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Women in positions of leadership in Church; ie Pastors and Priests

post #1 of 132
Thread Starter 

I did a search on the topic here and only one thread came up and it was pretty old. I was wondering what christians thought about this subject. Im sure there will be varying interpretations of the verses on this subject. I was curious what others thought.

 

tia.

post #2 of 132

I absolutely support women in Church leadership.  I grew up in the Presbyterian church, with a young husband-and-wife as our pastors, and as a young adult I worshipped in a parish with a female associate pastor.  My mom's church has had two successive female pastors in the past eight or so years.

 

I'm Roman Catholic now, and I fully support a female priesthood.  It isn't my calling, though!  I'm involved in other areas of leadership.

post #3 of 132

Both of our pastors are women (and one is a lesbian).  I think it's wonderful. 

 

 

We're UCC, but I was raised Catholic.  The Catholic church's positions on women's rights are largely why I'm raising my child UCC.

post #4 of 132
Thread Starter 

Thanks for taking the time to respond, but I was wondering what people's opinion of the verses regarding women in leadership. Verses like 1 Timothy 2

 

 

Quote:
 11 A woman[a] should learn in quietness and full submission. 12I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man;[b] she must be quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15 But women[c] will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.
post #5 of 132

Paul was ministering to a specific culture, during a specific time, where/when women were basically property of men and viewed as absolutely inferior to men.

 

Personally, I think that Paul missed the mark in general with his teaching about women.  Jesus Christ certainly did not teach these things, He treated women as equals and called them to minister alongside Him.  Even Proverbs 31, written LONG before, seems totally out of sync with Paul's teachings.

 

edited, because I meant Proverbs, not Psalms.  Brain fart.


Edited by Trigger - 12/14/10 at 6:06am
post #6 of 132
I just read an interesting PDF talking about the history of women in leadership in the Catholic Church. It's definitely pro-female-priests, but I thought the historical references were interesting and something I am going to read up on further. I know the Church's stance is no way, no how.

Personally I don't have a position on it at the moment--generally, I like the idea of females in leadership roles in the Church, but I don't have much experience with it (my church experience being Catholic, where women are not priests, and Quaker, where there is no leadership at all and rule is by consensus). I do think that running a parish is a huge undertaking, so I could imagine either doing away with the rule on women in the priesthood OR the rule on celibacy, but not both, and I think giving up celibacy would actually have a way bigger impact on the Church as a whole (running a parish IS like having a family, a HUGE family, to take care of). I also think it's unlikely that either will change in my lifetime, so this is pretty theoretical.

Oh, and, Catholics don't read the Bible literally, so any decision on this would be based on much deeper theological and historical reasoning than my selecting a few choice verses. I'm sure I could cherry pick my way firmly into either side...

eta: I consider myself a feminist and I did consider a religious vocation, but I don't feel too personally bothered with the way things are at the moment. Nuns do a LOT at my parish and take on some considerable leadership positions, without leading the Mass obviously, but it's not like Catholic women are just out there making babies and letting the men run the parish...
post #7 of 132

I read a book once that suggested that when  Paul wrote those verses that he may not have meant forever but for the time being.  The women in that location were uneducated and were just now being put into a position where they were allowed to worship alongside the men and participate fully in worship.  They needed to take time to learn and grow at this moment.

 

However, I do not think those verses were meant to be applied to the priesthood.  Priests serving in the church are a different role than the protestant pastor.  God has been clear from the beginning of time (old testament) that priests were to be men.  and his disciples, who became the first church leaders and bishops were men.  I do not see anything in scripture or church history or tradition that indicates anything has ever changed.  

 

post #8 of 132

 

 

11 Let a woman learn in 1aquietness in all 2bsubjection;

12 But I do not permit a awoman to 1teach or to assert authority over a man, but to be in 2quietness.

13 For 1Adam was 2formed first, then Eve;

14 And 1Adam was not deceived; but the 2woman, having been quite adeceived, has fallen into transgression.

15 But she will be saved through her 1childbearing, if they remain in 2afaith and love and bholiness with csobriety.

 

This is directly related to God's governmental arrangement. It's in the same sense as God being the head of Christ, Christ the head of man, man the head of women.  There are God ordained authorities on the earth and in our personal lives. We accept the President of the United States, we accept our boss, the police officer as authority figures, even if we don't like it.

 

In the Bible there were sisters serving and even coworking with the apostles, but teaching doctrine and and having authority to be over the brothers was not God ordained then, or now.  Sisters still need to be under the covering or headship of the brothers.  I view it as a covering because when I begin to function outside of my measure, chaos occurs.  When I am under the covering of the brothers there is a lot of peace.   We need sisters in the church life to love, to function and serve, but not to have authority to teach over the brothers.

