Women Priests in the Early Church?

Women Priests in the Early Church? November 30, 2013
A fresco inside the catacomb of Priscilla’a “Cubiculum of the Veiled Woman” room showing a woman with outstretched arms like those of a priest saying Mass. In Rome November 19, 2013. REUTERS/Max Rossi

From Reuters:

Proponents of a female priesthood say frescoes in the newly restored Catacombs of Priscilla prove there were women priests in early Christianity. The Vatican says such assertions are sensationalist “fairy tales”.

The catacombs, on Rome’s Via Salaria, have been fully reopened after a five-year project that included laser technology to clean some of the ancient frescoes and a new museum to house restored marble fragments of sarcophagi. Art lovers and the curious around the world who cannot get to Rome can join the debate by using a virtual visit to the underground labyrinth by Google Maps, a first-time venture mixing antiquity and modern high technology.

Built as Christian burial sites between the second and fifth centuries and meandering underground for 13 km (8 miles) over several levels, the Catacombs of Priscilla contain frescoes of women that have provoked academic debate for many years.

One, in a room called the “Cubiculum of the Veiled Woman,” shows a woman whose arms are outstretched like those of a priest saying Mass. She wears what the catacombs’ Italian website calls “a rich liturgical garment”. The word “liturgical” does not appear in the English version.

Read the rest: Restored Rome catacomb frescoes add to Catholic debate on women priests | FaithWorld.


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  • billykangas

    Not really news… We’ve had these frescoes for years.
    The theory has been floated around, but the use of the Orans posture was not limited to the clergy.

    I think it’s possible the early church had women priests, I just don’t think this is evidence for it.

  • Sofia

    “Fairy tales”? Yes, women are just dainty little things with scattered brains who, though capable of caring for the infirm and teaching children, could never possibly lead Mass. Pope Frank is a breath of fresh air for the Catholic Church, and I greatly respect him, but it’s still the Catholic Church, and I have trouble understanding why women anywhere continue to be a part of it. That’s an organization that perhaps can only be changed by the men from within. Or, of course, by mass exodus, which I don’t foresee happening. If and when it does change, the Catholic Church will be a beautiful thing.

    • Digger

      Sofia, talent, ability, and desire have nothing to do with it. I have seen several women who are excellent preachers, superb leaders, and talented teachers. That does not make it permissible for women to preach from a pulpit.
      Many men were capable of carrying the ark in the desert, however the ones who did so who were forbidden by scripture were struck down dead.
      (No, I’m not suggesting people who preach without being called to do so be struck down dead.)

      • What is so special about the pulpit. They didn’t have those in the early churches either. Rather they preached in homes, in fields, basically where ever there was someone to listen.

        • Digger

          Yes, tiro, they did. I’ve been to Europe and touched (and photo’d–still have it) a pulpit from which Paul preached to Romans in Sicily. Just because they preached in homes does not mean they did not also preach in more formal worship settings.

          • Really. Well, I’d love to see that. I can stand to be corrected. 🙂 But still there is nothing particularly special about a pulpit that would prevent a woman from standing behind one to teach and preach.

            • Dagnabbit_42

              It’s not that women can’t preach. They can.

              It’s that they aren’t called by God to represent the Fatherhood of God in the sacrificial rites of the church.

              This is why it’s okay to have female Protestant ministers; they aren’t priests and don’t do the Eucharist as a sacrifice, but rather conduct a communion service as a symbolic reminder of a sacrifice which was done elsewhere/elsewhen. They’re basically Sunday School teachers with a larger crowd, and who hasn’t had a female Sunday School teacher? But in the fulfillment of the priesthood under the new covenant order of Melchizedek, the priesthood is a fatherly role. So you can’t have Orthodox or Catholic priests, because the sacrificial role at the altar is retained in those communions.

              • There is no place in the NT where the ministries of the church are listed, where priest is one of them. Rather we are all priests, a priesthood of believers. Those who watch and guard the community of believers are called shepherds. Now we have pastors that do things not listed in Scripture and we have priests who do things not listed in Scripture. It did not take long for humans to start adjusting how they wanted to do things, including returning to the “stronger rule the weaker” paradigms of the world. Eventually, there were and still are people who want the pure word, who want to build each other up to be like Jesus, as Jesus wanted.

