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Author Topic: WOMEN’S ORDINATION:AN ORTHODOX RESPONSE  (Read 11399 times) Average Rating: 0
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sinjinsmythe
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« on: June 11, 2003, 06:00:39 PM »

I know we have had discussions on this in the past, but I can't seem to find the threads.  Anyway, I ripped this interview off from E-cafe because I think it would be interesting to post on this site.

WOMEN’S ORDINATION

AN ORTHODOX RESPONSE

An Exclusive AGAIN Interview with the Newly Installed Dean of Saint Vladimir’s Seminary
Father Thomas Hopko

AGAIN: In addressing the Anglican General Synod last November, just prior to the vote concerning the ordination of women priests, the Archbishop of Canterbury stated: “We are in danger of not being heard if women are exercising leadership in every area of our society’s life, save the ordained priesthood.” How do you as an Orthodox theologian respond?


FATHER HOPKO: My response is that this is not an issue of being heard or not heard. The issue is whether what the Church teaches is true or false. Society can do many things, but as Christians we are sometimes called to stand against society and simply say, “That is wrong, it’s unfruitful, it’s not beneficial to human life.” It would be frightening indeed if the position of the Church on any given issue would be relative to what’s happening in society today.

Many years ago when women’s ordination was first being discussed in the Faith and Order Commission in the World Council of Churches a Russian Orthodox priest, Father Vitaly Borovoy, said, “The Russians have a saying. If you say A you have to say B; if you say B then you have to say C. I’m interested in where you get when you’re at LMNOP.” His point was, of course, if you take a step in a particular direction, you must see the full implication of where you are going.

I don’t think it is an accident that in our time you have not only the huge discussion about who may or may not be ordained in the various Churches, but also the discussion on whether Christ is really risen from the dead. You have discussions on the character of His relationship to God, or of whether God Himself ought to be called “Father.” You also have the whole symbolical structure of the Bible under question.

So my question is, what are all these discussions really about? Where are they really leading?




AGAIN: These are the 1990’s. Women have assumed leadership roles in countless areas of life denied to them only a few years ago: politics, the military, medicine, blue-collar work— almost every conceivable walk of life. If not for reasons of sexism and chauvinism, why on earth should the Church continue to deny women leadership positions, when they have proven that they can handle such authority in every other walk of life?




FATHER HOPKO: The real question here is, what kind of leadership are we talking about? Very often people see leadership in the Church analogously to being a king, a president, a judge, or a military leader. The question Christians must ask is, is that the kind of leadership we would want to have and are supposed to have in the Church?

Leadership in the Church, especially in regard to the priesthood, is much more analogous to a family relationship than to a societal relationship. My question would be: Is there such a thing as fatherhood? Is there such a thing as the husband?

Leadership in the Church is also analogous to the relationship existing within the Holy Trinity, where you have the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, equally divine but not exchanging the way in which they are divine. Of the three divine Persons, only the Son of God is incarnate and becomes the great High Priest. The Holy Spirit is not incarnate, does not become the great High Priest. But no one would say that the Holy Spirit is less God than the Son of God. And no one would say that the Holy Spirit is being discriminated against because He is not the great High Priest of our salvation.

So, you can argue from the Trinity that because particular people have particular modes of being human and being Christian, that doesn’t make them any better or any worse than any other person.

And there is a certain priority of the Son over the Holy Spirit in the Scripture—the Spirit bears witness to the Son, empowers the Son, “takes what is mine,” Jesus says, and gives it to you (cf. John 16:15). So, there are clues within the very three Persons of the Trinity to the understanding that the ideas of equality and justice and ministry which we bring from a secular experience are not the best ones for human nature as such, and certainly not ones appropriate to the Church.


AGAIN: To date, most of the discussions about ordaining women have originated from non-Orthodox, Western Christian sectors. How much impact has this Western influence had upon the Orthodox Church?

FATHER HOPKO: Of course you hear the issues being discussed in contemporary Orthodoxy. But what is interesting to me personally is that given all that has gone on in the West concerning the issue of the ordination of women in the modern time, how few Orthodox people are espousing this cause, given the impact and the power of this in society.

There are many Orthodox women who would be the first to decry the unchristian things which often go on within the factual Orthodox communities—things which are really discriminatory and harmful against human life, men and women both. But it’s interesting how many women there are in the Church who would have real problems with many aspects of the role of women in the spiritual life and in the life of the ecclesial community but who would at the same time not necessarily be advocates for the ordination of women to the priesthood and to the episcopate, and would even be willing to say: Let’s take a closer look at it. Let’s really think about it. Or this is not really the important issue. These are not the life-and-death issues.

Here is where the force of the practice of the saints for two thousand years becomes very, very pertinent. The Church from its inception was counter-culture. It was filled with martyrs and blood. It has gone through so much controversy, has brought to the world the gospel of the crucified God—like it says in the Scripture, it has “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6). Yet never once did the Church ordain a woman as presbyter or bishop! You’d think with all the blood and martyrdom and counter-culture positions of Christians, if this were simply a cultural issue, it would have happened somewhere in time.

Why, when the Church was fighting so hard against society, cultural norms, imperial tyranny, and fighting for equality and the care of the poor and the needy and the homeless through the whole of history, why is it that it’s only in the late twentieth century that the issue is raised about ordaining women to the ordained ministry? That is a hard question to answer.

It seems to me that some other elements have entered into the scene—elements of power, of authority, of the secular influence, of the fulfillment of life in this world through the exercise of different functions and roles, which is a basic approach to life, which would be essentially alien to the Christian Gospel to begin with, that whole way of thinking.

All through Church history until now, you find very pow-¡erful men and women living the spiritual life. You find very strong monastic life. You find incredible theological arguments and articulations over a wide array of issues. When you take what is given, how the formulation of the Faith was articulated, how people actually lived, how men and women really related—and I’m talking about the saints; I’m not talking about what happened in society, because ecclesiastical history is very different from the Holy Tradition of the saints—you have to ask the question:

Why is it that you have women canonized as saints, monastics, missionaries, prophets, teachers, ascetics, healers, evangelizers, but never through that whole period was a woman ordained to be a presbyter or a bishop in a particular Christian community?

AGAIN: Many Episcopalians and Anglicans read AGAIN. A lot of folks from that background have watched helplessly while their situation went from bad to worse. Is there any hope that you can offer to someone who goes through the trauma of leaving a denomination to become Orthodox, that they are not going to find themselves going through a repeat crisis of faith ten years down the line?

FATHER HOPKO: No, I can’t guarantee that. They might. But I would also say that that’s not the issue. The issue is, a person has to bear witness to what he or she believes, whatever others are doing. A person can’t enter a Church and say: “I’m going to enter this Church if you give me a guarantee that I’m not going to have to suffer or bear witness here.” You can’t do that.

I would say that if someone has certain convictions, he or she ought to meet together with other people who have the same convictions. As Father Florovsky would say, if the Church is not only “one in space” but also “one in time,” then those who are holding the Gospel will be one not only with those who are contemporaries, but also with those through the ages who were holding the same Gospel and therefore were in fact the same Church.

It seems to me that a person should enter the Orthodox Church to say “right now, today, there are people who believe what I believe—and we both believe that our faith is not just a matter of our subjective experience, but it is the Christian Faith the Apostles taught, the martyrs died for, the Fathers kept, and the saints lived. That’s who I want to be with. Even if that’s a small remnant of people, I have to be with them.”

If someone came to me and said: “Unless you can give me a guarantee that we’re not going to have to face these kinds of temptations in the Orthodox Church, I’m not joining,” I’d say, “Don’t join because you’re entering on false premises.” That’s not why you should enter. You’re not making a bargain, you know. You’re saying: “I recognize here the Church—the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church—and I want to be in it. I have to be in it, whatever the future holds.”




AGAIN: You have been involved in a lot of discussions concerning this subject. What kinds of questions usually come up? Is there something you’d want to speak to from that perspective that we haven’t yet discussed?



FATHER HOPKO: One thing I would like to say is this: Not everyone who is opposed to the ordination of women is opposed for righteous, blessable reasons. There is misogyny; there is a power issue; there is a lot of cynicism and traditionalism; and there are some strange ideas about why men should be priests and women shouldn’t. Not everyone opposed to the ordination of women as priests and bishops is opposed in a way that is really inspired of God.

In the same way, I believe many folks who would promote the ordination of women are not necessarily evil, bad people who want to destroy the Christian vision of reality. There’s a lot of confusion. There has to be a lot of charity and compassion, a willingness to pray and understand. But at the same time the bottom line is, people have to make a stand on the practice, and I think that here is a case where, speaking for myself, I would say here I stand, however popular or unpopular the stand may be.

And I can see that many people favor the ordination of women because they’ve had bad experiences in the Church, or because they don’t understand the implications of the issue, or because they’re not very mature in the Christian Faith. That is my subjective opinion for which I’ll have to give answer at the Last Judgment. But at the same time I still believe that at this point, you have a real theological, soteriological issue, where—given everything that we’ve experienced about life in the Church—the ordination of women would be a great mistake, because of our understanding of Christ and what, in fact, the presbyter and the bishop is supposed to be in the Church.

