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Author Topic: Help me out, Ladies... Understandings of male priesthood.  (Read 2986 times) Average Rating: 0
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KBN1
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« on: July 31, 2011, 08:14:06 PM »

This weekend a close relative was a little aggressive with me about the issue of the male priesthood in the Orthodox church.  This was not a person I would have ever expected it from.  He is very ecumenical.  I don't use that word in the pejorative sense, he would likely describe himself that way.  He is also most closely aligned with the emergent church movement.  I tried my best to explain my understanding of it.  To spare you a transcript, here are some of the talking points...

-Christ being our High Priest and prototype chose to be incarnated as a man and that a priest is an image of that prototype.
-Christ chose men to be his apostles.
-A prohibition against women in the priesthood is not a prohibition against preaching, teaching, evangelizing, or ministering.
-We can't know God's reasons why he chose to be incarnated male or why he chose men to be his apostles.  It is a mystery.

I was honest with him that I don't have a grand enlightening answer and that I am not a great debater so I had no intention of debating this with him.  His response was basically, "That is the problem with the Orthodox, they perpetuate injustice against women and then hide behind 'mystery' and stubborn traditions."  He then compared the Church leadership to the Sanhedrin.  Since the conversation wasn't going anywhere productive I let it die at the first available distraction.  The accusation that the Church perpetuates injustice has stuck with me though.  I don't see it that way, but I am a man.  So I guess my question is, how can I answer that accusation without having to appeal to tradition or 'mystery'?  Do any of you women feel like it is unjust?  I'm not trying to start a heated debate with this.  I'm only trying to understand as I am having a difficult time seeing outside of our paradox.
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« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2011, 08:19:25 PM »

I had been taught that the priest was an embodiment of God as Father. Almighty God can have any quality He wishes, but the priesthood is emblematic of the Father. To be certain, God loves all His creation, but he doesn't make them all the same.
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« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2011, 08:42:26 PM »

Being no lady, I'll refrain from answering at this time.
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« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2011, 09:29:35 PM »

I'll refrain from answering.

On a related natural discovery:

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« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2011, 09:45:02 PM »

Actually, you can look at it in a positive, pro-female way:

Women tend to have to do all the work during the week, so on Sundays they get to relax and let the men take over!  Grin
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« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2011, 09:56:31 PM »

 Cheesy  Wink

I've also heard it said that the Christian reliance on a male priesthood was a reaction against the pagan practice of sensuality cults, temple prostitution and the like, in which women were 'priestesses' of a goddess and so forth. With the different practice, the Christians saved women from this kind of life.
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« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2011, 10:06:57 PM »

If discussion of bodily fluids disturbs you- then don't read this.

My opinion is based on- just my own thoughts about reality in the past:  If anything- one needs to look back to the not so distant past- before modern feminine hygiene products were produced- and there's your most likely reason as to why women weren't priests.  Many, many, many women simply bled into their clothing.  They wore long layered garments- underwear as we know it didn't exist- and it was messy.  Research has been done that suggests that even up until 1900 (and even in some places in the world today)- quite a few women didn't bother to use anything to stop the flow of menstrual blood.  
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« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2011, 11:14:12 PM »

If discussion of bodily fluids disturbs you- then don't read this.

My opinion is based on- just my own thoughts about reality in the past:  If anything- one needs to look back to the not so distant past- before modern feminine hygiene products were produced- and there's your most likely reason as to why women weren't priests.  Many, many, many women simply bled into their clothing.  They wore long layered garments- underwear as we know it didn't exist- and it was messy.  Research has been done that suggests that even up until 1900 (and even in some places in the world today)- quite a few women didn't bother to use anything to stop the flow of menstrual blood.  

The discussion of bodily fluids doesn't bother so much as the idea that the whole doctrine of the all-male priesthood boils down to men being icked out by women's menstrual blood. I would like to think there's more substance to it than that.  Roll Eyes
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« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2011, 11:21:12 PM »

If discussion of bodily fluids disturbs you- then don't read this.

My opinion is based on- just my own thoughts about reality in the past:  If anything- one needs to look back to the not so distant past- before modern feminine hygiene products were produced- and there's your most likely reason as to why women weren't priests.  Many, many, many women simply bled into their clothing.  They wore long layered garments- underwear as we know it didn't exist- and it was messy.  Research has been done that suggests that even up until 1900 (and even in some places in the world today)- quite a few women didn't bother to use anything to stop the flow of menstrual blood.  

The discussion of bodily fluids doesn't bother so much as the idea that the whole doctrine of the all-male priesthood boils down to men being icked out by women's menstrual blood. I would like to think there's more substance to it than that.  Roll Eyes

I agree.  I'm surprised it didn't say anyting about women nursing...because nursing women have been known to be leaky too  Grin
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« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2011, 01:45:54 AM »

Sorry, I am not a lady, but I hope you will indulge my posting.

I think the question of why priests are male can be answered by looking at the reasons for male priests in the Old Testament.  God chose men as priests at that time for the Priesthood of Aaron.  At no time in the history of Israel did God place women in priestly roles.  Neither Christ, nor the Apostles, appointed women to  priestly office either.  I don't believe, as many advocates of women's ordination do, that it was simply a cultural matter i.e. a patriarchal society, since many ancient cultures had priestesses, yet were equally patriarchal. 

God's chosen people, the Jews, did not, and God established the Jewish religion which Christ also belonged to.  While there is a new covenant in Christ, the basics did not change.  Even our Orthodox services are derived from those of the Jews, not those of the pagans.
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« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2011, 02:55:06 AM »

As a guy, I think it's the advocates of women in the priesthood who are being sexist here. They're sending the message that the ways in which women serve the Church right now are somehow not good enough because they can't serve the Church as priestesses.