          • Andrew Dowling

            And what archaeological evidence pointed observers to declare Paul preached from that altar?
            Europe is full of stories about various Disciples having lived or preached in this place or that; the details are practically all later myth. We do know Paul traveled and preached in Rome . . but we don’t know where exactly, and certainly don’t know what specific (or any) pulpits were used.

      • Eric Boersma

        That does not make it permissible for women to preach from a pulpit.

        That’s some misogyny right there.

    • “it’s still the Catholic Church, and I have trouble understanding why women anywhere continue to be a part of it.”

      Perhaps it is because they actually believe that it is the Church that Christ himself founded on Peter and the other Apostles. If one believes that there is, in fact, one Church, and that the Church exists, and has existed since the early days of the Roman principate, as a visible society, there aren’t many choices.

      Interestingly, when one reads polemic against the Catholic Church from the 19th century, it is almost universally derided as overwhelmingly “feminine”–in its theology, in its prayer, in its manners, and, of course, in its devotion to a “goddess.”

      With respect to the fresco, I thought that it was common knowledge that the ancient posture of prayer, for everyone, was standing, with raised hands. Apparently I was mistaken.

      What is interesting to me is how this argument modulates between the “Protestant” and “Progressive” rationales. One argument claims that women were priests from the beginning, but their office was obliterated by a misogynistic hierarchy. This “Protestant” stance seeks to “restore” a pristine egalitarianism that was obscured by bigoted papists.

      The “Progressive” rationale takes the opposite tack, that the early Church of course mirrored the misogynistic society around it, and the contemporary demand for women priests rests not on ancient practice, but on imperatives that the modern age and progress have made non-negociable.

      One can make either argument. But each is utterly incompatible with the other.

      • Andrew Dowling

        “But each is utterly incompatible with the other.”

        Not really. Why can’t one take your “Protestant argument” but also say that correlates with modern precepts of women’s roles and rights?

        • There shouldn’t even be a discussion about women’s roles and rights. This all comes under the bigger heading of the works of the Holy Spirit in believers lives, unless you believe there are two groups of believers: the human believers and those others.

          • Andrew Dowling

            Many would say increased recognition of women’s rights in the world is a work of the Spirit. Don’t really understand the rest of your comment.

            • I would agree. Women’s rights should be the same as men’s rights. Then there would not need to be a discussion. Not really an earth moving statement. 🙂 Just sad that one group thinks they can control the rights of another group. But that is fallen humanity.

  • Steve

    Maybe if she was picture near an altar, or holding something in her hands that indicated she was celebrating Mass. As it stands, this is a picture of a woman with a head covering and outstretched hands… and that’s all it is. To claim that there were ordained women in the early Church would demand something a bit more solid than that.

    As it stands, this could just as easily be a woman who is praying (or prophesying) with her head covered. (1 Cor 11:5-6)

    • They didn’t have altars back then. All of that came later when our religious celebrations became institutionalized. I find it interesting that the Italian website was’t as phobic about the likelihood of women ministering in priestly duties.

      There are actually other examples of women depicted in priestly garments. There is the Catacomb of Priscilla in Rome with women deacons and women in priestly garments as well. There is a tombstone of Leta, a priest, in south Italy. In the church of St. Praxedis in Rome, there is a mosaic of four women ministers. And there are others.

      • Steve

        Could you provide some documentation that:

        1) They didn’t celebrate Mass with altars.
        2) Leta was a priest.
        3) The women pictured in St. Praxedis were priests.

        • Sorry, Steve, really don’t have the time to make a futile attempt at trying to prove something to someone who doesn’t want to believe it. If you really want to know something about it I suggest reading on the CBE website: http://www.cbeinternational.org. You can also find a lot of information at Christian Classics Ethereal Library. There is another Catholic source I cannot think of at the moment.

          CBE may have some calendars that have pictures and all the information about the instances I mentioned and others. Think they are titled: The Archaelogogy of Women’s Tradition Ministried in the Church. They may still be listed as that. CBE may even have some books with the information as well.

          Found them. Search Calendars in the CBE bookstore and you’ll find them under ‘resources’. Calendars fr. 2003 – 2007 A lot of exceptional information in them. Perhaps, look for a book by Dorothy Irvin.

