In which Caitie Beardmore and I continue our brilliant discussion, and become more and more convinced that we are right, and that the idea of a female priest is (rushes to thesaurus.com to find a more polite word than ‘stupid’) simply puerile.
|That’s not becoming Jesus…|
and i was getting all into this ‘male priesthood’ thing too…
Okay, okay, I’ll respond now!
Still going with that “teenager” thing, huh? Look, when you’re ready to reveal your identity as a middle aged, published theologian, we’re all here for ya.
Man, oh man! Are you on it! You said, “If we are to argue that there should only be a male priesthood, then it must be on the basis of a characteristic that only men have.” You’re so right! And I love that you said, “While I agree that they are characteristics more “at home” in men, a woman can do them without too much difficulty, and often better.” I was a’totally a’missing the point!
So I guess the basic difference between men and women is how they give life. Naturally, only women can give physical life as mothers, through birth. And spiritually, only men can give spiritual life as priests, through the priesthood. If this wasn’t acceptable, those vying for the female priesthood should also then be supportive of male pregnancy. (Gag alert!)
In regards to your reflections.. Women can’t be an image of Christ, as He is the husband of the Church. Similarly, men can’t be the image of Mary, as she is the “God-bearer”. So, to answer your question, I guess I see woman as the bearer and grower of physical life, which might elude to a new cycle of bride/bridegroom kind of thang.. Would it?
I’m feeling less sure of this and oh-so-reflective of your last response so, instead of asking you a new question, I’ll ask that you just critique my lame attempts at an answer..
Still graciously mentioning,
Now it’s my turn to apologize. I was at the beach, busy stroking my well-formed, greying beard, drinking martinis and writing an introduction to the newest edition of my published work, Summa Marcologica. Though I hate to do it, I disagree with your following statement. Or rather, I agree with it whole-heartedly, but disagree with our use of it as a viable argument.
“So I guess the basic difference between men and women is how they give life. Naturally, only women can give physical life as mothers, through birth. And spiritually, only men can give spiritual life as priests…”
The problem being that we are attempting to make the case that “only men can give spiritual life as priests” and I don’t believe we have yet. As such, we can’t use it as the basic difference between men and women (until we do). And I’m afraid “giving spiritual life” is too vague of a term for us to grapple with.
Interesting that you should mention Mary though. Because Mary would have been, without any shadow of doubt, the perfect priest. What better person to stand in the person of Christ then her without sin? What better person to offer the sacrifice of the Mass then she who had her heart pierced with a sword at the sacrifice of her son? Could we ask for a more perfect example of holiness, for better knowledge of Christ, for a greater disciple, a greater apostle? And, as we hear her messages from Fatima, from Lourdes and in our own hearts, could we really offer an example of a human being with more concern for her flock? With more of a priestly love for the Church? The answer is no. And yet Mary was not with the twelve when the priesthood was instituted, at the Last Supper. Mary was not a priest.
I am led to realize that the only thing those twelve men were better at than Mary was being men. That’s the only thing. And as Christians, we know that everything Christ did, he did for a reason. And so we are led to conclude that, in excluding the perfect disciple from being a priest, he was reserving the priesthood for men. For those with the characteristic of paternity that reflects God’s fatherly love for us. Because let’s be honest, Mary could kick Peter’s butt in all things but manliness.
But I guess all this leaves a question. Was Christ being a jerk to women? Hey, you’re one of those woman things! Do you feel unfairly treated? Do you grit your teeth and mumble “oh the patriarchy!” under your teeth at Mass?
Ah, you’re right! I jumped ahead didn’t I? See? This is why I need to talk this through with someone first. I end up jumping around more than a soccer mom at the Oprah show and everyone comes out confused. Thank goodness you’re here!
Totally agree on the Mary thang.. I mean, talk about the perfect Keys to Heaven caretaker! Mary seems like the kind of gal who’d always hang them up when she came in the house too.. I’m sure Peter had a couple “Keys.. keys.. where did I — ” moments. So, why Peter? You, as always, summed it up perfectly: “I am led to realize that the only thing those twelve men were better at than Mary was being men.”
Think of all the stories of Jesus with women; the woman at the well, Mary Magdalene, and even Mary and Martha! I mean, c’mon! Talk about a guy who doesn’t confine women to the kitchen! His interactions with women show that not only does He have a love for us, He has a deep respect for us, and that doesn’t stop when He picks only-male Apostles. He saw each person as His Father’s child, so saying that there should have been women Apostles is saying, not only that Jesus was wrong (which is ballsy in itself) but that He is guilty of sexism. Plus, there were plenty of pagan religions that had priestesses at the time.. It wasn’t THAT crazy an idea. If Jesus had wanted women priests, He would have had them.
I don’t feel unfairly treated at all and I’ll give you three reasons why: first, because I am so in awe that God would create us to be able to do such things as humans alone! What a miracle the priesthood is! The fact that any human being can stand in for Jesus is enough to leave me faint in the pew. Second, I don’t feel excluded because I trust Jesus. I know that, should women have been meant to be priests, He would have made it so. I believe in His power and the power of the Holy Spirit. I am sure that it would have been something that Jesus would have instituted specifically. And finally, I see it as a trade off.. We ladies get to grow babies and men get to administer the Sacraments. I’m cool with that! Though I wish the stretchmarks were a bit more evenly distributed..
How about you? What do you say to those who claim there were female deaconesses back in the day?
I don’t know much about the female deaconess argument, but I have seen it mentioned on several comboxes throughout the vast expanse of internet-land.
What’s great is that I know enough about it to know that it’s a stupid argument. Because a deacon, though alike in collar, black dress and mood, is not a priest. The fact that there were female deaconesses only heightens the more blindingly obvious fact, that there weren’t female priests. It’s an alright emotional argument, I suppose, but doesn’t hold water logically. Would I point to the small number of apples that look like pears to argue that apples should really be pears after all? No. People would laugh at me, and I have a delicate ego.
I don’t know if there really were female deaconesses, as the evidence seems shaky. But if there were, they were not priests. And as our understanding evolves, and the deaconate is realized as something that does not simply ‘stand on its own’, as a task within the Church, but also points and leads to the priesthood, then we begin to understand why women are not deaconesses.
More to come!