Also, as Father Thomas Hopko often responds to this question, being male is only one of the requirements for priesthood and in fact most men can't be priests either. Talk about discrimination, eh!
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« Reply #11 on: August 01, 2011, 08:15:45 AM »

I brought up the point that Father Thomas Hopko made and the response was that it was no defense at all since men are being excluded on lack of merit while women are being excluded based on being born a woman.  So I'm not sure how great of an argument that is.

I found an article by Frederica Matthews-Green where she tries to make the point that we have, in our hyper-sexualized environments, become blind to the true differences in male and females.  The article wasn't great and she didn't expound on the idea or provide much support so I won't link to it, but it is an idea I will have to explore.

What I will link to though is something I was sent in a PM.  This is a comment from Father Hans Jacobse on www.monomakhos.com  It seems that some here are not fans of the website and that is why the link was sent to me in a PM.  The comment is very interesting and I believe applicable to this discussion.  It will probably take me a few days to digest it.  An excerpt:

Quote
So does calling God “He” mean God is male? Of course not. It only serves as a barrier to the inevitable confusion that results when the feminine pronoun is applied to God. All that the pronoun “He” affirms about God is this: God’s manner of creation is not replicated in the created order. This goes hand in hand with God creating the world by speaking it into existence. Creation was not “born” in any sense of the word. It does not come out of the stuff or substance of God, God did not give birth to it. It came out of nothing by the power of God’s word. (This applies to the preaching (speaking) of the Gospel too, but more on this some other time.)

This also is why we don’t have women priests. The creative prowess of woman (even is she is not a mother) has deep symbolic power. If a woman holds up the chalice to proclaim “In faith and in love draw near”, the symbolic meaning of that liturgical act conflicts with the symbolic truth each of us carry within us. If this truth would rise into consciousness the question we could ask the priestess could be framed something like this: What body and blood are you representing? The one you can create out of your body, or the one given to us by the Son?


http://www.monomakhos.com/2011/07/a-gauntlet-from-archpriest-alexis-vinogradov-wappingers-falls-ny/#comment-8914
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« Reply #12 on: August 01, 2011, 09:45:38 AM »

Cheesy  Wink

I've also heard it said that the Christian reliance on a male priesthood was a reaction against the pagan practice of sensuality cults, temple prostitution and the like, in which women were 'priestesses' of a goddess and so forth. With the different practice, the Christians saved women from this kind of life.

Because the Christian male priesthood is full of sensuality and prostitution? I think this argument is not sufficient.
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« Reply #13 on: August 01, 2011, 09:47:20 AM »

The priest is an icon of Christ, and Christ was a man.
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« Reply #14 on: August 01, 2011, 09:55:50 AM »

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Because the Christian male priesthood is full of sensuality and prostitution? I think this argument is not sufficient.

In ancient times, the differences would have been more apparent. There would have been a snake cult temple every few blocks, with their priestesses and such, and then along came the Christians who instead had married men as priests.

There was also Christian monasticism for those who were called to a celibate way of life. For people at the time, especially the young women who would otherwise have been rooked into pagan temple practices, this would have looked like a welcome difference. This, of course, is only one facet of Christian life, but it would have had tremendous appeal at the time. 
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« Reply #15 on: August 01, 2011, 10:02:14 AM »

The various forms of the "mystagogical argument", as articulated by Jacobse or by the various modern apologists who have tried to make hay of the iconology of priesthood, will never be sufficient to win the day. They are quite recent in derivation and not really part of the Orthodox tradition anyway, having come from recent Roman Catholic apologists.

Ultimately, this boils down to (a) one's theology of tradition, and (b) one's biblical exegesis. In the latter category, there are many Christian communities -- in fact, the majority if you consider the Global South -- who believe the Bible teaches some form of "male headship." So, the Orthodox Church is hardly alone in its practice; and, in fact, only weakens its argument when it pretends the issue is one of iconology instead of something far bigger.

That said, it is increasingly difficult to maintain such a point of view, not so much because of the merits of the exegetical case, as the simple fact that history has disproven the theology of male headship: Women have quite successfully assumed leadership in almost all aspects of public life. In previous times, one could claim both fact and divine intention. Nowadays, that is no longer the case.
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« Reply #16 on: August 01, 2011, 10:23:33 AM »

The priest is an icon of Christ, and Christ was a man.

That seems to me a perfectly good reason. No need to drag bodily fluids into the mix.
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« Reply #17 on: August 01, 2011, 10:57:17 AM »


I think the men who complain about the unfairness of an all male clergy/hierarchy simply do not understand the Faith, and want to rock the boat and cause trouble.

I think the women who complain about the unfairness of an all male clergy/hierarchy simply do not understand the Faith, and need to stop whining and complaining, and get to work in the vast capacity that is open to them.

...there's a lot of work that needs to be done, everyone stop complaining about how unfair life is and just do whatever your health, your wealth, your talents allow.

Just go for it! 



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« Reply #18 on: August 01, 2011, 11:11:20 AM »

Be like st Mary and you'll be avove many men and angels. actually is there any man beside Jesus above st Mary?
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« Reply #19 on: August 01, 2011, 11:31:30 AM »

The various forms of the "mystagogical argument", as articulated by Jacobse or by the various modern apologists who have tried to make hay of
That said, it is increasingly difficult to maintain such a point of view, not so much because of the merits of the exegetical case, as the simple fact that history has disproven the theology of male headship: Women have quite successfully assumed leadership in almost all aspects of public life. In previous times, one could claim both fact and divine intention. Nowadays, that is no longer the case.

OK, I'm not a woman, but I'll give you my thoughts, if you'll have them.

yes, women can perform many if not all the same tasks as men with as much or greater competency. That ranges from professions to lawyer to accountant to general of an army.  But, that, as an argument justifying a female priesthood or episcopacy, is beside the point. There are many men who cannot be priests (divorced men, for example). 

