• Please remember: Pray for Ukraine in the Prayer forum; Share news in the Christian News section; Discuss religious implications in FFA: Religious Topics; Discuss political implications in Politics (and if you don't have access, PM me) Thank you! + Fr. George, Forum Administrator

Women’s Headcoverings

PeterTheAleut

Hypatos
Site Supporter
Joined
Mar 8, 2006
Messages
37,280
Reaction score
8
Points
0
Age
51
Location
Portland, Oregon
Faith
Orthodox Christian
Jurisdiction
Orthodox Church in America
Volnutt said:
PeterTheAleut said:
Volnutt said:
PeterTheAleut said:
Volnutt said:
PeterTheAleut said:
Volnutt said:
I would argue it's the only reason that still exists.
On what evidence?

Volnutt said:
Few people today would understand the married vs. unmarried or the "this woman is not a prostitute" symbolism.
And where are you getting that?
I know for example that the translators of the ESV render gune in 1 Corinthians 11 as "wife" and claim that the veil was a sign of being married in that culture.
And why do you grant the translators that much authority? On another concurrent thread we have allegations that the translators of a version of the Bible added their own spin to the text. How do you know that's not going on here?
It is entirely possible, yes. Just citing them as one example of that kind of historical argument.

From what I can tell, even today whether a head covering marks a woman out as married or unmarried seems to vary by culture. I would not be surprised if it was similar in the ancient world. I think that would rather support my contention that it's not an eternal, unalterable commandment.
So all you have is hasty generalization from what you see today, together with the conjecture of "what if". Not very convincing.
I'm not generalizing anything. I'm just discussing possibilities and am open to being proven wrong.
ISTM that you're speculating possible scenarios that could prove you right. I'm not sure what that's called formally, but I smell a gross logical fallacy in there somewhere.

Volnutt said:
PeterTheAleut said:
Volnutt said:
PeterTheAleut said:
Volnutt said:
St. Paul also says that a woman praying with her head uncovered might as well shave her head because the hair is the woman's glory. So there's obviously some consideration of social status going on there.
Is it really that obvious? If it is, why have so few people seen it?
It seems obvious to me, at least. Is truth determined by majority?
No, but "obvious" means by definition that it's clearly visible for ALL to see. If you are the only one who can see the "obvious", then it's not at all obvious, is it?
Now you're just being pedantic.
No, you're just missing the obvious.
 

Alxandra

OC.Net Guru
Joined
Jul 29, 2014
Messages
1,078
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Age
27
Faith
Orthodox
Volnutt said:
Alxandra said:
I'm sorry but from everything I'm reading Volnutt, I think it would be good to abandon some of your wordly ideas and pick up Christ's. Of course if we look at Christian headcoverings from a wordly point of view we see opression and that its not needed, but that is just not true, its so much more than that. When we open our hearts to Gods way we see the reasoning and beauty behind every detail in our faith. We have to be humble enough to silent the noise and reasoning in our heads that's comes from the false ideas in the world, and be ready to follow Christs narrow path no matter how different it is from society. Some modern human rights are not even in the best interest of peoples soul, so how can we judge our faith with that ideology? True freedom is God and struggling for Him :)
And which human rights are you talking about? Women having access to pain relief during childbirth? Forced conversions? Female genital mutilation? Slavery?

I'm not saying that head coverings are comparable to these things or that these things are traditions of the Church. I'm saying that you can theoretically justify a whole lot of crap by appealing to blind faith in tradition (or Scripture).
But those are all wrong and would not be okay when following Christ, how is that the same with headcoverings that are a blessing and encouraged in our faith? When follow Christ's law, things like mutilation and forced conversions are not okay, we do not need to follow worldly ideas to know this. Worldly ideas though seem to cover sin with "human rights" like saying that the beautiful different roles of men and women are oppressive. Sometimes these "human rights" are backwards, and give us the wrong ideologies.But with God's laws they are for the benefit of our souls. 
 

kelly

Protokentarchos
Joined
Feb 16, 2012
Messages
3,820
Reaction score
22
Points
38
Faith
Orthodox
I think we need to be careful to not make headcoverings into a Tradition instead of a tradition.
 

kelly

Protokentarchos
Joined
Feb 16, 2012
Messages
3,820
Reaction score
22
Points
38
Faith
Orthodox
biro said:
I haven't heard of any "cultures in Orthodoxy" saying it's okay to have women priests.
I'm curious about this as well.
 

Velsigne

OC.Net Guru
Joined
Feb 4, 2011
Messages
1,043
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Alxandra said:
“Excessive care about worldly matters is characteristic of an unbelieving and fainthearted person, and woe to us, if, in taking care of ourselves, we do not use as our foundation our faith in God, who cares for us! If we do not attribute visible blessings to Him, which we use in this life, then how can we expect those blessings from Him which are promised in the future? We will not be of such little faith. By the words of our Savior, it is better first to seek the Kingdom of God, for the rest shall be added unto us (see Mt. 6:33).”
St. Seraphim of Sarov


This is a nice link
http://orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/headcoverings.aspx
"A scarf may be a small matter, but obedience often hinges on small things, small choices. My scarf is seen by men, but to me it signifies obedience to God, a way of living my womanhood. It is my feminine “I am” reflected outwardly. In putting on my head-covering I mean to say to God, “Behold your handmaiden, be it unto me according to Your word—Your will, not mine.”

"In Orthodox worship the angels were even more in evidence. The Divine Liturgy is full of references to the various ranks of angels, emphasizing our participation with them in the joyous worship of the Holy Trinity. St. John Chrysostom (d. A.D. 407), in a sermon at the Feast of the Ascension, spoke both of angels and the veiling of women: “The angels are present here...Open the eyes of faith and look upon this sight. For if the very air is filled with angels, how much more so the Church! ...Hear the Apostle teaching this, when he bids the women to cover their heads with a veil because of the presence of the angels.” Origen, another early Church Father, said, “There are angels in the midst of our assembly...we have here a twofold Church, one of men, the other of angels...And since there are angels present...women, when they pray, are ordered to have a covering upon their heads because of those angels. They assist the saints and rejoice in the Church.” Instructions for catechumens in The Apostolic Tradition, probably written in the second century by St. Hippolytus of Rome, include this: “Moreover, let all the women have their heads veiled with a scarf...” And St. Cyril of Alexandria, commenting on I Corinthians, wrote: “The angels find it extremely hard to bear if this law [that women cover their heads] is disregarded.”


"Mary, the mother of our Lord—and of the Church which is His Body—made our salvation possible by obeying God’s will. If she whom we hymn as “more honorable than the cherubim and more glorious beyond compare than the seraphim” is always seen in icons wearing her head-covering, it certainly cannot be a sign of “inferiority to men”

The Theotokos is encouraged as woman's best example and role model :)


As I wrote before I think a woman's outward modesty and obedience to God effects her family and children, so it's more than just men not seeing hair in church. The way a woman chooses to dress is an attitude of the heart.
Hi Alxandra,

I have a question for you, and of course it is up to your discretion to answer or not.

Do you have a formal prayer rule that you keep at home?

If so, do you wear a headscarf when praying at home, alone?

Just wondering. 

 

Velsigne

OC.Net Guru
Joined
Feb 4, 2011
Messages
1,043
Reaction score
0
Points
0
kelly said:
biro said:
I haven't heard of any "cultures in Orthodoxy" saying it's okay to have women priests.
I'm curious about this as well.
I haven't heard of any either.  But then, I probably don't spend enough time on the internet. 
 

