The words of God do not justify cruelty to women [Jimmy Carter]

What do people think of this editorial by Jimmy Carter?

He has left the Southern Baptist Convention over their treatment of women, but seems to be taking a shot at all religions, and the Catholic Church in particular. His editorial includes a small history lesson about there being female clergy until the fourth century when the scriptures were rewritten to exclude women. On a related note, this is not an isolated effort on Carter’s part. He belongs to a group called “The Elders” which is making an effort to influence all religions to change their practices and promote women to the same positions as men.

Am I the only one who gets the creeps when social advocacy groups like this one start poking their nose into my religion?

Well, it’s Christ’s religion. We only profess it. (I’m only half joking. Neither Jimmy Carter nor we have any right to change the Catholic Faith)

I know that there are references in the early Church to female priests. Does anyone have the statistics on it? It’s something like 11 instances, and many of them are of unknown orthodox/heterodox character. Given what we know of the heretical sects, that doesn’t seem too unlikely.

Heck, I recall that one of the examples was someone orthodox complaining that there were priestesses celebrating mass with priests. If that’s not a statement that female priests were not orthodox, I don’t know what is.

“Well, it’s Christ’s religion. We only profess it. (I’m only half joking. Neither Jimmy Carter nor we have any right to change the Catholic Faith”

Point well taken. I could have phrased that better I guess.

This is the exact same phrase I’ve heard several times from different people and it puzzles me a bit. …The Catholic Church’s “treatment of women”… I wonder where this idea even comes from and why that phrase gets repeated exactly as if from some specific source claiming that by having a male priesthood the church is somehow treating women badly? :shrug:

How are women really treated in the Catholic church? I think women are highly honored:

  1. We revere Mary as the highest example of holiness and dignity (she was crowned Queen of Heaven after all)

  2. We look to the teachings and examples of 3 of the great Doctors of the Church (St. Teresa of Avila, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Therese of Lisieux) and countless other saints.

  3. We have female religious orders.

  4. We extoll the virtue and dignity of motherhood and the sanctity of marriage as a vocation.

  5. We envision the entire Church as Christ’s radiant and beloved bride.

  6. In times past, all women wore veils or hats to mass out of humility…it was assumed that every woman is so gloriously beautiful that she should tone it down a bit before the Lord :wink:

Sorry for the short rant. It just bugs me that we women have made so many advances in terms of equal opportunity in education and in the corporate world only to get side-tracked into thinking that our true value lies in some glorious ascension of a career ladder. And then we try to judge the Church by the warped standards of the world.

We in modern culture are very short on imagination when it comes to understanding the true power of femininity. The traditional teachings of the Catholic Church actually preserve that language of femininity and help us conceptualize a feminine approach to God. [“Masculine and Feminine, Evangelical and Catholic” by Mark Shea]("")

Jimmy Carter is the kind of person who doesn’t understand that God is very much about organization, order and objective standards of right and wrong. These ideas bother him because that would mean that not everything is acceptable if you are a Christian and frankly, a human being. And that would violate his version of “tolerance.” :smiley:

I don’t think so. He left the Southern Baptist Convention nine years ago. In this editorial, he is merely mentioning one reason for his leaving.

First, I believe Mr. Carter is a sincere man. His editorial speaks partly from personal experience and partly from a too narrowly focused worldview.

The Radical Feminists who created fear and mistrust in women against men in the United States helped to create an unBiblical and distorted view of male-female relationships. They turned it into a power struggle. The desire for precise equality in all levels of society turned the Radical Feminists into dividers and not problem solvers. Men were and still are the “enemy,” the patriarchal society is the enemy and, until recently, the current social order was the enemy. But, thanks to TV shows like Sex and the City where male sexual predators are replaced by female sexual predators, the desired equality has been achieved. Women can be, and should be, just as bad as a certain group of stereotypical men. Cooperation? Who needs it? A level playing field where the women meet the men at the same “power” level is all that’s desired. There is no room for real trust and real love.

I believe Mr. Carter when he says he has known people in his religious community who have used verses from the Bible to deny women certain opportunities. But he errs in making blanket statements.

He makes some political statements about the Middle East. I sincerely hope that he can use his influence, along with others in his group, to convince those who abuse women to end their practices. I don’t know if some countries want democracy but he can certainly work to convince them to end abusive practices towards women.

