Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Christianity Moots Feminism

Or at least, it's supposed to.

Orthodox Christianity does. In fact, holy Orthodoxy is the only lifestyle I know of that does not make a good breeding ground for feminism. The Orthodox Christian lifestyle, supported by the Orthodox Christian understanding of gender roles, makes any struggle for equality for women unnecessary, superfluous, moot, a non-issue. It does this by taking away all our complaints, or rather, by not having a framework such as gives rise to women’s grievances in the first place.

This will be surprising, probably, to some outsiders looking in and seeing such things as that women not only aren’t ordained; they aren’t even allowed in the altar area, behind the icon screen. But it’s true. What from the outside may look like misogyny or bias or inequality or unfairness does not stem from anything like that. It’s all based upon something else altogether, and it’s that something else, found as far as I can see only in Orthodoxy, that enables Orthodox women to give up (or never take up) feminism.

This point has been driven home to me by a recent spate of discussion in various non-Orthodox religious blogs of women’s ordination, women’s place in the Church, and women’s place in general. I find myself not disagreeing with these bloggers’ conclusions – please note, not with their conclusions! – but with their premise.

This is because what I notice they all have in common is, well, that Platonic - Augustinian concept of the God of Order, displacing the apostolic God Who is Love. For these bloggers, women’s place is ultimately founded upon “the order of creation”. In this order, so it is thought, there are diverse ranks and statuses and degrees of authority. This created order is also thought to be patriarchal. Women are thought to occupy a lower rung than men, to hold an inferior status; and this difference is what gives men authority over them. In other words, it is maleness in and of itself that gives men authority over women; and conversely, it is femaleness in and of itself that makes women subject to men.

Men, here’s a bulletin for you: this teaching actually foments feminism! Women are going to rebel against it - because it isn’t true. And women know it. A woman who has a modicum of self-knowledge knows she, too, is the bearer of God’s Image; that it takes both sexes to constitute that Image; that when He created human beings in His image, “male and female He created them.” A woman knows a man is not necessarily any better, or any worse, than she is. A Christian woman knows her body can be fully as much a temple of the Holy Spirit as a man’s. She isn’t fooled by any male delusions of being superior by reason of gender. She may pretend differently; she may even regard it has her duty to submit to this scheme and struggle against the innate knowledge of her equality; but her heart will always know better. She will either squelch her heart and her personhood or she will rebel. And most women, eventually, will opt for the latter.

But what do the holy apostles teach us? Let’s examine St. Paul’s exhortations to wives and husbands for an instructive example. These are read at every Orthodox wedding, and are found in Ephesians, Chapter 5. The chapter begins, “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” The whole chapter is about how to walk in love. The end of the chapter applies this walking in love to marriage:

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.


Now the part about husbands loving their wives “just as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for her” is no mere postscript. It is the context and necessary condition for the wife’s willing submission to her husband. The husband is to give himself, sacrifice himself entirely for his wife, as Christ sacrificed Himself for the Church, giving His all, holding nothing back. A husband is to cherish and nourish his wife as his own flesh. Now if my husband loves me as Christ does (!!!), then my relationship to him will be as my relationship to Christ is. Not only will such self-sacrificial love leave me in awe, deeply honoring, loving, and respecting him, freely and gladly serving him; but I will also know and feel I can safely leave myself in his care. If, on the other hand, the husband is not Christ to his wife, then the relationship is already dysfunctional whether the wife submits to him or not; either course she chooses will be distorted, will be destructive.

In other words, in Christianity, love is the basis for all authority, as it also is for everything else. Love is the basis for a husband’s authority. The authority of priests is also rooted in love; a priest will find he is followed in direct proportion to his love for his flock.

