is sent to me by (female) reader Alias Clio:
I have a defense of the ordination of men only that I think might intrigue or even satisfy a few feminists, while not outraging at least some Catholic traditionalists:
In our fallen world, human males, like males of certain other species of larger mammals, are roamers by their animal nature. Like male lions or male elephants, they wander alone or in short-term groups of males, looking for mates.”Societies” among such mammals – including ourselves – are formed by females and their children – groups of mothers, sisters, and offspring of both sexes. Humans, having larger brains and free will, can aspire to more than such “societies”: we can create cultures. In cultures, men and women work together to create and impose a set of rules and obligations on both sexes.
Cultures (in my sense of the term; don’t know if anthropologists use it this way) are designed to do two things: to lessen the danger to society posed by rogue males (look at what male lions do to the offspring of other lions); and to make it possible for men to achieve their potential by attaching them to larger goals than feeding and reproduction.
To achieve these goals, culture starts off with one rule, the most important of all: it compels human females to select *one* mate at a time – a husband, and to keep to him only during their “breeding seasons.” Thus a husband can know which offspring are his, increasing his interest in them and improving the society in which they live. Impressed by the success of this system, most cultures go on to more elaborate and enduring forms of marriage.
Cultures restrict both sexes, but there is no doubt that their restrictions, in some ways, fall harder on women than on men. The trade-off for women is that they no longer have to see their male children disappear into the violence and lawlessness outside the social pale.
Christian priesthood comes along much later in the process of civilization, but, like monogamous marriage, its purpose is to tie men as well as women to the Church, to lead them to accept and embrace a role that might otherwise seem too feminine. BTW, This rejection of femininity comes not from hatred (not necessarily, anyway) but from every man’s need for psychic independence from his mother, whose sexual destiny he cannot share. (See article in First Things.)
If women had been permitted to be ordained priests, only women and gay or effeminate men (yes, I know these are not the same thing) would have become priests. Worse, only women and gay or effeminate men would have embraced the virtues championed by Christianity: self-sacrifice, humility, resignation. This would not have been good either for society (females + children) or civilization as a whole.
If you think I’m wrong about this, look at what is happening to men from the middle-class down in North America as they increasingly reject marriage and Christianity, or are rejected by potential marriage partners (it’s hard to say which it is): they become lazy, introverted couch potatoes, if they are of pacific disposition, or, if more aggressive, they turn into dangerous rogue males, or are drafted into the gangs led by such males, depending on how dangerous their neighborhoods are. At best, they abandon everything that smacks of effeminacy – music that isn’t rap; dressing well; good manners; the ability to dance – all associated by them with women or homosexuality. Note that even non-homophobic, gay-marriage supporting “hipsters” tend to do this.
If you want a Church that serves all human beings, not merely women and the few men who identify with them, you must, paradoxically, accept male leadership for it. Knowing this, Jesus ordained it that men should be the leaders of the Church.
I’m not saying that this is a comprehensive list of the reasons for a male priesthood in Christianity, just that it is one that might make sense to feminists, while remaining true to some of the human and divine reasons for it.