Ordination of Women in the Orthodox Church

SonofAslan

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PS GiC, equality should really not be an ideal highly prized by someone who follows Plato. :)
 

ozgeorge

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SonofAslan said:
One last argument, if there are no compelling theological arguments prohibiting the ordination of women, what are the compelling theological arguments for it?
Here are three that have been discussed on this thread:

1) The fact that Christians are not Muslims, and that our theology forbids us to consider women to be inferior to men.

2) The fact that women have been ordained in the Church in the past.

3) The fact that the docrine that the Priest is the "Icon of Christ" is a questionable doctrine.
 

PeterTheAleut

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ozgeorge said:
Here are three that have been discussed on this thread:

1) The fact that Christians are not Muslims, and that our theology forbids us to consider women to be inferior to men.

2) The fact that women have been ordained in the Church in the past.

3) The fact that the docrine that the Priest is the "Icon of Christ" is a questionable doctrine.
These may indeed be arguments, but I for one certainly don't find them compelling. (More on this later, if I get around to it.)
 

ozgeorge

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PeterTheAleut said:
These may indeed be arguments, but I for one certainly don't find them compelling. (More on this later, if I get around to it.)
I would say "compelling" to at least open the doors of discussion and discernment on the subject of Ordination of women and the issues around this.
Just take the 3rd one- the belief that "the Priest is the Icon of Christ". Shouldn't it be "compelling" to at least examine the possibility that a doctrine used to support an all-male Priesthood may actually be heresy?
 

minasoliman

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greekischristian said:
Pray tell, what other woman created either the prototype or the symbol (to use platonic distinctions) of the divine body and blood in her womb? Human begetting human is one thing, that is natural, human begetting divine is another, that is sacramental.
Indeed she held the Divine Logos in her, but that does not make it "sacramental." We all, male or female, hold the Holy Spirit in us that we may be sons of God like the Logos, and she held the most Divine grace stemming from the Logos than anyone else, something that we all strive for. In the OT, mothers of prophets, kings, or priests were very important, for they have raised their children to be great in the eyes of the Lord. People like St. Sarah, St. Hannah, the mother of Moses (and Pharaoh's daughter), the mother of Samson, St. Rahab, St. Ruth and St. Elizabeth all had important children to give birth to, but they were not priests and kings in virture of giving birth to important figures. They were exceedingly blessed, but blessed among all women is the Theotokos Mary, for she bore God. But bearing God does not make her the True God, but makes her full of grace, where no one else, save the Forerunner, had greater blessing.

To define "sacramental," it is a duty upon which a priest in a ritualistic sense must perform. For St. Mary, this was not "sacramental," but natural. Miraculously, she bore in her God without the seed of Man which is the unnatural part, but afterwards, all that Christ went through in her and out was a natural outcome of His full humanity. One can say the same of women like Sts. Sarah, the mother of Samson, Hannah, and Elizabeth (who also had a child filled with the Holy Spirit at conception) who were barren and bore children by the miraculous grace of God, but nevertheless, not something that makes them priests. St. Paul writes:

Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.
1Tim. 2:15

For St. Mary, she brought God to us in human form, in analogy to the importance of mothers who bear important sons. For St. John, he brought God to us in anointed (christos) mystery, in analogy to the priesthood from men. Blessed is St. Mary among women, and there is no man born of woman greater than St. John.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0802849792/sr=8-1/qid=1146616302/ref=pd_bbs_1/102-2672045-5827332?%5Fencoding=UTF8

That is not true, the master would have to free them according to the canons, not merely allow them. So long as they are a slave they were not allowed to be ordained.
That's the point. You made it seem at first as if a slave has no chance of being free in the first place. However, is there a chance for a female to become a male later in her life?

God bless.

Mina
 

minasoliman

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Unless you want to define certain levels of what is "sacramental," for I have no problem that our lives even in helping the needy and simply praying to God is considered sacramental, for all these things help us partake of God. But priestly issues are clear where the "main sacraments" are celebrated and distributed for the order of things.

God bless.

Mina
 

minasoliman

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ozgeorge said:
1) The fact that Christians are not Muslims, and that our theology forbids us to consider women to be inferior to men.
Yes. Absolutely. I would venture to say that when St. Paul said that women should cover their heads, it was put analogous to the Father being the head of Christ. Unless one is Arian, this proves that role-playing does not make women, or any laity in this case, inferior to the priesthood.