          • []

          • It is my understanding that the Biblical altar was a sacrificial altar, upon which to offer up burnt offerings to the Lord, not to preach or pray in front of. Although, of course they prayed to God in offering up their burnt offerings. But Christians no longer needed to make sacrificial burnt offerings, as Jesus the Messiah was the last sacrificial lamb.

            • Dagnabbit_42

              There are lots of kinds of sacrifices; not all are burnt.

              The kind the Christians continued into the Messianic period was (is) the Eucharist. It is intended to be a culmination and fulfillment of the sacrificial system of the old covenant, obsoleting that earlier system.

              The Passover Lamb, of course, was a sacrifice, and the Lamb would be eaten as a covenant-renewing meal: To sit at table and to eat the lamb was to partake of the community sacrifice and thus enact and recommit one’s inclusion in the communityt of the people of God. Eucharist is Jesus’ Passover feast, where Christians eat the Lamb.

              Another common view of early Christians was that the Eucharist was (as its name suggests) the New Covenant’s fulfillment of the Todah offering. The “Thanksgiving Offering” was a bloodless sacrifice consisting of bread and/or wine, like that offered by the priest-king Melchizedek in Genesis after Abraham rescued his kinsman, Lot. Many Jews in the first century (e.g. the Qumran community) speculated that when Messiah came, all the other sacrifices would be abolished but the Todah would continue forever and would be offered worldwide by every nation: “From the rising of the sun to its setting,” a “pure sacrifice” would be offered (see Malachi 1:10-11. Of course, the word “eucharist” is Greek for “give thanks” …and Christian priesthood has always been taken to be “after the order of Melchizedek” rather than the “order of Aaron.”

              • It may be that Catholics and Orthodoxy has created this intricate system. But all Jesus said was “do this in remembrance of me”. I am bound by what Jesus said, not what believers have added to that.

                • Dagnabbit_42

                  Ah, but Tiro,

                  To claim this is “what believers have added to that” is very much to beg the question.

                  Either the Eucharist as sacrifice — a view entirely in accord with Scripture and fitting John 6 and 1 Cor 11 rather better than a figurative or symbolical understanding — is original Christianity, or it is not. If it is not, then it was added at some time.

                  But when? Ignatius of Antioch, a disciple of John, who succeeded Evodius at Antioch (Evodius having been installed as episkopos by Peter), wrote of the Eucharist in this fashion when he was on his way to his martyrdom in A.D. 107. And there is no record that anyone objected to Ignatius suddenly making new and eccentric claims about the Eucharist. Nor did anyone complain when Justin Martyr made similar claims in his apologia to the Roman emperor around 150 A.D. As soon as the last major persecution ended, there was a wealth of Christian writers glorying in the Eucharist-as-sacrifice and Real-Presence-Of-Christ, and relating this matter-of-factly as a miraculous event, but an intrinsic, ancient, and unbroken Christian belief.

                  I think the difficulty here is that many Christians think of the New Testament as a sort of “catechism”: An exhaustive survey of all the critical truths and practices of the Christian faith, explained in a fashion intended to avoid ambiguity, leaving nothing important unexplained. They expect that, to answer any question of faith, they need merely find the relevant Scripture passage and, hey presto! there’s the answer.

                  But of course such an attitude is unscriptural.

                  The New Testament not only does not make any such claim about itself, but (arguably) explicitly denies such a view. One may rationally say that all the truths of the Christian faith are referenced in Scripture in one fashion or another. (Scripture does not say as much, but one may claim it and offer rational arguments for it.)

                  But one must, to make that claim plausible, admit that many of the references are passing allusions, open to easy misinterpretation. (Peter flatly says this in describing the writings of the apostle Paul.) And Paul at times also explicitly breezes past the foundational teachings (“repentance from dead works, and baptisms…,” et cetera) which he knows his audience (who are already Christians) have already heard, and moves on to particular issues which have arisen in this church or that church. This leaves us sometimes with books which give us exhaustive treatments of tangential issues while leaving out vitally central ones.

