Is it possible that the reason Jesus appointed twelve male apostles was that...?

the original function of the apostles was to be traveling missionaries, and sending women out that way was not safe?

Once Jesus ascended and the church settled down to create stable communities, women did exercise leadership in the early days, women like Phoebe, Priscilla, Junia, Lydia, etc. They weren’t deemed apostles or successors of apostles in part because the original apostles were still alive. Heck, if the early church had adhered to pseudo-Paul’s prohibition on women teaching men, Mary Magdalene could never have preached the resurrection to the apostles. But because the church naturally adapted to Roman patriarchal cultural norms over time, women got left behind, and what was once a practical safety measure became an intrinsic requirement used to unfairly exclude women.

Isn’t this a reasonable case for treating the gender requirement for the priesthood as a misinterpreted cultural norm, and granting women the priesthood?

I am curious as to what the word is that the describes the situation where people greatly desire the things they dont and cant have, all the while ignoring the wonderful things they do have.

No. For several reasons. First, under your assumptions, Jesus could have appointed a woman as an apostle and had her stay in Jerusalem. Second, God could have chosen to incarnate at a time when travel was easier, or when there were notions of equality (perhaps sending prophets to steer the world in that direction). Third, theology and stuff.

I don’t know of a word, but that perspective is common around here. And it goes both ways. :wink:

Definitely not. Jesus Christ, as God, acted as God and cultural norms were not the issue at the time or now.

“2. The Declaration recalls and explains the fundamental reasons for this teaching, reasons expounded by Paul VI, and concludes that the Church “does not consider herself authorized to admit women to priestly ordination.”(3) To these fundamental reasons the document adds other theological reasons which illustrate the appropriateness of the divine provision, and it also shows clearly that Christ’s way of acting did not proceed from sociological or cultural motives peculiar to his time. As Paul VI later explained: “The real reason is that, in giving the Church her fundamental constitution, her theological anthropology-thereafter always followed by the Church’s Tradition- Christ established things in this way.”(4)”



No, it’s not a reasonable case at all. It’s quite the opposite. We have ample evidence that women did indeed accompany the men in their travels.

Mary Magdalene did not “preach” anything in the context of what St Paul is talking about.

The Church did not “naturally adapt” Roman anything, in fact the Church was very counter cultural in regards to women for centuries.

So, no. There is no foundation for the priesthood as some sort of cultural norm. You are barking up the wrong tree.

But as you state you are a Unitarian, you are barking up several wrong trees vis-à-vis orthodox Christianity.

The culture at the time was that much of the Western world was dominated by the pagan Roman Empire which had pagan female priestesses. The Jewish culture was a small and oppressed minority within the Roman Empire. The Romans controlled much of Jewish life, even deciding for them who would be their king. They gave the Jews Herod to be their king. But everyone knew that Herod was illegitimate. And Herod was illegitimate in more ways than one. Not only was he not in the line of king David, but he was an Edomite which every Jew at the time knew meant that he was descended from Esau, the same one who forfeited his birthright. It was humiliating for the Jews of the time to have to serve someone as their king that everyone knew was illegitimate. The Jews greatly resented being oppressed by the Roman government, but they had no power to oppose humiliations like this. So by not ordaining females Jesus was going counter to the cultural norms of the time.

The original function of the Apostles was to shepherd the Church. That is not limited to just being a missionary.

Where in the text do you get “exercise leadership”? “Coworkers in Christ” does not necessarily denote “leadership”. It seems rather that you’re reading that into the text.

Again, this is rather absurd. There is a valid reason why Paul admonished the women at Corinth not to teach or to preach. That reason is because Corinth was a Greek port city that had a temple dedicated to temple prostitution. The women prostitutes of this temple were called “priestesses” who would go out and “preach” their gods and then would take men back to the temple to “worship”.

Paul did not want his Christian women to be confused with these pagan “priestesses” by their preaching Christ, who they would necessarily preach to be a God of love. The risk was too great that these women would be raped.

And Jesus’ appearance to Mary Magdalene and the other women was specifically because women, in Jewish culture, were not considered proper witnesses under the covenant. His appearance to the women was an intended apologetic in regards to His resurrection.