Now, anybody who knows me knows that I have grave questions about whether or not we Orthodox ourselves understand what the ministry of the Church really is. There are incredible misunderstandings about authority, about the priesthood, about the episcopate, about the relationship of lay people and clergy within the Orthodox Church. There’s a lot to be clarified.

Saint Paul says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:2. When it comes to sanctity and value and humanity, there’s no difference between men and women at all. Yet the very same apostle gave certain qualifications as to who should be a presbyter in the community, and how a widow should be enrolled, and about the virgins, and about husbands relating to their wives and wives relating to their husbands. And unless one would say, as some people do, that Paul’s teaching is filled with contradictions and discrepancies, we have to take all these passages very seriously—certainly we Orthodox do.

Father Schmemann said years ago that inherent in this whole debate of women’s ordination is the issue of clericalism. If in fact the Church means the clergy, and if in fact the clergy is a power position, and if in fact if you’re not a clergy person you don’t really have a place in the Church and you certainly don’t have any power or authority, well, then, obviously anyone in his or her right mind would say: Let’s try to get into the clergy, whether we fall outside of biblical qualifications or not.

But the key question is: Is that really what the priesthood is? Is it not a particular function for the edification of the Body in relation to all the people, which only certain members of the Body are able to adequately carry out, because they happen to have certain qualifications? And if it is in fact the paternal function, the sacramental calling to be a father in the community, then do you not have to be a man in order to be a father? Can a woman be a father? Can every man be a father?

Saint John Chrysostom, who said-that the office of the presbyter-bishop excludes all women and most men, had in his Church in Constantinople several hundred women deacons, the head of which was Saint Olympia, who was his best friend and co-worker. But it never entered his mind to ordain her to be a presbyter or bishop. And I don’t think that she felt that she was being particularly discriminated against by not being one.



AGAIN: How important is this issue of women’s ordination to you personally? Is this just another theological abstraction, something to talk about over donuts and coffee after a class, or is it truly a crisis of faith?


FATHER HOPKO: It’s at the heart of the matter, and it is connected organically, ontologically, with the basic convictions of Orthodox Christians about everything. I don’t believe that the qualifications for the ordained presbyter-bishop——and I’m using that expression rather than priesthood because every baptized person is a priest, but not every baptized, chrismated person who belongs to the Body of Christ receives the second laying on of hands to be the father of a Christian community—are open for question. There are very particular qualifications for that particular service in the Church. It’s not simply a “charism.”

In the Scriptures you find qualifications for who can exer-¡cise that particular ministry—a ministry which belongs to the very structure of the Church herself, her vision of God, Christ, salvation, family, male, female, father, mother, husband, wife, man, woman—I believe that is really what’s at stake here. I really do. I believe that the issue is kind of like our iconoclastic controversy, our Arian controversy. It shows what a person believes about everything. That’s my personal opinion.

I don’t think this is simply a question of management or a matter of who gets to serve the Eucharist or preach the sermon. I believe it’s a much deeper issue. I believe the very Faith is at stake here, one way or another. And I think that much of what has happened elsewhere proves this to be the case. Wherever you have the issue of women’s ordinations being introduced, you also find compromises concerning issues of inclusive language in the liturgy, family life, sexual relations, and the issue of homosexuality and how that’s to be interpreted and related to pastorally and spiritually. All this enters into the picture immediately.

I think women’s ordination is one of those key issues around which there is a constellation of all the other issues. I think the very Faith is at stake here.


Fr. Thomas Hopko is the Dean of Saint Vladimir’s Seminary in Crestwood, New York. He is the author / editor of numerous books including Women in the Priesthood (SVS Press).
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« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2003, 09:37:10 PM »

Thanks for that article, sinjin. You really provide us with a lot of excellent material.

Quote
From Fr. Hopko: I don’t think this is simply a question of management or a matter of who gets to serve the Eucharist or preach the sermon. I believe it’s a much deeper issue. I believe the very Faith is at stake here, one way or another. And I think that much of what has happened elsewhere proves this to be the case. Wherever you have the issue of women’s ordinations being introduced, you also find compromises concerning issues of inclusive language in the liturgy, family life, sexual relations, and the issue of homosexuality and how that’s to be interpreted and related to pastorally and spiritually. All this enters into the picture immediately.

I think women’s ordination is one of those key issues around which there is a constellation of all the other issues. I think the very Faith is at stake here.

I agree with that completely. That is why I argued on another recent thread that the ordination of priestesses is a symptom of apostasy.

I really enjoyed the Again interview with Fr. Hopko.

Thanks again, sinjin!
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« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2003, 09:53:01 PM »

Thanks for that article.  In case anyone is interested, H.H. Pope Shenouda III of the Coptic Church addressed the Anglicans before they started ordaining women, what he said is on-line here, along with a similar address about homosexuality: http://www.coptnet.com/books/ordofwom.pdf
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« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2003, 10:34:01 PM »

Thanks for the article, Jonathan! I saved it, as I did the Fr. Hopko article.

I was especially struck by this observation of Pope Shenouda's:

Quote
There is another point I wish to mention very frankly and very
openly. I am sorry to say these words, but please excuse me.
The Church may try to please women by ordaining them as
priests, and this is what happened here. After this, being a
priest was no longer sufficient for women, they wanted to be
bishops. After being ordained as bishops, it was still
insufficient. Then, women began to ask the question: Is God a
Man or a Woman? Of course gender is not found in Divinity.
But they began to say: “Why do we say: ‘Our Father who art in
heaven?’ Why do we not say ‘Our Mother?’” And this was a
problem in many meetings of the World Council of Churches,
and some tried to compromise and say ‘Our Parent who art in
heaven’. If we try to trace all the verses in which God is
mentioned as Father in the Bible, we’ll find so many! This
suggestion means that we have to change the Bible!

What an astute observation!

Excellent!
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« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2003, 08:35:57 AM »

Thanks for the article, Jonathan! I saved it, as I did the Fr. Hopko article.

I was especially struck by this observation of Pope Shenouda's:

Quote
There is another point I wish to mention very frankly and very
openly. I am sorry to say these words, but please excuse me.
The Church may try to please women by ordaining them as
priests, and this is what happened here. After this, being a
priest was no longer sufficient for women, they wanted to be
bishops. After being ordained as bishops, it was still
insufficient. Then, women began to ask the question: Is God a
Man or a Woman? Of course gender is not found in Divinity.
But they began to say: “Why do we say: ‘Our Father who art in
heaven?’ Why do we not say ‘Our Mother?’” And this was a
problem in many meetings of the World Council of Churches,
and some tried to compromise and say ‘Our Parent who art in
heaven’. If we try to trace all the verses in which God is
mentioned as Father in the Bible, we’ll find so many! This
suggestion means that we have to change the Bible!

What an astute observation!

Excellent!

Well, of course, his hopes in this have been fulfilled, and feminist theologians have indeed talked about changing the God-language.

But then women of all stripes may say to Shenouda, "It is easy enough for you to say this, for you already have everything that you deny us. You are a priest, and a bishop, and your savior is a man, and two thirds of your trinity are male. Nothing is denied to you except that you bear children, and you have made that one thing a burden upon women." And the feminist theologians add, "We do well to rail against Paul, for you and he are of a piece, laying burdens and strictures upon women while refusing to be accountable to them. You say that there is no male nor female in Christ, while your every action says that this is not so, that men are to rule over women without restraint." And finally the radical feminist theologians say, "For thousands of years you have made religion to be an instrument of male oppression. We will not stand for it any further; we will look for the Divine on our own, for your have disqualified yourself as an authority by raising yourself up as the instrumentality and indeed the very Ikon of male privilege."

And yet one hears the contrary voices. Elizabeth Achtemeier argues against changing the God-language, and indeed argues from the same points as does Shenouda. Slippery slope arguments do not have to be followed, and indeed, they slip both ways. I have read Eugene Peterson talking of how his mother, when he was a child, led worship meetings until some man with a bible bullied her into stopping. And thus the men she led traded "improper" worship for none at all. Which was better?

I don't mean to imply that I disagree with Shenouda at all about the idiocy that passes for enlightened worship at the WCC. These "liturgies" are facile, trite, and fundamentally irreverent. Their opening words should be, "God said, 'Let us make humanity in our image,' and now we shall return the favor and remake God in our own, enlightened image." My point is rather that this idiocy is every bit as inevitable as sexist oppression is the inevitable consequence of male clericalism.
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« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2003, 11:33:33 AM »

The role of a priest is not to lord over his congregation, it's to serve them.  A priest is first and foremost a servant.  How does having only men as these servents lead to the oppression of women?
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« Reply #6 on: June 12, 2003, 11:41:49 AM »

The role of a priest is not to lord over his congregation, it's to serve them.  A priest is first and foremost a servant.  How does having only men as these servents lead to the oppression of women?