                  Were this not true, then foundational questions like What Does Baptism Do? and Who May Be Ordained? and How Do People Obtain Salvation? and Can One Lose Salvation By Sin Or Apostasy? would all be spelled out in Scripture beyond possibility of misinterpretation (save of the willful kind). But they aren’t: Many Spirit-led, devout, scholarly, Scripture-fed, Greek-and-Hebrew-reading, praying-for-guidance, sincere people disagree flatly about these and other topics.

                  Now when you’re saying, “all Jesus said was…” you’re acting as if “anamnesis” (“remembrance”) doesn’t have sacrificial overtones in this context. (But it does. Check the Septuagint and find out what Greek word is used for the “memorial offering” in the Old Testament!)

                  But more broadly, you’re acting as if the apostles, preaching for years on end to the earliest congregations, didn’t have anything more to say on these topics than the New Testament records. Not likely. And of course John’s gospel explicitly states that Jesus did and said vastly more things than that gospel records. The apostles’ verbal teaching doubtless relates some of that, and it gives more specific understanding to topics which the New Testament breezed past.

                  In this situation, it makes little sense to say “all that Jesus said was….” You can’t know that. You can only say, “Jesus’ only recorded words on the topic are….” Which is a very different thing. (And very debatable: John 6’s Bread of Life discourse is held to be on this topic, also, by the majority of all Christians.)

                  I take the Catholic and Orthodox view precisely because I believe it was the view of the apostles which they received from the lips of Jesus. It is a perfectly reasonable understanding of Scripture, fitting the language of the New Testament quite well. So are other interpretations, of course…but this interpretation also has the distinction of being shared by the earliest Christians and martyrs, whenever they made any effort to write on the topic. And to argue that we should disregard the views of these earliest Christians, who are closer to the apostles than we and sometimes were taught Christianity by the apostles or their disciples or their disciples’ disciples, seems unreasonable to me.

    • Digger

      Just as easily? I’d say far more likely since your thoughts are supported by scripture and refuted by progressive “christians” with such absurd comments as, “the didn’t have altars back then.”

  • Arguing from art is tough because you don’t know the motives of the artist when he painted them. Essentially, people seize on the interpretation favorable to their political aims when interpreting art and tend to disregard otherwise. Many people thought the one ring in LOTR represented the atomic bomb, but Tolkien said it didn’t. Without the thoughts of the author on his work, you really need to be careful with ascribing meaning, especially the further back in time you go.

  • Morton

    This blogger really is a One-Trick Pony, isn’t he? He has now resorted to reading meanings into ancient art, to try to prove a position that is not Biblical. But I do find it interesting that the woman has her head covered – which is a sign of submission. Uhh ohh!

  • Abby

    “They didn’t have altars back then.” Altars — beginning — middle — end.

    Note particularly the 1 Corinthians 10 passage:

    http://legacy.esvbible.org/search/Genesis+8%3A20%3B+Genesis+12%3A7%3B+Genesis+35%3A1%3B+Exodus+20%3A24%3B+Exodus+24%3A4%3B+Exodus+27%3A1-7%3B+Leviticus+1%3BMatthew+23%3A19%3B1+Corinthians+10%3A14-22%3BRevelation+8%3A3%3BRevelation+9%3A13/

    I love this picture of the rescue of Isaac. By a lamb that God provided. Pointing to the Lamb who is to come to rescue us all. God always gives it all, for us — from beginning to end.

    http://legacy.esvbible.org/search/Genesis+22%3A1-18/

    • Heb. 10 is referring to the Jewish temple and the altars that were used for sacrifices. Those who served in the tabernacle could not eat from those animal sacrifices.

      “10 We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat.11 For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp. 12 Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate.”

      We no longer make sacrifices at sacrificial altars. Jesus is our sacrificial lamb and we need no other.

      • “We no longer make sacrifices at sacrificial altars.”

        Protestants don’t. Anglicans might. Catholics and Orthodox do, and have, for a very long time:

        “Take ye heed, then, to have but one Eucharist. For there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup into the unity of His blood; one altar; as there is one bishop, along with the presbytery and deacons, my fellow-servants.”

        St. Ignatius of Antioch, To the Philadelphians. c. 108 AD

        • Jesus was the last sacrifice. So are you saying that they somehow equate taking communion with sacrificing again Jesus’s body and blood? As well, since Jesus is our High Priest and has been since His resurrection, how can their be other high priests officiating over Christs resacrifices.