 

This doesn't mean that a sister can never teach another person something they have learned.  We have small group meetings in the homes and the sisters share a lot of experiences and things that the Lord has taught them.  However, if a sister is trying to assert authority over the brothers or lead the whole congregation in the divine truths,  this touches God's governmental arrangement.  In the verses above Paul gives the reason for this, which is that Eve was the one deceived.  In principle, the females are the weaker vessel and easily deceived  due to our genetic makeup.  I know this is an unpopular view, but it came from the Bible, so I don't know how to get around that issue.

 

We don't hire pastors or elect elders.  We have elders/ leading brothers who have grown in the divine life and their function begins to manifest itself organically.  It's the same with sisters.  As we grow in Christ our function manifests itself, but all(brothers and sisters) must be careful to be led by the Lord and not led by the self. 

 

"The self is the greatest frustration to serve the Lord"  by Watchman Nee.

post #9 of 132
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shami View Post

 

 

11 Let a woman learn in 1aquietness in all 2bsubjection;

12 But I do not permit a awoman to 1teach or to assert authority over a man, but to be in 2quietness.

13 For 1Adam was 2formed first, then Eve;

14 And 1Adam was not deceived; but the 2woman, having been quite adeceived, has fallen into transgression.

15 But she will be saved through her 1childbearing, if they remain in 2afaith and love and bholiness with csobriety.

 

This is directly related to God's governmental arrangement. It's in the same sense as God being the head of Christ, Christ the head of man, man the head of women.  There are God ordained authorities on the earth and in our personal lives. We accept the President of the United States, we accept our boss, the police officer as authority figures, even if we don't like it.

 

In the Bible there were sisters serving and even coworking with the apostles, but teaching doctrine and and having authority to be over the brothers was not God ordained then, or now.  Sisters still need to be under the covering or headship of the brothers.  I view it as a covering because when I begin to function outside of my measure, chaos occurs.  When I am under the covering of the brothers there is a lot of peace.   We need sisters in the church life to love, to function and serve, but not to have authority to teach over the brothers.

 

This doesn't mean that a sister can never teach another person something they have learned.  We have small group meetings in the homes and the sisters share a lot of experiences and things that the Lord has taught them.  However, if a sister is trying to assert authority over the brothers or lead the whole congregation in the divine truths,  this touches God's governmental arrangement.  In the verses above Paul gives the reason for this, which is that Eve was the one deceived.  In principle, the females are the weaker vessel and easily deceived  due to our genetic makeup.  I know this is an unpopular view, but it came from the Bible, so I don't know how to get around that issue.

 

 

 

This is a fundamentalist POV and not shared by all Christians, though.  Not all denominations interpret Scripture literally (as an example, the Catholic faith teaches that the "creation" story is one of two creation stories, and probably more myth/teaching than literal happening).  Also, there is a lot of nuance in various mistranslations/multiple meanings of the original writings, particularly the Greek.

 

I'll reiterate that Paul was ministering in a specific cultural era, and teaching to/for a specific time and place.

 

There is some evidence that the women who ministered alongside Christ were intentionally downplayed by the Church when the decisions about what should be included in Canon Scripture were made.  It is apparent that there is "more to the story", so to speak.  The Catholic Church acknowledges Mary Magdalene as "The First Evangelist" and "The Apostle to the Apostles" - she is, after all, the one who brought the news of the resurrection to the Apostles.

 

Quote:
 

We don't hire pastors or elect elders.  We have elders/ leading brothers who have grown in the divine life and their function begins to manifest itself organically.  It's the same with sisters.  As we grow in Christ our function manifests itself, but all(brothers and sisters) must be careful to be led by the Lord and not led by the self. 

 

 

I am assuming that, by "We", you are referring to your own denomination; since many DO elect elders and hire pastors.

post #10 of 132

From Proverbs 31 (The Ideal Wife)

 

 

Quote:
11The heart of her husband trusts in her,
And he will have no lack of gain.

 

12She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.

 

16She considers a field and buys it;
From her earnings she plants a vineyard. 

 

17She girds herself with strength
And makes her arms strong.

 

20She extends her hand to the poor,
And she stretches out her hands to the needy.

 

24She makes linen garments and sells them,
And supplies belts to the tradesmen.

 

26She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

 

27She looks well to the ways of her household,

 

28Her children rise up and bless her;
Her husband also, and he praises her, saying:

 

29"Many daughters have done nobly,
But you excel them all."
 

