Jesus and the issue of women's ordination


#1

There have been some on this forum in favor of women’s ordination. Here are some of their arguments:

Are men and women different? Sure. Vive la difference!

But as we all know, while there is differences between the sexes there are also difference within the sexes. And like everything else human, the variation within the populations is greater than the variation between them.

IIRC the Church simply stated that Christ didn’t ordain women and so we don’t have the authority to change that policy.

If you want, for sake of argument, to ignore that and have a hypothetical discussion then I really don’t see any viable reason why they shouldn’t be ordained…

and

[quote=Contarini]Historically, women were not ordained because they were considered inferior to men. Women were also not allowed to take positions of authority in the secular world, except in hereditary monarchies where birth counted for more than gender. The Church’s customary practice of only ordaining men cannot be automatically considered authoritative apart from these cultural assumptions.
[/quote]

The fact that all the Twelve were men and that early Christianity did not overturn the cultural assumptions about women does not prove that these cultural assumptions were correct or that the male-only priesthood has a basis independent of those assumptions. Rather, it shows that the matter is not as important as modern feminists believe it to be. Who is in authority in the Church is a secondary matter. The preservation of the Gospel is of primary importance, and the Gospel is not primarily about which groups have power. It’s far more important that whoever leads should learn to lead as a servant than that all classes of people should have an equal chance to lead. Slavery is a good example here. Christianity didn’t abolish slavery right away, but it established principles that ultimately led to that abolition. Similarly, Christianity ultimately led (in spite of itself, in a way) to the view that men and women are basically equal. And this has led to the collapse of traditional reasons for only ordaining men.

Edwin

[font=Arial]If not ordaining women is against their dignity now, it has always been against their dignity. What this means is that Christ not ordaining women was a slap in the face from the Son of God.

If Christ acted in this way it would make him a pragmatist, that He would put the dignity of women aside in order to gain converts. This in light of the fact that Christ violated other cultural norms left and right.

If not ordaining women is wrong then Christ was the first violator. [/font]
[font=Arial][/font]
[font=Arial]Very dangerous territory indeed.[/font]
[font=Arial][/font]
[font=Arial]Peace[/font]


#2

You’re working with the very assumptions that conservative Christians generally reject in this context: that who holds power in the Church is a question of primary importance.

The fact that there were no women among the Twelve is hardly a slap in the face. Do you think Jesus works by the quota system? Until the cultural assumptions about women’s inferiority had been undermined, ordaining women would have been impossible without also rejecting some aspect of what the Christian presbyterate was supposed to signify.

Were there any slaves among the Twelve? I see no evidence that there were. Does that constitute an endorsement of slavery by Jesus? Is it a slap in the face to slaves?

Edwin


#3

[quote=Contarini]You’re working with the very assumptions that conservative Christians generally reject in this context: that who holds power in the Church is a question of primary importance.

The fact that there were no women among the Twelve is hardly a slap in the face. Do you think Jesus works by the quota system? Until the cultural assumptions about women’s inferiority had been undermined, ordaining women would have been impossible without also rejecting some aspect of what the Christian presbyterate was supposed to signify.

Were there any slaves among the Twelve? I see no evidence that there were. Does that constitute an endorsement of slavery by Jesus? Is it a slap in the face to slaves?

Edwin
[/quote]

If you are not Catholic than stay out of this debate as it does not affect you.


#4

[quote=Contarini]Until the cultural assumptions about women’s inferiority had been undermined, ordaining women would have been impossible without also rejecting some aspect of what the Christian presbyterate was supposed to signify.
Edwin
[/quote]

I truly don’t understand why people use this whole culture argument to support the idea that women should now be ordained. At the time I would think the most counter-cultural/unacceptable position that it was possible to take was:
a) for Jews - that the Messiah would suffer & die & not set up a political kingdom that would drive out the Romans

b) for Gentiles - to accept a dead criminal as God

Since both these positions were accepted by Christians what makes anyone think that women priests would not have been accepted if Jesus had wanted them. There were, after all, plenty of priestess around in pagan Rome, Greece etc.