When tackling this issue, the people who insist on having a female priesthood attack the male-only rule routinely make the argument that the culture of the past was the dictating means by which we have a male-only priesthood.  They say that the ancients were slaves to their culture.  Well, are not then the proponents of women's priesthood similarly slaves to their own culture?  They routinely say that things have changed now and that should be reflected in the priesthood.  How is the ancient's slavery to their culture any worse than the proponents' slavery to the culture of modernity.  It can only be reduced to "our culture is better" mentality.  And that mentality is squarely at odds with the priesthood, which is Christ's--the priesthood belongs to no culture or way of living.

The link enclosed is a letter from Fr. Alexander Schmemann on the issue of women's ordination.  Perhaps it can help elucidate a few points.http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articles6/SchmemannOrdination.php
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« Reply #20 on: August 01, 2011, 12:06:29 PM »

While women are certainly capable of doing almost any job that a man can do, it is interesting to think about why God created humanity male and female.  God of course is not male, and could have created humans as hermaphrodite or asexual, yet instead God created most life forms as male and female.  In that sense, the male and female of the species do have certain roles that are different.

Regarding the priesthood, what is reserved for men is primarily a ritual role.  Women serve on parish councils, and in fact it is the women that are often the driving force in many parishes.  They often run the office, lead the choir, handle the books,etc.  Women monastics are accorded the same respect as their male counterparts, and many have assumed the role of spiritual Mothers and eldresses.  And of course, women are saints in the Church that are venerated equally to male saints.

It is primarily the ritual role of the priesthood that women are not able to perform.
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« Reply #21 on: August 01, 2011, 12:10:20 PM »

May God do as he pleases rather as we want and understand.
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« Reply #22 on: August 01, 2011, 01:27:00 PM »

Why shouldn't there be a male priesthood....crikey do we have to do EVERYTHING!!?? haha...
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« Reply #23 on: August 01, 2011, 02:28:41 PM »

The Faith was created by God, and people have no right or ability to change it, we must accept it as it is.

The other alternative is it has been created by people, and we have the right to change it. The problem here is that if the Faith is created according to the form of people's desires, it has no authority, there is no reason to accept it because it is not the truth - it is based on their own desires and not truth (ahem... Jeremiah 17:9).


(Sorry I was really trying to stay out of this thread)
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« Reply #24 on: August 01, 2011, 03:27:22 PM »

C. S. Lewis on female priesthood:

http://www.episcopalnet.org/TRACTS/priestesses.html
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« Reply #25 on: August 01, 2011, 03:28:26 PM »

The Faith was created by God, and people have no right or ability to change it, we must accept it as it is.

The other alternative is it has been created by people, and we have the right to change it. The problem here is that if the Faith is created according to the form of people's desires, it has no authority, there is no reason to accept it because it is not the truth - it is based on their own desires and not truth (ahem... Jeremiah 17:9).


(Sorry I was really trying to stay out of this thread)

Hi Jason,

I agree.  I have butt heads with some Orthodox on Facebook forums that argue vehemently for the ordination of women, as well as for the acceptance of Gay marriage.  They claim that these are positions that are not scripturally-based, and are of cultural origin, therefore these can be changed.

As I have tried to explain to them (without success), it is not up to us to revise the teachings of the Church.  Personally, in the past, I supported some form of marriage for same-sex couples, but when I made a commitment to the Church and became Orthodox, I knew that I had to accept the Church's teachings on the matter.  It was my choice.  If someone strongly disagrees with what the Church teaches they should be honest with themselves and leave the Church.

Once we start revising the Church's teachings to fit with the times, we no longer have the same Church that our ancestors possessed, we are not living the faith that they lived.  The Anglican Church is a prime example of the results of going down that slippery slope of revisionism.  They seem to have an "anything goes" mentality, to the extent that I remember reading of an Anglican Bishop who denied the Virgin birth and the bodily resurrection.

Within the Church there are many personal opinions "theologoumena", but the issues of ordination and marriage as understood by the Church are not included in those.  
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« Reply #26 on: August 01, 2011, 03:34:57 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!


I think the men who complain about the unfairness of an all male clergy/hierarchy simply do not understand the Faith, and want to rock the boat and cause trouble.

I think the women who complain about the unfairness of an all male clergy/hierarchy simply do not understand the Faith, and need to stop whining and complaining, and get to work in the vast capacity that is open to them.

...there's a lot of work that needs to be done, everyone stop complaining about how unfair life is and just do whatever your health, your wealth, your talents allow.

Just go for it!  




Amen Amen!!



I was honest with him that I don't have a grand enlightening answer and that I am not a great debater so I had no intention of debating this with him.  His response was basically, "That is the problem with the Orthodox, they perpetuate injustice against women and then hide behind 'mystery' and stubborn traditions."  

When I was new to Orthodox I came into it with not quite as extreme but none-the-less misguided ideas about discrimination amongst women within the Orthodox communities.  Then I was humbled to see the Truth as I began to live within the Orthodox communities, and learn to worship according to their rhythm and texture which is hard for outsiders to comprehend beyond their blinding misconceptions.

Yes, institutionally we do not incorporate women into our Church at the clerical levels, but of course that is because Ordination is a Divine Mystery in an of itself, and so we must maintain it strictly in accordance with the perpetuation of the Apostolic Tradition.  Women are not to be priests, this is just a fact, which really most folks, including the hundreds of millions of we Orthodox and around a billion Catholics have had not problem living with.  And newsflash, just like anything in humanity, half all those folks are women Wink

When I asked my priest point blank about this while doing an academic project studying my parish, we discussed issues of feminism and the roles of women in the Church.  His first response was, "who do you think lights those candles you see when you come in the Church in the morning?"