In Orthodoxy, love, for the sake of good order, distributes different functions to each gender, in accordance with the natural inclinations or abilities of each. Thus, child nurture, for example, is primarily a woman's job. Protecting the family is primarily a man's job. Being a living icon of Christ to a parish, an icon both inwardly and outwardly (both being important) is something only a man can do. The roles of men and women are different because men and women are; but there is no difference in how much each is valued, no difference in rank or status based upon gender as such. Women are definitely different, and vive la difference! but we are not thought inferior in any way. That's what St. Paul means when he says that in Christ "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28) And of course the most important function of all, in church, is receiving the Body and Blood of the Lord, and this function is not gender-determined at all.

Moreover, it isn't only women, in Christianity, who are called upon to submit. For love's sake, we are all supposed to submit ourselves to one another. "Yes, all [of you] be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble." (I Peter 5:5)

When you meet someone you can sense is ready to die for you and ready even to live for you, who has given up everything for love of you (because that is the way to love God!), your heart leaps to his service. You instinctively want to fall at his (or her!) feet. You feel highly honored if you are able to do anything for such a person, even if it is only to fetch him or her a Kleenex. You feel ashamed if you have to be asked twice. You feel ashamed you didn’t see the need for a tissue before you were asked. You weep for joy in the presence of such a person. You serve him with all your heart, with gladness, with thanksgiving, with joy.

“Rebellion” – against what?

P.S.) I've found a podcast that says all this far more eloquently than I can. It is entitled, "O Lord, Crown Them With Glory And Honour" and dated Wednesday, June 18, 2008. You can safely skip the first third of the talk, though, which isn't pertinent. (Move the progress indicator to just below the "J" of "June".)

27 comments:

orrologion said...

Fr. Andrew Louth, in his intro to Maximus Confessor, notes that 'hierarchy' in Dionysios the Aereopagite (a term he coined) does not mean power. Each hierarchy does not have 'power' over those below, but each hiearchy presents, images forth, etc. the reality of the rank just above them. So, the bishop 'presents', 'images' Christ to the prebyters, they to the deacons, etc.

It is revelation not organization.

Great post.

JTKlopcic said...

Does the presentation work in reverse? Do the deacons 'present' (re-present?) the laity to the presbyters, the presbyters to the bishops, etc?

DebD said...

Thank you for this Anastasia. You said: Thus, child nurture, for example, is primarily a woman's job. Protecting the family is primarily a man's job.

I do know several Christian feminists who would be highly offended by that statement. However, I'm not sure how best to make the point.

Tony-Allen said...

Excellent post! Good read for people like me - young Christian men who often have to answer to people of the opposite sex about these issues.

What some people forget is that in Orthodox history, it was often the women who helped carry the tradition from one generation to another. There was a quote by Stalin that I heard a long time ago that went something along the lines of, "If you want to get rid of the Church, get rid of the grandmothers."

Sadly, no matter how hard to try to explain these things, there will always be people on the extreme end who will find something to complain over. Only a month ago I got in a debate with someone over why we call God "Father" rather than "Mother." Oye...

orrologion said...

Tony-Allen,

My understanding of 'heading' a marriage or a couple changed when I became Orthodox. Instead of demanding and 'protecting' the principle of male 'headship' I began understanding this role differently. The Head of the marriage between God and man, Jesus Christ, Who is the Head of the Church is exemplified in the Icon of Extreme Humility. Being the head means suffering first, setting aside one's own preference, being humble in the face of arrogance, selfishness, etc. To be a good head means to give first, and to give without expecting anything in return. Giving means sacrifice, dying for, being the servant of, washing the feet of the other. Being first in a marriage or a family means being last, taking the lowest seat. That is what leadership means in the Orthodox Church, in Christianity. So, I want a God Who is a man - not because I want Him to be like I want to be (in charge), but because I want Him to die for me, sacrifice for me, serve me, help me. Why? because I need the help. Being a man, being the 'head' means being like the Suffering Servant, not a petty tyrant.

I think my wife can vouch for the fact that I was an a-hole before Orthodoxy taught me this lesson.

Mairs said...