Amen, Jonathan!   The priestly function is that of servant, first and foremost, as you rightly say.  And in all the Orthodox parishes to which I've belonged, the good pastors were exactly that: servants.   And not even all men are fit or called to be servants.  The not-so-good pastors, OTOH (there were very few of these, thank God!) were those who thought of their parishes as some kind of fiefdom with themselves as feudal lords (reminding me of my old BC days).

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« Reply #7 on: June 12, 2003, 10:51:50 PM »

Quote
Well, of course, his hopes in this have been fulfilled, and feminist theologians have indeed talked about changing the God-language.

But then women of all stripes may say to Shenouda, "It is easy enough for you to say this, for you already have everything that you deny us. You are a priest, and a bishop, and your savior is a man, and two thirds of your trinity are male. Nothing is denied to you except that you bear children, and you have made that one thing a burden upon women."

Have you read all of what Pope Shenouda had to say?

None of it was oppressive or male chauvinist.

Besides, all of us face limitations of one kind or another. That is the nature of reality.

Why wasn't I born Simon bar Jonah, so that I could be Jesus' right hand man?

Have I a right to rail against God because I am who I am and not St. Peter?

Why stop there?

Why not be upset that I am not God Himself?

Quote
And the feminist theologians add, "We do well to rail against Paul, for you and he are of a piece, laying burdens and strictures upon women while refusing to be accountable to them. You say that there is no male nor female in Christ, while your every action says that this is not so, that men are to rule over women without restraint."

What "burdens and strictures" did Pope Shenouda lay on women in his article?

Since when has ordination to the priesthood or the episcopate been a matter of "right"?

And when has St. Paul or any Orthodox leader said that men were to rule women "without restraint"?

"Husbands love your wives, just as Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself for her" (Eph. 5:25).

"So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself" (Eph. 5:28).


Quote
And finally the radical feminist theologians say, "For thousands of years you have made religion to be an instrument of male oppression. We will not stand for it any further; we will look for the Divine on our own, for your have disqualified yourself as an authority by raising yourself up as the instrumentality and indeed the very Ikon of male privilege."

Are these radical feminist theologians accusing Pope Shenouda himself of making religion "an instrument of oppression . . . for thousands of years," or of being an exemplar of the oppressors?

Such "theologians" are not looking for the Divine. If they were they would accept Him as He is.  No, their quest is for power.

Behind the goddess they construct in their own image they will only find another, very different sort of father.

Quote
And yet one hears the contrary voices. Elizabeth Achtemeier argues against changing the God-language, and indeed argues from the same points as does Shenouda. Slippery slope arguments do not have to be followed, and indeed, they slip both ways. I have read Eugene Peterson talking of how his mother, when he was a child, led worship meetings until some man with a bible bullied her into stopping. And thus the men she led traded "improper" worship for none at all. Which was better?

Both are wrong.

Does one fix a sin with another sin?

Quote
I don't mean to imply that I disagree with Shenouda at all about the idiocy that passes for enlightened worship at the WCC. These "liturgies" are facile, trite, and fundamentally irreverent. Their opening words should be, "God said, 'Let us make humanity in our image,' and now we shall return the favor and remake God in our own, enlightened image." My point is rather that this idiocy is every bit as inevitable as sexist oppression is the inevitable consequence of male clericalism.

As I understand the word clericalism, it is a thing generally oppressive of laypersons, male and female; but perhaps by "male clericalism" you meant only an all-male clergy.

I do not see that "sexist oppression" is an inevitable consequence of a male clergy. After all, God is the one who limited the priesthood and the episcopate to males.

Perhaps it is oppressive that not all males have the "right" to be priests or bishops. Perhaps it is oppressive that the mentally retarded cannot be clerics, or that Hindus and Muslims are excluded, as well.

The holiest and best human being who ever lived, aside from our Savior Himself, was a woman. She is an example to all of us and the Mother of all those in Christ's Church.

Yet she was never ordained an apostle, bishop, presbyter, or even deacon. She never argued her "rights" or attempted to usurp the order her Son appointed in the Church.

The feminist idiocy of the various liberal denominations is inevitable because evil still exists and the Father of Lies is still doing everything he can to discredit and destroy Christianity.
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« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2003, 07:53:57 AM »

The role of a priest is not to lord over his congregation, it's to serve them.  A priest is first and foremost a servant.  How does having only men as these servents lead to the oppression of women?

Because these servants are also persons of authority, and besides that, still sinners.
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« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2003, 09:07:16 AM »

And women are not sinners as well, Keble?   Grin
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« Reply #10 on: June 13, 2003, 10:23:36 AM »



Quote
And yet one hears the contrary voices. Elizabeth Achtemeier argues against changing the God-language, and indeed argues from the same points as does Shenouda. Slippery slope arguments do not have to be followed, and indeed, they slip both ways. I have read Eugene Peterson talking of how his mother, when he was a child, led worship meetings until some man with a bible bullied her into stopping. And thus the men she led traded "improper" worship for none at all. Which was better?

Both are wrong.

Does one fix a sin with another sin?


Why is it a sin for a woman to lead some men in singing hymns and telling them about Jesus?  

Ebor
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« Reply #11 on: June 13, 2003, 10:36:34 AM »

An interesting article, Sinjin, thanks for posting it.  I found the following particularly of interest:

Quote

AGAIN: You have been involved in a lot of discussions concerning this subject. What kinds of questions usually come up? Is there something you’d want to speak to from that perspective that we haven’t yet discussed?

FATHER HOPKO: One thing I would like to say is this: Not everyone who is opposed to the ordination of women is opposed for righteous, blessable reasons. There is misogyny; there is a power issue; there is a lot of cynicism and traditionalism; and there are some strange ideas about why men should be priests and women shouldn’t. Not everyone opposed to the ordination of women as priests and bishops is opposed in a way that is really inspired of God.

In the same way, I believe many folks who would promote the ordination of women are not necessarily evil, bad people who want to destroy the Christian vision of reality. There’s a lot of confusion. There has to be a lot of charity and compassion, a willingness to pray and understand. But at the same time the bottom line is, people have to make a stand on the practice, and I think that here is a case where, speaking for myself, I would say here I stand, however popular or unpopular the stand may be.

And I can see that many people favor the ordination of women because they’ve had bad experiences in the Church, or because they don’t understand the implications of the issue, or because they’re not very mature in the Christian Faith. ....


This seems to me to be an important thing, he is not demonizing those who do not agree with him nor is he dismissing them out of hand but sees them as real human beings. He also admits that some who do hold to the same views as he, have bad reasons/motivations.  

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« Reply #12 on: June 13, 2003, 10:37:00 AM »

Nothing wrong with that, Ebor.  But song leaders and church school teachers don't have to be priests (or priestesses).  And priests don't have to do double duty as choir directors, but it does help if they make appearances in the church school every so often.  Grin

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« Reply #13 on: June 13, 2003, 10:41:52 AM »

Why is it a sin for a woman to lead some men in singing hymns and telling them about Jesus?

Are you talking about this?

1 Corinthians 14:34-35
Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.
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« Reply #14 on: June 13, 2003, 10:45:58 AM »

Nothing wrong with that, Ebor.  But song leaders and church school teachers don't have to be priests (or priestesses).  And priests don't have to do double duty as choir directors, but it does help if they make appearances in the church school every so often.  Grin

Hypo-Ortho

Yet, Linus said that it was a "sin".  Peterson's mother was not acting in any priestly form, I gather.  

I have come across things (usually from "Fundamentalist" works) that state that no woman is to be in "authority" over any man and thus she cannot teach him religion.  I recall one case that took this further to a man in the military saying it meant he didn't have to serve under a female officer.

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« Reply #15 on: June 13, 2003, 10:48:04 AM »

Why is it a sin for a woman to lead some men in singing hymns and telling them about Jesus?

Are you talking about this?

1 Corinthians 14:34-35
Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.


Ah, Nik, but exceptions are made.  It is not unknown for an Orthodox nun, especially an abbess, to receive a blessing to preach the sermon in church, even at Divine Liturgy, on special occasions (perhaps at a retreat for women, for example).

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« Reply #16 on: June 13, 2003, 10:52:43 AM »

Why is it a sin for a woman to lead some men in singing hymns and telling them about Jesus?

Are you talking about this?

1 Corinthians 14:34-35
Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.


That is possibly one passage used.  I remember once reading an EO writing long ago that said this meant that there should only be men/boys in the choirs, no female singers.  

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« Reply #17 on: June 13, 2003, 10:56:00 AM »

hat is possibly one passage used.  I remember once reading an EO writing long ago that said this meant that there should only be men/boys in the choirs, no female singers.

In fact, it has only been recently, in the lifespan of Eastern Orthodoxy that females have been a part of the choir. Previously it was made up of men only in many of the churches, for this very reason. personally that is what I prefer in Liturgy CDs anyway.
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« Reply #18 on: June 13, 2003, 11:01:09 AM »

Umm "Silly"?  "chicks"?

