Chrysostom predicts the 21st century

Thanks to Bob Miller for showing me this quotation from John Chrysostom (c. 347-407) from his Homily 5 on Titus:

“Woman was not made for this, O man, to be prostituted as common. O you subverters of all decency, who use men, as if they were women, and lead out women to war, as if they were men! This is the work of the devil, to subvert and confound all things, to overleap the boundaries that have been appointed from the beginning, and remove those which God has set to nature.”

This early Church Father is not just ranting and raving; rather, he suggests a whole approach to issues like these:  What are we made for?  What are the “boundaries,” or do you really think we can do without any boundaries at all?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • tODD

    Dr. Veith, you forgot the next line: “For God assigned to woman the care of the house only, to man the conduct of public affairs.”

    As such, let’s only have men comment on this thread, please. Women, whip up something tasty. That laundry will not fold itself.

  • SKPeterson

    Well, to be fair, public policy was for the Emperor and his officials, churchmen, and the literati, not just any man. So, I prefer this conversation just be amongst the learned. The hoi polloi need to get to work, anyhow.

  • http://homewardbound-cb.blogspot.com ChrisB

    Yeah, lets shout down Crysostom. The world works so much better with people shooting at, and being shot by, women soldiers.

  • Gary in FL

    Chris, your sarcasm contributed nothing. Chrysostom accepted as true (probably even Biblical) any number of cultural things that aren’t part of our world today. I certainly wouldn’t care to live in his world. Or Luther’s. Or Paul’s, for that matter. So if you think a sensible discussion about military women in combat roles is needed in our day (but then how about also women as uniformed police officers?), then by all means, lead on. But yes, for me those voices from centuries ago need to be taken in context. I’m giving Dr. Veith credit he doesn’t really mean to imply Chrysostom was prescient. To his question, Can we do without boundaries at all?, I think the answer is _probably_ No, but up to this day culture has erred more on the side of setting up boundaries than on the side of demolishing them. In other words, I’d say the reduction of gender-based boundaries we’ve seen in the past 30 years has been a good thing–the “boundaries” (unfortunate choice of words, in my opinion) that should be left in place will be even fewer and wider in the future.

  • Jon

    Well, at least there is one boundary that will not be defeated–male and female He created them. Can’t get past basic biology.

    It may be circumvented for all practical purposes, however, when we can evolve technology to the point of producing babies in a laboratory, perhaps even cloning us.

  • Jon

    Well, at least there is one boundary that will not be defeated–male and female He created them. Can’t change basic biology.

    It may be circumvented for all practical purposes, however, when we can evolve technology to the point of producing babies in a laboratory, perhaps even cloning us.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist

    I think Chrysostom was confused by the Devil :-)
    It seems to me that Satan’s purpose is not to mix up “gender roles”, but to kill (someone called him a murderer from the beginning in the Bible, I think). I suspect Satan is far more satisfied with male Chechnians bombing marathons than with the female police officers who strapped up to apprehend them.

  • Stephen

    Sorry Jon. Google “intersex” and see if that colors your view. What bible rule governs such as these? What shall we say of their creaturely nature? And what good news is there for them? If not for them too then for whom??

    That’s the problem with quasi-natural law arguments to support a theological bias. Nature refuses to cooperate.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    It occurs to me that a lot of grasping for power and position is because those to whom it was given first have made such a hash of it. In a workplace, you can tell when the managers are doing poorly because even the janitor says “boy, if I were in charge.” In a family, you can often tell an abusive husband by looking at his resentful wife. In politics today, from both sides, you can tell that things have gone well beyond simple policy differences about the same way.

    Or, put differently, I did a statistical test to compare the fitness of the four women who have attempted the combat infantry course to the men who have done the same. As all four women failed the introductory test (at least one of them due to an injury requiring medical attention), the probability that these women were in the same category, fitness-wise, as the men (both passing and failing) in the course is zero.

    God made us different. Let’s celebrate and enjoy this fact.

  • Gene Veith

    Well, apparently things like this were happening in ancient Rome, since Chrysostom is complaining about them. So it isn’t just “today.”

  • Stephen

    @BB

    Nothing wrong with celebrating difference. Gay or straight, let’s celebrate!!! But that’s not what you mean. Oh well . . .

    Whenever someone advocates for strict “gender roles” that others should fit into, what they really are concerned about is authority – who has it and who doesn’t. It is driven not by a conern for the needs of the neighbor, but by -fear of losing their power, and sinful people are always concerned with both maintaining and increasing their power over others. It stems from our desire for control in a world that resists our attempts and is the preferred method of a moralist.