Mor Ephrem

Hypatos
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Oct 3, 2002
Messages
36,459
Reaction score
370
Points
83
Age
41
Location
New York!
Website
www.orthodoxchristianity.net
Faith
Mercenary Freudianism
Jurisdiction
Texas Feminist Coptic
kelly said:
I think we need to be careful to not make headcoverings into a Tradition instead of a tradition.
I don't know.  I think you would be hard pressed to find a "tradition" that was maintained pretty much universally in Christendom (not just Orthodoxy) for nineteen centuries and change, explicitly authorised in (NT) Scripture against those with divergent practices, etc. and was still relegated merely to the level of "tradition" and not "Tradition".  There's more support for headcoverings than there is for prohibiting menstruating women from communing. 

But if you're right in your warning above (and it's not like I would mind your being right on this matter), I can't help thinking that there's a whole bunch of stuff in Scripture I can safely ignore by labeling it "tradition". 
 

Alxandra

OC.Net Guru
Joined
Jul 29, 2014
Messages
1,078
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Age
27
Faith
Orthodox
Velsigne said:
Alxandra said:
“Excessive care about worldly matters is characteristic of an unbelieving and fainthearted person, and woe to us, if, in taking care of ourselves, we do not use as our foundation our faith in God, who cares for us! If we do not attribute visible blessings to Him, which we use in this life, then how can we expect those blessings from Him which are promised in the future? We will not be of such little faith. By the words of our Savior, it is better first to seek the Kingdom of God, for the rest shall be added unto us (see Mt. 6:33).”
St. Seraphim of Sarov


This is a nice link
http://orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/headcoverings.aspx
"A scarf may be a small matter, but obedience often hinges on small things, small choices. My scarf is seen by men, but to me it signifies obedience to God, a way of living my womanhood. It is my feminine “I am” reflected outwardly. In putting on my head-covering I mean to say to God, “Behold your handmaiden, be it unto me according to Your word—Your will, not mine.”

"In Orthodox worship the angels were even more in evidence. The Divine Liturgy is full of references to the various ranks of angels, emphasizing our participation with them in the joyous worship of the Holy Trinity. St. John Chrysostom (d. A.D. 407), in a sermon at the Feast of the Ascension, spoke both of angels and the veiling of women: “The angels are present here...Open the eyes of faith and look upon this sight. For if the very air is filled with angels, how much more so the Church! ...Hear the Apostle teaching this, when he bids the women to cover their heads with a veil because of the presence of the angels.” Origen, another early Church Father, said, “There are angels in the midst of our assembly...we have here a twofold Church, one of men, the other of angels...And since there are angels present...women, when they pray, are ordered to have a covering upon their heads because of those angels. They assist the saints and rejoice in the Church.” Instructions for catechumens in The Apostolic Tradition, probably written in the second century by St. Hippolytus of Rome, include this: “Moreover, let all the women have their heads veiled with a scarf...” And St. Cyril of Alexandria, commenting on I Corinthians, wrote: “The angels find it extremely hard to bear if this law [that women cover their heads] is disregarded.”


"Mary, the mother of our Lord—and of the Church which is His Body—made our salvation possible by obeying God’s will. If she whom we hymn as “more honorable than the cherubim and more glorious beyond compare than the seraphim” is always seen in icons wearing her head-covering, it certainly cannot be a sign of “inferiority to men”

The Theotokos is encouraged as woman's best example and role model :)


As I wrote before I think a woman's outward modesty and obedience to God effects her family and children, so it's more than just men not seeing hair in church. The way a woman chooses to dress is an attitude of the heart.
Hi Alxandra,

I have a question for you, and of course it is up to your discretion to answer or not.

Do you have a formal prayer rule that you keep at home?

If so, do you wear a headscarf when praying at home, alone?

Just wondering.
It's not a problem thank you for asking :)

Yes I do and yes I wear a scarf when praying at home.
 

orthonorm

Hoplitarches
Joined
Jul 24, 2010
Messages
17,715
Reaction score
2
Points
0
Faith
DSM 5
Jurisdiction
Apostle to the Church of ASD
kelly said:
[quote authoDell UltraSharp U2412Mr=biro link=topic=64160.msg1273712#msg1273712 date=1427507899]
I haven't heard of any "cultures in Orthodoxy" saying it's okay to have women priests.
I'm curious about this as well.
[/quote]

Maybe not cultures, whatever that means, but certainly leading voices of 20th odox revival. Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom) of Sourozh certainly expressed extreme concerns that so many thought this was a closed issue. Don't ask for a source, I am not going to find it.

Then you have Fr. Alexander Schmemann's stock answer, who anyone here who has a Priest who studied under the Father could tell you what it was.

Then you have the problem that outside some allegorical arguments there is no sound reason for women not to be Priests, it makes exactly zero theological sense. Unless you want to take allegories literally.

PS sorry about the zarked quote. Hard to fix on this tiny screen.
 

kelly

Protokentarchos
Joined
Feb 16, 2012
Messages
3,820
Reaction score
22
Points
38
Faith
Orthodox
Is it too hard to type out "Orthodox"?
 

Maria

Toumarches
Joined
Aug 8, 2003
Messages
14,023
Reaction score
31
Points
0
Location
USA
Website
www.euphrosynoscafe.com
Faith
TrueGenuine Orthodox Christian
Jurisdiction
GOC under Archbishop Stephanos
Alxandra said:
Velsigne said:
Hi Alxandra,

I have a question for you, and of course it is up to your discretion to answer or not.

Do you have a formal prayer rule that you keep at home?

If so, do you wear a headscarf when praying at home, alone?

Just wondering.
It's not problem thank you for asking :)

Yes I do and yes I wear a scarf when praying at home.
There was a woman who wrote an article for The Handmaiden in which she mentioned that she wore a headcovering all the time due to St. Paul's admonition to pray unceasingly.
 

orthonorm

Hoplitarches
Joined
Jul 24, 2010
Messages
17,715
Reaction score
2
Points
0
Faith
DSM 5
Jurisdiction
Apostle to the Church of ASD
The most concerning issue in this thread is this bifurcation between the spiritual and the world. It runs against incarnational thinking.

 

orthonorm

Hoplitarches
Joined
Jul 24, 2010
Messages
17,715
Reaction score
2
Points
0
Faith
DSM 5
Jurisdiction
Apostle to the Church of ASD
kelly said:
Is it too hard to type out "Orthodox"?
When you show me 10 substantive posts of yours, we'll talk about common locutions I use in mine.
 

kelly

Protokentarchos
Joined
Feb 16, 2012
Messages
3,820
Reaction score
22
Points
38
Faith
Orthodox
orthonorm said:
kelly said:
Is it too hard to type out "Orthodox"?
When you show me 10 substantive posts of yours, we'll talk about common locutions I use in mine.
LOL thought so.
 

Velsigne

OC.Net Guru
Joined
Feb 4, 2011
Messages
1,043
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Alxandra said:
Velsigne said:
Alxandra said:
“Excessive care about worldly matters is characteristic of an unbelieving and fainthearted person, and woe to us, if, in taking care of ourselves, we do not use as our foundation our faith in God, who cares for us! If we do not attribute visible blessings to Him, which we use in this life, then how can we expect those blessings from Him which are promised in the future? We will not be of such little faith. By the words of our Savior, it is better first to seek the Kingdom of God, for the rest shall be added unto us (see Mt. 6:33).”
St. Seraphim of Sarov


This is a nice link
http://orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/headcoverings.aspx
"A scarf may be a small matter, but obedience often hinges on small things, small choices. My scarf is seen by men, but to me it signifies obedience to God, a way of living my womanhood. It is my feminine “I am” reflected outwardly. In putting on my head-covering I mean to say to God, “Behold your handmaiden, be it unto me according to Your word—Your will, not mine.”