2) The fact that women have been ordained in the Church in the past.
I was reviewing the canons, since this topic forced me to look at the canons, and in the Council of Nicea Canon XIX is translated:

Concerning the Paulianists who have flown for refuge to the Catholic Church, it has been decreed that they must by all means be rebaptized; and if any of them who in past time have been numbered among their clergy should be found blameless and without reproach, let them be rebaptized and ordained by the Bishop of the Catholic Church; but if the examination should discover them to be unfit, they ought to be deposed. Likewise in the case of their deaconesses, and generally in the case of those who have been enrolled among their clergy, let the same form be observed. And we mean by deaconesses such as have assumed the habit, but who, since they have no imposition of hands, are to be numbered only among the laity.
The "laying of hands" may be a weakness of language, but in the ancient epitome, it is also written:

Paulianists must be rebaptised, and if such as are clergymen seem to be blameless let then, be ordained. If they do not seem to be blameless, let them be deposed. Deaconesses who have been led astray, since they are not sharers of ordination, are to be reckoned among the laity.
Now, I don't dispute the word "ordain," but I believe there is a difference between ordaining concerning priestly sacramental duties, and "ordaining" for laity "sacramental" duties. Even government officials were considered "ordained," but are still laity.

3) The fact that the docrine that the Priest is the "Icon of Christ" is a questionable doctrine.
Not really. A Catholic female theologian writes some very convincing concerning the role of Christ as a male for the salvation of women, and why we should always necessarily follow Christ's suit for the sake of equality:

http://www.godspy.com/reviews/Priesthood-and-the-Masculinity-of-Christ.cfm

Which will be posted in the next post.

God bless.

Mina
 

pensateomnia

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Just for clarity's sake, allow me to summarize some of the main arguments of this thread. I'm sure I'm missing some, but these seem to be the six major areas that require further study/proof on both sides. Some of these arguments are strong, some are weak, some are simply a priori statements, while other are strongly a posteriori.

Again: These are not my arguments. The arguments I have summarized for female priests are longer than the ones against because most people on this forum (and in general) seem to be quite aware of all of the arguments AGAINST any such office, but not familiar with the actual arguments in favor.

Against Female Priests

1) Ain't never happened. There is no Scriptural, Patristic or canonical text in the entire corpus of venerated Orthodox literature that speaks favorably of female priests. There are, however, various texts in this corpus that speak against it.

2) St. Paul forbids women to teach and to hold authority over men.

3) Most Orthodox Bishops who have spoken in public on the issue have spoken against it.

4) The modern Elders of Greece, Romania, Serbia, etc. have spoken against it.

5) The priest is an Icon of Christ, who was male, and therefore the priest acts "in persona Christi."

6) Christ and the early Church were not afraid to go against social norms. Thus, one cannot claim that the Church's practice was motivated by cultural bias.

For Female Priests

1) The early Church's female diaconate entailed a full-fledged ordination (cheirotonia). The canons dealing with female deacons use the term cheirotonia, as does the actual prayer of female-diaconal ordination. While no text explains in detail the liturgical and/or ministerial role of female deacons, there are a number of texts that show that the deaconesses were numbered among the clergy (see, for example, the work of Evangelos Theodorou, et al.) Cheirotonia is a major ordination, and the diaconate is considered to be the "first level" of the ordained priesthood. Thus, there is precedent for women sharing in one of the levels of priesthood.

2) There are many examples in Church history of women teaching men (even clergymen!) about theology, spirituality and prayer. There are, for example, various women who are called isaapostolos, equal to the apostles, in the Church's hagiography and hymnography, e.g. St. Thekla, various Empresses and St. Nina of Georgia, who evangelized and taught thousands.

2) The Fathers emphasize that Christ became human, not that he became male (cf. the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, etc.). Our shared human nature is what allows us to imitate, represent and even become Christ -- not our particular gender. Furthermore, all genders are one in Christ; they are equal in the eyes of God. Thus, the gender of the individual, theologically speaking, is irrelevant.

3) At the most important priestly moment, the epiklesis, the Orthodox priest does NOT act as an Icon of Christ for the people (qua Roman Catholic ideas of the priest being in persona Christi at the words of Institution); rather, he acts in persona Ecclesiae, as a representative not of Christ, but of the Church, which is portrayed in feminine terms as the Bride of Christ. Thus, the argument that the priest is a physical Icon of Christ and therefore must be male holds no water.

4) Bishop Kallistos Ware, of course, has said the issue deserves to be examined (not that it is settled), and, perhaps, other Bishops can be construed to support looking at the evidence, since they have sponsored official theological dialogues on related topics, e.g. women and authority in the Church, and female deacons.