#5

[quote=Contarini]You’re working with the very assumptions that conservative Christians generally reject in this context: that who holds power in the Church is a question of primary importance.

The fact that there were no women among the Twelve is hardly a slap in the face. Do you think Jesus works by the quota system? Until the cultural assumptions about women’s inferiority had been undermined, ordaining women would have been impossible without also rejecting some aspect of what the Christian presbyterate was supposed to signify.

Were there any slaves among the Twelve? I see no evidence that there were. Does that constitute an endorsement of slavery by Jesus? Is it a slap in the face to slaves?

Edwin
[/quote]

Are you saying Jesus fell into cultural assumptions that could not be over come?

The reason the Church gives for not ordaining women is because Jesus did not. In this case the problem lies with Jesus, not the current Church authorities.

Peace


#6

[quote=Andrew_11]If you are not Catholic than stay out of this debate as it does not affect you.
[/quote]

All are welcome to this thread.

Peace


#7

[quote=dennisknapp]All are welcome to this thread.

Peace
[/quote]

I am sorry if I sounded harsh or unwelcoming, but Contarini is not Catholic and I don’t see why he would be so concerned with whether or not women are Priests.


#8

I don’t think the cultural argument as far as women’s ordination is concerned is very convincing. After all, lots of religions at the time did have priestesses. When the Gospel began to be preached to Gentiles, it would have been natural for women to be ordained to Christ’s priesthood if the only reason Christ did not ordain priests was cultural. Some of the other things Christ did (such as follow Jewish dietary laws) were not required of the Gentiles, so I don’t see why the early Church would not have ordained priests in Gentile churches if the only reason against it was cultural.
Also, Christ was completely countercultural. He touched lepers. He treated a Samaritan woman with profound respect. He reached out to tax collectors and prostitutes. For him to bow to culture in this one regard if women could be priests would be like saying that it wasn’t really important to him to make sure women’s dignity was considered. After all, he didn’t necessarily choose the most likely people to be his Apostles. A tax collector and a group of fishermen probably weren’t the first people that would have been taken seriously in that culture.


#9

[quote=Grace and Glory]I don’t think the cultural argument as far as women’s ordination is concerned is very convincing. After all, lots of religions at the time did have priestesses. When the Gospel began to be preached to Gentiles, it would have been natural for women to be ordained to Christ’s priesthood if the only reason Christ did not ordain priests was cultural. Some of the other things Christ did (such as follow Jewish dietary laws) were not required of the Gentiles, so I don’t see why the early Church would not have ordained priests in Gentile churches if the only reason against it was cultural.
Also, Christ was completely countercultural. He touched lepers. He treated a Samaritan woman with profound respect. He reached out to tax collectors and prostitutes. For him to bow to culture in this one regard if women could be priests would be like saying that it wasn’t really important to him to make sure women’s dignity was considered. After all, he didn’t necessarily choose the most likely people to be his Apostles. A tax collector and a group of fishermen probably weren’t the first people that would have been taken seriously in that culture.
[/quote]

Great point!

Peace


#10

[quote=Andrew_11]If you are not Catholic than stay out of this debate as it does not affect you.
[/quote]

First of all, I was specifically invited to this debate by dennisknapp. Second, it’s common for people on this board to claim that people who reject a defined doctrine of the Church are not really Catholic, and that the male-only priesthood is a defined doctrine of the Church. It therefore follows that all threads inviting debate on women’s ordination are inviting “non-Catholic” comment, at least following the rather unfortunate definition of “Catholic” maintained by many here.

More to the point, everything Catholic affects all Christians. You guys claim–with considerable credibility–to be the one true Church. If you were some little sect with no credible claims to anything more I would have no reason to challenge your beliefs or practices. It’s the height of inconsistency, even hypocrisy, for you to make the claims you do and then tell outsiders they have no business discussing your doctrines. You claim that your doctrines are universally true and valid. Well then, stand up like a man and defend them and don’t hide behind our culture’s privatization of religion.