Thanks for this post. I was getting quite tired of hearing the "love your wife as Christ loves the church" explained as the man having the bigger job of the two. While this may be true, it still holds the husband as the head honcho and the wife as some weak "other". I do love how balanced Orthodoxy is - if only I could shatter the chains of past nonsense spewed into my brain which, you're right, I only ever wanted to rebel against and then felt guilty for the desire. I always intuitively knew the teaching I received was wrong but didn't know how to articulate it correctly. So thanks for giving words to my thoughts.

Jewish Atheist said...

Islam in some parts of Africa "moots" the idea that female genital mutilation is bad in exactly the same way. Ask the women -- they support it!

eclecticchristian said...

Nice post,

But very similar to sermons that I have heard at least a dozen times in Protestant churches. So I don't think your view is unique to Orthodox at all.

I think the lack of protest in the Orthodox church is as a result of people following in a long line of tradition. I have seen it in several Protestant churches that have a tradition (albeit shorter) of women not allowed a full participation.

However, in a lot of Protestant churches with a view of "sola scriptura", people are more apt to challenge the status-quo and interpret the bible for themselves. This leads to a diversity of opinion, none more so than on the role of women within the church.

I posted several weeks ago about how one denomination handled the question of divisiveness concerning women in leadership at Eclectic Christian.

Tony-Allen said...

Jewish Atheist seems to have gone the straw-man route by bringing up an extreme, unrelated comparison.

orrologion -

Your comment actually reminds me of an article I found regarding the issue of a female priesthood. It's a good read, similar to what you said regarding what certain roles REALLY mean, but longer in length:

http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/general/women.aspx

Jewish Atheist said...

Jewish Atheist seems to have gone the straw-man route by bringing up an extreme, unrelated comparison.

That's not a straw man, and it's not unrelated. I will grant that it is extreme. My point is that any religion (or other belief system) that raises women to believe that they must be a certain way or do certain things will... you guessed it, cause women to believe that they must be a certain way or do certain things.

This post's implication is that this is evidence that feminism is silly or something and that Orthodoxy is right. I chose an extreme example to show that the same logic would work to reach a conclusion nobody here would agree with. (FGM is good.) Therefore, it's the logic that's bad.

Tony-Allen said...

That's not a straw man, and it's not unrelated. I will grant that it is extreme.

It is a straw-man, in fact it's one of the oldest in the book. It's the, "Forget A, look at B" straw-man. They are often used with extreme examples like, "That's like the Nazis!" although you admit the example is extreme, which I give you credit for.

My point is that any religion (or other belief system) that raises women to believe that they must be a certain way or do certain things will... you guessed it, cause women to believe that they must be a certain way or do certain things.

And yet no where in Islam - neither the Koran or the hadiths - does it condone female circumcision. As you said yourself, "some parts of Africa" support it. In fact it was a practice that predates Islam and is not religious at all. As you said, it's another belief system. But the topic here is not Islam nor local African culture, but Orthodoxy as a whole.

This post's implication is that this is evidence that feminism is silly or something and that Orthodoxy is right. I chose an extreme example to show that the same logic would work to reach a conclusion nobody here would agree with...Therefore, it's the logic that's bad.

And yet this would apply to any logic, if properly taken out of the context. If a parent is proud of the spirit in which a child played a sports game, and they say, "It's good people can be so enthusiastic about what they do!", someone might jump in and say, "Oh, you mean like terrorists who blow themselves up and kill innocent people because of their enthusiasm?!" They do this because, as you said, they're trying to destroy a logic, and they're doing so by presenting an extreme example unrelated to what the person originally said.

But forcing a woman to mutilate her genitals is a far cry from the point of this thread, which you've revealed you may not fully understand with your comment here:

this is evidence that feminism is silly or something and that Orthodoxy is right...