5) The Church has often changed practices and introduced novelties in liturgy, theological expression and cultural traditions. Some examples:

a) Apostolic Canon 9 and Canon 2 of the Council of Antioch (from the 4th century) require everyone present at a liturgy to receive the Eucharist, and yet the Medieval Church forbade regular reception ("traditionalists" still do). [/list]

b) The Canons also strictly prohibit the transfer of bishops (and, often, even clerics) from one area to another. In general, many of the canons dealing with local synods, ecclesiastical appeals, episcopal authority, etc. have been radically re-interpreted or have simply not been applied for centuries.

c) The "Endemousa" Synod of Constantinople discussed and rejected (as heretical?) the adoption of the “Gregorian” calendar in the 1580s. In the 1920s, however, that decision was reserved, and a sizable number of Orthodox Churches switched over.

d) Although there was no clear or authoritative canonical basis on which to do so, another Endemousa Synod defined autocephaly as the official administrative principle of the Orthodox Church circa 1850. This responded to the social and political reality (e.g. Russia’s autocephaly in the 16th century), but the idea of “autocephaly” as we understand it today — the very way in which we organize the Church! — is markedly different from both the primitive Church’s structure and the Imperial.

e) The rubrics, most of the hymns and the very structure of the liturgical services have changed considerably since the early Church (cf. the Cathedral Rite, the Studion Reform, the liturgical reforms after the Hesychastic controversies, etc.), and they continue to change. Many popular services and practices date no earlier than the Medieval Period (e.g. the Lamentations on Great Friday) or even as recent as 1888, when Constantinople issued a new Typikon that universalized several new rituals for the services of Holy Week and Pascha (e.g. the Un-Nailing Service).

6) Matters of Dogma and morals are unchangeable, but liturgy, practice and organization do change according to the Spirit and the needs of the Church. There is no dogmatic decree against female priests.

---------------

Now, have at it!...and feel free to fill in the blanks. If we're going to talk about this — despite the fact that it isn’t going to happen!! — then we might as well have some sort of idea of what each side is saying.
 

minasoliman

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Priesthood and the Masculinity of Christ

The maleness of Christ is required to restore the unity between men and women disrupted by original sin.

By R. Mary Hayden Lemmons

The refusal of the Catholic Church to ordain women as priests has left many feeling that the Church considers women to be inferior to men. They have difficulty reconciling the Church's proclamations of sexual equality with the 1994 papal argument of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. In that document, John Paul II reaffirmed the 1977 teaching of Inter Insigniores and proclaims that the Church lacks the authority to ordain women, since Christ did not appoint women as apostles and since the historical tradition has restricted priestly ordination to men.

These papal arguments have not been very persuasive due to the common conviction that equality requires gender neutrality—even within the ministries of Christ. If this were so, masculinity would be irrelevant for the mission of Christ. But this is not true. The masculinity of Christ is crucial to his mission of remedying the effects of original sin.

According to Genesis, original sin deprived the human race of its original unity with God and deeply affected the original unity of man and woman. As a result, Christ had an humanitarian mission to restore unity with God and a gender mission to restore heterosexual unity. The humanitarian mission required that Christ be fully human and fully God. Accordingly, since women are as human as men, God could have incarnated as a woman. A female Christ could have restored the human race to its original unity with God. It is not Christ's humanitarian mission that required Christ to be male.

The maleness of Christ is required to restore the unity between men and women disrupted by original sin. Genesis 3:16 says, "Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you." This passage indicates three gender consequences of original sin: the excessive desire or obsession of women for their men, male domination over women and sexual inequality. Freeing the human race from these consequences of original sin constitute Christ's gender mission.

These consequences are significant. In his letter On the Dignity and Vocation of Women, John Paul II identifies male domination with chauvinism and blames it for the many ways in which women suffer from the lack of proper appreciation for her equality and dignity. Chauvinism—as a consequence of Original sin—required that the Christ be a man. Due to chauvinism, a female Christ would not have been recognized by men as being their lord, their rabbi, their savior. Christ exemplified sacrificial love, which chauvinism identifies as a weakness and as a peculiarity of women. According to chauvinism, maleness is about power, independence, and control. Not so, taught Christ. Rather, masculinity is for the sake of pouring out one's life for another in love, not for the sake of dominating self-gratification.

Fallen women also needed Christ to be incarnated as a man-and not only to teach men a lesson. Original sin weakened femininity to the point where it blinded women to the truth about her desire for love. Original sin derailed woman's transcendent passion for God with an egocentric passion for man-for a Mr. Right able to satisfy the yearnings of her heart. Fallen woman thus assumes either that Mr. Right will be perfect or that accommodating his chauvinism will be the sacrifice that enables her to be loved. Thus, woman needs not only to be freed from the harms of chauvinism but also from the misdirection of her desire. Women need to learn not only that there can only be one perfect man, Jesus Christ, but also that men need not be chauvinistic. If Christ had been incarnated as a woman, these lessons would have been untaught. Thus, the gender mission of Christ required Christ to be incarnated as a man for the sake of women as well as for the sake of men.

