - Spirit is beyond time, space and issues of gender (although God can definitely be with us, love us and interact with us here in our earthly sojourn). In Genesis, it states that God made us 'in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them'. It does not say 'men were made in His likeness and image and females - well, unfortunately, they just happened and were not in his image and besides, they're second-rate in everything'.
Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour came, as God, into a male body. It is easy for us to confuse the identity of gender of Spirit from this fact.
Why God chose a male incarnation is not for us to ponder, but I cannot imagine that in the contemporary Hebrew society, anything other than a male speaking about such matters would have been taken seriously.
I believe that the Romans were equally dismissive of women.
Obviously, everything in that Incarnation had a definite purpose. Even, for example, that Jesus revealed his risen Self firstly to a female, Mary Magdalene. She it was who was charged by Jesus to 'go to my brethren' to spread the message to others, to preach (if you like) that Christ was risen.
I accept that the Orthodox church considers women in some way to be unworthy of the priesthood as I wholeheartedly accept all its other teachings; however, I do not accept that Jesus also thought this.
I have no ambition to be a priest(ess), but I feel the communion between myself and the Holy Spirit to be of equal import to the communion between the Holy Spirit and any male. I do not believe that God would create me to belittle me, as He is Love.
Interested in feedback, and I hope I have not/am not offending anyone by anything I have written above.
It's an interesting discussion.
Female priests - kirk yacoub - 08-05-2010
No, it is not a question of women being unworthy, or of women having a less than equal relationship with God through His Spirit. I have been gathering together material regarding the priesthood, and when I have time I will write a lengthy post.
In the meantime, trust that anyone calling himself a Christian yet having a superior attitude towards women is not behaving in a Christian manner.
St Paul explained that we are all one in Christ because we all partake of His Holy and Lifegiving Body and Blood.
By the way, Christ showed His Resurrected Self not to Mary Magdalene, but to HIs Mother, Mary.
- John Charmley - 08-05-2010
You won't be surprised, given what I have written before, to know that I have a great deal of sympathy with your position.
My own view is that the only argument which carries weight is the one that Our Lord, whose attitude towards women was far from patriarchal, had no owmn as Apostles. The same was true of the early Church.
The best argument the other way is that there are many women who do feel called to the priesthood, and there is no earthly reason why they should not be able to realise that vocation. But, as both the Orthodox and Catholics read it, there is a non-earthly reason for this.
What there is neither heavenly nor earthly reason for is any attitude which fails to recognise the total equality between the sexes. As any one involved in any Church recognises, women play major roles in any Church, and without their talents our worshipping communities would be much the poorer.
Most men are not going to be priests, and no married man is going to be able to be a bishop, but the fact remains that young, or unmarried men who feel the call have a chance to realise their vocation; that is not true for women. The OC, like the RCC, hold this to be God's will. Until recently, and then only in the Western world, this was accepted uncritically, but with the advent of equality in other things for women, it is natural that there should have arisen a cry for equality here.
The obstacle here is that, for the OC and RCC, it is not about our ideas, or even 'equality', it is about the mandate inherited from Christ.
- DanielM - 25-05-2010
I also understand your view, and cane how the whole thing may seem very Patriarchal and somewhat prone to inequality.
But as Kirk Yacoub has stated too, it is not a matter of unworthyness or inequality, it is a matter of how Christ saw his Church.
We indeed honour the mother of God, the ever Virgin st. Mary above all people. By all Christians she is revered, and far from being downtrodden, is the mindfull and blessed dove we remember in our prayers.
She is with all women is the heart of the Church. Whether a woman is a mother or a doctor or any role in the world they keep the church together as much as priests do.
I believe Christians can debate for eternity as to why Christ did not decide on women to be priests, or why St. Paul set rules for women in Church as he did, but if this is what God wanted for Church I whole heartedly support that. Who are we to go against God.
- Fr Simon - 26-05-2010
The way you have worded your posting, Daniel, about Saint Mary the Mother of God, reminds me of something I read to the effect that though she was not ordained by any bishop or even apostle or even our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ (Who did ordain the apostles, breathing the Holy Breath of the Spirit upon them) that she is at the very heart of the Church. Other than the Head of the Church Christ Himself of course, under Him who has the greatest status in the Church? Undoubtedly His Mother Saint Mary. And we see her rightly depicted in icons in the midst of the Apostles, right there at the centre and heart of the Church.
I know a woman who visited Egypt in one of our pilgrimages to the Mother Church. And when she writes or speaks of the esteem with which she was treated, the status she was held in by devout monks it near moves me to tears. She was as much at the heart and centre of the Church as was the priest also present in that pilgrimage. Somethings go beyond words and don't fit into neat boxed up theologies or sociologies or any other ologies and ultimately defy attemtps to explain, analyse and pin-down. I am thinking of that woman and of that situation and of the time I heard her speak of it - and I have rather lost the thread of my thoughts, so will leave it there and not spoil it by trying further... so will shift to other thoughts on this...
One of Sunday's Pentecost readings was 1Corinthians 12:1-31 including:
For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? â¦And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary.
I reminded the congregation that though they cannot celebrate the Liturgy without me (or another priest) neither can I celebrate the Liturgy without them - or at the very least one of them, for even as they must have a priest so must the preist have a congregation. (Where two or three are gathered together...)
Or again think of one of those vast aircraft carrier warships with a crew of five thousand or more. For sure the 'glamour' roles go to the captain, to the fighter pilots and such like - but the radar operators who detect incoming missiles are just as eesential - to say nothing of the chefs! And there's the computer programmers who made all the onboard software work in the first place. Now I have personally met some of those - and they were women. Unseen and unsung maybe but absolutely one hundred percent vital.
There is a verse, Hosea 14:5 - about growing as the lily with roots like Lebanon, those vast cedars of Lebanon with their massive deep roots unseen but supporting this tiny lily on the surface. You see the priest stood up the front in his vestments. You don't always see the women and men without whose prayers and support he wouldn't be standing there.
We are ALL vital. We are ALL Church.
- John Charmley - 29-05-2010
Excellent points Fr. Simon. We are all parts of the Body - and if we were all feet then the Body wouldn't work.
No one can say that women can never be priests, for the Church is a living Body and moved by the Paraclete, and so we can never rule out the possibility that we have failed to perfectly understand His promptings. That said, to claim that He speaks in the accents of twentieth century feminism is to mistake His voice for one's own, I suspect.
RE: Female Priests - Cerys Brangwyn - 24-03-2014
As someone of the female gender I do not myself feel called to the priesthood because I am at times a shrinking violet and at other times have a more dramatic and theatrical personality, called to explore the human condition via literature,art, and drama. I have also been involved in interfaith dialogue. I would question whether there is any vocation specific to any gender, though I accept that Orthodox priesthood like an old glacier flows in a male direction. I cannot accept arguments from Genesis about roles and vocations, though of course there are people of female gender and of male gender. The question of vocation and gender needs more exploration but there is a lot of crossover between genders in skills, qualities and general drive and abilities. Cerys.