    Mercy, rather, compels one to give all that up for the other, emptying ourselves of this need for authority and control for the sake of others. Paradoxically, this is the exact and perfect use of our power – to give it away.

    Philippians 2:5

  • Stephen

    To correct myself, rather than say “whenever” I probably ought to have said “usually” or perhaps “it has been my experience” or somethinng to that effect. It gets us all off the hook, including St. Paul. The irony of the whole “putting others in their place” project is not lost on me. Such is our democratic dilemma of competing subjectivity. The larger point stands because I one upped it with a prooftext. So there.

  • Jon

    @8, Stephen
    I think your intersex exception just proves the rule–some of them are sterile, and ones that aren’t have functioning male or female gametes, less often both. And the intersex child was the product of a male and female. And for the intersex to reproduce, s/he will need a opposite gamete from another source. So males and females are inherently different, inherently required for reproduction, there’s no changing that barrier.

  • Stephen

    Jon,

    Well then I’m not sure what your actual point was. So do intersex people ought to identify positively as one sex or the other because of . . . what exactly? Did your point have to do with roles being assigned “naturally” and therefore, by extension, these roles have some inherent meaning for us as people in relationship to each other? That is what I thought you meant. If so, then as I said, that is a natural law argument and it falls apart when we look for “basic biology” to assign roles in a society of human beings such as they are. Keep in mind that an “is” is not an “ought.” Male and female he created them. Well, yes – a true enough statement about what is but not about what ought to be. Biology can be manipulated (as you say) and nature is full of surprises (my point).

    It is true that babies, in general, come from the intercourse of males and females. It is also true that parents are usually made up of a certain kind of person. We call them adults. But these two facts are not related essentially or of necessity. If they were, there would be no way a society could remove a child from biological parents that abuse it. Neither would adoption be acceptable. In other words, having children does not automatically make people parents, that is if we believe the word “parent ” to mean something beyond biology. I think we all do and this is informed by conscience. “Parent” implies a vocation. It has to do with many other things, including social norms, etc. that are not determined by sex organs or gametes alone, which seems to be the primary basis of your assigning roles to people.

    While I would agree that the parental bond with a child is a near sovereign boundary, it is not totally inviolable. And it certainly is not determined by nature only, which as I said, seems to be where you would want to ground your argument against all those homos wanting to live peacefully and legally and have families. Isn’t that what we’re talking about?

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Stephen, I believe ordinarily we’d call “intersex,” as you call it, a “birth defect.” The Scriptures describe this indirectly in Matthew 19:12, and allude to it in the restrictions for the priests in the Torah. So the Church is not caught unawares, nor is She caught bigoted. At the very least, I’ve not heard of any churches, even the lunatics at Westboro Baptist, attacking such people.

    And since apparently nobody is having a problem with such tragic cases, and they only occur one time in 5000, that’s really a diversionary tactic of yours so you can sneak in the idea that roles based on one’s sex are simply a matter of power.

    Nice try, but it simply doesn’t wash with reality. “Intersex” people don’t change the basic fact that women are biologically designed to bear and nurse children. “Intersex” people don’t change the fact that men are orders of magnitude more likely to be able to bear the strains of combat. And finally, “intersex” people have no bearing on the question of homosexuality, which is decided almost entirely by people with normally functioning genitalia.

    And those homosexuals wanting to have families? Well, I looked up the data, and homosexuals are about a third as likely as heterosexuals to form a cohabiting relationship, about a twelfth as likely to marry, and about 4% as likely to become parents. It would appear that the two groups are different by nature, and perhaps we ought to respect that.

  • Stephen

    Bubba

    And if we discover a gay gene or some other natural process that causes homosexuality, what then? And as for statistics, I could either invoke Mark Twain or ask if statistics about any minority say something about their “natures.”

    Men are physically stronger, on average. Granted. But once again, to admit such is not to also say that only men can or should fight simply because of a biological reality. I’m a big guy. Does that biological fact make me a Marine? What other factors make for a good warrior? Other cultures have let women fight, even expected it. Isn’t it largely about a willing temprement

    Using nature as the primary source to assign fixed social roles may seem rational but it is flawed. It cannot account for how humans actually relate to each other.