No. You’re making a political argument based upon a false idea of indiscriminateness mixed with a misinterpretation of the Biblical texts, not a religious or theological argument.

Nor do we have permission to change what the Lord established. If He desired or permitted women to be bishops or priests, He would have said so, or revealed it to the Apostles. He did not.

So we have no right or authority to change something that neither Jesus nor the Apostles established.

Are you proposing a form of female supremacy?

Females already have something that men don’t have. They can get pregnant and give new life to the world. Ordination and confecting the Eucharist is the only thing that men have that women can’t do. We each have one thing that the other doesn’t have, therefore we are equal. If women could have pregnancy and ordination they would have more than men, and it would not be equal.

You are completly wrong and obviously have little knowledge of history.
The Jews, at the time of Christ, were not only a patriarchial society, their religion was patriarchal in nature from the time of Abraham. It would have been inconceivable for a woman to participate in any religious rite other than to pray.
Likewise, all pagans in the known world at the time had patriarchal societies.
The idea that females were males equals in all things is a modern concept dating from the
19th century.
If Christ had appointed female apostles, christianity would have been stillborn because no one at that tome, women included, would have believed in Him. Female apostles
would have been too radical an idea to be accepted by the people.

Hello Now.

Nope. If that were an acceptable interpretation, then you’d be saying God got it wrong when He picked the men He did when He said “Come, follow me,” to them. It would be like implying Jesus was somehow conforming to a type of peer pressure or cultural norm that didn’t exist and when you imply it, it begins to become laughable. The Priesthood prior to Christ’s coming as the Messiah was always a male only thing and women did help out, but in roles specific to women. The Israelite women didn’t secretly yearn for the Priesthood and all knew those religions that surrounded them in the lands they occupied had priestesses in OTHER religions. They were very aware that other religions included women in their priesthood. The notion of women serving as priests was a foreign one and belonged to alien religions which were abominable to them. And that is thousands of years of practice for the coming Priesthood of Christ for all they did was a foreshadow of the things to come in Christ.

Men and women do not have interchangeable roles. We have complementary roles. Men do what men do and women do what women do and while it is true that women can learn to change tires and men can learn to change diapers, the Priesthood is a Sacred Ministry whose members are set apart by God Himself for a specific purpose only God knows the full function and reasons of. He chose the right men for the job and He still does.


The equality of gender roles is a modern secular concept, not a religious one. There is no reason to think that the concept of sexual complementarity prevalent in the sacraments such as marriage, does not also extend to the priestly function. The priest, as an actor in the sacraments, i.e. male concept, is not commensurate with the sacramental role of the church as the recipient, i.e. passive or female concept. I would be interested if anyone has a more theological grounding/rejection for that position, but that is how I currently see it.

I agree. As the male body is designed to give and the female body is designed to receive, the priest acts ‘In persona Christi’. He is representing God’s masculine role of being the giver of God’s graces while we in the pews have the feminine role of receiving. If it were a female behind the altar it would symbolically represent the Church without God instead of being an image of God with His Church.

No, and it really is ridiculous to attempt to retro 21st century political concepts to the 1st century AD.

'Pseudo’Paul? Gee, don’t be shy. Tell us how you really feel.

I’m a woman. As a Catholic Christian I am not condemned to living as a 20th, and now a 21st century, woman in the Western World, with a limited and often fallible ‘worldview’ imposed upon me by society and assumed to be the ‘only way to live’, with any who have gone before us and not abiding by said ‘life’ naturally either stupid, oppressing, or oppressed by some ‘they’. Some ‘conspiracy’ which managed to rise up and undermine God Himself because He was so limited by His sex that He just couldn’t do as He wanted to. . .