Whether or not we elaborately celebrate our womens' crucial, pivotal, fundamentally, functional role within the Church with some of the same pomp and ceremony we revere upon our clergy does not in anyway diminish the validity and self-worth building and community support that the various "roles" of women in the Church give.

Women are not slaves to the Church, it is as much a privilege to take care of the needs of the parish as it is to be the priests and administer the Mysteries.  I think then not that we should radically restructure our Church the way the Episcopalians did, rather, we just need to give more public praise and celebration to the roles our women already function.  All we need to change then is our attitude.  Really, any of the discrimination and bad attitudes towards women which do exist in Orthodox communities are not institutionalized within the Church, rather they are sociocultural issues which are separate but brought in because the Church is a body of people who bring all their quarks within it.  For example, yes, in Ethiopian culture I would say there is discrimination against women and of course in Ethiopia proper a suffocating amount of political and social backlash and discrimination, but this is not the Church, this is the world, and we can change it of course without having to do anything to the the Church.
[/i]

Personally, my paternal and maternal grandparents both embedded in me the concept of supporting, praising, and celebrating women in our lives.  So I always take the time to notice such matters, be it at work or the bus stop or at my parish.  I help out where I can and I try to always avoid stereotypical "male" role-playing and avoiding helping out with "womens' work" so I see the validity of what women contribute to the Church first hand because I often take the time to help out the ladies when I can or when they invite me.  After all, within Ethiopian culture gender roles are rigidly defined and enforced socially, so sometimes it is actually MORE polite to let a women do "women's work" than to offer to help, you have to navigate it with a sincere spirit of love and friendliness, not trying to be in anyway ideological about it.

Women do EVERYTHING in the Church but serve at the Altar.  In my parish the choir ladies function as ushers, cooks, singers, teachers, counselors, human relations, visitor reception, helping out with the numerous children, etc etc (both men and women in the choir do some of these tasks together by the way) and so we should be very careful not to trivialize the work that women already accomplish! Can we men volunteer to help out more and of course offer more praise and validation, of course!

That being said, I think this is a great thread for us to start!

Hey ladies and sisters out there, thank you sincerely Smiley

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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"Yet stand aloof from stupid questionings and geneologies and strifes and fightings about law, for they are without benefit and vain." Titus 3:10
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« Reply #27 on: August 01, 2011, 03:35:24 PM »

The various forms of the "mystagogical argument", as articulated by Jacobse or by the various modern apologists who have tried to make hay of the iconology of priesthood, will never be sufficient to win the day. They are quite recent in derivation and not really part of the Orthodox tradition anyway, having come from recent Roman Catholic apologists.

Ultimately, this boils down to (a) one's theology of tradition, and (b) one's biblical exegesis. In the latter category, there are many Christian communities -- in fact, the majority if you consider the Global South -- who believe the Bible teaches some form of "male headship." So, the Orthodox Church is hardly alone in its practice; and, in fact, only weakens its argument when it pretends the issue is one of iconology instead of something far bigger.

That said, it is increasingly difficult to maintain such a point of view, not so much because of the merits of the exegetical case, as the simple fact that history has disproven the theology of male headship: Women have quite successfully assumed leadership in almost all aspects of public life. In previous times, one could claim both fact and divine intention. Nowadays, that is no longer the case.
at least as long as PCism rules the day.
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« Reply #28 on: August 01, 2011, 03:58:48 PM »

What all the "women-priests" folks miss is basic Christian teaching:

Quote
Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
1 Pet. 2:5

But ye {are} a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
1 Pet 2:9

And from Jesus Christ, {who is} the faithful witness, {and} the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,
And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him {be} glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
Rev. 1:5-6

Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
Rev. 5:9-10

Blessed and holy {is} he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
Rev. 20:6

All men and women in Christ are priests. All of us. Men. Women. The Elderly. The Children. Those who struggle with sin (yes, even the homossexual Christian who struggles with sin). No exceptions. We are in His glory. A nation of kings, queens and priests, offering ourselves as sacrifices at the altar of heaven, daily, our hearts like hot coals, our prayers like incense, our tears the holy waters of purification and our very flesh and our very blood turning into the flesh and blood of Christ, our bodies into the Temple where the Spirit of God dwells.

If one misses this concept, one misses everything about the Church. Christianity not only has women priestsess, but all women are priestsses. What is reserved to men alone is the service of the altar. To say that this is a position of power is to just miss the tortured life of so many priests and even bishops who took this life and had to submit to parish councils, local communities, local politians, kings and prime-ministers and presidents.  Women too have received special unique responsibilities, but they are ashamed of them today. They think that to build a home is something "inferior", "humiliating", "limited", forgetting that the who controls education of the children controls civilization itself. But forfeiting that, some have thought that the one thing between women and their self-realization is that... they can't serve at the altar. Sad.



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« Reply #29 on: August 01, 2011, 04:19:51 PM »

Brief history of Machism

Olavo de Carvalho
Jornal da Tarde, August 16, 2001

Women have always been exploited by men. If there is a truth that no one doubts, it's that. From the solemn halls of Oxford to TV programs, from the Collège de France to pop bands, the world reinforces this fact, perhaps the most unquestioned that has passed through the human brain, if it really went through there and not straight from the womb to academic theses.

Not wishing to oppose such august unanimity, I propose to list some facts that can strengthen in believers of all sexes, their feelings of hatred for the heterosexual male adult, this despicable type that no one who has the misfortune of being born male wants to be when he grows up.

Our story begins at the dawn of time, in an imprecise moment between Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon. In those dark ages, the exploitation of women began. Those were hard times. Living in caves, human communities were constantly attacked by the beasts. Males, by taking advantage of their prerogative of the ruling class, then tried to secure for themselves the most comfortable and secure places in the social order: they were inside the caves, the bastards, making food for babies and combing their hair, while the poor females, armed with only clubs, left to fight lions and bears.