 

This "ideal" woman is obviously strong, wise, and enterprising.  She is the absolute delight of her husband, her children respect her, she cares for her family, she even earns an income (and invests it wisely).  Her husband - an elder "known at the gates" - is not threatened by any of it, nor does he require her submission.  They are a team, providing for the needs of their family and ministering to the community together.

post #11 of 132

Trigger's post said:

"There is some evidence that the women who ministered alongside Christ were intentionally downplayed by the Church when the decisions about what should be included in Canon Scripture were made.  It is apparent that there is "more to the story", so to speak.  The Catholic Church acknowledges Mary Magdalene as "The First Evangelist" and "The Apostle to the Apostles" - she is, after all, the one who brought the news of the resurrection to the Apostles."

 

Yes that was Mary's function at the time, but the sisters did not get 'sent out' by the Holy Spirit in Acts to raise up churches and to lead churches or to teach doctrine.  This was the brothers' function.  Yes this is a fundamentalist view and I don't apologize for this view point.  Of course, I think it is the correct view according to the Bible.

 

I believe that we were all meant to be priests.  The literal def. of priest is one who brings God to man and man to God.  So, we are all being made a royal priesthood to rule and reign with Christ in eternity.  I do not believe that the clergy laity system in place today is the way God ordained it to be.  It is a system which annuls the function of the body of Christ.  But that is off topic.

 

The leadership in the church is done by brothers according to the New Testament.  When the early church began, Acts is very explicit in how they carried on and this is what we (the believers that I meet with) do our best to follow as a pattern. 

 

Earlier you posted that Jesus would want sisters to be priests? or something like that...no time to go up thread and find it.  Can you give your sources for this or maybe just expound your thought a little more so that I know where you are coming from.  Thanks

post #12 of 132

I'm fine with the Catholic Churches traditional teaching of no women priests. It's not my place to try and change the Church. ORDINATIO SACERDOTALIS

 

Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful.

Invoking an abundance of divine assistance upon you, venerable brothers, and upon all the faithful, I impart my apostolic blessing.

From the Vatican, on May 22, the Solemnity of Pentecost, in the year 1994, the sixteenth of my Pontificate.

 

post #13 of 132

 

Quote:
 

This "ideal" woman is obviously strong, wise, and enterprising.  She is the absolute delight of her husband, her children respect her, she cares for her family, she even earns an income (and invests it wisely).  Her husband - an elder "known at the gates" - is not threatened by any of it, nor does he require her submission.  They are a team, providing for the needs of their family and ministering to the community together. 

 This is all true, but it doesn't speak to pastorship of a church.  And in Paul's teaching, it is not up to the husband to require his wife to submit.  It is up to the husband to love his wife, honor her, and care for her.  It is for the wife to choose to submit, that is directed at her only, not her husband.

 

Our beliefs are similar to Shami's and Arduinna's.  It's not an issue of equality or value to me.  It is not that women cannot teach, or are not intelligent, or have nothing of value to say.  It's a specific requirement for a specific setup (church government) and that's it. 

post #14 of 132
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arduinna View Post

I'm fine with the Catholic Churches traditional teaching of no women priests. It's not my place to try and change the Church. ORDINATIO SACERDOTALIS

 

Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful.

Invoking an abundance of divine assistance upon you, venerable brothers, and upon all the faithful, I impart my apostolic blessing.

From the Vatican, on May 22, the Solemnity of Pentecost, in the year 1994, the sixteenth of my Pontificate.

 



 

I'm fine with this, too.

 


 

post #15 of 132
Somewhat OT to the original question, but I started getting interested in what my Church says about women after reading this:
Quote:
In principle, the females are the weaker vessel and easily deceived due to our genetic makeup. I know this is an unpopular view, but it came from the Bible, so I don't know how to get around that issue.
My jaw kind of dropped when I read this and I went off to go make sure the Catholic Church didn't interpret things like this...
here's what I found:
Quote:
The Catholic view is that men and women are equal in the sight of God. In marriage, each is to sacrifice himself or herself for the other. They are to build a family together through cooperation with each other and mutual respect.
...
Where there is an absolute difference in the roles the two sexes can play is in the giving of life. By natural law, only women can give physical life by serving as mothers. By supernatural law, only men can give spiritual life to the faithful by serving as priests. Women have the privilege of being intimately associated in the giving of life through birth, and men have the privilege of being intimately associated in the giving of life through the priesthood.
From: http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/1998/9806qq.asp

And another article titled "Does the Catholic Church Hate Women?" talks about the interpretation of Biblical passages which seem to promote patriarchy.
post #16 of 132
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shami View Post

Yes that was Mary's function at the time, but the sisters did not get 'sent out' by the Holy Spirit in Acts to raise up churches and to lead churches or to teach doctrine.  This was the brothers' function.  Yes this is a fundamentalist view and I don't apologize for this view point.  Of course, I think it is the correct view according to the Bible.

