Brothers & sisters,
Coming from a somewhat Anglican-inclined background, I waver in this issue. Wishing to be loyal to the Gospel in the Church, my intent here is to find ancient examples of Rome’s refusal of women clergy: from history, the fathers, the doctors, and the Scriptures.
Right now, I am only looking for sources from antiquity (before ~AD 500). So far, there are a few:
1 Corinthians 14:32-37
And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the God of dissension, but of peace: as also I teach in all the churches of the saints. Let women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted them to speak but to be subject, as also the law says. But if they would learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is a shame for a woman to speak in the church. Or did the word of God come out from you? Or came it only unto you? If any seem to be a prophet or spiritual, let him know the things that I write to you, that they are the commandments of the Lord.
- Where does the Law say that women must be silent?
- Not so sure about this quote regarding women clergy, since the specific context is prophecy, not necessarily ministry.
1 Timothy 2:5-15
there is one God: and one mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus: Who gave himself a redemption for all, a testimony in due times, whereunto I am appointed a preacher and an apostle (I say the truth, I lie not), a doctor of the Gentiles in faith and truth. I will therefore that men pray in every place, lifting up pure hands, without anger and contention. In like manner, women also in decent apparel: adorning themselves with modesty and sobriety, not with plaited hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly attire: But, as it becomes women professing godliness, with good works. Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to use authority over the man: but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed; then Eve. And Adam was not seduced; but the woman, being seduced, was in the transgression. Yet she shall be saved through child bearing; if she continue in faith and love and sanctification with sobriety.
This is very strong context indeed. Just as there is one God and one mediator, the man Christ Jesus, so men pray openly in every place with hands uplifted. Women, on the other hand, do not have the public ministry even of outward prayer, let alone being lectors and clergy! Their sanctification is clearly in the home and in subjection - a glorious truth of God’s love for family life.
1 Timothy 3:1-4
If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desires good work. It behoves therefore a bishop to be blameless, the husband of one wife, sober, prudent, of good behaviour, chaste, given to hospitality, a teacher, not given to wine, no striker, but modest, not quarrelsome, not covetous, but 4 one that rules well his own house, having his children in subjection with all chastity.
Notice that the injunctions for bishops to be 1. husbands of one wife, and 2. rulers of their own houses, both come immediately after the commandment for women to be subject (i.e. ruled by) their husbands in chapter 2!
St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Doctor of the Church, Intro to the Catechetical Lectures paragraph 14 (speaking about baptismal procedures)
When the Exorcism has been done, until the others who are being exorcised
have come, let men be with men, and women with women. For now I need the example of Noah’s ark: in which were Noah and his sons, and his wife and his sons’ wives. For though the ark was one, and the door was shut, yet had things been suitably arranged. If
the Church is shut, and you are all inside, yet let there be a separation, men with men, and women with women: lest the pretext of salvation become an occasion of destruction.
Even if there be a fair pretext for sitting near each other, let passions be put away. Further,
let the men when sitting have a useful book; and let one read, and another listen: and if
there be no book, let one pray, and another speak something useful. And again let the party of young women sit together in like manner, either singing or reading quietly, so that their lips speak, but others’ ears catch not the sound: for I suffer not a woman to speak in the Church.
Not only does Cyril teach (as a priest with his bishop’s permission in the AD 340s) that women cannot be lectors or clergy, he even says that their prayers should not be heard in the Church at all. Sometimes I wonder if the Fathers go too far in their interpretations.
Thank you for taking the time to read this thread. Please contribute if you wish!