          Since this is a Catholic thing, we probably shouldn’t get too into this.

          • Abby

            “Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” Matthew 26:26-29 ESV

            Do you believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the elements of bread and wine?

            • We just had communion at my church Sunday. We have it once a month and sometimes more.

              Truly, I am not interested into getting into a discussion of Catholic beliefs.

              • Abby

                I’m not Catholic. But I am part of the 1 billion, 455 million people in the world who do believe in the Real Presence of Christ specifically for the forgiveness of sins as Christ Himself said it IS.

                • yes. Some may believe that it is a particular church that saves them, or by believing in the “real presence of Christ in the eucharist”. Others, like myself believe there is only one way to God and that is through believing in Christ’s life, death and resurrection, yes for forgiveness of our sins and redemption.

                  • Abby

                    “…believe there is only one way to God and that is through believing in Christ’s life, death and resurrection, yes for forgiveness of our sins and redemption.”

                    That is what we believe, yes.

                    • well then, there need be no fuss about how one does communion.

          • I had no intention of discussing Protestant/Catholic differences. The assertion was made that early Christians used no altars as part of a discussion in interpreting the fresco. Whatever the later schisms over whether the Eucharist is a sacrifice, an early Roman fresco has to be interpreted in light of the usages of its own age.

            • My point was that they did not use altars to preach from (some kind of podium maybe), but only in reference to the sacrifices for forgiveness of sin. New testament priests would not be making sacrifices since Jesus was the last sacrifice. So whatever the woman was doing, it would not be involved with officiating over altars of sacrifices. And whatever Ignatius was talking about it also was not involving animal sacrifices. Now whether or not some were using altars to celebrate the eucharist on, it wouldn’t matter much IMO. When Jesus was there they were doing it in homes at the supper table. So there was no requirement to do so in front of “altars” of any kind.

              Altars, podiums, whatever. There were no ‘rules’ about them given in the NT.

          • Andrew Dowling

            Umm, FYI as someone born and raised in the Catholic Church I’ve never heard of the communion Sacrament equating to be a sacrificial offering . . .but as you probably know the Roman Church is a pretty big tent.

            • good to know that.

            • Dagnabbit_42

              Andrew:

              That is…extraordinary. Yes, the Catholic Church (including the Roman particular church, but also the Melkite and the other eastern Catholics, who are not in the Roman particular church) is a big tent.

              But the Eucharist is “the source and summit of the faith” for Catholics. And one of the most foundational aspects of it — the beginning of the discussion — is that it is indeed a bloodless offering, a “thanksgiving” sacrifice (the Hebrews would have said “todah”) of the Bread of Life and The Cup of Eternal Salvation, a fulfillment of what was prefigured by the sacrifice of Melchizedek.

  • Abby

    More on altars:

    “In the earliest days of the Church, the Eucharist appears to have been celebrated on portable altars set up for the purpose. Some historians hold that, during the persecutions, the Eucharist was celebrated among the tombs in the Catacombs of Rome, using the sarcophagi (see sarcophagus) of martyrs as altars on which to celebrate. Other historians dispute this, but it is thought to be the origin of the tradition of placing relics beneath the altar.

    When Christianity was legalized under Constantine the Great and Licinius, formal church buildings were built in great numbers, normally with free-standing altars in the middle of the sanctuary, which in all the earliest churches built in Rome was at the west end of the church. “When Christians in fourth-century Rome could first freely begin to build churches, they customarily located the sanctuary towards the west end of the building in imitation of the sanctuary of the Jerusalem Temple. Although in the days of the Jerusalem Temple the High Priest indeed faced east when sacrificing on Yom Kippur, the sanctuary within which he stood was located at the western end of the Temple. The Christian replication of the layout and the orientation of the Jerusalem Temple helped to dramatize the eschatological meaning attached to the sacrificial death of Jesus the High Priest in the Epistle to the Hebrews.”[15] The ministers (bishop, priests, deacons, subdeacons, acolytes), celebrated the Eucharist facing east, towards the entrance. Some hold that for the central part of the celebration the congregation faced the same way. After the sixth century the contrary orientation prevailed, with the entrance to the west and the altar at the east end. Then the ministers and congregation all faced east during the whole celebration; and in Western Europe altars began, in the Middle Ages, to be permanently placed against the east wall of the chancel.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altar

    http://legacy.esvbible.org/search/Hebrews+13%3A10/

    Of course, if you don’t believe that Jesus IS the ATONEMENT . . . then the Sacrament of the Altar is ??? Really nothing. And so, no use for an altar to remind us of Christ’s ongoing ministry to us.