"In Orthodox worship the angels were even more in evidence. The Divine Liturgy is full of references to the various ranks of angels, emphasizing our participation with them in the joyous worship of the Holy Trinity. St. John Chrysostom (d. A.D. 407), in a sermon at the Feast of the Ascension, spoke both of angels and the veiling of women: “The angels are present here...Open the eyes of faith and look upon this sight. For if the very air is filled with angels, how much more so the Church! ...Hear the Apostle teaching this, when he bids the women to cover their heads with a veil because of the presence of the angels.” Origen, another early Church Father, said, “There are angels in the midst of our assembly...we have here a twofold Church, one of men, the other of angels...And since there are angels present...women, when they pray, are ordered to have a covering upon their heads because of those angels. They assist the saints and rejoice in the Church.” Instructions for catechumens in The Apostolic Tradition, probably written in the second century by St. Hippolytus of Rome, include this: “Moreover, let all the women have their heads veiled with a scarf...” And St. Cyril of Alexandria, commenting on I Corinthians, wrote: “The angels find it extremely hard to bear if this law [that women cover their heads] is disregarded.”


"Mary, the mother of our Lord—and of the Church which is His Body—made our salvation possible by obeying God’s will. If she whom we hymn as “more honorable than the cherubim and more glorious beyond compare than the seraphim” is always seen in icons wearing her head-covering, it certainly cannot be a sign of “inferiority to men”

The Theotokos is encouraged as woman's best example and role model :)


As I wrote before I think a woman's outward modesty and obedience to God effects her family and children, so it's more than just men not seeing hair in church. The way a woman chooses to dress is an attitude of the heart.
Hi Alxandra,

I have a question for you, and of course it is up to your discretion to answer or not.

Do you have a formal prayer rule that you keep at home?

If so, do you wear a headscarf when praying at home, alone?

Just wondering.
It's not problem thank you for asking :)

Yes I do and yes I wear a scarf when praying at home.
I think it helps with prayer, but that's me.  I've tried both ways.  Spiritually, it's better for me, not because I have such great hair that no one can focus around me.  :p

We have young and old who cover, and Greek, Russian, Ethiopian, and American who cover, same who don't.  It's not a problem.  It's left up to a woman to decide to not make a stumbling block from a small thing.

One lady said, "I just thought, 'If we cover at the monastery, why aren't we here?' so I began to do it all the time."

I don't know if it's true, but I've also heard that the Greeks got away from it after the Turkish yoke due to Muslim persecution and wanting to leave signs of it behind.  That may be one of those murky sociological areas that is hard to pinpoint.
 

Velsigne

OC.Net Guru
Joined
Feb 4, 2011
Messages
1,043
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Maria said:
Alxandra said:
Velsigne said:
Hi Alxandra,

I have a question for you, and of course it is up to your discretion to answer or not.

Do you have a formal prayer rule that you keep at home?

If so, do you wear a headscarf when praying at home, alone?

Just wondering.
It's not problem thank you for asking :)

Yes I do and yes I wear a scarf when praying at home.
There was a woman who wrote an article for The Handmaiden in which she mentioned that she wore a headcovering all the time due to St. Paul's admonition to pray unceasingly.
So, does she pray unceasingly now? 

Personally, I have a job that requires great attention to detail, so I trust God to not abandon me in those times, like 40+ hours a week. 

Maybe someday I will have the prayer of the heart that beats unceasingly, only God knows.
 

orthonorm

Hoplitarches
Joined
Jul 24, 2010
Messages
17,715
Reaction score
2
Points
0
Faith
DSM 5
Jurisdiction
Apostle to the Church of ASD
Mor Ephrem said:
kelly said:
I think we need to be careful to not make headcoverings into a Tradition instead of a tradition.
I don't know.  I think you would be hard pressed to find a "tradition" that was maintained pretty much universally in Christendom (not just Orthodoxy) for nineteen centuries and change, explicitly authorised in (NT) Scripture against those with divergent practices, etc. and was still relegated merely to the level of "tradition" and not "Tradition".  There's more support for headcoverings than there is for prohibiting menstruating women from communing. 

But if you're right in your warning above (and it's not like I would mind your being right on this matter), I can't help thinking that there's a whole bunch of stuff in Scripture I can safely ignore by labeling it "tradition".
Why does that thought concern you? I am not sure what has remained constant from Christ's time till now in any Xian body odox or not. Christ crucified seems to be one. Belief in the Ressurection seems to be another. I think nearl every article of faith and practice has undergone some sorta of change, appearence, disappearence, etc.

I think the continuity of faith is there but it is in virtue of change, if you can think of more and likely there are, but I can't imagine many.

Nearly everything liturgical has changed, fundamental understandings were fought over (Trinity), schisms which tore apart lives are said to be mere differences in language.

But this I don't see as a problem and in fact a promise of a faith delivered unto the Saints, we just haven't encountered the last Saint to make complete our perfect understanding of the faith.

Women's headcovering of all things seems completely a matter of cultural practice which caused a problem for one of St. Paul's communities and unlike himself he came up with the worst argument in the Pauline corpus to settle it. I've yet to read any interpretation that doesn't seem either completely contrived or ridiculous regarding the otherwise genius insights of St. Paul.

I've asked to be disabused of this here before and have found nothing to make sense of his argument.

But to the lay people born into such practices, I see no reason to create scandal by either arguing against it, just as forcing those not born into the practice would equally odd.

St. Paul's word on the weak versus the strong makes sense here. Those who have enough faith to understand that headcovering have no bearing on the salvation of anyone or the world can bear the weakness of those who must cleave to such articles of piety.

That is the answer that seems to make sense to me when it comes to all things. A perfect blueprint for getting along.
 

Jonathan Gress

Taxiarches
Joined
Mar 28, 2009
Messages
5,541
Reaction score
2
Points
0
Was St Paul responding specifically to more egalitarian ideas circulating the churches? I'm also reminded of a letter St Gregory Nazianzen wrote to one of his spiritual children, a bride to be, telling her to ignore those who teach that the sexes are equal. It makes me curious, especially in light of some claims, e.g. Rodney Stark, that Christianity became popular precisely because it was more gender-egalitarian than was the pagan norm. Just how true is that?
 

Jonathan Gress

Taxiarches
Joined
Mar 28, 2009
Messages
5,541
Reaction score
2
Points
0
orthonorm said:
Mor Ephrem said:
kelly said:
I think we need to be careful to not make headcoverings into a Tradition instead of a tradition.
I don't know.  I think you would be hard pressed to find a "tradition" that was maintained pretty much universally in Christendom (not just Orthodoxy) for nineteen centuries and change, explicitly authorised in (NT) Scripture against those with divergent practices, etc. and was still relegated merely to the level of "tradition" and not "Tradition".  There's more support for headcoverings than there is for prohibiting menstruating women from communing. 

But if you're right in your warning above (and it's not like I would mind your being right on this matter), I can't help thinking that there's a whole bunch of stuff in Scripture I can safely ignore by labeling it "tradition".
Why does that thought concern you? I am not sure what has remained constant from Christ's time till now in any Xian body odox or not. Christ crucified seems to be one. Belief in the Ressurection seems to be another. I think nearl every article of faith and practice has undergone some sorta of change, appearence, disappearence, etc.

I think the continuity of faith is there but it is in virtue of change, if you can think of more and likely there are, but I can't imagine many.

Nearly everything liturgical has changed, fundamental understandings were fought over (Trinity), schisms which tore apart lives are said to be mere differences in language.

But this I don't see as a problem and in fact a promise of a faith delivered unto the Saints, we just haven't encountered the last Saint to make complete our perfect understanding of the faith.