Gee, Jesus was able to completely turn around Judaism in so many ways (no more kosher, no more male circumcision, no more ‘master-and-slave’. . and to insist that His BODY was REAL FOOD --all concepts that Christians have upheld for 2 millennia and all of which were just as shocking, if not more so, than ‘women priestesses’, which were common in Roman and Greek, i.e., those who were to be evangelized, society )and then to have a concept of ‘women priests’ somehow ‘vanish into thin air’ while every other attempt to ‘change’ His teachings has been documented and fought for so that the teaching was upheld. . .it just doesn’t make sense. If women had actually been considered to hold the same priestly charism as the Twelve, there would be records because it had BEEN teaching. There would simply be no way for people (we are talking about people who are already in hiding and persecuted and expecting Christ to return any day) to go around ‘redoing’ history. And if we go into Constantine’s time (because heck, that’s usually what the ‘Catholics went off the rails’ people do), you’re talking of some nebulous ‘group’ being able to expunge 300 YEARS of women ‘priests’. . .without a trace (call Dan Brown! He wants to talk to you!). . .and remember, you have the ORTHODOX too who share the Catholic heritage. Believe me, if there had EVER been a time when “Rome” tried to wipe out a teaching and substitute another, the ORTHODOX CHURCH would have been on it like a HAWK and would be able to show from THEIR records the ‘truth’. But, gee, unluckily for the "women were robbed’ conspiracy theorists, the Orthodox have the same "male priesthood only and from the beginning it was ever so’ that Catholics do.

Seriously I recommend you go to the Orthodox forums and ask THEM if ‘they’ are ‘denying women’ because of their ingrained patriarchical attitude. . .because you might actually listen to THEM. . .

NowHereThis #1
But because the church naturally adapted to Roman patriarchal cultural norms over time, women got left behind, and what was once a practical safety measure became an intrinsic requirement used to unfairly exclude women.
Isn’t this a reasonable case for treating the gender requirement for the priesthood as a misinterpreted cultural norm, and granting women the priesthood?

It is God the Son Himself who came not to destroy but to fulfill, and who instituted the New Covenant of which His Church is His Bride. That is why He instituted the priesthood at the Last Supper for His male Apostles who became in persona Christi, that is, in the very person of Christ, who becomes truly present at the consecration at Mass. It should be quite obvious why Christ chose only men as no woman could be in persona Christi. There is no flaw there, but a failure to accept reality. The fact that Jesus commanded them to “teach all nations” leaves out no one from that mandate.

St. Paul admitted that he himself was not married (I Cor 7:8).

When Jesus teaches on divorce and remarriage in Matthew 19, the disciples are convinced that it is better to not be married (Matthew 19:10). Jesus responds with a teaching on being celibate for the sake of the Kingdom of God.

“Not all can accept this word, but only those to whom it is granted. Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of God. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it” (Matthew 19:11-12).
See Priestly Celibacy:

Wouldn’t that have defeated the purpose of the whole “traveling missionary” bit?

That opens the door to arguing that God is in favor of anything going on in the world when he incarnated that he didn’t specifically condemn.

This is all “Inter Insigniores” says about that:

No one however has ever proved- and it is clearly impossible to prove- that this attitude is inspired only by social and cultural reasons. As we have seen, and examination of the Gospels shows on the contrary that Jesus broke with the prejudices of his time, by widely contravening the discriminations practiced with regard to women. One therefore cannot maintain that, by not calling women to enter the group of the Apostles, Jesus was simply letting himself be guided by reasons of expediency. For all the more reason, social and cultural conditioning did not hold back the Apostles working in the Greek milieu, where the same forms of discrimination did not exist.

That’s not a very strong argument, because it doesn’t address culturally bound reasons such as safety on the roads that even someone not committed to cultural discrimination would have to respect.

Are there any cases of unmarried women or widows or women married to unbelievers traveling either alone, together, or in the company of men not their husbands? If not, it would seem that the only category of women who traveled would have been those under the protection of their believing husbands.

Mary Magdalene did not “preach” anything in the context of what St Paul is talking about.

How would you distinguish the original proclamation of the gospel of the resurrection with what St. Paul was talking about?

The Church did not “naturally adapt” Roman anything, in fact the Church was very counter cultural in regards to women for centuries.

On the contrary, in the later pastoral epistles you can see pseudo-Paul adopting Roman ideas about the proper place for women in relationship to men.

I think it’s more reasonable that for centuries and centuries the norm was male priests, and there is good reason for that, as detailed in this thread, in the Catechism, the Canons and most importantly, the Bible. It’s a recent invention by non-Catholics that women become ordained, and these are in churches founded by men, not our Savior. You are free to worship how you see fit, but as Catholics, this is how and what we believe.

I direct you the Non-Catholic religions on this Catholic forum if you wish to debate the differences and whys between your UU denomination and the Catholic Faith.

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