I know it's a play on "Trix are for..."  But... Huh  

From what I've gathered, in some parishs if it weren't for some women directing/singing, there wouldn't be much choir.

Ebor

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« Reply #19 on: June 13, 2003, 11:07:22 AM »

Umm, what about the nuns in the monasteries? They have been singing for centuries.

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« Reply #20 on: June 13, 2003, 11:12:11 AM »

Ebor, I was just trying to have fun with a pun with ya.

Nuns are a whole different thing due to their situation. Nuns make exceptions to many of the rules, such as no women behind the altar, etc.

I agree that sadly, today, without women, some choirs would be empty.
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« Reply #21 on: June 13, 2003, 11:13:22 AM »

I agree that sadly, today, without women, some choirs would be empty.

Perhaps it is because being in the choir is no longer seen as manly with it being mostly women?
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« Reply #22 on: June 13, 2003, 11:14:02 AM »

From what I've gathered, in some parishs if it weren't for some women directing/singing, there wouldn't be much choir.

Ebor

I've observed that is some parishes myself, Ebor.  Most often even in my own parish choir, I'm the only male (surrounded by eight to ten lovely female angels, but sometimes as many as twenty!).  On other occasions there may be one or two other males, but they are irregular in attendance and/or choir participation.

And who might have been providing the choir in women's monasteries before the recent inclusion of women in EO choirs, Nik?  Was it not always the nuns?  Or were males brought in specially?  Cool

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« Reply #23 on: June 13, 2003, 11:16:59 AM »

And who might have been providing the choir in women's monasteries before the recent inclusion of women in EO choirs, Nik?

Please seem my last 2 comments on this: "Previously it was made up of men only in many of the churches, for this very reason." and "Nuns are a whole different thing due to their situation. Nuns make exceptions to many of the rules, such as no women behind the altar, etc."

BTW why does your label call you top oster when I have almost 30 more posts than you?  Tongue
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« Reply #24 on: June 13, 2003, 11:23:21 AM »

With people talking about women in the choir... sorry, what do you mean by choir?  What I'm used to is that only men can be ordained chanters & readers, who serve at the later & stand in the raised choir at the front to lead the congregation, but no choir only singing, just leading of the congregation... what roles do/have women played in choirs in other Churches?
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« Reply #25 on: June 13, 2003, 11:24:30 AM »

And who might have been providing the choir in women's monasteries before the recent inclusion of women in EO choirs, Nik?

Please seem my last 2 comments on this: "Previously it was made up of men only in many of the churches, for this very reason." and "Nuns are a whole different thing due to their situation. Nuns make exceptions to many of the rules, such as no women behind the altar, etc."

BTW why does your label call you top oster when I have almost 30 more posts than you?  Tongue

You gotta take up that last one with Bobby, Nik.  I wrote him that My Humility was satisfied with being Pope.   Cool   But I was made "top oster [sic]" anyway.   Grin
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« Reply #26 on: June 13, 2003, 11:26:25 AM »

LOL, yeah I meant Top Oyster  Wink
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« Reply #27 on: June 13, 2003, 11:30:36 AM »

With people talking about women in the choir... sorry, what do you mean by choir?  What I'm used to is that only men can be ordained chanters & readers, who serve at the later & stand in the raised choir at the front to lead the congregation, but no choir only singing, just leading of the congregation... what roles do/have women played in choirs in other Churches?

Jonathan, in most of the Slavic Orthodox churches (especially the Russian ones), choirs are usually found.  Even in the Greek churches where they have chanters (psaltis), the psaltis usually only function at Orthros and at weekday Liturgies.  The mixed choirs of men and women are popular for Sunday Liturgies and special occasions even in Greek churches (and in Antiochian Archdiocese churches as well).

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« Reply #28 on: June 13, 2003, 11:40:55 AM »

Now listening to:  wishing I was listening to "Anonymous 4".

Oh, but Chanticleer is much better. Wink
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« Reply #29 on: June 13, 2003, 11:44:31 AM »

Besides, AFAIK, a woman can do pretty much anything a reader can.  Readers are just "official" so to speak.
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« Reply #30 on: June 13, 2003, 12:14:31 PM »

Besides, AFAIK, a woman can do pretty much anything a reader can.  Readers are just "official" so to speak.

I think you're right, Elisha.  The "official" reader is tonsured by a bishop to the Minor Order of Reader.  The tonsured Reader also wears a cassock when performing his liturgical function.  The tonsured Reader should fulfill the role of Reader in churches which have them.  

The only thing a woman who reads can't do is enter the altar to receive the priest's blessing before reading the Epistle at Liturgy--however, an exception is even made of this by the nun who reads the Epistle in women's monasteries.

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« Reply #31 on: June 13, 2003, 05:20:07 PM »

What I find most interesting about this whole discussion is how little it has to do with Hopko's statements. It seems as though people have read through to the end, sighed with relief that he ended up endorsing the church's position, and let the rest just roll off them.

Hopko at least is attempting to engage the various proponents of women's ordination as people. I don't think this engagement is entirely successful, for the simple reason that the context of his remarks hobbles his attempt. A (presumably male) interviewer for Again is not the same as a discussion with (for instance) a woman priest. But at least he has the decency to express shame at the way male clerics have put their offices in the service of mysogyny over the years.

And it's equally true that my criticism of certain of his remarks is also unfair-- after all, he cannot respond to me. But it seems to me that someone at least ought to interact with the original post.

Quote
I don’t think it is an accident that in our time you have not only the huge discussion about who may or may not be ordained in the various Churches, but also the discussion on whether Christ is really risen from the dead. You have discussions on the character of His relationship to God, or of whether God Himself ought to be called “Father.” You also have the whole symbolical structure of the Bible under question.

So my question is, what are all these discussions really about? Where are they really leading?

Well, actually, I don't think it's a coincidence either, although Fr. Hopko has his time scale off.

All of the secularist forces were in place before he was born. The primary figures of scriptural doubt, Bultmann and Tillich, were born over a century ago. Before WW II, neither was that important in the US.

What it comes down to, though, is that the breaking of the constraints that made loony leftist theologians possible is the same fracture that made black civil rights possible. The result is that a finer scale of discernment is now necessary.

Quote
The real question here is, what kind of leadership are we talking about? Very often people see leadership in the Church analogously to being a king, a president, a judge, or a military leader. The question Christians must ask is, is that the kind of leadership we would want to have and are supposed to have in the Church?

Here I have a definite answer. In an epsicopal polity church, we do get this kind of leadership in the clergy, because all of the roles named-- presidency, judging, generalship-- are given to the clergy. Bishops do rule, and they do judge. And even to the extent that they shouldn't be taking on these roles, there is nothing stopping them from taking them up.

Quote
Leadership in the Church, especially in regard to the priesthood, is much more analogous to a family relationship than to a societal relationship. My question would be: Is there such a thing as fatherhood? Is there such a thing as the husband?

Well, one of the comments the feminists make (and for that matter, a lot of the conservatives who oppose them) is that Judaeo-Christian religion (and Islam, for that matter) is conspicuously lacking in mothering as a Godly attribute. The priesthood, therefore, has the same lack.

That's where the "family" model falls apart. Priests are classically placed in the position of being fathers, but there is no mother. (I'm not buying the theory that the priest's wife fills this role.) And in any case, now we're walking straight into the perils of "the Patriarchy". What the feminists then see happening is all the imperial/judicial attributes implied by "president" and "judge" simply get imputed on "Father", and he becomes the autocrat of the household.

Skipping way ahead:

Quote
The Church from its inception was counter-culture. It was filled with martyrs and blood. It has gone through so much controversy, has brought to the world the gospel of the crucified God—like it says in the Scripture, it has “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6). Yet never once did the Church ordain a woman as presbyter or bishop! You’d think with all the blood and martyrdom and counter-culture positions of Christians, if this were simply a cultural issue, it would have happened somewhere in time.

Well, there is an issue of just exactly how counter-cultural the visible church is. The institutionalization of the church under Constantine, if nothing else, seats the church firmly in the center of the culture. Where it sat before that is a matter of considerable scholarly dispute. The feminist position is that it was never as free of its culture as moderns (and perhaps the early Christians themselves) like to believe.

The basic problem in this is right in St. Paul. One one page he is saying "in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female...." but then on another he is saying "I do not allow a woman". The two passages positively demand a hermaneutic, and it isn't hard to surmise that the second statement reflects a personal impulse of Paul's rather than an expression which one can workout from the rest of the gospel. (Whether such a surmise is justified is of course another matter.)

Quote
Why, when the Church was fighting so hard against society, cultural norms, imperial tyranny, and fighting for equality and the care of the poor and the needy and the homeless through the whole of history, why is it that it’s only in the late twentieth century that the issue is raised about ordaining women to the ordained ministry? That is a hard question to answer.