When the economy of collection was replaced by agriculture and livestock, again  men took advantage, giving the women the heavier tasks such as carrying stones, taming horses, opening furrows in the earth with the plow, while they , the slackers, stayed at home painting pottery and playing with weaving. Revolting!

When the great empires of antiquity were dissolved, giving way to the feuds, perpetually at war with each other, they soon formed their private armies, composed entirely of women, while men stayed housed in castles and chilled there, enjoying the poems that the warrior women, in the intervals of fighting, composed in praise of their manly charms.

When someone had the extravagant idea of ​​Christianizing the world, making it necessary to send missionaries everywhere, where they risked being impaled by the infidels, stabbed by highwaymen or lynched by the audience bored with their sermons, it was again on women that the heavy burden laid, while males were Machiavellianly making novenas before their domestic altars.

Identical exploitation  was suffered by the unfortunate women during the Crusades, where, armed with the heaviest armor, they crossed deserts to be cut by the sword of the men of Islam (or rather, by the women of Islam, as the machismo of the followers of Muhammad was not less than the Christians').

And the great navigations? Seeking gold and diamonds to adorn the lazy men, brave women crossed the seven seas and fought the fierce natives who, when ate them - what misery! - it was in the strict culinary sense of the word.

Finally, when the modern state instituted draft, it was women who formed the armies, the guillotine being the punishment for runaway and recalcitrant, all this so that men could stay at home reading The Princess of Cleves.

For millennia, in short, women died on the battlefields, carrying stones, constructing buildings, fighting with wild beasts, crossing deserts, seas and forests, sacrificing everything for us, lazy men, to which there is no challenge more dangerous than to make our hands dirty with diapers for our babies.

In exchange for sacrificing their lives, our heroic defenders have not demanded of us nothing more than the right to talk tough in the house, sticking a few tablecloths with cigarette butts and eventually to drop a pair of socks in the middle of the room for us to pick.
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« Reply #30 on: August 01, 2011, 04:38:47 PM »



Hi Jason,

I agree.  I have butt heads with some Orthodox on Facebook forums that argue vehemently for the ordination of women, as well as for the acceptance of Gay marriage.  They claim that these are positions that are not scripturally-based, and are of cultural origin, therefore these can be changed.

....
Within the Church there are many personal opinions "theologoumena", but the issues of ordination and marriage as understood by the Church are not included in those. 

Well we can pray for these orthodox on Facebook or pretending orthodox on Facebook to become true orthodox and for God to decide on these issues. Sick angel would love women against men. God would love women and men together for salvation.
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« Reply #31 on: August 01, 2011, 04:42:09 PM »

I'll refrain from answering.

On a related natural discovery:


at this time.
First, the argument about male priests, i.e. presbyters/parish pastors, is a side issue, borrowed from the Vatican's theology on the priesthood, which does not fully accord with the Orthodox Faith.  The Vatican put up the priest as "Alter Christus" Another Christ.  The priest is "in persona episcopi" for the bishop.  Hence the argument should focus on the episcopate rather than the priesthood in general.

"Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church."  That has remained true for the Catholic Church which preserves the Orthodox Faith from before Patriarch St. Ignatius (who wrote this, our first attestation of the term "Catholic") until today.

The diocese exists because the bishop exists.  The diocese is the Catholic Church in her fullness because she possesses a bishop.  Nothing else is required, except communion with all the other bishops who are the foci of this fullness of the Church.  The dioceses are not parts that make up a whole.  They are wholes that manifest in their part of the world, i.e. their jurisdiction.  Despite the confusion reigning in Antioch and elsewhere on this matter, the patriarchs and other primtes are auxilary to the local bishops, and not the other way around: the Patriarch's solicitude is exercised only as the agent of the Holy Synod of bishops, not as the source of the local bishops.

Bishops are married to their dioceses, because they exist only in virtue of their union with him.  Hence a "widowed" diocese.  The Church remains in trust until a new bishop is enthroned.  Hence the emphasis that St. Paul tells St. Timothy on a bishop being able to manage his own family: (I Tim. 3:)4 He must manage his own household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way; 5 for if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how can he care for God's Church?"

The Bishop is the Father of the Faithful of his diocese, hence the title "pope/papa/anba etc." "Father."  He is not their mother.

His Church, the diocese, is the Mother of his Faithful, hence the title "Mother Church," "sister Churches," etc. She is not their father.

The problem is that this age has tried to squeeze fatherhood and motherhood into one androgynous mess, which it calls "parenthood."  Father and mothers are not the same, fatherhood and motherhood is not the same, and anything that tries to deny those facts brings trouble.

The bishop is the father of the Faithful, the font of the Holy Mysteries.  His Church is the mother of the Faithful, the environment in which the Faith is nurtured.

Sometimes a mother has to be a father as well, and a father has to be a mother as well (widowhood, divorce, disertion, etc. ). As much as one tries, however, the absent parent's absence is felt. Hence the need for "father figures" and "surrogate mothers" (in the sense of helping out, not a rent-a-womb).

So too the idea of women taking on the paternal role of a bishop.  It's as dissonant as a "Father Church," where legalism rules the day (and which explains a lot about the problem of trying to impose Athonite spirituality on the rest of the Church). Is there any example of a "high priestess" that we want to emulate?