Women's headcovering of all things seems completely a matter of cultural practice which caused a problem for one of St. Paul's communities and unlike himself he came up with the worst argument in the Pauline corpus to settle it. I've yet to read any interpretation that doesn't seem either completely contrived or ridiculous regarding the otherwise genius insights of St. Paul.

I've asked to be disabused of this here before and have found nothing to make sense of his argument.

But to the lay people born into such practices, I see no reason to create scandal by either arguing against it, just as forcing those not born into the practice would equally odd.

St. Paul's word on the weak versus the strong makes sense here. Those who have enough faith to understand that headcovering have no bearing on the salvation of anyone or the world can bear the weakness of those who must cleave to such articles of piety.

That is the answer that seems to make sense to me when it comes to all things. A perfect blueprint for getting along.
As I said before, the ban on women priests isn't the only arbitrary-seeming impediment to the priesthood. There are bans on eunuchs, or men who have been mutilated in some way; men who are divorced, or who have committed fornication, even if they've confessed and did penance; men who have shed blood, even involuntarily. The list goes on. I think this all has to be tied to the symbolic importance of the priesthood; even the impediments that are linked to certain sins are hard to understand if we are serious about God rejoicing more over the repentance of one sinner than over the 99 who never sinned.

If you don't like arguments from symbolism and wish we had a more rational system for picking candidates, I can get that, but then again, if you don't like symbolism, Orthodoxy's maybe not your thing.
 

orthonorm

Hoplitarches
Joined
Jul 24, 2010
Messages
17,715
Reaction score
2
Points
0
Faith
DSM 5
Jurisdiction
Apostle to the Church of ASD
Jonathan Gress said:
orthonorm said:
Mor Ephrem said:
kelly said:
I think we need to be careful to not make headcoverings into a Tradition instead of a tradition.
I don't know.  I think you would be hard pressed to find a "tradition" that was maintained pretty much universally in Christendom (not just Orthodoxy) for nineteen centuries and change, explicitly authorised in (NT) Scripture against those with divergent practices, etc. and was still relegated merely to the level of "tradition" and not "Tradition".  There's more support for headcoverings than there is for prohibiting menstruating women from communing. 

But if you're right in your warning above (and it's not like I would mind your being right on this matter), I can't help thinking that there's a whole bunch of stuff in Scripture I can safely ignore by labeling it "tradition".
Why does that thought concern you? I am not sure what has remained constant from Christ's time till now in any Xian body odox or not. Christ crucified seems to be one. Belief in the Ressurection seems to be another. I think nearl every article of faith and practice has undergone some sorta of change, appearence, disappearence, etc.

I think the continuity of faith is there but it is in virtue of change, if you can think of more and likely there are, but I can't imagine many.

Nearly everything liturgical has changed, fundamental understandings were fought over (Trinity), schisms which tore apart lives are said to be mere differences in language.

But this I don't see as a problem and in fact a promise of a faith delivered unto the Saints, we just haven't encountered the last Saint to make complete our perfect understanding of the faith.

Women's headcovering of all things seems completely a matter of cultural practice which caused a problem for one of St. Paul's communities and unlike himself he came up with the worst argument in the Pauline corpus to settle it. I've yet to read any interpretation that doesn't seem either completely contrived or ridiculous regarding the otherwise genius insights of St. Paul.

I've asked to be disabused of this here before and have found nothing to make sense of his argument.

But to the lay people born into such practices, I see no reason to create scandal by either arguing against it, just as forcing those not born into the practice would equally odd.

St. Paul's word on the weak versus the strong makes sense here. Those who have enough faith to understand that headcovering have no bearing on the salvation of anyone or the world can bear the weakness of those who must cleave to such articles of piety.

That is the answer that seems to make sense to me when it comes to all things. A perfect blueprint for getting along.
As I said before, the ban on women priests isn't the only arbitrary-seeming impediment to the priesthood. There are bans on eunuchs, or men who have been mutilated in some way; men who are divorced, or who have committed fornication, even if they've confessed and did penance; men who have shed blood, even involuntarily. The list goes on. I think this all has to be tied to the symbolic importance of the priesthood; even the impediments that are linked to certain sins are hard to understand if we are serious about God rejoicing more over the repentance of one sinner than over the 99 who never sinned.

If you don't like arguments from symbolism and wish we had a more rational system for picking candidates, I can get that, but then again, if you don't like symbolism, Orthodoxy's maybe not your thing.
It's not a symbol I have a problem with it is with reducing an argument to mere allegory.

There is a difference between the symbolic and the allegorical and the symbolical and the merely allegorical.
 

PeterTheAleut

Hypatos
Site Supporter
Joined
Mar 8, 2006
Messages
37,280
Reaction score
8
Points
0
Age
51
Location
Portland, Oregon
Faith
Orthodox Christian
Jurisdiction
Orthodox Church in America
Jonathan Gress said:
Was St Paul responding specifically to more egalitarian ideas circulating the churches?
I don't know. In some passages of his epistles, it seems as if St. Paul was quite egalitarian compared to others of his contemporaries.
 

Jonathan Gress

Taxiarches
Joined
Mar 28, 2009
Messages
5,541
Reaction score
2
Points
0
PeterTheAleut said:
Jonathan Gress said:
Was St Paul responding specifically to more egalitarian ideas circulating the churches?
I don't know. In some passages of his epistles, it seems as if St. Paul was quite egalitarian compared to others of his contemporaries.
An outsider might conclude he (or the corpus attributed to him) was simply inconsistent. More charitably, perhaps he was responding to different but equally incorrect ideas from his point of view, i.e. the idea that the sexes are completely equal and no distinction at all should be made (eliciting his orders that women cover their heads and not speak in church), versus the idea that women were so beneath men as not even to be worthy of salvation (eliciting his insistence that there is no male or female in Christ).
 

orthonorm

Hoplitarches
Joined
Jul 24, 2010
Messages
17,715
Reaction score
2
Points
0
Faith
DSM 5
Jurisdiction
Apostle to the Church of ASD
PeterTheAleut said:
Jonathan Gress said:
Was St Paul responding specifically to more egalitarian ideas circulating the churches?
I don't know. In some passages of his epistles, it seems as if St. Paul was quite egalitarian compared to others of his contemporaries.
And vice versa. I think arguably the greatest mind and pastor of the Church provided to each member according to its needs and asked of it according to its ability.

Which is why making some epochal sweeping judgements about the faith as a whole in light of St. Paul's particular judgment for a particular community makes almost no sense.

Thankfully he just didn't give everyone a pronouncement of his rulings on matters but also showed them and us his method of caring for those he helped win to Christ.
 

Jonathan Gress

Taxiarches
Joined
Mar 28, 2009
Messages
5,541
Reaction score
2
Points
0
orthonorm said:
Jonathan Gress said:
orthonorm said:
Mor Ephrem said:
kelly said:
I think we need to be careful to not make headcoverings into a Tradition instead of a tradition.
I don't know.  I think you would be hard pressed to find a "tradition" that was maintained pretty much universally in Christendom (not just Orthodoxy) for nineteen centuries and change, explicitly authorised in (NT) Scripture against those with divergent practices, etc. and was still relegated merely to the level of "tradition" and not "Tradition".  There's more support for headcoverings than there is for prohibiting menstruating women from communing. 

But if you're right in your warning above (and it's not like I would mind your being right on this matter), I can't help thinking that there's a whole bunch of stuff in Scripture I can safely ignore by labeling it "tradition".
Why does that thought concern you? I am not sure what has remained constant from Christ's time till now in any Xian body odox or not. Christ crucified seems to be one. Belief in the Ressurection seems to be another. I think nearl every article of faith and practice has undergone some sorta of change, appearence, disappearence, etc.