Well, it isn't that hard to answer, if you are an American. There is an answer which is right there in our own history.

Slavery and all its variants is an issue which the church, over the ages, did not have an answer about. Paul's letter to Philemon addresses the answer in a very sidelong manner, but the extreme subtlety with which Paul asks that Onesimus be freed left the question hazy.

Abolition in the USA was a religious issue, and civil rights, which followed, was also a religious issue. Churches took sides; an Episcopal seminarian was murdered in cold blood for his civil rights activism. And abolition was a moral issue, and one which traced right back to the second great commandment. No modern church can seriously suggest that any form of forced servitude can be justified under the gospel, yet until relatively recently Christian countries had serfdom, indentured servitude, and outright chattel slavery.

Thus I do not think that the long history of refusal suffices.

The danger point is of course the same passages in Paul. Once arguing with the passages about women gets amplified into a general license to argue with any and all parts of scripture without constraint, then yes, the slippery slope has been stepped upon and the radical transformation of faith into self-worship is the result. At the same time, turning Paul into a Moses is something I cannot accept, and I have to doubt that Paul would have accepted such an appointment. It just isn't consistent with the way he writes, and in fact in places he makes plain distinction between what he understands as indisputable and what he must attribute to his own personal authority.

The mention of deacons raises another problem. It's quite clear that the role of deacons in modern churches of almost any stripe has very little to do with their function in the early church. (The Presbyterians are an exception; the functions their deacons serve could be taken right from their first mention in the Acts.) The transformation of deacons into liturgical ministers has laid upon them all of the issues that circle about every other kind of of clergy. And thus, in practice there are no deaconesses except in churches that ordain female clergy (or again, among the presbyterians where they have no liturgical or governmental role at all). There is a problem in invoking deaconesses if no woman can be one.

Again, this is the beginning of a dialogue which cannot at this time continue. I cannot here discuss these matters with Father Hopko, much as I wish I could. And I have not discussed the most important point yet. I see in Orthodoxy a tendency to equate assert to church doctrines as justification. Hopko for one is disputing that here. It does matter what arguments you bring to the matter, and intense self-criticism is called for. The argument here is being advanced largely by men, about others. One can take the principle of women being silent and advance to the point of barring discussion on this board. And would you consent meekly to such silence?
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« Reply #32 on: June 14, 2003, 10:37:09 PM »

Nothing wrong with that, Ebor.  But song leaders and church school teachers don't have to be priests (or priestesses).  And priests don't have to do double duty as choir directors, but it does help if they make appearances in the church school every so often.  Grin

Hypo-Ortho

Yet, Linus said that it was a "sin".  Peterson's mother was not acting in any priestly form, I gather.  

I have come across things (usually from "Fundamentalist" works) that state that no woman is to be in "authority" over any man and thus she cannot teach him religion.  I recall one case that took this further to a man in the military saying it meant he didn't have to serve under a female officer.

Ebor

Keble said Peterson's mother led men in worship services. Is that not a priestly function?

The "bully" with the Bible was right to stop her but should have taken over the task or appointed some other man to do it.

I don't want to get into a discussion of women's roles in society at large. Let's stick with the Church and the priesthood.
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« Reply #33 on: June 14, 2003, 11:00:28 PM »

Nothing wrong with that, Ebor.  But song leaders and church school teachers don't have to be priests (or priestesses).  And priests don't have to do double duty as choir directors, but it does help if they make appearances in the church school every so often.  Grin

Hypo-Ortho

Yet, Linus said that it was a "sin".  Peterson's mother was not acting in any priestly form, I gather.  

I have come across things (usually from "Fundamentalist" works) that state that no woman is to be in "authority" over any man and thus she cannot teach him religion.  I recall one case that took this further to a man in the military saying it meant he didn't have to serve under a female officer.

Ebor

Keble said Peterson's mother led men in worship services. Is that not a priestly function?


No. Anyone may lead office services (and by extension, any sort of non-sacramental service).
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« Reply #34 on: June 14, 2003, 11:38:15 PM »


Quote
What I find most interesting about this whole discussion is how little it has to do with Hopko's statements. It seems as though people have read through to the end, sighed with relief that he ended up endorsing the church's position, and let the rest just roll off them.

You give those who disagree with you too little credit.

I don't think any of us simply "sighed with relief" at Fr. Hopko's remarks. We enjoyed them as considered expressions of one aspect of the truth of the Apostolic Faith, a truth that is under assault even in the vestigial form in which it exists in mainline Protestant denominations.

Quote
Hopko at least is attempting to engage the various proponents of women's ordination as people. I don't think this engagement is entirely successful, for the simple reason that the context of his remarks hobbles his attempt. A (presumably male) interviewer for Again is not the same as a discussion with (for instance) a woman priest. But at least he has the decency to express shame at the way male clerics have put their offices in the service of mysogyny over the years.

Of course the proponents of women's ordination are people. Who said they are not? But I think Fr. Hopko made it pretty clear that they are people whose opinions are harmful to Christ's Church.

Why should Fr. Hopko have conducted a discussion with a priestess? For Orthodox Christians there is no such thing. Priestess, or female priest, is an illicit title.

I am not sure that deacons, priests, and bishops have "put their offices in the service of misogyny over the years," but even if some of them have, how will a sinful practice (the ordination of women) correct that? By balancing the scale with a few man-haters or lesbians?

Quote
And it's equally true that my criticism of certain of his remarks is also unfair-- after all, he cannot respond to me. But it seems to me that someone at least ought to interact with the original post.

Published remarks will be criticized. It comes with the territory. You are not being unfair to Fr. Hopko.

I did interact with the OP when I said I agree with what Fr. Hopko had to say.

Quote
From Fr. Hopko:
I don’t think it is an accident that in our time you have not only the huge discussion about who may or may not be ordained in the various Churches, but also the discussion on whether Christ is really risen from the dead. You have discussions on the character of His relationship to God, or of whether God Himself ought to be called “Father.” You also have the whole symbolical structure of the Bible under question.

So my question is, what are all these discussions really about? Where are they really leading?

Quote
Well, actually, I don't think it's a coincidence either, although Fr. Hopko has his time scale off.

All of the secularist forces were in place before he was born. The primary figures of scriptural doubt, Bultmann and Tillich, were born over a century ago. Before WW II, neither was that important in the US.

But it takes awhile for pollutants to work their way into the groundwater. Thus it took the doubts planted by such men as Bultmann and Tillich some time to have their full impact on Protestant seminaries and their graduates and through them on the society at large.

Quote
What it comes down to, though, is that the breaking of the constraints that made loony leftist theologians possible is the same fracture that made black civil rights possible. The result is that a finer scale of discernment is now necessary.

I disagree. Black civil rights has a definite history and evolution all its own.

Quote
From Fr. Hopko:
The real question here is, what kind of leadership are we talking about? Very often people see leadership in the Church analogously to being a king, a president, a judge, or a military leader. The question Christians must ask is, is that the kind of leadership we would want to have and are supposed to have in the Church?

Quote
Here I have a definite answer. In an epsicopal polity church, we do get this kind of leadership in the clergy, because all of the roles named-- presidency, judging, generalship-- are given to the clergy. Bishops do rule, and they do judge. And even to the extent that they shouldn't be taking on these roles, there is nothing stopping them from taking them up.

And in a family fathers often act in the same sorts of roles.

Quote
From Fr. Hopko:
Leadership in the Church, especially in regard to the priesthood, is much more analogous to a family relationship than to a societal relationship. My question would be: Is there such a thing as fatherhood? Is there such a thing as the husband?

Quote
Well, one of the comments the feminists make (and for that matter, a lot of the conservatives who oppose them) is that Judaeo-Christian religion (and Islam, for that matter) is conspicuously lacking in mothering as a Godly attribute. The priesthood, therefore, has the same lack.

That's where the "family" model falls apart. Priests are classically placed in the position of being fathers, but there is no mother. (I'm not buying the theory that the priest's wife fills this role.) And in any case, now we're walking straight into the perils of "the Patriarchy". What the feminists then see happening is all the imperial/judicial attributes implied by "president" and "judge" simply get imputed on "Father", and he becomes the autocrat of the household.

You may not buy the theory that the priest's wife fills the role of a mother to his congregation, but that has been my experience.

Besides that, the Church herself fills the mothering role, as does the Blessed Virgin.

One must ask what one expects of a mother: To usurp the father's role? To lord it over men?



Quote
From Fr. Hopko:
The Church from its inception was counter-culture. It was filled with martyrs and blood. It has gone through so much controversy, has brought to the world the gospel of the crucified God—like it says in the Scripture, it has “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6). Yet never once did the Church ordain a woman as presbyter or bishop! You’d think with all the blood and martyrdom and counter-culture positions of Christians, if this were simply a cultural issue, it would have happened somewhere in time.