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A hasty quarrel kindles fire,
and urgent strife sheds blood.
If you blow on a spark, it will glow;
if you spit on it, it will be put out;
                           and both come out of your mouth
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« Reply #32 on: August 01, 2011, 05:28:41 PM »

What all the "women-priests" folks miss is basic Christian teaching:

Quote
Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
1 Pet. 2:5

But ye {are} a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
1 Pet 2:9

And from Jesus Christ, {who is} the faithful witness, {and} the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,
And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him {be} glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
Rev. 1:5-6

Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
Rev. 5:9-10

Blessed and holy {is} he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
Rev. 20:6

All men and women in Christ are priests. All of us. Men. Women. The Elderly. The Children. Those who struggle with sin (yes, even the homossexual Christian who struggles with sin). No exceptions. We are in His glory. A nation of kings, queens and priests, offering ourselves as sacrifices at the altar of heaven, daily, our hearts like hot coals, our prayers like incense, our tears the holy waters of purification and our very flesh and our very blood turning into the flesh and blood of Christ, our bodies into the Temple where the Spirit of God dwells.

If one misses this concept, one misses everything about the Church. Christianity not only has women priestsess, but all women are priestsses. What is reserved to men alone is the service of the altar. To say that this is a position of power is to just miss the tortured life of so many priests and even bishops who took this life and had to submit to parish councils, local communities, local politians, kings and prime-ministers and presidents.  Women too have received special unique responsibilities, but they are ashamed of them today. They think that to build a home is something "inferior", "humiliating", "limited", forgetting that the who controls education of the children controls civilization itself. But forfeiting that, some have thought that the one thing between women and their self-realization is that... they can't serve at the altar. Sad.




Hear, hear!
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« Reply #33 on: August 01, 2011, 05:38:47 PM »

I'll refrain from answering.

On a related natural discovery:


at this time.
First, the argument about male priests, i.e. presbyters/parish pastors, is a side issue, borrowed from the Vatican's theology on the priesthood, which does not fully accord with the Orthodox Faith.  The Vatican put up the priest as "Alter Christus" Another Christ.  The priest is "in persona episcopi" for the bishop.  Hence the argument should focus on the episcopate rather than the priesthood in general.

"Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church."  That has remained true for the Catholic Church which preserves the Orthodox Faith from before Patriarch St. Ignatius (who wrote this, our first attestation of the term "Catholic") until today.

The diocese exists because the bishop exists.  The diocese is the Catholic Church in her fullness because she possesses a bishop.  Nothing else is required, except communion with all the other bishops who are the foci of this fullness of the Church.  The dioceses are not parts that make up a whole.  They are wholes that manifest in their part of the world, i.e. their jurisdiction.  Despite the confusion reigning in Antioch and elsewhere on this matter, the patriarchs and other primtes are auxilary to the local bishops, and not the other way around: the Patriarch's solicitude is exercised only as the agent of the Holy Synod of bishops, not as the source of the local bishops.

Bishops are married to their dioceses, because they exist only in virtue of their union with him.  Hence a "widowed" diocese.  The Church remains in trust until a new bishop is enthroned.  Hence the emphasis that St. Paul tells St. Timothy on a bishop being able to manage his own family: (I Tim. 3:)4 He must manage his own household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way; 5 for if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how can he care for God's Church?"

The Bishop is the Father of the Faithful of his diocese, hence the title "pope/papa/anba etc." "Father."  He is not their mother.

His Church, the diocese, is the Mother of his Faithful, hence the title "Mother Church," "sister Churches," etc. She is not their father.

The problem is that this age has tried to squeeze fatherhood and motherhood into one androgynous mess, which it calls "parenthood."  Father and mothers are not the same, fatherhood and motherhood is not the same, and anything that tries to deny those facts brings trouble.

The bishop is the father of the Faithful, the font of the Holy Mysteries.  His Church is the mother of the Faithful, the environment in which the Faith is nurtured.

Sometimes a mother has to be a father as well, and a father has to be a mother as well (widowhood, divorce, disertion, etc. ). As much as one tries, however, the absent parent's absence is felt. Hence the need for "father figures" and "surrogate mothers" (in the sense of helping out, not a rent-a-womb).

So too the idea of women taking on the paternal role of a bishop.  It's as dissonant as a "Father Church," where legalism rules the day (and which explains a lot about the problem of trying to impose Athonite spirituality on the rest of the Church). Is there any example of a "high priestess" that we want to emulate?



Great answers in this thread. Along with Isa's, I learned a lot from the posts by Fabio, HabteSelaisse, pensateomnia and scamandrius (with the referenced letter from Father Schmemann) most illuminating. Thank you all.
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« Reply #34 on: August 01, 2011, 06:35:43 PM »

Funny that this should come out when we are talking about the exact same thing!

Fr. Lawrence draws some interesting parallels here. http://ancientfaith.com/announcements/labeling_the_debate
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« Reply #35 on: August 01, 2011, 08:22:44 PM »

I brought up the point that Father Thomas Hopko made and the response was that it was no defense at all since men are being excluded on lack of merit while women are being excluded based on being born a woman.  So I'm not sure how great of an argument that is.
Why would he call being a divorcee or an amputee or a soldier who killed in wartime "unworthiness?" That sounds unfair.
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« Reply #36 on: August 01, 2011, 09:12:45 PM »

I brought up the point that Father Thomas Hopko made and the response was that it was no defense at all since men are being excluded on lack of merit while women are being excluded based on being born a woman.  So I'm not sure how great of an argument that is.
Why would he call being a divorcee or an amputee or a soldier who killed in wartime "unworthiness?" That sounds unfair.
What does fairness have to do with it?

Btw, besides the amputee, it is quite fair.
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« Reply #37 on: August 01, 2011, 09:22:37 PM »

If discussion of bodily fluids disturbs you- then don't read this.