I think the continuity of faith is there but it is in virtue of change, if you can think of more and likely there are, but I can't imagine many.

Nearly everything liturgical has changed, fundamental understandings were fought over (Trinity), schisms which tore apart lives are said to be mere differences in language.

But this I don't see as a problem and in fact a promise of a faith delivered unto the Saints, we just haven't encountered the last Saint to make complete our perfect understanding of the faith.

Women's headcovering of all things seems completely a matter of cultural practice which caused a problem for one of St. Paul's communities and unlike himself he came up with the worst argument in the Pauline corpus to settle it. I've yet to read any interpretation that doesn't seem either completely contrived or ridiculous regarding the otherwise genius insights of St. Paul.

I've asked to be disabused of this here before and have found nothing to make sense of his argument.

But to the lay people born into such practices, I see no reason to create scandal by either arguing against it, just as forcing those not born into the practice would equally odd.

St. Paul's word on the weak versus the strong makes sense here. Those who have enough faith to understand that headcovering have no bearing on the salvation of anyone or the world can bear the weakness of those who must cleave to such articles of piety.

That is the answer that seems to make sense to me when it comes to all things. A perfect blueprint for getting along.
As I said before, the ban on women priests isn't the only arbitrary-seeming impediment to the priesthood. There are bans on eunuchs, or men who have been mutilated in some way; men who are divorced, or who have committed fornication, even if they've confessed and did penance; men who have shed blood, even involuntarily. The list goes on. I think this all has to be tied to the symbolic importance of the priesthood; even the impediments that are linked to certain sins are hard to understand if we are serious about God rejoicing more over the repentance of one sinner than over the 99 who never sinned.

If you don't like arguments from symbolism and wish we had a more rational system for picking candidates, I can get that, but then again, if you don't like symbolism, Orthodoxy's maybe not your thing.
It's not a symbol I have a problem with it is with reducing an argument to mere allegory.

There is a difference between the symbolic and the allegorical and the symbolical and the merely allegorical.
OK. I suppose I don't completely understand the distinction you're trying to make. Could you elaborate?
 

orthonorm

Hoplitarches
Joined
Jul 24, 2010
Messages
17,715
Reaction score
2
Points
0
Faith
DSM 5
Jurisdiction
Apostle to the Church of ASD
Jonathan Gress said:
orthonorm said:
Jonathan Gress said:
orthonorm said:
Mor Ephrem said:
kelly said:
I think we need to be careful to not make headcoverings into a Tradition instead of a tradition.
I don't know.  I think you would be hard pressed to find a "tradition" that was maintained pretty much universally in Christendom (not just Orthodoxy) for nineteen centuries and change, explicitly authorised in (NT) Scripture against those with divergent practices, etc. and was still relegated merely to the level of "tradition" and not "Tradition".  There's more support for headcoverings than there is for prohibiting menstruating women from communing. 

But if you're right in your warning above (and it's not like I would mind your being right on this matter), I can't help thinking that there's a whole bunch of stuff in Scripture I can safely ignore by labeling it "tradition".
Why does that thought concern you? I am not sure what has remained constant from Christ's time till now in any Xian body odox or not. Christ crucified seems to be one. Belief in the Ressurection seems to be another. I think nearl every article of faith and practice has undergone some sorta of change, appearence, disappearence, etc.

I think the continuity of faith is there but it is in virtue of change, if you can think of more and likely there are, but I can't imagine many.

Nearly everything liturgical has changed, fundamental understandings were fought over (Trinity), schisms which tore apart lives are said to be mere differences in language.

But this I don't see as a problem and in fact a promise of a faith delivered unto the Saints, we just haven't encountered the last Saint to make complete our perfect understanding of the faith.

Women's headcovering of all things seems completely a matter of cultural practice which caused a problem for one of St. Paul's communities and unlike himself he came up with the worst argument in the Pauline corpus to settle it. I've yet to read any interpretation that doesn't seem either completely contrived or ridiculous regarding the otherwise genius insights of St. Paul.

I've asked to be disabused of this here before and have found nothing to make sense of his argument.

But to the lay people born into such practices, I see no reason to create scandal by either arguing against it, just as forcing those not born into the practice would equally odd.

St. Paul's word on the weak versus the strong makes sense here. Those who have enough faith to understand that headcovering have no bearing on the salvation of anyone or the world can bear the weakness of those who must cleave to such articles of piety.

That is the answer that seems to make sense to me when it comes to all things. A perfect blueprint for getting along.
As I said before, the ban on women priests isn't the only arbitrary-seeming impediment to the priesthood. There are bans on eunuchs, or men who have been mutilated in some way; men who are divorced, or who have committed fornication, even if they've confessed and did penance; men who have shed blood, even involuntarily. The list goes on. I think this all has to be tied to the symbolic importance of the priesthood; even the impediments that are linked to certain sins are hard to understand if we are serious about God rejoicing more over the repentance of one sinner than over the 99 who never sinned.

If you don't like arguments from symbolism and wish we had a more rational system for picking candidates, I can get that, but then again, if you don't like symbolism, Orthodoxy's maybe not your thing.
It's not a symbol I have a problem with it is with reducing an argument to mere allegory.

There is a difference between the symbolic and the allegorical and the symbolical and the merely allegorical.
OK. I suppose I don't completely understand the distinction you're trying to make. Could you elaborate?
To put this I the length of a post I am willing to tap out.

The symbolic is the order of understanding in which we all find ourselves. Nothing we are capable of thinking, doing, understanding, etc is somehow outside the symbolic order.

Within the symbolic order we engage in many practices, one of which is illustrating ideas via the use of a figure of speech called the allegory.

While perhaps useful for illustration, it rarely does much more than that. The allegorical is not productive as such, it doesn't typically increase our capacity to act and work per se, but rather shores up certainties of what we think we know but are unable to truly express, obscures, or as mentioned before just illustrates truths we think we know, a reactionary tact.

What I am interested in, is something some within the symbolic order, some work done which demonstrates clearly women are absolutely incapable of being Priests. Resting that discussion entirely upon a figure of speech which almost always serves only to obscure or maintain what everyone thinks they already know without being to articulate it will not serve. Nor should it.

As before, should it be raised to the level of schism, no. But the only people doing real work on this issue are those who argue for it, while not suggesting a break in communion over it.
 

Jonathan Gress

Taxiarches
Joined
Mar 28, 2009
Messages
5,541
Reaction score
2
Points
0
OK, thanks.

As for the "only work", as you say, being done by those arguing for women priests, i.e. against tradition, that's an interesting point, but it makes an uncomfortable analogy with the history of heresy. We tend not to find clear dogmatic definitions being articulated until after someone challenged a traditional but as yet poorly articulated or inchoate doctrine, e.g. the teaching of the Trinity, or veneration of icons. So in one sense it was good the tradition was challenged, since it compelled upholders of the tradition to articulate doctrine more clearly. But that doesn't really excuse the heresy. I feel arguments for women priests fall into that category of heresy, but the challenge is there and requires an adequate response from traditionalists.
 

NicholasMyra

Merarches
Joined
Sep 19, 2010
Messages
8,839
Reaction score
4
Points
38
Website
hyperdoxherman.tumblr.com
Faith
Orthodox
Jurisdiction
Partially-overlapping
Jonathan Gress said:
There are bans on eunuchs, or men who have been mutilated in some way
The Ecumenical canon overrides this unless the mutilation was done by the mutilated.
 