In Christ,

Edwin


#11

[quote=Contarini]First of all, I was specifically invited to this debate by dennisknapp. Second, it’s common for people on this board to claim that people who reject a defined doctrine of the Church are not really Catholic, and that the male-only priesthood is a defined doctrine of the Church. It therefore follows that all threads inviting debate on women’s ordination are inviting “non-Catholic” comment, at least following the rather unfortunate definition of “Catholic” maintained by many here.

More to the point, everything Catholic affects all Christians. You guys claim–with considerable credibility–to be the one true Church. If you were some little sect with no credible claims to anything more I would have no reason to challenge your beliefs or practices. It’s the height of inconsistency, even hypocrisy, for you to make the claims you do and then tell outsiders they have no business discussing your doctrines. You claim that your doctrines are universally true and valid. Well then, stand up like a man and defend them and don’t hide behind our culture’s privatization of religion.

In Christ,

Edwin
[/quote]

His comment does not represent my opinion. I did invite you to this thread and find your comments, even the ones I don’t agree with, highly educated and productive.

Peace


#12

[quote=Ter]I truly don’t understand why people use this whole culture argument to support the idea that women should now be ordained. At the time I would think the most counter-cultural/unacceptable position that it was possible to take was:
a) for Jews - that the Messiah would suffer & die & not set up a political kingdom that would drive out the Romans
[/quote]

Actually I believe that the Dead Sea Scrolls have provided some evidence that a suffering Messiah was expected by some people. There was not simply one concept of what the Messiah would be like. That’s not really relevant to this argument, though. Your basic point stands.

[quote=Ter] b) for Gentiles - to accept a dead criminal as God

Since both these positions were accepted by Christians what makes anyone think that women priests would not have been accepted if Jesus had wanted them.
[/quote]

Because this (the Cross of Christ) is the fundamental counter-cultural claim of Christianity, and it needed time to work out its full implications. You’re assuming that God works by just zapping people with full-fledged truth. The entire course of salvation history gives the lie to this assumption. God takes the slow way, the way of the dying seed. Divine revelation is a seed of truth that takes centuries, even millenia (maybe longer for all we know) to grow and flourish.

God’s methods of revealing Himself and His truth are so truly strange and bizarre by our standards that counterfactual arguments (if Jesus wanted to do so and so He would have done such and such) have almost no weight in a discussion like this.

There were, after all, plenty of priestess around in pagan Rome, Greece etc.

But Christian priests are presbyters–elders who have authority over God’s people. I know of no instance of pagan priestesses having that kind of authority. They had ritual roles. The Christian priesthood is very different.

You have not addressed my point about slavery. Jesus did not condemn slavery, nor did He (as far as we know) choose slaves to be among the Twelve. Why doesn’t the same argument apply here?

In Christ,

Edwin


#13

[quote=dennisknapp]His comment does not represent my opinion. I did invite you to this thread and find your comments, even the ones I don’t agree with, highly educated and productive.

Peace
[/quote]

Dennis,

I know that. I appreciate your courtesy.

Edwin


#14

[quote=dennisknapp]Are you saying Jesus fell into cultural assumptions that could not be over come?

The reason the Church gives for not ordaining women is because Jesus did not. In this case the problem lies with Jesus, not the current Church authorities.

Peace
[/quote]

Dennis,

I’d like to hear, in that case, how you account for the absence of any evidence that Jesus chose slaves to be among the Twelve? It seems to me that this argument gives Jesus’ choice of disciples a wholly unwarranted status. I see no evidence that Jesus was motivated by some kind of “quota” thinking in which all possible demographic groups were to be represented.

I don’t think Jesus “fell into cultural assumptions that could not be overcome.” Jesus challenged the cultural assumptions that needed to be challenged in that place and time. He did not explicitly challenge slavery, and He did not explicitly challenge women’s subordination. I await an explanation of why the second of these is normative while the former is not.

In Christ,

Edwin


#15

Your point being that slaves can be priests?

We know that God does take time to reveal truth to people and does not reveal all at one time, but there are instances where Jesus does reveal things all at once, i.e., being the Son of God, which infers the Trinity.