If Christ had to be incarnated as a man in order to fulfill his gender mission, then it is not possible for women to undertake this mission. If it is not possible for women to undertake the gender mission, then it is not possible for women to be ordained Catholic priests. For the Catholic priest images Christ in his gender mission as well as in his humanitarian mission. This is particularly the case since the Catholic Church was founded to counter the effects of Original Sin.

Since the refusal of the Catholic Church to ordain women is grounded on the gender mission of Christ, it is a refusal that promotes sexual equality. It is incredibly important that the Church promote sexual equality—for two reasons. First, sexual equality counters the harmful gender inequities of original sin. Secondly, as John Paul II points out, it is only when spouses recognize and appreciate the equality of the other that they are able to appreciate properly the other's spousal gift of self. Without this appreciation, marriages fail to properly image the loving equality of the Trinity. Genesis 1:27 says "God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created him." We are made in the image of God. Thus, we love best when we love as God loves. As John Paul II puts it in On the Dignity and Vocation of Women, n.7:

"The fact that man 'created as man and woman' is the image of God means not only that each of them individually is like God, as a rational and free being. It also means that man and woman, created as a 'unity of the two' in their common humanity, are called to live in a communion of love, and in this way to mirror in the world the communion of love that is in God, through which the Three Persons love each other in the intimate mystery of the one divine life."

In other words, heterosexual love and spousal oneness image the love and the oneness of the Trinity, where the distinction of persons—and roles—precludes neither unity or equality. Thus, the need to image Trinitarian love requires heterosexual equality. The Church is thereby obligated to promote sexual equality.

Therefore, the promotion of sexual equality, Trinitarian love, and faithfulness to the missions of Christ requires the Catholic Church to forgo ordaining women. By so doing, not only does she proclaim the importance of Christ's male incarnation and the need for ordained priests to image His gender mission, but she also honors her Savior.

 

pensateomnia

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minasoliman said:
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Paulianists must be rebaptised, and if such as are clergymen seem to be blameless let then, be ordained. If they do not seem to be blameless, let them be deposed. Deaconesses who have been led astray, since they are not sharers of ordination, are to be reckoned among the laity.

Now, I don't dispute the word "ordain," but I believe there is a difference between ordaining concerning priestly sacramental duties, and "ordaining" for laity "sacramental" duties.  Even government officials were considered "ordained."
This canon also says that "clergymen" should be ordained. Should we assume, then, that according to this canon all priests need to get another ordination? No, of course not, because it's talking about PAULIANIST clergy, including deaconesses. PAULIANIST deaconesses need to be reckoned among the laity because the PAULIANIST rite of female diaconal ordination, according to this canon, is not considered to be real ordination (vis-a-vis the Orthodox ordination).

Ordination (cheirotonia) is a technical, ecclesiastical term in Orthodox canon law. It is fairly consistently distinguished from cheirothesia (appointment). The former (cheirotonia) describes the rite of ordination to one of the three levels of the priesthood; the latter applies to minor orders (sub-deacon, reader, et al.).

Sorry to get all GiC-like on you, but there have been tomes written on this very canon and one wearies...
 

greekischristian

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minasoliman said:
Indeed she held the Divine Logos in her, but that does not make it "sacramental."  We all, male or female, hold the Holy Spirit in us that we may be sons of God like the Logos, and she held the most Divine grace stemming from the Logos than anyone else, something that we all strive for.  In the OT, mothers of prophets, kings, or priests were very important, for they have raised their children to be great in the eyes of the Lord.  People like St. Sarah, St. Hannah, the mother of Moses (and Pharaoh's daughter), the mother of Samson, St. Rahab, St. Ruth and St. Elizabeth all had important children to give birth to, but they were not priests and kings in virture of giving birth to important figures.  They were exceedingly blessed, but blessed among all women is the Theotokos Mary, for she bore God.  But bearing God does not make her the True God, but makes her full of grace, where no one else, save the Forerunner, had greater blessing.
First of all, none of these other women gave birth to God, giving birth to a king or prophet, no matter how great, is not even analogous to giving birth to God. And not only did she give birth to God, but she formed the Divine Body and the Divine Blood from herself; she gave to God her nature that He may be both God and Man. No, she is not God and no one says otherwise, but she is the one who united God and Man, hardly a trivial role.