  • Paul from Kato

    Are we sure that Chrysostom when writing “who use men, as if they were women” was speaking about homosexual behavior? I think not since “and lead out women to war” speaks more about gender differences than sexual activity. Surely (?) he was referring to a long-agreed understanding of Genesis 1 and 2 where “man” (male and female) is given dominion over the creation while male and female where given a different relationship; namely, that the woman (female singular) was to be a helper for the man (masculine singular). Now, God does not there identify what sort of “help” the woman was to give to (she was called “toward man” because she was made “from man”) the man/husband. That is also long-understood to be between the two of them. If he’s better suited toward the cooking and cleaning and child rearing and she is better suited for the hunting and defense of the family there is neither command nor prohibition within the family. True, there are some functions of the family which are “built-in” so that in no way could two men or two women form the foundation of the domestic estate since all that is needed for the family could not be present in conceiving, bearing, nursing children and providing the requisite parts for sexual fulfillment. (Yes, I do believe that homosexual sex cannot, a priori, give adequate fulfillment which is not to say that all heterosexual sex is automatically fulfilling either; but that’s not my point here.)

    My point is that I believe our confusion over the boundaries *in society* frequently comes when this principle where the man and woman are “one” so that everything necessary is being accomplished between them is then applied to the realm of society. They (husband and wife) “submit to one another as to the Lord.” It’s reflexive. In other words, the husband/wife can split up family duties however they like and are best suited. How to do that is left to them within their marriage and biology. But this truth is not necessarily also true with the relationship between all humans and their Creator or even between all humans outside of marriage. There *are* commands and prohibitions regarding male and female in the realm of spiritual things and in the realm of societal things. We must look closely at what those are.

    With regard to spiritual things, we first notice that it was to the man (masculine singular) that God gave several commands. To Adam God gave the command to work and care for the Garden (Genesis 2:15). Since Eve had not yet been created, but was later created to be a suitable helper for the man, it follows that she was to help him fulfill the command that was given to him. Their children also were to be under his authority/responsibility until they leave their father and more and cleave each to his own wife (feminine singular). Likewise, God commanded the man not eat from that certain tree even before Eve was created. Eve would be a suitable helper for this as well, but the authority/responsibility for applying the Word of God had been put upon the man who would have needed to instruct his wife who, in turn, would have submitted to her husband and the husband to God.

    The “use” of men as women to which Chrysostom is referring is men subjecting other men to do for them what God had given them to do for themselves. It is one thing to “lead” men (and women!) out to war, but it is quite another to “send” them as if they were meant to do that on their behalf as “suitable helpers”. And to “lead out women to war as if they were men” is to give women a responsibility as if it were God-given when it was not. In short, the relationship between the man and the emperor is not the same as the relationship between husband and wife. Likewise, the relationship between women and the emperor is not the same as the relationship between husband and wife.

    We would do well, therefore, to refrain from applying what can be said for the relationship between husband and wife to the relationship between the emperor and his subjects. The emperor is not husband to his subjects (but Christ IS husband to His bride, the Church; which would not need to be said if every lord were husband to his subjects).

    For a contemporary application, we must see that our government is not to be the provider for all its citizens and that the government is not to apply the authority/responsibility of the husband/father to all it’s subjects. The government is a separate estate with its own responsibility/authority.

    Context and interpretive principles must be applied!

  • Stephen

    Paul,

    Stuff to thinl about. Thanks.

    So how does that comport with an all volunteer military. Sounds like you would still say that a man (or men) are to decide the fate of the wife (or women) in regards to what social role they may or may not undertake. Are we back to “shut up and cook something” (submit ’cause I’m a guy) . I’m unclear as to how, in essence, you are still not relying primarily on biology to determine authority.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist

    Bike Bubba, are you sure you meant 4 women? You can’t do a statistical test with four treatments; did you mean 400?

  • sg

    Dr. Veith, you forgot the next line: “For God assigned to woman the care of the house only, to man the conduct of public affairs.”

    As such, let’s only have men comment on this thread, please. Women, whip up something tasty. That laundry will not fold itself.

    With all due respect to our esteemed host here, Dr. Veith, chatting here on this blog hardly counts as “the conduct of public affairs.”

  • sg

    Other cultures have let women fight, even expected it.

    LOL, yeah, there is a word for those cultures: Losers.

  • Stephen

    You mean like Vikings and Saxons? Ya know, your people.