The Radical Feminists deserve blame for turning families into the “wrong choice” for women. For instilling such fear and suspicion that I can see how some women would overreact. Instead of seeking solutions, they created a power bloc against men. The cry was Women’s Liberation! Liberation from what?

Too many ignore the Bible where it tells husbands to love their wives. I watched true love turn into ‘just sex.’ I blame the media as well for turning too many down a path that seemed, at least at first, somehow easier and better. It was neither.


I have never heard this before. Here’s Carter’s claim:

During the years of the early Christian church women served as deacons, priests, bishops, apostles, teachers and prophets. It wasn’t until the fourth century that dominant Christian leaders, all men, twisted and distorted holy scriptures to perpetuate their ascendant positions within the religious hierarchy.

Can you suggest any sources where I can read more about this?

Carter is probably now a pantheist of some sort who thinks merging with the All is the ultimate experience. The tendency of men to move forward and separate is not appreciated. Western Christianity has been on a road to feminization for the last 500 years. Any survey of Church attendance in America, including the Catholic Church, shows woman membership and attendance greatly outnumbers men. There is a mainstream Protestant school of theology near where I live, whose main mission is to train ministers. Go there and you see mainly women students, as is also true of our feminized universities. They seem very obsessed there about the environment. You get chastised at their bookstore if you take more than one book marker. Marching out into the world to save souls is probably not something you should bring up the effete young man who was incensed that I took more than one book marker after buying ninety dollars worth of books. The question is where are all the men? I looked at a questioner for employee of the year nominations from my employer and saw that the qualities desired where those of cooperation, a commitment to diversity, etc. Nothing mentioned of courage, or respect for authority, etc. Catholic priests in some orders have Mary in their names usually seem a bit effeminate. It is natural for men to strike out and forge new creations while resisting the urge to merge with the all. This is done to sustain our reality as God intended. Now we must have priestesses who push toward pantheism and neglect the eternal separation between the Creation and God, even with Gods’ immanence. Carter as usual, just doesn’t get it.

Mr. Carter is incorrect about women in the priesthood, at least in the Catholic Church. This according to Pope John Paul II.


He belongs to a group called “The Elders” which is making an effort to influence all religions to change their practices and promote women to the same positions as men

…Yeah, maybe, when the Sun turns into a duck.

Watch it, I think Jimmah has alredy professed to having done that…:smiley:

My own mother is one of these people too. I don’t recall the names of the documents she cited, but i read each one of them she gave me and looked them up (this way years ago).

Realize that there are literally tens of thousands of NT era documents, letters and fragments in various libraries around the world. Figuring out what it all meant 1,800 years later is tricky at best.

Most of the “documents” fall into categories like this: You’ve heard newspaper stories about women’s ordinantion ceremonies in recent times. What if one of those newspapers somehow survives a cataclysm that nearly destroys civilization on earth some time in the future. Future archeologists would examine the partial record we have along with contemporary accounts and likely conclude that the Catholic Church only ordained men to the priesthood, but that there were a few loose canons that took it upon themselves to attempt to ordain women. Future conspiracy theorists would look at those same documents and conclude that women priests were common in the 21st century and that a 22nd century partriarchal opression covered up the evidence to re-instate a male priesthood…

Same thing happened 1800 years ago. Humans were as raucus and rowdy then as today and some believed and did weird things. And given the commonness of priestesses in the pagan religions of the day, it should be no surprise that some people then, as today, tried to customize this christianity thing and remake it in their own image.

More confusion resulted from the fact that there really were such people as “deaconesses” which makes people excited until they read further and find that these deaconesses did not perform the sacramental functions that deacons do. In short, they weren’t receiving the sacrament of Holy Orders, but were rather something akin to what religious sisters are today.

In case you haven’t noticed (via following Jimmuh Carter’s long career),
Jimmy Carter is a gallingly self-righteous, pompous jerk who thinks he is one of the smartest and wisest
men on earth. Those of us who remember his HELPING the communists take over Nicaragua in 1979 and his HELPING the radical mullahs seize power in once-friendly Iran, are not surprised by this pompous man pilfering around with the church and theology.
He esteems himself all-wise in THAT area too.
I was surprised to read that Jimmuh was planning to leave the
Southern Baptists, as he joined up with the liberal Cooperative Baptist Fellowship back around 1993. He just likes keeping himself in the limelight.
He has never met a communist he didn’t adore.
IMHO, the man should retire to a monastery and do penance on bread and water every day for the rest of his troublemaking life. He was the worst president that this country ever had. I remember him trying to assassinate the “killer bunny.” What a joke.