Volnutt

Hoplitarches
Joined
May 22, 2011
Messages
15,089
Reaction score
13
Points
0
Age
36
Faith
Evangelical by default
Jurisdiction
Spiritually homeless
Jonathan Gress said:
Was St Paul responding specifically to more egalitarian ideas circulating the churches? I'm also reminded of a letter St Gregory Nazianzen wrote to one of his spiritual children, a bride to be, telling her to ignore those who teach that the sexes are equal. It makes me curious, especially in light of some claims, e.g. Rodney Stark, that Christianity became popular precisely because it was more gender-egalitarian than was the pagan norm. Just how true is that?
The context is about deference to her husband. He doesn't say anything about the relative worth of men and women, and affirms the inherent value of the latter:

In your marriage, fondness, affection and love must be strong and persistent for him whom God has selected to be your life partner. This man is now the eye of your life and the delight of your heart. And if you ever perceive that your husband possibly loves you more than you love him, do not take advantage of his feeling by attempting to gain the upper had in your marriage. That is plainly wrong as it is totally against the writings of the Holy Gospel!

You must respect him and love him unconditionally, as you love God. Be aware that you are a woman and you have an important and great purpose and destiny; however, your purpose and destiny is different than that of your husband who must be the head of your household. Set aside the silliness of equality among the sexes, that some of your contemporaries preach, and attempt to comprehend the obligations of marriage. In the realization of these obligations you will discover the great patience and endurance that is necessary to fulfill your family duties; it is in this manner that you will also discover the great strength that you as a woman possess.
On the other hand, when you read a lot of the pagan Greeks, especially the more pederastic writers, you get the sense that women are nothing but a necessary evil and a constant snare. The Romans are less misogynistic in general, but there's still the sense that women are dangerous and need to be tightly controlled.

I think that's what Stark is talking about. Women had value in the Church in and of themselves and not just as baby machines. It's not about egalitarianism per se, but how the women were treated and viewed.
 

Volnutt

Hoplitarches
Joined
May 22, 2011
Messages
15,089
Reaction score
13
Points
0
Age
36
Faith
Evangelical by default
Jurisdiction
Spiritually homeless
orthonorm said:
kelly said:
[quote authoDell UltraSharp U2412Mr=biro link=topic=64160.msg1273712#msg1273712 date=1427507899]
I haven't heard of any "cultures in Orthodoxy" saying it's okay to have women priests.
I'm curious about this as well.
Maybe not cultures, whatever that means, but certainly leading voices of 20th odox revival. Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom) of Sourozh certainly expressed extreme concerns that so many thought this was a closed issue. Don't ask for a source, I am not going to find it.

Then you have Fr. Alexander Schmemann's stock answer, who anyone here who has a Priest who studied under the Father could tell you what it was.

Then you have the problem that outside some allegorical arguments there is no sound reason for women not to be Priests, it makes exactly zero theological sense. Unless you want to take allegories literally.

PS sorry about the zarked quote. Hard to fix on this tiny screen.
[/quote]

Two possible counterarguments:

1. If the woman is supposed to listen to her husband while in the Church, then you might have this weird tension in which the parish priest is constantly being overruled by her husband in leadership decisions. This would be against St. Paul's injunction that all things be done decently and in order.

It would seem strange in an Orthodox context to then get around this by mandating that men may be married priests while women priests must be celibate.

2. Given the current climate of denominations with women priests, it could be argued that it is a legitimate slippery slope towards ever increasing liberalism (not that women clergy are a necessary condition for that).
 

Volnutt

Hoplitarches
Joined
May 22, 2011
Messages
15,089
Reaction score
13
Points
0
Age
36
Faith
Evangelical by default
Jurisdiction
Spiritually homeless
Alxandra said:
Volnutt said:
Alxandra said:
I'm sorry but from everything I'm reading Volnutt, I think it would be good to abandon some of your wordly ideas and pick up Christ's. Of course if we look at Christian headcoverings from a wordly point of view we see opression and that its not needed, but that is just not true, its so much more than that. When we open our hearts to Gods way we see the reasoning and beauty behind every detail in our faith. We have to be humble enough to silent the noise and reasoning in our heads that's comes from the false ideas in the world, and be ready to follow Christs narrow path no matter how different it is from society. Some modern human rights are not even in the best interest of peoples soul, so how can we judge our faith with that ideology? True freedom is God and struggling for Him :)
And which human rights are you talking about? Women having access to pain relief during childbirth? Forced conversions? Female genital mutilation? Slavery?

I'm not saying that head coverings are comparable to these things or that these things are traditions of the Church. I'm saying that you can theoretically justify a whole lot of crap by appealing to blind faith in tradition (or Scripture).
But those are all wrong and would not be okay when following Christ, how is that the same with headcoverings that are a blessing and encouraged in our faith? When follow Christ's law, things like mutilation and forced conversions are not okay, we do not need to follow worldly ideas to know this. Worldly ideas though seem to cover sin with "human rights" like saying that the beautiful different roles of men and women are oppressive. Sometimes these "human rights" are backwards, and give us the wrong ideologies.But with God's laws they are for the benefit of our souls.
I'm glad you see the difference. I'm not sure if you're being consistent or not, but perhaps I'm the one out to lunch on this.

I apologize for any offense I might have caused. Pray for me, the fool.
 

Mor Ephrem

Hypatos
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Oct 3, 2002
Messages
36,459
Reaction score
370
Points
83
Age
41
Location
New York!
Website
www.orthodoxchristianity.net
Faith
Mercenary Freudianism
Jurisdiction
Texas Feminist Coptic
Hi orthonorm,

Thanks for responding. 

orthonorm said:
Mor Ephrem said:
kelly said:
I think we need to be careful to not make headcoverings into a Tradition instead of a tradition.
I don't know.  I think you would be hard pressed to find a "tradition" that was maintained pretty much universally in Christendom (not just Orthodoxy) for nineteen centuries and change, explicitly authorised in (NT) Scripture against those with divergent practices, etc. and was still relegated merely to the level of "tradition" and not "Tradition".  There's more support for headcoverings than there is for prohibiting menstruating women from communing. 

But if you're right in your warning above (and it's not like I would mind your being right on this matter), I can't help thinking that there's a whole bunch of stuff in Scripture I can safely ignore by labeling it "tradition".
Why does that thought concern you?
It concerns me because I know what I/we'd do with it. 

I am not sure what has remained constant from Christ's time till now in any Xian body odox or not. Christ crucified seems to be one. Belief in the Ressurection seems to be another. I think nearl every article of faith and practice has undergone some sorta of change, appearence, disappearence, etc.

I think the continuity of faith is there but it is in virtue of change, if you can think of more and likely there are, but I can't imagine many.

Nearly everything liturgical has changed, fundamental understandings were fought over (Trinity), schisms which tore apart lives are said to be mere differences in language.
What do you mean?  I want to make sure I'm understanding you properly. 

But this I don't see as a problem and in fact a promise of a faith delivered unto the Saints, we just haven't encountered the last Saint to make complete our perfect understanding of the faith.
I'll need to chew on that some.  I don't recall having heard it put that way before. 

Women's headcovering of all things seems completely a matter of cultural practice which caused a problem for one of St. Paul's communities...
Maybe headcovering for women is a cultural practice, maybe it's not *just* a cultural practice.  In either case, while it became an issue in one of his communities, I think we need to beware the temptation of thinking that the problem and the solution are *just* for those people.  Even though I Corinthians was written to a particular audience, we hold this letter and indeed all the other NT letters numbered among the Scriptures as being authoritative in some sense also for us.  I don't feel comfortable dismissing it as "not our problem".  What else is not *ours* in the Scriptures?  Can't we eliminate the Scriptures entirely with such logic?  If not, where do we draw the line and for what reason?   