To define "sacramental," it is a duty upon which a priest in a ritualistic sense must perform.  For St. Mary, this was not "sacramental," but natural.  Miraculously, she bore in her God without the seed of Man which is the unnatural part, but afterwards, all that Christ went through in her and out was a natural outcome of His full humanity.
Except Christ was not a mere human, he was and is theanthropic...his body and blood are not merely human but also Divine. For Just as he is fully human, so also is he fully divine. Our Lady was no less Mother to the Divinity than to the Humanity...unless you believe her to be merely Christotokos?

One can say the same of women like Sts. Sarah, the mother of Samson, Hannah, and Elizabeth (who also had a child filled with the Holy Spirit at conception) who were barren and bore children by the miraculous grace of God, but nevertheless, not something that makes them priests.  St. Paul writes:
1Tim. 2:15
These are not analogous, for they did not give birth to Divinity.

That's the point.  You made it seem at first as if a slave has no chance of being free in the first place.  However, is there a chance for a female to become a male later in her life?
Well with modern technology there's no telling anymore ;)

But seriously, the mutability or immutability of the condition does not lessen the injustice.

minasoliman said:
Unless you want to define certain levels of what is "sacramental," for I have no problem that our lives even in helping the needy and simply praying to God is considered sacramental, for all these things help us partake of God.  But priestly issues are clear where the "main sacraments" are celebrated and distributed for the order of things.
What I am saying is that the Incarnation is the Eucharist [/i]par excellence[/i], it is the fullest and most complete manifestation of the Eucharist that has ever been celebrated. And in this incarnation one person alone acted on the behalf of all mankind, one person made the sacrifice that brought God to Man, these actions of our Lady are the essence of the priestly role and she fulfilled this Priestly office to a degree that no one else in the history of the world has been able to accomplish.

minasoliman said:
I was reviewing the canons, since this topic forced me to look at the canons, and in the Council of Nicea Canon XIX is translated:

The "laying of hands" may be a weakness of language, but in the ancient epitome, it is also written:
Just a quick note here, I made this point earlier on the forum but in case you missed it. There seems to be a change in practice at some point between Nicea and Chalcedon. At Nicea it is clear that deaconesses were not ordained by the laying on of hands like the male clergy; however, in the canons of Chalcedon it is stated (as received practice, not innovation), that deaconesses are ordained by the laying on of hands just like male priests (this point is clearly emphasized twice in the canon, I believe canon 15 if I remember properly). This is confirmed by the Novles of Justianian which also speak of the Ordination of Deaconesses, it also states that they participate in the celebration of the 'mysterious and sacred rites' of the Church (can't remember the exact reference, but it's in a fairly recent post on this thread).

Not really.  A Catholic female theologian writes some very convincing concerning the role of Christ as a male for the salvation of women, and why we should always necessarily follow Christ's suit for the sake of equality:

http://www.godspy.com/reviews/Priesthood-and-the-Masculinity-of-Christ.cfm
I'd avoid that article for your posistions, it is heavily dependent on the Latin doctrine of Original Sin, which is rejected by the Orthodox, to say the least. To deny that the Image of Christ is just as present in Woman as in Man seems to me to be blasphemy against the Image of God as it is a denial of its form and existance.
 

Gregory1958

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"Well, to be equally frank...if you think that a male priesthood is what separates us from the protestants you have no idea what it means to be Orthodox...do you? Do you really think that if we ordained women we would all the sudden be protestants? There was a time when we had deaconesses and women in prominent places in the Church. A female priesthood would simply be resurrecting and expanding upon ancient roles for women, ancient roles that were limited not by sound theology but by the culture and society of the day." -- greekischristian

Actually, I do know, and am still learning, what it means to be Orthodox. One thing I do know -- the Church, as the pillar and foundation of the truth, does not create truth, it simply is a depositor of the truth and as such, clarifies it. When the ecumenical councils met, they did not do so to create new "truth/dogma", but rather to clarify what had been believed universally by the church since its inception. Women have never been allowed to be bishops and or priests, and it is my humble opinion that the true church will not suddenly declare some new revelation. Of course, the ecumenists may, in an heretical moment, try to change the tradition of the church in this regard, but that does not mean that it is correct doctrine.