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Well, there is an issue of just exactly how counter-cultural the visible church is. The institutionalization of the church under Constantine, if nothing else, seats the church firmly in the center of the culture. Where it sat before that is a matter of considerable scholarly dispute. The feminist position is that it was never as free of its culture as moderns (and perhaps the early Christians themselves) like to believe.

Much of Roman society and culture remained pagan long after Constantine legalized Christianity. Of course, the implication that the male priesthood was simply the product of a patriarchal culture is that Scripture, the writings of the Fathers, and Church polity have all been tainted with a viewpoint that came not from God but from culture, and that we can trust the feminists and liberals to sort out the good stuff from the bad.

Besides, the Levantine culture in which Christianity found itself, as well as the wider culture of the Empire, was quite used to the idea of priestesses. Paganism was replete with them. If the notion of priestly gender came from the culture, why didn't the Church ordain women right from the start?

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The basic problem in this is right in St. Paul. One one page he is saying "in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female...." but then on another he is saying "I do not allow a woman". The two passages positively demand a hermaneutic, and it isn't hard to surmise that the second statement reflects a personal impulse of Paul's rather than an expression which one can workout from the rest of the gospel. (Whether such a surmise is justified is of course another matter.)

One can surmise whatever one wishes. However, it is a matter of the Orthodox Christian faith that what St. Paul wrote in his letters was inspired by God.

It is pretty plain that "neither Jew nor Greek, etc." means that God loves us all and shows no partiality in salvation. He might have also said "there is no literate nor illiterate."

The requirements for bishop, priest, and deacon are an entirely separate matter.

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From Fr. Hopko:
Why, when the Church was fighting so hard against society, cultural norms, imperial tyranny, and fighting for equality and the care of the poor and the needy and the homeless through the whole of history, why is it that it’s only in the late twentieth century that the issue is raised about ordaining women to the ordained ministry? That is a hard question to answer.

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Well, it isn't that hard to answer, if you are an American. There is an answer which is right there in our own history.

Slavery and all its variants is an issue which the church, over the ages, did not have an answer about. Paul's letter to Philemon addresses the answer in a very sidelong manner, but the extreme subtlety with which Paul asks that Onesimus be freed left the question hazy.

Abolition in the USA was a religious issue, and civil rights, which followed, was also a religious issue. Churches took sides; an Episcopal seminarian was murdered in cold blood for his civil rights activism. And abolition was a moral issue, and one which traced right back to the second great commandment. No modern church can seriously suggest that any form of forced servitude can be justified under the gospel, yet until relatively recently Christian countries had serfdom, indentured servitude, and outright chattel slavery.

Thus I do not think that the long history of refusal suffices.

I don't see how the two issues are even remotely alike.

How is the ordination of women a matter of fundamental human dignity?

Ordination is not a "right" that even all men have. It is not a "right" at all.

We are not talking about something oppressive that has been merely tolerated by the Church. We are talking about a positive Church practice which is rooted in the understanding of the High Priesthood of Jesus Christ and in the Fatherhood of God.

The sort of thinking reflected in the drive for priestesses has its roots in the Enlightenment and in modern democratic ideals. Its language of "rights" is contrary to the Orthodox Christian mindset of humble submission to God in His Church.

You might have an argument if the Bible and the Church had limited ordination based upon race and those limitations were later abrogated.

But the Bible never commanded slavery. Thus the pressure that led to slavery's ultimate abolition is nothing like the cultural pressure being brought to bear on behalf of the ordination of women.

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The danger point is of course the same passages in Paul. Once arguing with the passages about women gets amplified into a general license to argue with any and all parts of scripture without constraint, then yes, the slippery slope has been stepped upon and the radical transformation of faith into self-worship is the result. At the same time, turning Paul into a Moses is something I cannot accept, and I have to doubt that Paul would have accepted such an appointment. It just isn't consistent with the way he writes, and in fact in places he makes plain distinction between what he understands as indisputable and what he must attribute to his own personal authority.

St. Paul's letters are included in the biblical canon because they were inspired by God. The Church has always viewed and applied them that way.

I don't see how one can argue with St. Paul's standards for ordination without beginning the slide down the slippery slope of apostasy.

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The mention of deacons raises another problem. It's quite clear that the role of deacons in modern churches of almost any stripe has very little to do with their function in the early church. (The Presbyterians are an exception; the functions their deacons serve could be taken right from their first mention in the Acts.) The transformation of deacons into liturgical ministers has laid upon them all of the issues that circle about every other kind of of clergy. And thus, in practice there are no deaconesses except in churches that ordain female clergy (or again, among the presbyterians where they have no liturgical or governmental role at all). There is a problem in invoking deaconesses if no woman can be one.

Again, this is the beginning of a dialogue which cannot at this time continue. I cannot here discuss these matters with Father Hopko, much as I wish I could. And I have not discussed the most important point yet. I see in Orthodoxy a tendency to equate assert to church doctrines as justification. Hopko for one is disputing that here. It does matter what arguments you bring to the matter, and intense self-criticism is called for. The argument here is being advanced largely by men, about others. One can take the principle of women being silent and advance to the point of barring discussion on this board. And would you consent meekly to such silence?

I think it is pretty clear that deaconess was not an ordained holy order in the Church.

Yes, most of us are men who are involved in this discussion here. If the women are silent it is not because we have prohibited them from posting.

Should we advance the opposite argument that only women are qualified to discuss this?

Look, if I thought the ordination of women was something Christ would want, I would be all for it. But it cannot be justified from Scripture or the Fathers, and the Church has consistently opposed it. Not only that, but from what I can see the motivation behind the push for the ordination of women is all wrong. It is all wrapped up in the language of rights and grievances and in doubting the authority of a great and holy saint and martyr.

I think it comes from the devil.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2003, 01:16:07 AM by Linus7 » Logged

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« Reply #35 on: June 16, 2003, 12:33:18 AM »

I't late on a Sunday, and I don't ahve th time to deal with this at length. So I shall limit myself to a few apposite points:


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What I find most interesting about this whole discussion is how little it has to do with Hopko's statements. It seems as though people have read through to the end, sighed with relief that he ended up endorsing the church's position, and let the rest just roll off them.

You give those who disagree with you too little credit.

It is merely my observation concerning the way this fairly quickly collapsed into a pretty routine series of anathemas. My sense is that the self-critical aspects of this were largely brushed off, in much the same way earlier remarks about needing to find better argumetns were brushed off or even viewed with alarm.

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Of course the proponents of women's ordination are people. Who said they are not? But I think Fr. Hopko made it pretty clear that they are people whose opinions are harmful to Christ's Church.

But in the passage that follows, they are not people. They are mere heretics, or worse. They are Fraki who do not need to be listened to, who do not need to be given courtesy. They are merely satanic agents whose grievances can be dismissed.

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Why should Fr. Hopko have conducted a discussion with a priestess? For Orthodox Christians there is no such thing. Priestess, or female priest, is an illicit title.

Whether or not the title is illicit is beside the point. If you cannot pay them he simple courtesy of hearing them, then you don't consider them as humans of equsal stature to yourself.

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I am not sure that deacons, priests, and bishops have "put their offices in the service of misogyny over the years," but even if some of them have, how will a sinful practice (the ordination of women) correct that? By balancing the scale with a few man-haters or lesbians?

And this is worse. You dismiss them with slurs.

I'm going to have to skip most of the discussion fatherhood (I'll come back to it later, I hope). One remark in passing:

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One must ask what one expects of a mother: To usurp the father's role? To lord it over men?

This is mixing the metaphor. My wife most certainly should "lord it over" certain men: my sons. This again is neither motherhood no fatherhood, but parenting.

And again, one remark in the "counter-cultural" discussion:

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Besides, the Levantine culture in which Christianity found itself, as well as the wider culture of the Empire, was quite used to the idea of priestesses. Paganism was replete with them. If the notion of priestly gender came from the culture, why didn't the Church ordain women right from the start?

That can be answered directly out of scripture. Christianity drew only upon Judaism for its notion of priesthood. Judaism has no preistly position fo women.

The scriptural justification for barring women, however, doesn't come from these passages. It comes from a set of passages in St. Paul which do not address the sacramental at all.

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I don't see how the two issues (black civil rights and women's ordination) are even remotely alike.

How is the ordination of women a matter of fundamental human dignity?

Ordination is not a "right" that even all men have. It is not a "right" at all.

That is both true, and not true. The problem is that men, as a class, have the opportunity to be ordained, while women, as a class, are denied that opportunity. That is precisely where the language of rights takes hold. You would affirm, for instance, the there is something immoral about denying african-american men ordination as a class, would you not? How do you intend to differentiate between the two?

You fall back into taking Paul as Law, in arguable and incomprehensible. I don't think "inspiration" is a good enough justification for this approach. See, what the feminists are going to argue is that the understanding of the priesthood in Orthodoxy is not the root, but rather it derives, in part, from denegration of the sacramental offices of women. Likewise, they are going to argue that the church has not only tolerated oppression of women but has in fact enthusiatically joined in that oppression. That's precisely I said that the passages cry out for a hermaneutic. Either one passage or the other must be blunted. Orthodoxy, the feminists would claim, comes to the passage with a hermaneutical devotion to the subservience of women, and therefore chooses to blunt the first passage, denying the radical equality of men and women within Christ.