  • fjsteve

    If anyone thinks removing historical boundaries between gender roles means that there will be fewer boundaries in general, they are sorely mistaken. Humans are all about organizing roles and drawing boundaries. These will just be, and are currently being, imposed in other areas of life.

  • Abby

    A little different version of the quote: “O ye subverters of all decency, who use men, as if they were women, and lead out women to war, as if they were men! This is the work of the devil, to subvert and confound all things, to overleap the boundaries that have been appointed from the beginning, and remove those which God has set to nature. For God assigned to woman the care of the house only, to man the conduct of public affairs. But you reduce the head to the feet, and raise the feet to the head. You suffer women to bear arms, and are not ashamed.” —John Chrysostom (AD 344-407), Homily on Titus

  • sg

    You mean like Vikings and Saxons?

    Link?

  • Paul in Kato

    To say that a man is commanded by God to do certain things and a woman is not is not to say that a woman *may* not. It is only that she has no command. The point is not that women may or may not serve under arms, but that the men are *indifferent* – that is, they *suffer* – to a woman volunteering to do what they, themselves, as men have been commanded to do. It is even worse when they command that the women do what God has commanded they themselves (the men) to do. Conversely, a woman has a command by God to see to the nurture of her children. However, that is not to say that a man *may* not do so as well. Thus, the men ought to be ashamed (Chrysostom) for allowing — even commanding — women to do what they themselves are unwilling, though commanded, to do.

    So it can be seen that a woman certainly may volunteer to serve under arms; but shame upon the men who compel her to do so either by command (where God has given no such command) or indifference to doing what God has commanded them (the men) to do. Remember: read “For God assigned to woman the care of the house only” not as though this is all that she is allowed to do, but all that God has *commanded* her to do.

    So we see in many of our Christian congregations the shameful condition where the men have abandoned their spiritual responsibility, thus requiring the women to do it for them — some even saying that taking the children to Church and teaching the faith is “women’s work”. Can women do this? Surely yes — and they are doing it. But shame upon the men who shirk their God-given responsibility to be the spiritual overseer of their family, thus necessitating and some even commanding the wife/mother to do what God had given for the husband/father to do.

    So we see that in the end the husband is not commanding the woman back into the kitchen, so to speak, but by accepting his responsibility he serves her and their children best by allowing her to do as of first importance that which God has given her to do.

    Look, I am no misogynist. My wife chose to be a CPA and has worked full time in that career for most of our married life. However, if she chooses to stay at home in the first year of each of our three children’s lives as she did, I must allow her to do so for she is fulfilling God’s command as she sees best. I may not force her to go to work instead, because responsibility for the care of the children is given to her by God as of first importance. Even worse, shame on me if I were to command her to work outside the home in direct opposition to God’s command while I am perfectly able to work and to provide for the family. If she had no husband or if I could not work and provide for the family, then of course she can and should do what needs to be done. There also are many times when I am able to stay home with a sick child. But if she felt that she needed to do so then I would have no right to overrule “what God has assigned” not to me but “to her.” At the same time, she may not overrule what God has “assigned” to me. She may work and be involved just as I am outside of the home. I may work and be involved just as she is inside the home. But when push-comes-to-shove, we both must obey God with regard to the division of duties. I must defend the family just as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her. She must care for the family just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us.

    I hope this helps. I probably used too many words. But God has given my wife the ability to work with lots of numbers and to me He have given the bounty of many words.

  • Booklover

    Paul in Kato, those seem like wise words.

  • Stephen

    Paul in Kato,

    That was really nice. Thanks again. I think I read you right, and what I really liked is that you did not need to invoke biology to do it, at least not out of some sense necessity that is primarily governed by gametes, anatomy or “nature.” And you stuck to the text. Very helpful. Some things to ponder.

  • Stephen

    Paul,

    “To say that a man is commanded by God to do certain things and a woman is not is not to say that a woman *may* not. It is only that she has no command.”

    So how does that square with women pastors? “May” they do so, even though they are not commanded to do so? If they are willing, have the temperament and skills, and it does not interfere with their first order duties as mother, then whose to say they “should not” do that work if they choose it. It is, after all, an earthly vocation just as is any other, with its own prescribed duties.

  • BS in Texas

    Stephen@29:

    On its face that would seem to be a fair (and, good) question. But the requirements for the office of pastor are clearly spelled out in Scripture, as I am sure you know. That God speaks (thru Paul) with such specificity regarding that office and who can fulfill it pretty much ends the debate on that issue.