    • In the OT the altars were used for sacrifices, not preaching. Thanks for the information on altars. I am aware that the Catholic church copied the things of the Levitical priests including attire, incense and much. But when was there any indication that altars were used for preaching in the NT. How and when did the Jewish believers make the shift from using altars for sacrifices to worship and preaching as some seem to have claimed. And perhaps, you mean podiums, not altars.

      And then what difference does it make. Is this all coming from a Catholic viewpoint?

      And for the record, of course I believe that Christ is the Atonement. Been believing that since I was saved and became a believer and worshipper 44 years ago.

      • Abby

        No one I know of “preaches” behind an altar.

        “…an altar to remind us of Christ’s ongoing ministry to us.”
        An altar is used for consecration of the Sacrament of Holy Communion. Certain readings are spoken there. Just as in the OT, our worship practice/liturgy is a picture, a visual reminder of all of Christ’s teachings — the Gospel. Jesus Himself being the Word and the sacrifice.

        • Yes, I am just becoming aware of these concepts. Though I was raised Catholic I don’t recall those things. And in fact the Catholic church never taught me about Jesus.

          While this is interesting, it isn’t prescribed in Scripture. They are concepts that were added onto personal worship practices later. And I am referring to what is actually written in Scripture. And what the practices may have been during the years following. And I don’t see any indication that altars with that practice in mind were being used all over.

  • Abby

    How to lead a church:
    “This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you—if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.”
    Titus 1:5-9

    “But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.” Titus 2:1-5

    • Eric Boersma

      I don’t think those passages mean what they think you mean.

      • Abby

        Tell me what they mean.

        • Eric Boersma

          Well, for starters, they are specific instructions to specific people in a specific cultural context and point in time. If you’re going to take every single passage in the Bible literally applicable to you personally all of the time, I think you’re going to find that you need to significantly alter your life.

          These passages weren’t intended to be universally applicable. Any hermeneutic which suggests that they were either has some serious theological hurdles to clear or is fundamentally broken.

          • Abby

            You could say that about every text in the Bible.

            Rather, would we not say “what is this saying to me today?”

            • Eric Boersma

              Rather, would we not say “what is this saying to me today?”

              Indeed. I’m of the opinion that the diversity of opinions represented about God and humanity within the Bible, as well as the diversity of opinions that is drawn from the Bible is what God wants, not some kind of flaw in the design.

              Where I draw that line is forcing others to live by the same conclusions. If you (I’m assuming you’re female, apologies if I’m incorrect) find or have found a man who you can live out a happy, fulfilling complementarian life with, I wish you nothing but the absolute best.

              But on this very website, I’ve been told that my liberalism has made me “angry”, made me an environmentalist, has made me hate women, and meant that there is no way I could actually have ever been a Christian (nor could I be one now). I believe that passionate conversation is important and that there are literally as many interpretations of the Bible as there are people who read it, which either means that God got the whole thing mixed up, or he believes that not having us all believe the exact same things is a desirable outcome.

              With that said, I’m never going to stop advocating against excluding or limiting someone based on traits that they cannot change. Telling women they can’t be pastors is unjust, and if that’s what God wants out of the Church, then God himself is unjust. I can’t follow that God, and I can’t sit idly by and be quiet as I see the pain that the worship of that God causes others.

              • Abby

                “Telling women they can’t be pastors is unjust, and if that’s what God wants out of the Church, then God himself is unjust.”

                That is an “opinion” that one is bringing to bear onto the texts of Scripture. In fact, even worse, because there is no Scripture that plainly shows women are called to be pastors.

                God cannot be unjust. God is God. Even if it is His prescription that women not be pastors.

                Scripture should speak to us. Not we to Scripture with a preconceived idea/philosophy of our own design.

                • Eric Boersma

                  In fact, even worse, because there is no Scripture that plainly shows women are called to be pastors.