My opinion is based on- just my own thoughts about reality in the past:  If anything- one needs to look back to the not so distant past- before modern feminine hygiene products were produced- and there's your most likely reason as to why women weren't priests.  Many, many, many women simply bled into their clothing.  They wore long layered garments- underwear as we know it didn't exist- and it was messy.  Research has been done that suggests that even up until 1900 (and even in some places in the world today)- quite a few women didn't bother to use anything to stop the flow of menstrual blood.  
Don't know about quite a few women, but "menstral rags" show up as far back as Ester (LXX) 14:16, where she compares her crown to them.  Hypatia is supposed to have given hers to a suitor, indicating her opinions on marriage.
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                           and both come out of your mouth
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« Reply #38 on: August 01, 2011, 09:32:57 PM »

I brought up the point that Father Thomas Hopko made and the response was that it was no defense at all since men are being excluded on lack of merit while women are being excluded based on being born a woman.  So I'm not sure how great of an argument that is.
Why would he call being a divorcee or an amputee or a soldier who killed in wartime "unworthiness?" That sounds unfair.
What does fairness have to do with it?

Btw, besides the amputee, it is quite fair.
I was saying him calling them unworthy is what isn't fair. Many divorces and most cases of wartime killing are simply unavoidable tragedies. The Church excluding these men from the priesthood is not based on whether they could do the job but on ritual considerations, as is the exclusion of women. And yes, that is fair I agree.
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« Reply #39 on: August 01, 2011, 09:35:58 PM »

I brought up the point that Father Thomas Hopko made and the response was that it was no defense at all since men are being excluded on lack of merit while women are being excluded based on being born a woman.  So I'm not sure how great of an argument that is.
Why would he call being a divorcee or an amputee or a soldier who killed in wartime "unworthiness?" That sounds unfair.
What does fairness have to do with it?

Btw, besides the amputee, it is quite fair.
I was saying him calling them unworthy is what isn't fair. Many divorces and most cases of wartime killing are simply unavoidable tragedies. The Church excluding these men from the priesthood is not based on whether they could do the job but on ritual considerations, as is the exclusion of women. And yes, that is fair I agree.

If God was "fair" according to world, the only animal that wouldn't have made it into the ark would have been humans.

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« Reply #40 on: August 01, 2011, 09:38:54 PM »

Indeed.
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« Reply #41 on: August 03, 2011, 09:20:26 PM »

Then there's: 1 Timothy 2:8-15:

(8)I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing. (9)I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, (10)but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. (11)A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. (12)I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. (13)For Adam was formed first, then Eve. (14)And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. (15)But women will be kept safe through childbirth, if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.
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« Reply #42 on: August 03, 2011, 09:45:43 PM »

Disclaimer: I'm not a woman.


The problem with modern society is that it isn't looking for equality between the sexes (which I agree is fair), it's looking for sameness. Women have very important roles in the Church, and have for as long as it has been around. Paul (who is clearly in favour of the male-only priesthood) extolls certain individual women for their leadership in the churches. As has been mentioned already the women do serve on Parish Councils, and more often than not form a very important part of the Parish life. I've yet to be to an Orthodox parish that wouldn't fall apart if all its women suddenly left it (the same could be said of men leaving, but that is beside the point).

Even Stalin admitted that it was the women who prevented him from completely crushing the Church, and it is a point I've heard pointed out by many priests, as it is the mothers, not the fathers, who have traditionally passed on much of the faith to their children. Without those women, you have no Priests. Even the monastic women provide ministries which cannot be dispenced with. This might be the reason why the Church had a day to celebrate women long before mother's day (The Feast of the Myrrh bearing women). I'm unaware of anything similar aimed at men.

I think the story of Martha and Mary, (Luke 10:38-42) is proper here (you all know it but in case you want to see the text here it is, from the NIV)
Quote
38As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

41“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42but only one thing is needed.f Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Each has their role to play, and some roles are better than others.

Although I think you could debate which role is the better role in this case.
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« Reply #43 on: August 03, 2011, 09:53:02 PM »

Actually, you can look at it in a positive, pro-female way:

Women tend to have to do all the work during the week, so on Sundays they get to relax and let the men take over!  Grin

THUMBS UP!  Grin

Frankly, having been involved in a couple of traditional religious faiths in my life, I have noticed that the modernists have been trying to infiltrate and change just about every traditional religion. They won't get anywhere with Traditional (pre-V2) Catholicism, since their whole premise is to NOT change....but they are trying within Orthodox Judaism, and now, I see, Orthodox Christianity. They won over the mainline liberal protestant denominations ages ago, and to a degree, the modern novus ordo Catholic church.

Religions should not have to change to suit people. People need to change to fit into what the Church teaches.
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"O God, enlarge within us the sense of fellowship with all living things, our brothers the animals to whom Thou gavest the earth as their home in common with us..." (from the Prayer of St Basil the Great)

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HabteSelassie
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« Reply #44 on: August 03, 2011, 09:58:28 PM »

greetings in that Divine and Most Precious name of Our Lord and savior Jesus Christ!

Disclaimer: I'm not a woman.


The problem with modern society is that it isn't looking for equality between the sexes (which I agree is fair), it's looking for sameness. Women have very important roles in the Church, and have for as long as it has been around. Paul (who is clearly in favour of the male-only priesthood) extolls certain individual women for their leadership in the churches. As has been mentioned already the women do serve on Parish Councils, and more often than not form a very important part of the Parish life. I've yet to be to an Orthodox parish that wouldn't fall apart if all its women suddenly left it (the same could be said of men leaving, but that is beside the point).

Even Stalin admitted that it was the women who prevented him from completely crushing the Church, and it is a point I've heard pointed out by many priests, as it is the mothers, not the fathers, who have traditionally passed on much of the faith to their children. Without those women, you have no Priests.

beautiful post, my sentiments exactly.  Sameness is a silly concept which I think has paraded itself within the equality and social justice movements since the 13th century.  No one, either by race, class, religion, or gender can be the same as another person, we are all unique.  We can be of course equal without being the same, in fact the universal stratification of our societies and cultures demands difference, not sameness. 

The Church supports healing human beings as they are, different, same, or otherwise, based upon the Universal equality of the Kingdom.