As to your unkind remark about my understanding of what it means to be Orthodox, I will admit that I have much to learn. There is one other thing I have learned, however: ecumenism is the great heresy facing the Church in our times. You would do well to steer clear of this, lest you fall out of the grace of God. In the late Fr. Seraphim Rose's book Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future, Fr. Seraphim recounts a story (pp. 189-190) of a disciple of St. Paisius the Great who was confused by a Jew who told St. Paisius' disciple that Jesus was not the Messiah. "The disciple, being weak in mind and simple in heart, began to listen to these words and allowed himself to say: 'Perhaps what you say is correct.'" (p. 190). When the disciple returned to St. Paisius, the saint informed him that the grace of Baptism had left him and the image of a Christian had been removed. The disciple repented, the saint prayed for him, and the Lord restored him. Father Seraphim goes on to compare the ecumenists, and even those who participate in the ecumenical movement but are not truly ecumenists, with this disciple because, "by their very participation in this movement, including invariably common prayer with those who believe wrongly about Christ and His Church, they tell the heretics who behold them: 'Perhaps what you say is correct,', even as the wretched disciple of St. Paisius did. No more than this is required for an Orthodox Christian to lose the grace of God; and what labor it will cost for him to gain it back!" (p. 191).

Take heed!

P.S. I don't think that the male priesthood is what seperates us from protestants. I used to be a protestant, remember? If you think that protestants are all "ordaining" women, then you don't know much about protestantism, do you? Your comment reflects not only a lack of kindness and some serious bad manners (didn't you listen to your mother?), but an arrogance that one would not expect in this forum.

 

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The male priesthood was unquestionably culturally motivated, the initial influences were Jewish, which was an extremely misogynistic culture.
That is a weak presupposition.  On the contrary, the Jewish all-male priesthood itself could very well be THEOLOGICALLY motivated, which I believe is a very strong case.  You would need to twist and turn the passages of the Old Testament to suite your speculation and Marcionite tendencies.  To this effect, I expect you to say that the Old Testament itself was "culturally motivated."

By the time that Pagan culture became influential in the late second century it reflected Roman State Religion, which relegated women to minor Roles, granted there were a few unofficial cults that were women-only, but these were always looked upon with suspicion by the mainstream of society; and the popular non-state cults that formed (Christianity and Mithra) both ended up coming in line with the tendencies of Roman State Religion.
You are treating the Roman Empire as having a homogeneous culture. That speaks millions about your ignorance of the subject.

Your reference to pre-Roman Greek religious practices is irrelevant;
Constantinople--the capital of the Roman Empire--was predominantly GREEK.  That makes a survey of Greek society so very, very relevant.

most of those cults either integrated into the mainstream Roman State Religion, with the relevant gender roles, or became unofficial cults that were tolerated but taboo.
See?  The key word is HETEROGENEOUS, that's why it is important to identify the particular culture in the Roman Empire that is relevant to the discussion, i.e., Greek.

The reason that I didn't address this issue before is because the claim that Jewish misogynistic culture did not influence an all-male priesthood is absurd at best and unworthy of comment.
How about Jewish theology influencing Christian theology? Let me just replace a word on your statement and tell me how it sounds to you:

The reason that I didn't address this issue before is because the claim that Jewish THEOLOGY did not influence an all-male priesthood is absurd at best and unworthy of comment.

No, haven't you studied Church history? Culture dictates custom and tradition; it was Imperial Politics that dictated theology.
That's what the Jehovah's Witnesses say. Shake that thing off.

As one of my professors here at Holy Cross told me, we Orthodox do a great job at preserving dogmas and liturgy, but where we fail and the Catholics and Protestants excel is in the advocating and advancing of justice and that we could learn a thing or two if we paid attention to them.
Yes, YOU should be paying attention yourself. What we learn from both Catholics and Protestants are their MISTAKES.  For instance, we should recognize the failure of liberal theology (which led to atheism) and Vatican II. Other than those mistakes, Orthodoxy has nothing to gain from them because they have everything to gain from us. ÂÂ

On the subject of female priesthood, go to England and see what a disaster it has created among the laity.

http://www.westernorthodox.com/options
I can still remember the confusion and pain at Nashotah House Seminary when the news began to spread that the 1976 General Convention had passed, by a razor thin margin, a canon to permit the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate. The 100th Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey, was teaching theology at the seminary in the fall of 1976. His powerful presence had an almost spell-like effect on everyone and we all looked to him for guidance and wisdom. In true Anglo-Catholic fashion, most, but not all of us, decided to stay and suffer through! We rallied around Lord Ramsey and other sound bishops, like Robert Terwilliger, and we made our threats to stay and not leave!

There are days now, when I wish that I had been able to recognize that the Anglican house was no longer inclusive enough to find room for orthodox Christians. It would take me another 18 years before it became clear that I truly no longer had a place at the family table in the Anglican Communion, which had been the very place where I had been formed as an orthodox Christian.