  • Paul in Kato

    Stephen: Thank you for the complement. I don’t post anywhere very often, but I do read here nearly every day. I appreciate very much a good discussion and would be curious to know how many others are following us on this. I think you would agree with me that the Church, even my own, has not spoken very clearly about this even though it can be clearly explained and understood. I’m guessing that’s because they/we fear being misunderstood and labeled as misogynist.

    A few things come quickly to my mind concerning the questions you raise@29. These are also commonly misunderstood and add to the confusion over the pastoral office in general and who should be Called to be a Pastor in particular.

    First of all, no one has a “right” to be or do whatever they choose. I cannot be a World War II Veteran. I was born much too late for that. I cannot be a jet fighter pilot since they need math and engineering skills which I haven’t been given and now I’m just too old. I cannot be a mother or a wife – God has not given me what is needed to do those things. Our contemporary society has told us, however, that any person can “be whatever they want to be” which simply isn’t true and has led to a great deal of misery (especially for thousands of kids who want to be pro athletes) for although “all men are created equal” (read also “women”), we are not all interchangable (LCMS CTCR document).

    So each of us must examine the gifts, skills, resources, and interests which we have been given by our Creator. This includes when and where He has placed us in history and geography, the culture into which we were placed, and even the parents and siblings which we were given. Taking these into account as best we can, each person then aspires to or takes up a particular vocation. This also is sometimes beyond our individual control since there may be no openings in a particular vocation and I am forbidden to scheme or seek to take away another person’s vocation. I’m really in Dr. Veith’s territory here, so I apologize to him for doing so on his own blog. Yet the point is essential when considering whether or not women may or should become Pastors because the point of vocation is not to make money, have a career, find personal fulfillment, or other inward purposes, but rather to love and serve our neighbor. So the proper question is not “What do I want to be and do in life?” but rather “How can I best love and serve my neighbor given the gifts, skills, resources, attributes, place and time that God has given me?” We need not ask “may” or “should” a woman be a Pastor. Rather, every one of us, regardless of gender, need to ask, “What has God given for me to do today?” So the question “May” a woman be a pastor even though they are not commanded to do so?” is not the best starting question. It seeks an abstract, absolute principle while God deals with us in down-to-earth, concrete, individual particularities. For example, if I were to ask “May I become an astronaut?” there are countless abstract scenarios in which the answer could be yes. But in my individual, particular situation, I cannot see any possible route to fulfilling that aspiration. This doesn’t yet answer your question, but it does help us refocus your question to one which can be answered.

    I have known many women with gifts greater than my own for being a Pastor. (I almost said “or theologian” but I had better leave theologian out of this discussion.) One woman in my college days far surpassed most of the men in her understanding and skill with the Greek and Hebrew Scriptures. Another was a extremely persuasive speaker. I have known many women with the compassion and skill of a pastor in dealing with others (see “The Hammer of God” by Bo Giertz, pp. 24-25 where Katrina comforts Johannes on his death bed with the Good News of Christ’s atonement!). So we need to be clear that yes,there are many women who have been given the gifts, skills, resources, time and place necessary for providing good Pastoral care. If we say otherwise, people will ignore us from then on. God can and does work when and where and through whom He pleases to accomplish His will.

    God has not bound Himself to work only through certain means in creating and sustaining faith. But He has bound us. The most familiar example of this is our Lord’s command that we Baptize all nations. We understand this to mean “to apply water” in the Name of the Triune God for forgiveness and regeneration. If one were to ask, “Could we Baptize with coffee?” since it contains water or “could we Baptize with hand sanitizer since it is now used to ‘wash’?” we would need to answer “No” because that is not what God has bound us to do. A similar question today is whether or not Holy Communion can be given using grape juice and glutten-free wafers since God certainly “can” use whatever He pleases to bestow forgiveness, life, and eternal salvation. But how far afield can or may we go before we no longer have the command to Baptize or to “Do this in remembrance of me?” In the same way we see that God certainly “can” and has used women to deliver His Word and gifts, even in the public office. The question, however, is not therefore “can” or “may” a woman be a Pastor, but rather “What has God bound us to in filling the public office of Word and Sacrament?”