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #45 on: August 03, 2011, 11:05:50 PM »

Actually, you can look at it in a positive, pro-female way:

Women tend to have to do all the work during the week, so on Sundays they get to relax and let the men take over!  Grin

THUMBS UP!  Grin

Frankly, having been involved in a couple of traditional religious faiths in my life, I have noticed that the modernists have been trying to infiltrate and change just about every traditional religion. They won't get anywhere with Traditional (pre-V2) Catholicism, since their whole premise is to NOT change....but they are trying within Orthodox Judaism, and now, I see, Orthodox Christianity. They won over the mainline liberal protestant denominations ages ago, and to a degree, the modern novus ordo Catholic church.

Religions should not have to change to suit people. People need to change to fit into what the Church teaches.

That is what I find most annoying... the people that want change are never happy to change themselves and allow others to remain the same, they insist on forcing it on everyone else. I guess it is the only way they feel legitimate.
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« Reply #46 on: August 04, 2011, 11:18:24 AM »

This question has been asked on Orthodox Answers in a very similar way, http://www.orthodoxanswers.org/answer/418/

Quote
Question Number 418:

I am an Orthodox Christian and I am trying to explain a few non-denominational individuals that Orthodox Church does not deny equal rights of women by letting only men reach priesthood. I am aware that our Church follows biblical, traditional and theological principles towards leadership.  What is the best way to explain this to these people?

ANSWER:
Sometimes, we must explain things with the right terms. For instance, we must distinguish between essential equality and functional differences. Man and woman are essential equal but have difference roles. A man can never bear a child and have the unique spiritual importance of a mother. It is not about "reaching" something but being organically able to function in a particular role. A man (being XY) can represent the entire human race and the new Adam/Christ but a woman (being XX) cannot. It that sense we can say that the feminine is there in the ministry of the ordained minister, but not in isolation, always in the fullness of the unity of masculine and feminine which man can bear.

Moreover, because the ordained ministers (especially bishop and presbyter) are iconic figures of the Father, Christ and the Apostles, they must be accurate icons, i.e. man. The Church never denied the essential equality of man and women but does not ignore that they have different functions in God's economy.

For additional discussion on this topic try listening to Bishop Kallistos Ware on the subject at http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/illuminedheart/metropolitan_kallistos_ware_on_gender.
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“But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either.” +Luke 6:27-29
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« Reply #47 on: August 04, 2011, 11:57:43 AM »

I brought up the point that Father Thomas Hopko made and the response was that it was no defense at all since men are being excluded on lack of merit while women are being excluded based on being born a woman.  So I'm not sure how great of an argument that is.
Why would he call being a divorcee or an amputee or a soldier who killed in wartime "unworthiness?" That sounds unfair.
What does fairness have to do with it?

Btw, besides the amputee, it is quite fair.
I was saying him calling them unworthy is what isn't fair. Many divorces and most cases of wartime killing are simply unavoidable tragedies. The Church excluding these men from the priesthood is not based on whether they could do the job but on ritual considerations, as is the exclusion of women. And yes, that is fair I agree.

I don't know about the term "unworthy," but "unfit" would be a good term. It's not about "being able to do the job," but about manifesting certain qualities, I think. In any case, for those who want to be priests but cannot--whether through an impediment or a lack of education or whatever, there is still the possibility of being an intercessor for others through one's prayer and active love. Such was the case with the modern fool for Christ, Crazy John.
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« Reply #48 on: August 04, 2011, 12:19:14 PM »

For me, it was ultimately a matter of trust. (and before Orthodoxy found me, I was on my way to a Lutheran seminary with the goal of becoming a Lutheran pastor.)

That is, trust the Church to "get it right", even if I don't understand or agree at that particular point in time, in the hope that I may be eventually enlightened and understand.
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« Reply #49 on: August 06, 2011, 02:14:34 AM »

For me, it was ultimately a matter of trust. (and before Orthodoxy found me, I was on my way to a Lutheran seminary with the goal of becoming a Lutheran pastor.)

That is, trust the Church to "get it right", even if I don't understand or agree at that particular point in time, in the hope that I may be eventually enlightened and understand.

Katherine,
If you would be willing to share more I would be interested.  I am curious about how you dealt with having to set aside your desire to be a cleric.

Thanks.
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« Reply #50 on: August 08, 2011, 11:42:01 AM »

For me, it was ultimately a matter of trust. (and before Orthodoxy found me, I was on my way to a Lutheran seminary with the goal of becoming a Lutheran pastor.)

That is, trust the Church to "get it right", even if I don't understand or agree at that particular point in time, in the hope that I may be eventually enlightened and understand.

Katherine,
If you would be willing to share more I would be interested.  I am curious about how you dealt with having to set aside your desire to be a cleric.

Thanks.

Mostly I came to the point where I realized that I had to trust that the Church had gotten it right - that picking and choosing what I was willing to believe is both an emotional and spiritual dead end. Once a little of the ego dissipated, that is. That kind of, if I may say so, "typical Protestant attitude" is just a tad arrogant. Why do I think I would be any smarter than St. Gregory Palamas - and other Fathers of the Church? I have a hard time even understanding them. Or why would I think that I understand the Christian teachings better than the disciples of the Apostles, who died for their faith?
So which is more likely - that people like St. John Chrysostom or St. Iraeneus are wrong or that I am wrong, and will eventually come to understand, with God's help.

It is up to me to let the Church change me - it is not up to me to change the Church or the beliefs, teachings and praxis of a couple of millenia of Christianity.   

(Plus, when the fog of ego cleared a little, I was able to notice that, while I know quite a few great women who are pastors, I didn't know any great women pastors, if you know what I mean.)

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"If but ten of us lead a holy life, we shall kindle a fire which shall light up the entire city."

 St. John Chrysostom
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