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I don't see how one can argue with St. Paul's standards for ordination without beginning the slide down the slippery slope of apostasy.

But your vision isn't good enough-- that's an ultra-protestant way to address the problem. There are women priests who remain orthodox in other, if not all other respects. Slippery slope arguments fail utterly if not ratified by reality, and this one certainly isn't so ratified.  And I don't agree with the loose way you use the word "apostacy". You're tending to use it simply as a synonym for heresy, and it isn't the same thing.

There's not time to fight the deaconesses battle right now, and in any case, unless both of us are prepared for a serious grapple with the evidence, I don't think there's much point to it.
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« Reply #36 on: June 16, 2003, 01:00:01 PM »

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From Linus7:
You give those who disagree with you too little credit.

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From Keble: It is merely my observation concerning the way this fairly quickly collapsed into a pretty routine series of anathemas. My sense is that the self-critical aspects of this were largely brushed off, in much the same way earlier remarks about needing to find better argumetns were brushed off or even viewed with alarm.

I think what you regard as self-criticism was humility and politeness on the part of Fr. Hopko. I don't think those aspects of his remarks should be interpreted as signs of doubt on the issue of the ordination of women.

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From Linus7:
Of course the proponents of women's ordination are people. Who said they are not? But I think Fr. Hopko made it pretty clear that they are people whose opinions are harmful to Christ's Church.

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But in the passage that follows, they are not people. They are mere heretics, or worse. They are Fraki who do not need to be listened to, who do not need to be given courtesy. They are merely satanic agents whose grievances can be dismissed.

Heretics are people, not monsters, and God loves them, too. We realize that, and we pray for them.

But we do not feel we must agree with them or regard their views highly in order to treat them as people.

You seem to be expressing their viewpoint. Have you been dismissed or treated discourteously?

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From Linus7:
Why should Fr. Hopko have conducted a discussion with a priestess? For Orthodox Christians there is no such thing. Priestess, or female priest, is an illicit title.

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From Keble: Whether or not the title is illicit is beside the point. If you cannot pay them he simple courtesy of hearing them, then you don't consider them as humans of equsal stature to yourself.

You seemed to be saying that Fr. Hopko could not hear them without conducting a dialogue with a priestess.

I still wonder why such a thing would be necessary when Orthodoxy does not recognize priestesses as legitimate.

I do not recognize priestesses, but I do see them as humans as much beloved of God as I am. Will you admit that it is possible to view heretics in this way? Wrong, perhaps even abominably wrong, yet humans for whom Christ bled and died?

How are we to save them if we allow them to corrupt the only Ark of Salvation just to make them feel better for a time?

I think we who tell them they are wrong love them and respect their human worth far more than those who compromise with their errors.

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From Linus7:
I am not sure that deacons, priests, and bishops have "put their offices in the service of misogyny over the years," but even if some of them have, how will a sinful practice (the ordination of women) correct that? By balancing the scale with a few man-haters or lesbians?

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And this is worse. You dismiss them with slurs.

And you indicted all male clerics under a charge of misogyny.

If male clerics are misogynists, then female anti-clerics are man-haters and lesbians.

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From Keble: I'm going to have to skip most of the discussion fatherhood (I'll come back to it later, I hope). One remark in passing:

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From Linus7:
One must ask what one expects of a mother: To usurp the father's role? To lord it over men?

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This is mixing the metaphor. My wife most certainly should "lord it over" certain men: my sons. This again is neither motherhood no fatherhood, but parenting.

Were your sons "men" when their mother "lorded it over" them?

Were they not rather boys?

Are we to be like little boys under female clerics?

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From Keble: And again, one remark in the "counter-cultural" discussion:

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From Linus7:
Besides, the Levantine culture in which Christianity found itself, as well as the wider culture of the Empire, was quite used to the idea of priestesses. Paganism was replete with them. If the notion of priestly gender came from the culture, why didn't the Church ordain women right from the start?

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From Keble: That can be answered directly out of scripture. Christianity drew only upon Judaism for its notion of priesthood. Judaism has no preistly position fo women.

The scriptural justification for barring women, however, doesn't come from these passages. It comes from a set of passages in St. Paul which do not address the sacramental at all.

But you spoke of "the culture" and of Constantine's placing of Christianity at the center of the culture. That culture was Roman and syncretistically pagan, not Jewish. Constantine did not place Christianity at the center of Jewish culture. If, as you seemed to assert, males-only ordination had its roots in the culture in which Constantine planted the Church, then one would expect the larger culture to reflect that in similar religious practices. Yet we find just the opposite.

I find the fact that the Jews had no priestly function for women very relevant to this question, however, since the Levitical priesthood was established by God and He is the same One who establsihed the New Covenant and its priesthood.

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From Linus7:
I don't see how the two issues (black civil rights and women's ordination) are even remotely alike.

How is the ordination of women a matter of fundamental human dignity?

Ordination is not a "right" that even all men have. It is not a "right" at all.

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From Keble: That is both true, and not true. The problem is that men, as a class, have the opportunity to be ordained, while women, as a class, are denied that opportunity. That is precisely where the language of rights takes hold. You would affirm, for instance, the there is something immoral about denying african-american men ordination as a class, would you not? How do you intend to differentiate between the two?

I follow your reasoning, but I am not sure that "opportunity" is the right word. Perhaps "remote possibility" is a better term, as opposed to "no possibility" for women.

Not every man has the opportunity to become a priest, or the right, since the priesthood is not a matter of right. No one should be able to just decide "I want to be a priest, therefore I will." It does not happen that way, at least not in the Orthodox Church. Desire does not necessarily equal calling or ability, and the fact that one is a male does not impart an entitlement.

How I differentiate the two (the absence of a racial limitation on ordination vs. the presence of a gender limitation) is that the Bible and the Church are clear in making no racial limitations on ordination while at the same time imposing a gender-based limitation.

Historic Christianity says "no priestesses." It has never said it is okay to oppress or mistreat people because of their race.

To try to equate black civil rights with the ordination of women is an attempt to muddy the waters and to make those who oppose the ordination of women look like ecclesial Klansmen.

The two issues are not alike. Women are not oppressed because they cannot be priests or bishops. Most men cannot be priests or bishops either.

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You fall back into taking Paul as Law, in arguable and incomprehensible. I don't think "inspiration" is a good enough justification for this approach. See, what the feminists are going to argue is that the understanding of the priesthood in Orthodoxy is not the root, but rather it derives, in part, from denegration of the sacramental offices of women. Likewise, they are going to argue that the church has not only tolerated oppression of women but has in fact enthusiatically joined in that oppression. That's precisely I said that the passages cry out for a hermaneutic. Either one passage or the other must be blunted. Orthodoxy, the feminists would claim, comes to the passage with a hermaneutical devotion to the subservience of women, and therefore chooses to blunt the first passage, denying the radical equality of men and women within Christ.

You act as if the argument from St. Paul is the only argument against the ordination of women. It's not, but even if it were, it is not open to the sorts of doubts and attacks to which feminists would expose it merely to have their way and their so-called "right."

I do not believe what St. Paul said is incomprehensible, but again, even if it were, it remains what it is: the word of God by the hand of St. Paul, accepted and applied by the Church down through the ages.

How does limiting the priesthood and the episcopate to men amount to devotion to the "subservience of women"?

Such language is possible only for those who see the world in self-centered terms of rights and grievances and power.

For Orthodox Christians what matters is death to self and submission to God, not rights. The priest and the bishop are the servants of the people of God, male and female. What power they exercise they exercise in Christ for the good of His Church, not for themselves.

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From Linus7:
I don't see how one can argue with St. Paul's standards for ordination without beginning the slide down the slippery slope of apostasy.

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From Keble: But your vision isn't good enough-- that's an ultra-protestant way to address the problem. There are women priests who remain orthodox in other, if not all other respects.

The arguments you present for the ordination of women (whether they are actually yours or not I do not know - perhaps you are merely playing the "devil's advocate" in this) are extra-Christian. They come from outside the faith and must, since Christians have never had priestesses.

I also believe your "ultra-protestant" remark is not only erroneous but an attempt to irritate me, since you know I am a convert.

When Protestants regard what St. Paul wrote as inspired Scripture, then they have got something right, something that has come down to them through the Church, whether they realize it or not. "Even a blind hog can find an acorn."

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From Keble: Slippery slope arguments fail utterly if not ratified by reality, and this one certainly isn't so ratified.  And I don't agree with the loose way you use the word "apostacy". You're tending to use it simply as a synonym for heresy, and it isn't the same thing.

I disagree, obviously. Apostasy is the abandonment of the Christian faith. A sect can have embraced so many heresies and abominations as to have become an apostate movement, i.e., no longer truly Christian, in fact anti-Christian.