And yet I did not get that reading Anastasia's post. I did not see her slamming women's rights, but the extreme form of it, which unfortunately the word feminism has been attached to (even though it did not have such connotations in the beginning), in which women are almost put above men. Would a woman completely devoid of any idea for women's rights or believe herself subservient and unequal to men make such statements:

A woman who has a modicum of self-knowledge knows she, too, is the bearer of God’s Image; that it takes both sexes to constitute that Image; that when He created human beings in His image, “male and female He created them.” A woman knows a man is not necessarily any better, or any worse, than she is. A Christian woman knows her body can be fully as much a temple of the Holy Spirit as a man’s. She isn’t fooled by any male delusions of being superior by reason of gender. She may pretend differently; she may even regard it has her duty to submit to this scheme and struggle against the innate knowledge of her equality; but her heart will always know better...

Moreover, it isn't only women, in Christianity, who are called upon to submit. For love's sake, we are all supposed to submit ourselves to one another. "Yes, all [of you] be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble." (I Peter 5:5)


If you read Anastasia's other posts you'll realize she isn't a subservient woman who does whatever her husband tells her like a slave. She has a job and, more importantly, a faith beyond her relationship with a significant other.

Again, I would read her post more carefully and review how she thinks about the topic, or e-mail her and ask her further questions, or even ask questions directly to her in a response, rather than coming in with, "You believe this...just like female circumcision!" (which, by the way, the Church is against) The problem is not a differing opinion but delivery.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

It can't be that the Muslims do whatever they do exactly as Christians do, because my main point was that our practice involves husbands being Christ to their wives. Muslims don't have Christ, at least not as the God-Man.

My point is not that a wife must be subserivent to her husband, but that she won't mind being subject to him so long as he is truly trying to relate to her as Christ rlates to Hs Church.

And outside of the Orthodox Christian lifestyle, I don't think feminism is necessarily silly. Outside of this lifestyle, a woman is in a lose-lose situation. Within that context, perhaps some very moderate version of feminism is the lesser evil.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Deb, what do these women find so highly offensive about such statements - do you know? And why?

Anonymous said...

Actually, Jewish Atheist had an excellent point, though I think it would be better delivered to the macho Christians like "Father Hollywood".

Anastasia, I do not agree that women are not called to be pastors. The idea that women, equally God's image-bearers, are not even allowed in pulpit space is ludicrous. However, I also find your post beautiful. I loved your comments to Father Hollywood, who can't keep his sexism out of his views no matter how hard he tries to sugarcoat them, and I really appreciate your address of the "I am male, hear me roar" tripe that so many hyper-patriachs in the religion have. Ultimately, though, you still don't answer the question of why women should, in your belief, be so stifled. After much study, I have come to the overwhelming conclusion that churches were never meant to be built on any human hierarchy, male or female. Therefore, the idea that women can't be higher on the rung of authority is moot as well as assinine. Basically, your address of this issue, while admirable, is still a more suger-coated version of the same idea that the macho-monsters push: women are lesser in one way or another. You just pull the rosy shade over it that so many before you pull: it's all done out of love and for our own good. I don't think so.

Lastly, husbands do not play Christ to their wives in ANY shape or form. This is alarming and sickening to me, the exact mistake that so many foolish men like Doug Phillips and Philip Lancaster deliberately try to push. My husband is not Christ; he has not the authority, the grace, or the voice of Christ, and he is no intermediary or "home priest" either.

Rest assured, you've won my respect far more than many, MANY before you. I like you a lot and you nailed the whole testasterone-overload so present in religion wonderfully. I just don't think you quite get it either. Still, at least you've got a heck of a mind and a big heart.

chriself said...

An awesome post, which is a line of thought that I've only experienced since coming to Orthodoxy.