I believe this revelation is far greater than the issue regarding women’s ordination, and as such would have had far greater ramification when revealed–as it did (they wanted to stone Him and called Him a blasphemer).

So, if Christ can choose to reveal something so much at odds with the Jewish understanding of God (Trinity), why could he not reveal something of lesser degree, i.e., women’s ordination?

Would it not have been easier to accept than the Trinity?

Peace


#16

[quote=Contarini]Dennis,

I’d like to hear, in that case, how you account for the absence of any evidence that Jesus chose slaves to be among the Twelve? It seems to me that this argument gives Jesus’ choice of disciples a wholly unwarranted status. I see no evidence that Jesus was motivated by some kind of “quota” thinking in which all possible demographic groups were to be represented.

I don’t think Jesus “fell into cultural assumptions that could not be overcome.” Jesus challenged the cultural assumptions that needed to be challenged in that place and time. He did not explicitly challenge slavery, and He did not explicitly challenge women’s subordination. I await an explanation of why the second of these is normative while the former is not.

In Christ,

Edwin
[/quote]

Is not comparing slavery to women’s issues comparing apples to oranges?

Does being a slave keep someone from ordination? Did the early Church ordain former slaves?

Peace


#17

I don’t recall any slave being Jesus’ disciple or among those who followed Him. There were many women who followed Him. Jesus was God. He knew the results of His choices. If he wanted priestessess, He would have initiated it then. He would have choosen a woman as an apostle.


#18

[quote=Contarini]Dennis,

I don’t think Jesus “fell into cultural assumptions that could not be overcome.” Jesus challenged the cultural assumptions that needed to be challenged in that place and time. He did not explicitly challenge slavery, and He did not explicitly challenge women’s subordination. I await an explanation of why the second of these is normative while the former is not.

In Christ,

Edwin
[/quote]

If not allowing women’s ordination is against the dignity of women now, it was against the dignity of women then.

If it is wrong not to do so now, then it was wrong then. Therefore, Jesus was in the wrong for not doing so.

The other fact is that women where a part of His ministry and He would have had amble opportunity to make any one the them part of the Twelve, including most of all His mother.

Nowhere do we read that slaves were a part of his earthy ministry, so there was no chance to make one part of the Twelve.

Peace


#19

[quote=dennisknapp]There have been some on this forum in favor of women’s ordination. Here are some of their arguments:

If not ordaining women is against their dignity now, it has always been against their dignity. What this means is that Christ not ordaining women was a slap in the face from the Son of God.

If Christ acted in this way it would make him a pragmatist, that He would put the dignity of women aside in order to gain converts. This in light of the fact that Christ violated other cultural norms left and right.

If not ordaining women is wrong then Christ was the first violator. Very dangerous territory indeed.
Peace
[/quote]

You’re saying Christ can’t be pragmatic?
Interesting.

You would think that, since He actually became human, He would more than aware of what our limits were and what was possible.

He would be profoundly pragmatic when it came to humans.

He didn’t say “free all your slaves!” or “Don’t have hereditary ruling classes.” In fact, despite frequent baiting by the Pharisees, He made little if any contemporary social/political commentary.

He surely would have known that pushing too far all at once would have distracted from the important, transcendent and eternal essence of his message.

Did He violate some cultural norms? Sure…sometimes. But even the biggies like whether to keep the old law or convert gentiles He left for the Apostles to come to on their own.

As for Dignity…you’re the one who keeps using that term.
Talking about the dignity of a group is a silly as talking about any group property
Individuals have dignity

In the ancient world nothing Christ did lowered the dignity of any individual woman. The fact that women were regularly part of His group, that Martha and Mary were close friends, and that He appeared to women as well as men after the Resurrection clearly meant that in a culture where women were barred from many religious functions He had really pushed the envelope.

Since women were barred from many functions back then, not choosing one didn’t hurt anything.

As for Christ being “wrong” obviously He can’t be
He’s just been waiting for us to catch up a little. :wink:


#20

What’s the point in discussing something that is not going to happen?


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