St Paul doesn't seem to think his teaching on headcoverings for women is a purely pragmatic way of dealing with a particular issue in a particular place.  Commending the Corinthians for "maintaining the traditions" even as he delivered them to them, he presents his teaching on the subject and concludes by saying "If any one is disposed to be contentious, we recognise no other practice, nor do the churches of God" (I Cor 11.16).  In at least one other place, in which he is also addressing an issue involving women, he presents his teaching as something that is standard "in all the churches of the saints" (cf. I Cor 14.33).  It doesn't sound to me like "food offered to idols" or similar issues where he seems to have a teaching which includes some leeway in the name of "getting along".  He seems to be much more black and white when it comes to women wearing headcoverings or teaching in the Church.  I don't know what to make of all that or what to do with it, but I don't think ignoring or dismissing it as not applicable to us is honest. 

...and unlike himself he came up with the worst argument in the Pauline corpus to settle it. I've yet to read any interpretation that doesn't seem either completely contrived or ridiculous regarding the otherwise genius insights of St. Paul.

I've asked to be disabused of this here before and have found nothing to make sense of his argument.
I don't know if anyone can disabuse you of this thought. 

We believe that the Scriptures are inspired by God.  As I see it, that means that even in places like I Corinthians 7, where St Paul is careful to distinguish between what he believes is the Lord's teaching and what is his own teaching/opinion, both are authoritative in some sense, both are from God, reveal God, and orient us toward God. 

Of course there is a level of interpretation, comparison, and application going on when we read the Scriptures in the Church, but I can't accept that we kept a whole bunch of things that are just totally and absolutely obsolete or useless for the sake of nostalgia or because we're hoarders or something. 

Consequently, I don't think I could bring myself to say that St Paul came up with "the worst argument in the Pauline corpus".  I don't know how you do that without implicating the Holy Spirit in some sense. 

But to the lay people born into such practices, I see no reason to create scandal by either arguing against it, just as forcing those not born into the practice would equally odd.

St. Paul's word on the weak versus the strong makes sense here. Those who have enough faith to understand that headcovering have no bearing on the salvation of anyone or the world can bear the weakness of those who must cleave to such articles of piety.

That is the answer that seems to make sense to me when it comes to all things. A perfect blueprint for getting along.
I could live with that, certainly.  But I'm not sure that's all St Paul thinks there is to it. 
 

Jonathan Gress

Taxiarches
Joined
Mar 28, 2009
Messages
5,541
Reaction score
2
Points
0
Volnutt said:
Jonathan Gress said:
Was St Paul responding specifically to more egalitarian ideas circulating the churches? I'm also reminded of a letter St Gregory Nazianzen wrote to one of his spiritual children, a bride to be, telling her to ignore those who teach that the sexes are equal. It makes me curious, especially in light of some claims, e.g. Rodney Stark, that Christianity became popular precisely because it was more gender-egalitarian than was the pagan norm. Just how true is that?
The context is about deference to her husband. He doesn't say anything about the relative worth of men and women, and affirms the inherent value of the latter:

In your marriage, fondness, affection and love must be strong and persistent for him whom God has selected to be your life partner. This man is now the eye of your life and the delight of your heart. And if you ever perceive that your husband possibly loves you more than you love him, do not take advantage of his feeling by attempting to gain the upper had in your marriage. That is plainly wrong as it is totally against the writings of the Holy Gospel!

You must respect him and love him unconditionally, as you love God. Be aware that you are a woman and you have an important and great purpose and destiny; however, your purpose and destiny is different than that of your husband who must be the head of your household. Set aside the silliness of equality among the sexes, that some of your contemporaries preach, and attempt to comprehend the obligations of marriage. In the realization of these obligations you will discover the great patience and endurance that is necessary to fulfill your family duties; it is in this manner that you will also discover the great strength that you as a woman possess.
On the other hand, when you read a lot of the pagan Greeks, especially the more pederastic writers, you get the sense that women are nothing but a necessary evil and a constant snare. The Romans are less misogynistic in general, but there's still the sense that women are dangerous and need to be tightly controlled.

I think that's what Stark is talking about. Women had value in the Church in and of themselves and not just as baby machines. It's not about egalitarianism per se, but how the women were treated and viewed.
I get that. But who are these contemporaries preaching equality of the sexes that St Gregory alludes to? It sounds like much more radical ideas were going round by that point.
 

Volnutt

Hoplitarches
Joined
May 22, 2011
Messages
15,089
Reaction score
13
Points
0
Age
36
Faith
Evangelical by default
Jurisdiction
Spiritually homeless
The thing is, though, that head covering was the custom in the Empire beforehand and it was those women who were putting it off who were the innovators AFAIK. Not all cultures are like that today, but St. Paul doesn't really seem to be saying anything to those cultures in which head covering was not a preexistent standard of female decency.

In Western culture, prior to the 1960s a woman showed decency and respect for her husband (and modeled proper decorum for her children) simply by not dressing like a slut. Isn't that the spirit of what these passages are talking about?
 

Volnutt

Hoplitarches
Joined
May 22, 2011
Messages
15,089
Reaction score
13
Points
0
Age
36
Faith
Evangelical by default
Jurisdiction
Spiritually homeless
Jonathan Gress said:
Volnutt said:
Jonathan Gress said:
Was St Paul responding specifically to more egalitarian ideas circulating the churches? I'm also reminded of a letter St Gregory Nazianzen wrote to one of his spiritual children, a bride to be, telling her to ignore those who teach that the sexes are equal. It makes me curious, especially in light of some claims, e.g. Rodney Stark, that Christianity became popular precisely because it was more gender-egalitarian than was the pagan norm. Just how true is that?
The context is about deference to her husband. He doesn't say anything about the relative worth of men and women, and affirms the inherent value of the latter:

In your marriage, fondness, affection and love must be strong and persistent for him whom God has selected to be your life partner. This man is now the eye of your life and the delight of your heart. And if you ever perceive that your husband possibly loves you more than you love him, do not take advantage of his feeling by attempting to gain the upper had in your marriage. That is plainly wrong as it is totally against the writings of the Holy Gospel!

You must respect him and love him unconditionally, as you love God. Be aware that you are a woman and you have an important and great purpose and destiny; however, your purpose and destiny is different than that of your husband who must be the head of your household. Set aside the silliness of equality among the sexes, that some of your contemporaries preach, and attempt to comprehend the obligations of marriage. In the realization of these obligations you will discover the great patience and endurance that is necessary to fulfill your family duties; it is in this manner that you will also discover the great strength that you as a woman possess.
On the other hand, when you read a lot of the pagan Greeks, especially the more pederastic writers, you get the sense that women are nothing but a necessary evil and a constant snare. The Romans are less misogynistic in general, but there's still the sense that women are dangerous and need to be tightly controlled.

I think that's what Stark is talking about. Women had value in the Church in and of themselves and not just as baby machines. It's not about egalitarianism per se, but how the women were treated and viewed.
I get that. But who are these contemporaries preaching equality of the sexes that St Gregory alludes to? It sounds like much more radical ideas were going round by that point.
Based on the context, I'm guessing it's those who used "there is neither male nor female" and similar passages to say that women should rule over their husbands in the home.

I suppose it's also possible that St. Gregory is thinking about the Montanists with their female prophet-leaders, but he's talking about home and not church so that would seem out of context.
 

Jonathan Gress

Taxiarches
Joined
Mar 28, 2009
Messages
5,541
Reaction score
2
Points
0
Volnutt said:
The thing is, though, that head covering was the custom in the Empire beforehand and it was those women who were putting it off who were the innovators AFAIK. Not all cultures are like that today, but St. Paul doesn't really seem to be saying anything to those cultures in which head covering was not a preexistent standard of female decency.

