September 07, 2004
She stoops to conquer

Rilina recently wrestled with the infamous Ephesians 5, and her commenter Synaesthete offered a novel defense of a male-only priesthood:

Said elder expressed the opinion that the reason God has asked men in general to take leadership roles in the church is not because men are "better" at it, but in fact quite the opposite -- because *women* on the whole are naturally better at public speaking and organization than men are.

The elder went on to remark that in his experience both within and outside of the church, when you have a "co-ed" leadership it very quickly turns into an all-female leadership -- not because the women are being pushy and domineering, but because most men can easily see that the women do a better job than they can, and therefore back off and let the women take over. This results in the women being overworked and frustrated, while the men just sit idle and let their spiritual gifts go undeveloped.

...I am fairly certain that I could do a decent job of delivering a sermon to a whole congregation, and I've done enough speaking to women's groups that I know I would enjoy it. But on the other hand, by keeping silent even when my own natural gifts and inclinations would prompt otherwise, I know that I am giving my brothers in Christ a needed opportunity and impetus to develop their own spiritual gifts.

So the secret's out: patriarchy is a big ruse by women to get out of work. Don't tell my boss.

Posted by Camassia at September 07, 2004 05:58 PM | TrackBack

Novel is right, Camassia. Gosh. At the Episcopal Church I attend, we have a male rector and several female priests, and I see plenty of men cheerfully going into leadership.

I found this more than a bit insulting, but I'm going to assume it was cleverly tongue-in-cheek.

Posted by: Hugo on September 8, 2004 10:12 AM

Not only should she keep her mouth shut, but she should keep her head covered in church, because of the angels.

Posted by: Rob on September 9, 2004 08:51 AM

Read the thread, Rob, and you would see that the question I posed to Rilina and answered by Synaesthete started exactly there: Does Rilina wear a head covering in her church, do the other women in her church do so.

Synaesthete acknowledged that she does. :) or maybe that should be (: )

I don't think that it's an attempt to get out of work, Camassia. I think it's simply an attempt to define roles that women should and should not play in certain settings. Where did the concept that women should be priests come from: inside or outside of the Church? If it came from outside, why do we entertain it? If it came from inside, why has it not been an issue until this generation?

Posted by: Kizmet_42 on September 9, 2004 10:30 AM

Well, I was kidding about the "getting out of work" thing. It just struck me as funny because, if women are so superior in that regard to men, you'd think that in societies that don't have this Godly mandate to defer to inferiors they would be running things. It sounds like another case of "generalizing the hell out of my personal experience."

As to where the idea that women could be priests came from, it was apparently a live issue during the Roman era but disappeared in the Middle Ages. As to whether the modern movement for it came from "inside the church", I suppose it depends on your terms. Which church are we talking about, and what do we mean by "inside"? No doubt the concept was influenced by ideas in the society outside the church, but then, the same appears to be true of the idea that women should not be priests. But anyway, I've dealt extensively with this issue before, mostly here and here, and am not particularly interested in kicking it up again right now.

Posted by: Camassia on September 9, 2004 12:04 PM

You're right: I'm guilty of sloppy reading. Mea culpa. Please remember that I'm only a man.

Posted by: Rob on September 9, 2004 12:08 PM
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