I find it interesting that anonymous didn't sign her name to what she said. She claims that in all her study she's come to an 'overwhelming conclusion that churches were never meant to be built on any human hierarchy, male or female'. I suggest she keep digging, digging back to the priesthood as originally established by God Himself with the Mosaic Covenant. Not only did He set it up with men as the priests, He even limited it to *certain* men within the people of Israel to do the job! Having men as priests and Bishops is nothing 'new' - it's continuing on a centuries-old system established by God Himself. Oh, and before the Mosaic Covenant gets treated as anti-woman by anonymous - the Mosaic Covenant is the first system *ever* to treat women as human beings (up until that point culturally women were treated as property, barely as fellow humans), and were actually given a say as to whether or not they would accept their father's choice for a husband. Additionally, the 'Proverbs 31 woman' is not only a devoted wife & mother - she has her own business. Something that a woman couldn't even do in 'enlightened' Greece or Rome.

I'm a woman with many roles at my parish, and some of them would be shocking at a Protestant church. Not so shocking is I'm one of the Children's Church teachers. More shocking would be the fact that I'm on the parish council, and almost half of our Council (including our President!) are women. So in regards to being on a 'lower rung' anonymous is simply misinformed by her data.

Within Orthodoxy the offices are those established by the Apostles themselves and continuing on in the model that they grew up with - Biblical Judaism. The Liturgy is practically a carbon copy up until the Scripture readings, and then the understandable complete break when we start in on the Eucharistic prayers. The priest isn't performing the Liturgy solo nor can he - the entire congregation needs to be present in order for the prayers to be completed, which includes men *and* women!

With the responsibilities that come with being a priest or Bishop - as a woman, I don't want them! My own soul is quite enough, thank you! lol Fact of the matter is, the Bishop represents Christ as does the priest. Christ is male and to force a woman into that role in the name of 'equality' only subverts God when you get to the heart of the matter. The last time that happened....well... ;-)

Name me any other Church where women are extolled, hymns sung to, praised, given the title 'Apostle to the Apostles' (where's that lower rung, again?). Fact of the matter is, within Orthodoxy hierarchy doesn't mean power (read orrologion's comment) in the ways it's come to mean in the West. To be able to understand it appropriately, one has to shift their thinking to an Eastern mindset that is more holistic in nature. Otherwise, one is only going to keep missing the point and the verse about men loving their wives as Christ loves the Church is going to continue sailing over everyone's heads - including the womens'.

Anonymous said...

I've dug quite deeply enough, Chriself. And while there is human authority in the church, there was never meant to be human HIERARCHY in the church. The priests and bishops were never meant to be the lords of souls that people treat them as. It was never meant to be about authority, but brotherhood. Perhaps you should look into that. After what I have seen, there is room for no doubt whatsoever. Try reading the book "Who is your Covering?". Bishops are not responsible for other people's souls and men are not on the pedestal patriarchs would prefer to put them on.

Anonymous said...

"Christ is male and to force a woman into that role in the name of 'equality' only subverts God when you get to the heart of the matter"

What, are you joking? God is male, now? Jesus was human, therefore He had to have a gender, but that hardly means Yahweh has male genitalia and the whole nine yards. The idea that women can't be priests because "God is a man" is the funniest-and weakest-argument of all. Maybe that's not exactly what you're saying, but it's definitely a reflection of it.

orrologion said...

Anon,

I would put the point differently. I would say that there was always hierarchy in the Church - Peter as leader of the Twelve, James as the leader of the Church in Jerusalem, etc. not to mention the monarchical episcopacy that was simply assumed as normal by St. Ignatius of Antioch as he wrote in the generation immediately following the Apostles, and the 1000+ year history where hierarchy was the consensus of the entire Church, East and West, as well as the Nestorians and non-Chalcedonians. To argue otherwise is to argue for something more akin to The DaVinci Code than historical veracity.

Authority is what has been abused in this hierarchy. An authority that sees itself as much the despot as the shepherd, the tyrant rather than the father and icon of the Suffering Christ, a totalitarian monarch rather than the "servant of the servants of God" (St. Gregory the Great).