In my case, I fell victim to an Episcopalian bishop who totally ignored the Eames Commission, Lambeth pronouncements and the so-called conscience clause by trying to force me to stand with a woman priest to renew ordination vows. This action was not long after his promise not to force the issue with his clergy who held theological objections to female ordinations.




 

PeterTheAleut

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ozgeorge said:
I would say "compelling" to at least open the doors of discussion and discernment on the subject of Ordination of women and the issues around this.
Just take the 3rd one- the belief that "the Priest is the Icon of Christ". Shouldn't it be "compelling" to at least examine the possibility that a doctrine used to support an all-male Priesthood may actually be heresy?
I think I opened my first post on this thread with this assertion, and I'll say it again. Though I currently oppose women's ordination to the priesthood, I certainly do not oppose at least a reasonable discussion of the issue. (I'm actually saying this to voice my agreement with your above quote.)
 

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PeterTheAleut said:
These may indeed be arguments, but I for one certainly don't find them compelling. (More on this later, if I get around to it.)
Okay, now is the time to expand on the above statement.

ozgeorge said:
Here are three that have been discussed on this thread:

1) The fact that Christians are not Muslims, and that our theology forbids us to consider women to be inferior to men.
With our understanding of the biological and psychological differences between men and women, we do understand that women can perform roles that are different from men's. Different, though, in no way means inferior.

However, I don't see how the above argument says anything that applies even remotely to the issue of women's ordination. Are we automatically calling woman inferior to man because we deny her ordination to the priesthood? If so, then maybe our concept of the priesthood is not according to Tradition.

2) The fact that women have been ordained in the Church in the past.
No one will deny that women were ordained deacons in the past. But we have no record of women ever being ordained priests or bishops.

3) The fact that the docrine that the Priest is the "Icon of Christ" is a questionable doctrine.
I won't argue with this. This may be one good argument for reconsidering our blanket rejection of women's ordination, but it certainly doesn't tell anyone why we should actively ordain a woman to the priesthood.
 

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George,

ozgeorge said:
Just take the 3rd one- the belief that "the Priest is the Icon of Christ". Shouldn't it be "compelling" to at least examine the possibility that a doctrine used to support an all-male Priesthood may actually be heresy?
Why would this be heresy? I'm having trouble seeing the connection you're trying to make here between "Priest as Chrstic Icon" and "mere re-enactment instead of memorial Eucharist" (the latter two terms also confuse me).
 

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Pedro said:
Why would this be heresy? I'm having trouble seeing the connection you're trying to make here between "Priest as Chrstic Icon" and "mere re-enactment instead of memorial Eucharist" (the latter two terms also confuse me).
I think there are four issues I need to clarify for you if I understood you correctly:
1) The Eucharist as memorial vs. the Eucharist as re-enactment.
2) The validity of the notion of the Priest as Icon of Christ.
3) How (1) and (2) interplay.
4) How all this ties in with the question of women's ordination.

Before I start spending time explaining myself about these 4 issues, can I just check that this is what you want me to do?
 

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PeterTheAleut said:
However, I don't see how the above argument says anything that applies even remotely to the issue of women's ordination. Are we automatically calling woman inferior to man because we deny her ordination to the priesthood? If so, then maybe our concept of the priesthood is not according to Tradition.
That our concept of Priesthood may not be in accordance with Tradition in the sense of not in accordance with Orthodox Christian dogma, (particularly cosmology) is a possibility we may need to examine. If we can clearly demonstrate that God, and not merely men has decreed that women must be excluded from the priesthood, then clearly, no issue of inferiority could be implied. But if this is a tradition of men and not a command of God, then not only does it throw up the question of why this tradition of excluding women from the priesthood should be maintained, it also brings in to question everything we have assumed to be dogmatic reasons to exclude women from the priesthood. If women have been excluded from priesthood solely because of a custom of men based on the notion that women are not "worthy" to be priests and bishops, then everything we have used as a "dogmatic justification" to obscure the real motive for our position is false dogma which has no place in the Church.

PeterTheAleut said:
No one will deny that women were ordained deacons in the past. But we have no record of women ever being ordained priests or bishops.
No one is arguing that women have never been Priests or Bishops. But the history of the Deaconesses demonstrates at least that women were not excluded from the Mystery of Cherotonia. We can never say that Cherotonia can only be administered to a male.