I firmly believe the ordination of women is a symptom of apostasy. It is just one among many. A sect that ordains women generally has more serious, fundamental problems in its theology and is well on its way to abandoning the Christian faith.

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From Keble: There's not time to fight the deaconesses battle right now, and in any case, unless both of us are prepared for a serious grapple with the evidence, I don't think there's much point to it.

Well, if you or anyone else can present credible evidence that deaconess was an actual ordained holy order, I am interested and not opposed to it in principle.

From what I have seen, however, deaconesses were generally widows who assisted in ministering charitably to women and children. They could not serve at the altar or teach men and so were never ordained.

If you have evidence to the contrary, please present it.
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« Reply #37 on: June 16, 2003, 03:40:46 PM »

Keble:

Although Linus7 has addressed some of your comments re: rights, I would like to follow up a bit.

Specifically, it does not seem to me that your conclusion that since women as a class are excluded from ordained ministry whereas men as a class do have the opportunity, therefore discussion of rights (presumably in terms of "justice") is permissible/required/(fill in the blank).

I take issue with this.  You have not established that the inclusion or exclusion from ordination in terms of class (gender) is, in fact, what is going on in the Church's limitation of ordained ministry to a small number of men.  Since you have not established your premisses, your conclusion does not follow.

Furthermore, you have to establish, from Scripture and Tradition, that one may speak of ordination in terms of "rights", which, it seems to me is a tall order.

If you cannot justify your premisses nor establish a "rights" vocabulary with its attendant presuppostions, then you argument--in terms of rights--falls apart.

It is just this very thing the feminist proponents of women's ordination founder on.
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« Reply #38 on: June 16, 2003, 05:13:35 PM »

You have not established that the inclusion or exclusion from ordination in terms of class (gender) is, in fact, what is going on in the Church's limitation of ordained ministry to a small number of men.  Since you have not established your premisses, your conclusion does not follow.

I have no intention at all of pursuing the feminist argument at length. But this particular argument is faulty. Orthodox tradition claims that being a woman is disqualifying. I do not know the specifics of Orthodox standards, but I have to suspect that they do not disqualify most men. The predominant factor surely is that most men do not seek ordination.

That being a woman is disqualifying: that is the dispute. One does not have to resort to the language of rights to question that this disqualification is proper. And if it is not proper, then other considerations take the place of rights in abolishing it, considerations such as opposing the will of God who calls women to these ministries, and considerations of moral defect.

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Furthermore, you have to establish, from Scripture and Tradition, that one may speak of ordination in terms of "rights", which, it seems to me is a tall order.

Well, no I don't. First, I have already established that rights, per se, are no necessary as a concept here. Second, I'm not Orthodox and thus won't be constrained by that hermaneutic.
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« Reply #39 on: June 16, 2003, 05:17:59 PM »

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...since women as a class are excluded from ordained ministry whereas men as a class do have the opportunity, therefore discussion of rights (presumably in terms of "justice") is permissible/required/(fill in the blank).

How '60s: Marxist class hatred/class struggle applied to the sexes (ha, how romantic) and to the apostolic ministry. (The feminists want power, not the grace of being able to offer the Liturgy/Mass, which they don't believe in anyway.) Ugh.
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« Reply #40 on: June 16, 2003, 05:35:35 PM »

Keble:

On the contrary, most men are disqualified by simple virtue of the fact that most men are not called to ordination, and even of those that consider themselves called, not everyone is ordained.

But my main point is not about disqualification but rather the point that what is actually going on in ordination is not disqualification of one or another man or woman.  Rather, it is a bestowing of a charism for service.

In other words, ordination is not about disqualifying women from ordained ministry.  Therefore it is not proper to entertain the language of rights.  Furthermore, since proponents of women's ordination have never been able to prove from Scripture and Tradition (not an exclusively Orthodox perspective I might add) that women's ordination is God's will, then discussion of whether or not women's ordination is God's will or not cannot yet be discussed without first being assumed.

By the way, I'm not Orthodox, either, yet I subscribe to the Orthodox stance on ordination.  I suspect one need not be Orthodox to be constrained by an argument one has reasonably considered and is convinced of its truth.
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« Reply #41 on: June 16, 2003, 09:29:29 PM »

Keble:

On the contrary, most men are disqualified by simple virtue of the fact that most men are not called to ordination, and even of those that consider themselves called, not everyone is ordained.

Well, the issue of "called" here is really problematic-- almost anachronistic. But be that as it may, the issue would be that all women who might feel themselves called are not ordained (at least not in Orthodoxy). Every consideration you have listed here-- and indeed, I would bet any consideration you can come up with-- would apply to women as well, were it not for the prejudgement against women as a class.

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But my main point is not about disqualification but rather the point that what is actually going on in ordination is not disqualification of one or another man or woman.  Rather, it is a bestowing of a charism for service.

But the circumstances of that bestowal say otherwise. The choice of on whom to bestow or withhold the charism is, in this particular case, precisely a process of disqualification. What ordination itself is may or may not be relevant; it is only relevant to the degree that the disqualification of women arises from the nature of ordination.

That is precisely the point at which the feminists direct their attack. If gender cannot be found to be relevant to the state of being ordained, then it cannot be justified as a disqualification.

The language of rights is thus just a familiar means of advancing the language of charity. The feminists would then attack the denial of the language of rights as a means for the defense of uncharity.

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Furthermore, since proponents of women's ordination have never been able to prove from Scripture and Tradition (not an exclusively Orthodox perspective I might add) that women's ordination is God's will, then discussion of whether or not women's ordination is God's will or not cannot yet be discussed without first being assumed.

Look, there's only so far I'm willing to take this. If you are serious about taking this tack, I might hammer away as to whether you can even show that ordination of men is God's will. The key passages in Paul do not mention ordination, after all.

At any rate, this little conundrum is ill-formed. There is no problem in postulating ordination of women; it is not something that is genuinely inconceivable. That is not the same as assuming that it is acceptable, or even that the sign and form are effective means of grace in this case. And I have no tolerance for burden of proof arguments anymore.

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« Reply #42 on: June 16, 2003, 10:35:39 PM »

Serge brings up an interesting point about feminism. Every single clergywomen I've met (ELCA and ECUSA) with one glaring exception has been a middle aged feminist without an ounce of orthodoxy.
I know there are quite orthodox minded female clerics, but quite a few tend to be ultra liberal. The one exception was an LCMS deaconess, but of course the LCMS isn't going to ordain women anytime soon!

Maybe if I'd actually met young (born after 1970), conservative or traditionalist female clergy my mind might be different.  While I've read about younger, more orthodox female seminarians and clergy in the mainline Protestant churches, most female clergy simply don't do a good job of advertising orthodox, apostolic Christianity.

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Jonathan
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« Reply #43 on: June 16, 2003, 10:45:46 PM »

Do you really think that if God was calling women to serve as priests, that men would have been able to stand in His way for almost 2000 years?  Do you really think that the whole Church has been that blind to the Holy Spirit?  If so how does Christ's promise to always be with us apply?

Not ordaining females is not disqualifying them... it's not a matter of a rite that every human has to be considered for ordination, it's a matter of calling.  It's not a matter of if someone feels their being called, it's a matter of if God is calling... In Orthodoxy you can't just desire to be a preist & be one, in fact if you desire it it's probably pride and not a calling!  When my preist was called He said Satan get behind me for days as he was told to give up his life through the priesthood... it was only when a bishop came and asked if he had been called, later to admit he didn't know if he was going to say that until it was out, that he even considered it... and then he had to be found acceptable to the congregation, the other priests, the Partriarch.  He didn't just say, I think I'd be a good priest, and go for it.  I've never heard of a person persuing the priesthood, only of people being dragged to be ordained against thier will in fear of the responsibility.  Pope Shenouda, rather than being a power hungry male cheuvanist, wept at his ordination, wondering why God had chosen such an unworhty servant, how he would care for the Church.  If you think it's unfare that woman are denied this cross, don't take it up with the Church, take it up with God who hasn't called them.
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« Reply #44 on: June 16, 2003, 11:48:31 PM »

Quote
While I've read about younger, more orthodox female seminarians and clergy in the mainline Protestant churches,

"More orthodox" is, of course, a relative term. In mainline Protestant denominations "more orthodox" could simply mean "not an atheist."

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most female clergy simply don't do a good job of advertising orthodox, apostolic Christianity.

How could they when it is neither orthodox nor apostolic to be a priestess?

Their very existence is a denial of orthodox, apostolic Christianity.

Quote
Do you really think that if God was calling women to serve as priests, that men would have been able to stand in His way for almost 2000 years?  Do you really think that the whole Church has been that blind to the Holy Spirit?  If so how does Christ's promise to always be with us apply?

Amen!

« Last Edit: June 16, 2003, 11:51:28 PM by Linus7 » Logged

The first condition of salvation is to keep the norm of the true faith and in no way to deviate from the established doctrine of the Fathers.
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