In Western culture, prior to the 1960s a woman showed decency and respect for her husband (and modeled proper decorum for her children) simply by not dressing like a slut. Isn't that the spirit of what these passages are talking about?
I agree with the spirit. For that reason I'm not exercised if women don't cover their heads in church, provided they're otherwise modest. Though it seems the Overton window of modesty keeps shifting in the direction of less and less clothing...
 

Volnutt

Hoplitarches
Joined
May 22, 2011
Messages
15,089
Reaction score
13
Points
0
Age
36
Faith
Evangelical by default
Jurisdiction
Spiritually homeless
Jonathan Gress said:
Volnutt said:
The thing is, though, that head covering was the custom in the Empire beforehand and it was those women who were putting it off who were the innovators AFAIK. Not all cultures are like that today, but St. Paul doesn't really seem to be saying anything to those cultures in which head covering was not a preexistent standard of female decency.

In Western culture, prior to the 1960s a woman showed decency and respect for her husband (and modeled proper decorum for her children) simply by not dressing like a slut. Isn't that the spirit of what these passages are talking about?
I agree with the spirit. For that reason I'm not exercised if women don't cover their heads in church, provided they're otherwise modest. Though it seems the Overton window of modesty keeps shifting in the direction of less and less clothing...
This is true.
 

Asteriktos

Strategos
Joined
Oct 4, 2002
Messages
40,538
Reaction score
974
Points
113
Faith
-
Jurisdiction
-
Volnutt said:
Based on the context, I'm guessing it's those who used "there is neither male nor female" and similar passages to say that women should rule over their husbands in the home.

I suppose it's also possible that St. Gregory is thinking about the Montanists with their female prophet-leaders, but he's talking about home and not church so that would seem out of context.
I'm not positive what or who he was thinking about--it could indeed have been some heretical or gnostic group. It could also have been the eunuchs involved in the households of high-ranking families, who might (for obvious reasons) have taken an interest in equality among the sexes, as that would surely have an indirect but possibly significant impact on their own role and public (general) reputation. I bring it up because, according to Fr. John McGuckin, St. Gregory generally distrusted the eunuchs, and "complains that they worked against him, and stirred up theological controversies." (St. Gregory of Nazianzus: An Intellectual Biography, p. 336)  Also of note: in the same Oration that he complains/chastises eunuchs (and does some praising and biblical exegesis), he also said this:

The question which you have put seems to me to do honour to chastity, and to demand a kind reply. Chastity, in respect of which I see that the majority of men are ill-disposed, and that their laws are unequal and irregular. For what was the reason why they restrained the woman, but indulged the man, and that a woman who practises evil against her husband's bed is an adulteress, and the penalties of the law for this are very severe; but if the husband commits fornication against his wife, he has no account to give? I do not accept this legislation; I do not approve this custom. They who made the Law were men, and therefore their legislation is hard on women, since they have placed children also under the authority of their fathers, while leaving the weaker sex uncared for. God does not so; but says Honour your father and your mother, which is the first commandment with promise; that it may be well with you; and, He that curses father or mother, let him die the death. Similarly He gave honour to good and punishment to evil. And, The blessing of a father strengthens the houses of children, but the curse of a mother uproots the foundations (Sir. 3:11). See the equality of the legislation. There is one Maker of man and woman; one debt is owed by children to both their parents.

How then do you demand Chastity, while thou dost not yourself observe it? How do you demand that which thou dost not give? How, though you are equally a body, do you legislate unequally? If you enquire into the worse— The Woman Sinned, and so did Adam (Gen. 3:6). The serpent deceived them both; and one was not found to be the stronger and the other the weaker. But do you consider the better? Christ saves both by His Passion. Was He made flesh for the Man? So He was also for the woman. Did He die for the Man? The Woman also is saved by His death. He is called of the seed of David (Rom. 1:3); and so perhaps you think the Man is honoured; but He is born of a Virgin, and this is on the Woman's side. They two, He says, shall be one Flesh; so let the one flesh have equal honour. And Paul legislates for chastity by His example. How, and in what way? This Sacrament is great, he says, But I speak concerning Christ and the Church (Eph. 5:32). It is well for the wife to reverence Christ through her husband: and it is well for the husband not to dishonor the Church through his wife. Let the wife, he says, see that she reverence her husband, for so she does Christ; but also he bids the husband cherish his wife, for so Christ does the Church.  Let us, then, give further consideration to this saying.

-- St. Gregory the Theologian, Oration 37.6-7
EDIT--to add, I don't mean to make St. Gregory out to be some kind of present-day defender of 'equal rights.' He clearly thought that women and men were both capable of reaching the same heights of virtue, and besides being a huge mamas boy, he also admired several of the women from the local families who excelled in virtue. Still, he seemed to hold to a lot of the common ideas about differences in role and constitution between males and females, and also seemed to be fine with some violations of rights that today we would fine abhorrent.
 

Jonathan Gress

Taxiarches
Joined
Mar 28, 2009
Messages
5,541
Reaction score
2
Points
0
My take on it is that St Gregory, St Paul and other Fathers believed two things:

1) Man is superior to woman in this fallen world
2) Woman are equal to men in Christ

So women's equality to men lies more in the realm of the potential than the actual. When the woman achieves salvation through Christ, she becomes man's equal. But this salvation must be worked out in this world, respecting the burdens of our fallen existence. Part of this is accepting natural hierarchies and inequalities: the man over the woman; the king over his subjects; the master over his slaves; the parents over their children.

This is the only way I make sense of the contradictions. Others may have better solutions.
 

Volnutt

Hoplitarches
Joined
May 22, 2011
Messages
15,089
Reaction score
13
Points
0
Age
36
Faith
Evangelical by default
Jurisdiction
Spiritually homeless
Jonathan Gress said:
My take on it is that St Gregory, St Paul and other Fathers believed two things:

1) Man is superior to woman in this fallen world
2) Woman are equal to men in Christ

So women's equality to men lies more in the realm of the potential than the actual. When the woman achieves salvation through Christ, she becomes man's equal. But this salvation must be worked out in this world, respecting the burdens of our fallen existence. Part of this is accepting natural hierarchies and inequalities: the man over the woman; the king over his subjects; the master over his slaves; the parents over their children.

This is the only way I make sense of the contradictions. Others may have better solutions.
I essentially agree I think. Though I wouldn't call that superiority, but more the practical fact that because of the fallen selfishness of both women and men, there's got to be somebody to "break the tie" in disputes, as it were. St. Gregory tells Olympiatha to

Let both of you provide your views and opinions; in the end, however, allow your husband to have the final say.
I suppose things could have been just as easily the other way around with Adam taken from Eve's rib and women being the heads of the household and the Church (with exponentially increasing numbers of possible configurations if God had created more than two sexes).
 

Volnutt

Hoplitarches
Joined
May 22, 2011
Messages
15,089
Reaction score
13
Points
0
Age
36
Faith
Evangelical by default
Jurisdiction
Spiritually homeless
I think part of the ancient attitude to women was actually in terms of physical inferiority with the need to be protected rather than spiritual. From the Life of St. Mary of Egypt (emphasis mine):

When the hour of the Holy Elevation drew nigh, I was trying to enter into the church with all the people. With great effort I came almost to the doors, and attempted to squeeze inside. Although I stepped up to the threshold, it was as though some force held me back, preventing me from entering. I was brushed aside by the crowd, and found myself standing alone on the porch. I thought that perhaps this happened because of my womanly weakness.
Where in the literature you have examples of powerful women like the Amazons, I don't recall them being treated with scorn as being "unnatural" but just seen as being far outside the norms attainable by normal women.
 
Top