    So we look to the Scriptures to find God’s instructions. Specifically, **with regard to the Office of the Public Ministry*** (I mark that strongly because the question is not concerning authority in the home or even in the Voters’ Assembly of the Church, but specifically to this Public Office) we see that God has indeed given instructions as to who is to be installed to fulfill this office. The candidate should be respected in the community, able to teach, not a drunkard, etc. The candidate is to be “the husband of one wife” which speaks not only to the number of spouses but also to gender since there are at least several ways the Scriptures could have said “spouse”. This is perhaps the most commonly used set of instructions, but not the only one, which tells the Church whom they are to consider as a candidate for the Office of the Public Ministry.

    And this leads to the third point for this post (which cannot be exhaustive): only those who are rightly Called “can” or “may” serve in the Office of the Public Ministry. God’s instructions are not directed to the individual who desires the office, but to those who are responsible to fill that office regarding who they are to consider. Again: the question surrounding women pastors is not about who “can” or “may” do the job. Rather, it is about who the congregation may consider for the office.

    Finally, we must also allow that we may not always understand or agree with God’s instructions. For example, one does not need to feel the need or agree with the command that we are to set aside time *weekly* for the Word and Sacraments. One need only know that we are commanded to do so. While God does not bind Himself, He may bind us whether or not we understand or agree with His instructions.

    I hope that this response provides you with some further thoughts to pursue regarding your questions.

    Paul

  • David Rosenkoetter

    Not only does our Lord give male and female his/her roles, he creates free of charge our maleness or femaleness. (Gen. 1:26-27, etc.)

    The difference between the pastor vs. other vocations is, as a previous blogger commented–that Scripture gives both the command and the prohibition. (1 Tim. 3:1-7, 1 Cor. 14:34-35, 1 Tim. 2:11-14, in addition to the text under discussion in the homily) Of course, the gift of bearing children (women) shows its biological prohibition of men to bear children.

    What we see in THE HAMMER OF GOD, 24-25 is Katrina carrying out her vocation as a Christian and no way subplanting or substituting for the role of a pastor. AS a Christian, she was speaking the comfort that, by his office, Savonius was supposed to be doing. But, Savonius was shell-shocked, a bit wasted, and letting his other influences get in his own way.

  • Stephen

    @ 30

    I disagree. That is, if do not understand Paul rightly and what his intentions are in writing what he did then there is plenty of room for discussion. And I think that is exactly the case, so I keep at it.

  • Stephen

    Paul,

    Fighter pilots and astronauts! Well, no one would disagree that those are not highly skilled professions. It’s also true that women have fulfilled both, so I am not sure what the point is in reference to gender. Maybe if you had said something a little more down to earth (literally and figuratively) I could hear that as something other than rhetorical flourish. But we all do that . . .

    As you say, and as I indicated, many women have the skills to be a pastor. I think you would also agree that it is not always a matter of self-sctualization that drives people to do what they do (for the neighbor, if that helps). Rather, it is both a combination of necessity and skills. And even if it were the needs of the ego that leads some to go into ministry, they get their comeuppance, as do we all sinners that we are, and always with the wrong intentions. And yet God brings forth goodness from it.

    It would be rather insulting to imply that women desire to serve God as preachers purely out of the needs of their own egos. Is that what you mean? You seem far more generous than that. If you look at the history of the church, the mission field and the role of women there, I think you could be easily disabused of that notion, not to mention Anna in the temple at Epiphany and other NT examples of women who were teachers and evangelists – Mary Magdalene, Priscilla, etc. All looking for self-fulfilment?

    If women do indeed possess the necessary skills, I do not see that God has bound a congregation to choose only men simply because they are men. I see, just as you correctly cite, that He has required that pastors be chaste. And certainly I can think of all kinds reasons why one spouse is much less problematic on a purely civil level. The church is an earthly and civil estate. Paul’s concern, and I daresay the reason for writing much of what he did, that it be ordered and orderly. Given that as the primary concern, it seems we err to spiritualize the office of ministry on nothing other than gender. Remember, we can set aside concerns about whether or not women have the skills. The only reason is because they do not have the genitalia. I see no other conclusion to draw, and for me, that’s just an inadequate interpretation of scripture.

    Paul relied on the custom of his own day for the sake of civil peace in the congregation. Thus, we do not require women to cover their heads or remain (completely) silent in the church. It seems we have read the scriptures to suit our times, and are not being forthcoming about that. If not that then what. I am not suggesting that we should adjust our reading of Holy Scripture to suit our times. I’m suggesting that we are being biased in our application of it. If we were to apply it that same for all for all time, as the desire for an inerrent reading of the text seems to dictate, then we would let mercy be the goal of everything. God does not command us to do things “just because” and so we are not permitted to know why. He does so in order that goodness happen. In this case, I think we are sacrificing the good for the perfect because we think it pleases God. We claim it is to do love, but where is the evidence of that? If Christ sets you free you are free indeed. How is this not just another Sabbath law we have chosen to enforce at the expense of the preaching of the Gospel and the furthering of His kingdom through the preaching of the Word? Do you agree that the office of ministry is civil and earthly role and not eternal?