Note that I was pointing more toward ecclesiastical errors than those in the home. They are interrelated. If one has a skewed view of the definition of authority in general - be that in the Church, in governing - then the view of specifically Christian authority is skewed further. If one must not use worldly examples of the (misuse) of authority to define our understanding of the role of husband, political leader, bishop/priest and Christ Himself. We must refashion fallen forms of authority in secular and ecclesiastical government, marriages and families in the image of Christ. He is the measure by which we understand authority. His measure is that of the Suffering Servant, the one Who washed the filthy feet of his illiterate disciples, the one that died without a word of condemnation on His lips against those that murdered Him - this is authority in the Orthodox Church, this is authority in an Orthodox Christian marriage and family. Complete and total humility, complete and total suffering and sacrifice is how 'headship' is expressed and practice in Orthodox Christianity - any failure to do so is a sin in need of the Mystery/Sacrament of Confession, and a failure to live up to this is as empty a reason to change the divine order and hierarchy of marriage and Church and parenthood as would be arguing against marriage because adultery sometimes happens.

Personally, I'd prefer to be the 'body' and leave the responsibility to lead by sacrifice and suffering to the ladies; I'm glad Jesus is the one that was crucified and not me. But, this cup has not been taken away from me.

Pray tell, are you Orthodox or Christian, Anon?

orrologion said...

The fact is that Holy Tradition has never allowed women to be ordained - even when they were ruling Empresses and leading authorities in their societies. Any arguments given are really ex post facto attempts to understand God's "reasoning" on the topic.

The best argument I have heard is not that Jesus was a man, but that the clergy are 'fathers' to their people. While this is a spiritual fatherhood, this fatherhood is iconically shown forth in the maleness of the clergy - and icons are an important aspect of the Orthodox understanding not only of worship but of Christology, i.e., Christianity. Women cannot be fathers, either spiritually or physically, and fatherhood (as distinct from motherhood) seems to be essential to the Orthodox understanding of episcopacy and the presbytery. Fr. Thomas Hopko has a piece on this in one of the books out there regarding Female Ordination in Orthodoxy.

The fact that Jesus was a man, and not just a human, and not a woman, is important iconically, too. The bishop is the icon of Jesus Christ to his presbyters and deacons and to all the people. Every explanation of Christian worship interprets these Holy Orders in iconic terms, and Holy Tradition has never seen fit (even in cultures with strong, public, powerful women - e.g., St. Olga, various Byzantine Empresses and Russian Tsarinas) to ignore the maleness of Christ to focus on more broadly on His humanity.

When my Church School boys want to puff their chests out regarding boys being better than girls in church things, I ask one simple question: Who is the greatest Christian? the greatest person? The answer is, a woman: the Theotokos. She is the ideal, perfect image of what a human being - not just a woman - should and must be. All men are called to be like a woman; all women are called to be like this woman. Everyone single man must bow down and honor her with an honor far in excess that given to any mere man, and they have to do it numerous, numerous times in every singles service or act of piety in the Orthodox Church - and it in no way undermines the value of these men's maleness, apart from convicting men of any and all actions or thoughts in themselves that are not reflected in the humble, quiet, prayerful, forgiving, obedient life of the Theotokos; things that the sinful world often wants to brainwash men into thinking are weak, 'womanly', etc. The Orthodox Church demands that its men be 'womanly' in this way, in this way that the world sees as weak, but which we men and women know is salvation itself.

orrologion said...

Or, as my wife and friends have quipped in a very secular and irreligious way: "The best husbands are just a little bit gay."

Guilty, if that means I am a man that is womanly like the Theotokos.

Anonymous said...

I am a Christian, Or. I despise religion and work only by faith. And I find the idea of men practicing headship and hierarchy over their wives to be blasphemous at worst and humorous at best. I doubt you really understand my conviction and what it represents.