                  That’s debatable. In Judges, Deborah, a woman, is the fourth Judge of Israel. That made Deborah both a political and religious leader over the entire nation of Israel. That notwithstanding, I don’t see why we need an explicit “Oh, and it’s totally cool for women to be pastors too, you guys” somewhere in the Bible. We were given the ability to read, think critically and apply context for a reason.

                  God cannot be unjust. God is God. Even if it is His prescription that women not be pastors.

                  This paragraph doesn’t make any sense. If God says that we must treat someone more poorly than someone else simply because of their sex at birth, God is unjust. Now, I can’t believe that God is unjust, thus I don’t believe that God calls us to oppress female pastors. To believe that God is both just and still calls on us to discriminate for reasons of things like gender or race means that you must pervert the very definition of justice to the point that it will allow you to do many harmful things. That is dangerous for obvious reasons.

                  Scripture should speak to us. Not we to Scripture with a preconceived idea/philosophy of our own design.

                  It’s staggering the extent to which people who say stuff like this are wholly unable to examine their own preconceived ideas that they bring to scripture.

                • Andrew Dowling

                  Titus wasn’t written by God. In fact, it wasn’t even written by Paul.

  • AnneG

    It’s not a woman. A man with a talith.

    • now that’s funny. 🙂 Read the notation:
      “A fresco inside the catacomb of Priscilla’a “Cubiculum of the Veiled Woman” room showing a woman with outstretched arms like those of a priest saying Mass. In Rome November 19, 2013. REUTERS/Max Rossi”

  • newenglandsun

    It’s not just the Vatican. According to one Princeton Professor, “Gnostic Christians often take the principle of equality between men and women into the social and political structures of their communities.” (Pagels, The Gnostic Gospels, No page number on the googlebooks reference)

  • newenglandsun

    RE to Eric Boersma (for some reason I can’t reply to his comment):

    “In Judges, Deborah, a woman, is the fourth Judge of Israel. That made Deborah both a political and religious leader over the entire nation of Israel.”

    That, in and of itself is debatable. The role of the judge was to redeem Israel which was a political role and possibly a religious role but this is equivalent to having women authors giving their own input to the beliefs of the Church which has been done all-throughout history starting with St. Perpetua. It was the women who spoke to the disciples first about the resurrection. However, it does not state that the priests themselves had women in them. Reformed Jews have women Rabbis but Orthodox Jews generally don’t. I have no issues with a women giving input on Church teaching, this has occurred with such brilliant minds as St. Teresa of Avila, St. Hildegard of Bingen, St. Catherine of Sienna, and so on and so forth. And no issue with women in political roles.
    http://carlylestewart.com/2009/02/judges-households-and-the-law-in-ancient-israel/

    “If God says that we must treat someone more poorly than someone else simply because of their sex at birth, God is unjust.”

    The assumption on both parties involved in the discussion (Abby and Eric) is that God is just by not ordaining women or that God is unjust by not ordaining women. What a black and white way to view the world! The argument in its entirety though assumes that if we right this wrong, God is now just which means there is a wrong in the first place. This also clouds what a priest should be about. When I consider whether I want to enter the priesthood or not, one thing I am considering is whether or not I want to live a life where I’ll have to be re-located, where I have to be celibate, where I have to constantly serve others. Oh, wait, I’m confusing the Protestant ordination with the Roman Catholic ordination. And I’m not a Roman Catholic. So when I consider the priesthood, I have to picture myself of having to attend a liturgy once, twice, at least three times a week, having discussions with potential converts, having to answer tough questions that may cause me to question my faith, possibly be re-located as well. This is what the priesthood is like in the Byzantine Rite. It’s not as the Protestants suggest an “All glory and no guts!” It’s fulfilling, yes, but it’s better to say “A little bit of glory now, and all guts as well!” Is it still unjust not to ordain women as priests?

    “people who say stuff like this are wholly unable to examine their own preconceived ideas that they bring to scripture”

    The accusation is on the liberal Protestant as much as it is on all other Christians. Since we all have our biases and what-not, let’s first admit that and then begin our dialogues. I start off with a historical-theological point of view.

  • JourneyForTruth

    there was a lot of Gnosticism back then, the church has never allowed women priest.