 

A perfect example of how Paul's teaching was very different from Christ's.  Paul set out to create a "church", structured and orderly, with specific rules and regulations.

 

Many theologians today acknowledge that Christ's intention was not to form a structured church; rather, more likely, to bring us into a closer/better/more intimate RENEWED relationship with Our Loving Father and with each other in communion (community) with one another.

 

 

Quote:
Earlier you posted that Jesus would want sisters to be priests? or something like that...no time to go up thread and find it.  Can you give your sources for this or maybe just expound your thought a little more so that I know where you are coming from.  Thanks

 

 

Hm, given the feelings Jesus had toward the Jewish priests, I would not say that. lol.gif  Not in His time, anyway.

 

What I said was that Christ invited women to be part of His ministry; but again, whether or not one agrees depends on factors such as Scripture interpretation, translation, deference to the teaching of this Church or that, theology, etc.  I've been schooled in Catholic ministry formation and much of my information comes from those materials and teachings.

 

Personally, I believe that women had a much greater role in the Gospels than they are given credit for.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Arduinna View Post

I'm fine with the Catholic Churches traditional teaching of no women priests. It's not my place to try and change the Church. ORDINATIO SACERDOTALIS

 

Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful.

Invoking an abundance of divine assistance upon you, venerable brothers, and upon all the faithful, I impart my apostolic blessing.

From the Vatican, on May 22, the Solemnity of Pentecost, in the year 1994, the sixteenth of my Pontificate.

 


This often gets thrown up as "infallible" teaching, but it isn't.

 

(By the Church's own teaching on "infallibility", the Bishop of Rome must speak in union/agreement with ALL bishops when making such a statement.  This did not occur here.)
 

 
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cappuccinosmom View Post
 
It is not that women cannot teach, or are not intelligent, or have nothing of value to say.  It's a specific requirement for a specific setup (church government) and that's it.

 

Except that Jesus wasn't attempting to set up a church government, and Paul seems to have had a bit of an agenda (since the cultural thinking of the day & location was basically keep the women quiet and under control).

 

I realize that this is slightly off topic - but would you accept a similar argument on behalf of the practice of slavery, simply because the general cultural acceptance that people of color were absolutely inferior existed at one time?

 

post #17 of 132



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trigger View Post

This is a fundamentalist POV and not shared by all Christians, though.  Not all denominations interpret Scripture literally (as an example, the Catholic faith teaches that the "creation" story is one of two creation stories, and probably more myth/teaching than literal happening).  Also, there is a lot of nuance in various mistranslations/multiple meanings of the original writings, particularly the Greek.

 

I'll reiterate that Paul was ministering in a specific cultural era, and teaching to/for a specific time and place.

 

I'm with the eloquent Trigger on this point. I belong to a church that hires it's pastors. We currently have a husband and wife team with the wife taking a lead role and the husband a lesser role. I grew up with women pastors  - my mother's best friend became a Methodist minister at the age of 40) and it's something I've always considered for my "old age/retirement/second career. My parents go to a church in Florida right now with a female minister. It's just not a big deal to me.

post #18 of 132
The Pauline authorship of 1 Timothy has been disputed, however, outside of the most fundamentalist Christian circles. The Epistles for which Pauline authorship is fairly unanimously accepted-- those are a lot lighter on the subjection of women. And we know from Acts that women played a large role in the earliest Church.
post #19 of 132
Thread Starter 

Thanks for everyone's replies.

 

 

 

Quote:
I do not believe that the clergy laity system in place today is the way God ordained it to be.  It is a system which annuls the function of the body of Christ.  But that is off topic.

 

 

 

Actually I dont think its off topic. In my reading, studying and research this is the conclusion Ive come to myself.

post #20 of 132

Trigger,

I am really at a loss for how to converse with you because you don't believe what the Bible says.  Paul wrote 14 of the books in the Bible.  If you don't believe in what he wrote then how can we even converse about it?

 

Acts 2:42

42 And they continued steadfastly in the 1teaching and the fellowship of the apostles, in the abreaking of bread and the bprayers.

Titus 1:9

9 1aHolding to the 2bfaithful word, which is according to the 3teaching of the apostles, that he may be able both to exhort by the 4chealthy teaching and to 5convict 6those who doppose.

 

 

I may be different in that I don't hold the Tradition of the RCC, but I thought at least we would have the Bible in common.  Not trying to pick on you, but I just don't know how to proceed.  I can quote a lot of verses, but many will be from Paul's writings, which you have doubts about. 

 

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