These are the main points of my belief system and the new belief system of many, I might add, who believe in fellowship rather than hierarchy in church:

No one can have a human covering or shield from sin; only Christ is sufficient for this. The hierarchy in God’s church goes like this: God, and His people (not God, the pastors, the ministers, and then the flock). Pastoring does have authority, but not a hierarchal sort. Essentially, pastoring should be viewed as a FUNCTION rather than a office or a slot to fill; a verb rather than a noun.
Everything I know about this topic comes from a book called “Who is your covering?” by Frank Voila. He reveals that the title question is one asked to many Christians in a challenging manner whenever they try to do anything that others question. Jesus was asked the same question, “By what authority are you here?” And, perhaps the crux of the matter, groups like the patrios CONSTANTLY speak about people, namely women, needing spiritual coverings and families needing hierarchies. Viola reveals that when/if asked such a question, we are free to say, “Christ is my covering and authority” and no longer believe that we need a person of flesh to be our covering, or the permission or protection of such a person to operate as a soldier in God’s army.

The basic belief of Viola’s book and position is that elders, pastors, apostles, and bishops all exist in the Body of Christ, but that their functions have been given far more authority than God ever meant them to have. Viola essentially asserts that pastors are here more for teaching and leadership than authority. By appealing to the Greek text, Viola reveals that the following oft proclaimed titles of power have quite different meanings:

bishops are simply guardians (episkopoi), not high church officials; pastors are care-takers (poimen), not professional pulpiteers; ministers are busboys (diakonos), not clergymen; elders are wise, old men (presbuteras), not ecclesiastical officers.

Anonymous said...

And btw, tradition is nothing. I work by God's word, not the patrio's tradition.

Anonymous said...

Or, I do not wish for a debate ot even a discussion on this matter. My point here was to congratulate Anastasia on her insight and explain my own opposing opinion. Now that you and her both have a better idea of what my position is, I don't plan on sticking around. If you wish to talk to me further, you may find me at whitewashedfeminists.com It's a great site of intelligent women; you may well enjoy it.

Anonymous said...

Goodbye Anastasia, and thanks for your post

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

I'm sorry, Anonymous, that I haven't had the chance to have some constructive dialogue with you. I'm sure I'd learn much and who knows, you might too. But right now it feels like my life (at least my outward one)is coming apart at the seams, crashing down all around me on all fronts.

Perhaps you'd write me at anastasiatheo01@verizon.net and give me your e-mail address? Then later, when and if things return to normal, perhaps we could continue this discussion, fruitfully, I trust.

Thanks for your kind comments and for the explanations of your disagreement. I'd actually agree with you if I were in your place and were using your definitions.

For now, let me just say I've honestly never encountered anything in Orthodox teaching, attitude, or practice that stems from misogyny, or betrays any. And this one-time feminist was certainly on the lookout for it when she converted!

Anonymous said...

Just as a last word, Ana, thank you for your kind post and I have just now sent you an email :)

James the Thickheaded said...

I'd chip in that Archbishop Ware's piece on the Orthodox view of the Human Person is very, very good. Not sure I can recall it all, but there was a bit that many of the words used in scripture use a Greek pronoun form that is more androgynous than we tend to allow in English. This is not to confuse the icon, but to set the record straight as to what is represented. He also has wonderful comments on marriage in those lectures.

I think in Orthodoxy unlike others, our priests assist in the Eucharist and Christ presides. Typical western theology is a bit different... so there is less pride of place in Orthodoxy accruing to this service than folks seem to accord it elsewhere... or seem to feel marginalized elsewhere, too. I'm not a woman, so I can't honestly attest to it other than as a mental image... but the image is clear and consistent at least.

And let's not lose sight of the fact that Frederica at least tells us she's given the homily many times in many places - and always welcome to preach. So I'm not sure that the preaching is proscribed... though the priest provides the invitation - and I'd imagine with approval of the bishop. Not sure exactly how this differs given that the antemission licenses the priest...but am sure it does.

My 2 bits