I would not wish bread and water on an elderly man, but I do wish Mr. Carter would show some class. He could enjoy his golden years building homes or by meeting tourists at the Carter Center or in Plains, Georgia. Hectoring the world on everything not aligned with Mr. Carter’s vision diminishes him. Granted, Mr. Carter’s reputation is well-deserved as the post above notes.

Mr. Carter seems to be the world’s professional scold and thereby tries to make himself appear better than his term in the White House did. Injecting himself into religion is ludicrous. This is a man who is a was against restricting abortion rights when he was running for the presidency. His religious opinions should guide no one.

This is very good. Thank you. I have always been very puzzled at women who think they are treated lower than men in the Church. To be a priest you have to lower yourself and be a servant of all. So if women think they are moving up when becoming a priest, they should think again. Women are highly esteemed in the Church.

This is a website promoting women’s ordination, and these are the 2 documents they use to support the notion that there were women priests in the early Church:

Pope Gelasius I, 494 AD, on women serving at the altar
“Nevertheless we have heard with impatience that disrespect for sacred things have come to this level that even women are tolerated to administer at the sacred altars and that a sex which is not competent deals with all the matters which have been entrusted only to the service of men.”

Letter to the bishops of Lucania, in J. D. Mansi, Sacrorum consiliorum nova et amplissima collectio (Paris, 1901ff. ), vol. 8.44, cap. 26. Accordingly the liturgical ministry of women is considered to be disrespectful of divine, holy “things. ”

Pope Innocent III, 1210 AD, on abbesses
“Recently some news has come to our ears, which has caused no small amazement, namely that abbesses, resident in the dioceses of Burgos and Palencia (in Spain), bless their own nuns, hear their confessions on crimes, and reading the Gospel give public sermons. Since this is both incredible and absurd, and not to be tolerated by us, I am sending to your discretion, through these apostolic writings, the order to suppress this firmly with apostolic authority so that it does not happen again. For although the most blessed Virgin Mary was so much more worthy and excellent than all the Apostles, the Lord did not entrust to her, but to the Apostles, the keys of the kingdom of heaven.”

All these statements prove is that, in the past, there were women who “administer at the sacred altars” and women (abbesses) who “bless their own nuns, hear their confessions on crimes, and reading the Gospel give public sermons.” So what. We still have nuns who do that, and they are still being told not to, so what does that prove? Was it ever an acceptable Church practice, that is the question, and the Popes’ disapproval in both cases indicates that the answer most probably is “no.”

To read more into these 2 statements, which are disciplinary in nature, is misleading. If this is the best proof for women priests, it’s safe to say there is no proof.

In all honesty I think it is a pretty good editorial and I am also sure that Mr. Carter, whom I admire a good deal, will learn a great deal from his efforts in this regard.
On the one had I do think that he is correct in that men have used certain Bible verses to subjugate women over the centuries. Of course this comes from the very real problem of “cherry picking” bible verses to suit a viewpoint. It is good that Mr Carter recognizes this. It is also good to recognize the role of women in the Early Church and indeed the Church throughout history. I am curious to know if there is any evidence that, as the editorial states, women were ordained as Bishops.

The one thing that caught my attention in particular is that he clearly states that he has no theological training. If he is willing to listen to and learn from those who DO have theological training he will quickly see that he is looking at things somewhat incorrectly. This will take time but I believe that Mr. Carter has the capacity to see this.

Once Mr Carter can recognize that “equality” before God is not the same as “equality” on earth, he will be able to recognize the women of the Church who, in their “subjugated” postions have performed the greatest of work for God - Greater than most men are ever able to accomplish. Women like Joan of Arc, Catherine of Sienna, Mother Teresa, Therese of Lisieux, Teresa of Avila, and many many more.

Let us pray that The Holy Spirit use this opportunity to bring Mr Carter home to the Catholic Church where is concerns can be answered in the fullness of truth.


Now Mr. Carter had his picture taken with my (grown) son last night, so he can’t be all bad! Seriously, he did.

Having lived around Americus/Plains GA and experienced the extreme highs of his election in 1976 and the absolute lows of his actual presidency, I suggest that he stick to counting votes and stay out of ALL religious discussions.

Gosh, you’re beginning to give me nostalgia for the “good old days” of U.S. hostages in Iran and 17.5% home mortgage rates.

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