  • fws

    Stephen @34

    +1

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    #19: four women compared with the results of about 220 men. The sample size does not affect the validity of a statistical test, just the statistical confidence, and in this case–two sample proportion test, 0 events in 4 tests vs. 12 events in 110 tests–the statistical confidence was almost perfect.

    Regarding the claim that Chrystostom could be talking about something besides sex with his “use men, as if they were women” comment; very doubtful, as that’s the very phrasing Paul uses in Romans 1:26 and 1:27, and Paul makes it very clear (“burned with lust” and so on) that we’re not talking about men asking other men to, as tODD jokes, to “make something tasty.”

    Regarding the idea that there could be a “homosexual” gene found: also doubtful, as the now-famous (or perhaps forgotten) twins study found only about a 50% correlation of homosexuality with identical nature AND nurture. You might find a tendency genetically, but one would figure that this particular tendency would, ahem, tend to be eliminated from the breeding population for obvious reasons.

  • Joanne

    Except that very many homosexuals also practice hetrosexual sex acts and produce progeny. As I have seen, when you look behind the curtain, many very straight seeming people with biological children and ostensibly good heterosexual marriages, also frequent the bars and baths to burn with lust. Nature is not selecting against gayness, as should be obvious to all.

  • Joanne

    I suspect that we are going to find homosexuality in the epigenetics as a temporary abnormality, being effective over only 2, 3, or 4 iterations, then melting back into normalcy. However, the trip-wire will be a fairly common epigenetic communication that slips up fairly commonly, but only when accompanied with specific combinations, causing a change in the expected sexual orientation. Christians will see this as another example of the curruption that sin brought/brings into the world, for of course everything that can go worng after Eden, will go wrong unless God in his mercy protects our sexual makeup from the results of sin. That any get through this life undamaged by error in their sexuality is a pure miracle performed by a merciful God.

  • Joanne

    When I think of the role of women in religious ceremonies within our tradition, I think of Anna the Prophetess. Although she was a widow, perhaps of very long duration, her title probably meant that she was the wife of a prophet, but that she was present at the temple and there with Mary and Simeon for the rites of presentation of the baby and the purification of Mary, probably meant that Anna was the woman who would actually bathe Mary in the mikvah, as no man was allowed even to see it. To purifiy a woman, the church had to have women perform the ritual bath on the naked woman in need of purification, which most childbearing women were at least once a month. Does this mean there were mikvahs at the Temple? Experts in Temple history will know, archaeologists will know. But a woman was the necessary performer of the rite and there was Anna, johnny-on-the-spot. Although a man must cover the ritual with his authority, he may not even enter the room.

    Given both the Jewish and Christian intense prudery about female nudity, one wonders how large numbers of women were baptised, quite naked, in the early church. I don’t know how it was done, but I will bet you dollars to donuts that no men, any men, could be present, even within the same room, when women were naked in a religious ritual. When naked baptism was the rule, women baptised women in a very similar way to women purifying women. The assigned man held the authority, but women performed the rite very carefully out of the sight of any man.

  • Joanne

    Even as late as the 6th century, the Church clearly remembered that Christ was nude when John baptised him in the Jordan River. See the baptistries in Ravenna. Neither the Jews nor the Christian (and the Hellenes for that matter) cared a fig about male nudity, but female nudity was a whole other story. http://www.flickr.com/photos/lclarkphotography/6065718350/

  • Joanne

    The movie Kadosh has several scenes of the ritual bath purification rite, though I didn’t find a film clip showing them. This one is pretty good though. A question: can a religion aford to lose its condratictions?

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Joanna; reality behind the “homosexuals having children” was the theory that public homosexuality was not acceptable, and hence many married and had children, no?

    If so, there’s a great test for whether it’s hereditary. Since now it is “safe” to be homosexual in a way it never has been before, we should expect that homosexuals will not marry to the degree they used to, and that the trait will be gradually eradicated.

    If it’s not eradicated over time, then it’s not hereditary.


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