PeterTheAleut said:
I won't argue with this. This may be one good argument for reconsidering our blanket rejection of women's ordination, but it certainly doesn't tell anyone why we should actively ordain a woman to the priesthood.
No, but it may remove one false dogmatic reason- if it is false- which is repeatedly used to dogmatically justify the exclusion of women from the priesthood And don't tell me it's a non-issue, because it has been used on this thread, For example:
SonofAslan said:
Two arguments sway me on this issue, although I must further admit to having no strong feelings on this particular issue. Being male and having absolutely NO desire for the priesthood (BLECH!!!) It doesn't impact me much. However, I do believe there are theological issues at stake here.........The second argument that I find compelling is the "icon of Christ" argument, which was brought up by Sarah at the beginning of this discussion.
Questioning the validity of the "Priest as Icon of Christ" doctrine does not compell us to ordain women, but it does cause us to question the validity of a dogmatic reason some find "compelling" to exclude women from the priesthood.
 

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ozgeorge said:
I think there are four issues I need to clarify for you if I understood you correctly:
1) The Eucharist as memorial vs. the Eucharist as re-enactment.
2) The validity of the notion of the Priest as Icon of Christ.
3) How (1) and (2) interplay.
4) How all this ties in with the question of women's ordination.

Before I start spending time explaining myself about these 4 issues, can I just check that this is what you want me to do?
You got it, exactly.
 

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Pedro,

(1) The Eucharist as memorial vs. the Eucharist as re-enactment.

Here's a potted explanation of the difference:
At the Mystical Supper, Our Lord Jesus Christ commanded the Apostles: "Do this in rememberance (Gk: en anemnisis) of Me."
"In rememberance" means do this in a way comparable to our custom of erecting War Memorials and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in our cities in rememberance (en anemnisis) of our soldiers who have fallen in war.
If we were to "re-enact" the Mystical Supper, not only we would be doing something comparable to staging a "Civil War Re-enactment", we would also be disobeying Christ Who commanded us to remember Him, not the Mystical Supper itself.
The Eucharist is the memorial of Christ's Sacrifice on Golgotha, not the memorial of the Mystical Supper. Thus, the Apostle says: "For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till he come." (1Cor. 11:26).

(2) Validity of the Notion of Priest as Icon of Christ.
If the Eucharist is the memorial of Christ's Sacrifice on Golgotha, what then do we mean if we say that "the Priest is the Icon of Christ" in the Eucharist?
Firstly, this is incongruous, because the Priest offers the Gifts also on behalf of himself. We would have the "Icon of Christ" offering the Sacrifice of the Eucharist on behalf of the "Icon of Christ".
Secondly, why do we need an Icon of Christ in the Eucharist? Not only did He promise that "when two or three gather in my Name, I am there among them", we also have the Real Presence of Christ in the Gifts.
Thirdly, the Eucharist is not an "Icon" of anything. It is not a symbolic gesture or action. It is an actual reality in itself. Each Eucharist is the Divine and Eternal directly entering the Earthly and Temporal. The Eucharist is not simply an Earthly gesture symbolising something Divine- it is Divine in itself, hence we call it "The Divine Liturgy".
Fourthly, in what way is the Priest the "Icon of Christ"? Is he the Icon of Christ's physical image? I doubt it. Is he the Icon of Christ's Authority? Then why must he perform the Divine Liturgy on an antimension signed by his Bishop? What do we mean by "The Priest is the Icon of Christ"?

(3) How do (1) and (2) interplay?
The only reason the Priest would have to be the "Icon of Christ" in the Eucharist would be if the Eucharist was a re-enactment of an action of Christ in which the Priest serves the function of representing Christ. In other words, the Priest is doing what Christ did.
But the Eucharist is not a re-enactment, but a memorial, so what is the Priest doing that Christ did? Is he hosting the Mystical Supper as Christ did? Then the Eucharist is simply a stage-play in which we are re-enacting what happened in the Upper Room before Christ's death, and it recalls the Mystical Supper, not the Sacrifice of Christ. Is the Priest acting as Christ on Golgotha? Then why does he offer the gifts on his own behalf as well?
The conclusion we are compelled to draw is that the Eucharist is not a "re-enactment" of anything at all. It is a memorial. So if we say that the Priest is the "Icon of Christ" in the Eucharist, we make the Eucharist into something it isn't.

(4)How all this ties in with the question of women's ordination.

If we accept that the Eucharist is a memorial, and not a re-enactment, then the Priest is not the "icon of Christ" in the Eucharist. And if a Priest does not have to be an "Icon of Christ" in order to celebrate the Eucharist, then the exclusion of women from the Priesthood on the basis of the notion that only a male can be an "Icon of Christ" is invalid.

 
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