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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Women and the Priesthood

This is sort of a hot topic today. Women and the priesthood, here is what the Bible says about it.

To begin I must say that the Bible included women in the priesthood of the faithful by virtue of the Sacrament of Baptism. This means that we all participate in Christ’s mission to sanctify the world.
The ministerial priesthood, made up of deacons, priests, and bishops, are called to serve the common priesthood. The evidence from the Bible is that this task was reserved for men.

The priesthood associated with fatherhood.
In the natural order, men are the givers of life and women are the receivers of life. This is evident in procreation. The spiritual order is the same God the Father, through the Son gives us his Bride (meaning humanity) life, and we are to receive it and bear it fruit. It is important then that who represent the giver, namely the Son of God, be men, because as it in the natural order so in the supernatural. Men are the givers of life.
Judges 17:10 And Micah said to him, "Stay with me, and be to me a father and a priest,
Judges 18:19 come with us, and be to us a father and a priest.
1 Corinthians 4:15 For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
So we see from these examples that the priesthood and fatherhood are closely tied.

Does this mean that men are better?
No way, it just means that men and women are different. Which our American culture tends to hate.

What does the Bible say about men being priests?
What we can see in the Bible is an example, in the Old testament and in the New Testament, only men were chosen by God to be priests. Evidence suggests that Adam was the first priest, then Noah, and Melchizedech.

We see God being pretty explicit when he chose first the firstborn sons from all of the tribes to be priests, but after the golden calf incident, chose the sons of Levi to be priests.
Exodus 22:29 "The first-born of your sons you shall give to me.
Numbers 3:12-13, 15 "Behold, I have taken the Levites from among the people of Israel instead of every first-born that opens the womb among the people of Israel. The Levites shall be mine, for all the first-born are mine; …"Number the sons of Levi, by fathers' houses and by families; every male from a month old and upward you shall number."
In the New Testament we know that Christ gave the twelve apostles the priesthood at the last supper when he told them to “Do this in memory of me”, and only the twelve were present as it says in Mark and Luke
Mark 14:17 And when it was evening he came with the twelve (that is to celebrate the Passover)
Luke 22:14 And when the hour came, he sat at table, and the apostles with him.
No one else is mentioned.

What arguments do those in favor of women priests put forward?
They really have 5 sort of Biblical arguments. The first is the Bible nowhere says that women can’t be priests. That is true, but I think the Biblical example shows that it is to be reserved for men.
St. Paul at the end of Romans says Romans 16:1 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deaconess of the church.
So it would appear that the early church has deaconesses, yet if you read the church fathers, they say that Deaconess would help at the baptism of women, because back then you got baptized naked. So were assisted so as to not cause scandal and these women were called Deaconesses. The Fathers of the church certainly taught against the ordination of women.
Then there is Junia - Romans 16:7 Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners; they are men of note among the apostles, and they were in Christ before me.
You have to read it a few times for yourself but it might be suggesting that Junias a woman, was among the apostles. Now in the gospels when they use the word apostle, they mean the 12, but in Acts and the epistles of Paul the word apostle has a wider meaning. For example:
Philippians 2:25 I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your apostle and minister to my need.
G.K. Chesterton is called the apostles of common sense, but he isn’t one of the twelve.

What about the culture in the times of Jesus? Wasn’t Jesus forced to choose all men?
I don’t think this argument works for two reasons. The first reason is that the neighboring cultures or the Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, and Romans all had priestess in their religions. So those cultures would have found women priests natural. It was the Jews who were strange with their all male priesthood, which leads me to my second reason why this is a bad argument. Jesus, who is the God of the Old Testament, is the author of the Jewish culture. He designed it to be for men only.

This movement of women priests also undermines the authority of the pope who said:
“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.” -John Paul II - Ordinatio Sacerdotalis
If he is wrong here, where else is he wrong? From what I have seen on the internet, it doesn’t end with the ordination of women, as we can see…it ultimately has to do with the authority of the church in general.

The Bible also has some warnings for those who would try to take the priesthood for themselves.
While wandering in the desert, Moses had a problem with a guy named Korah. Korah said that everyone was a priest, not just the Levites. So Moses told them to bring incense the next day to offer to God and God would show whose incense He accepted.

The next day, while offering incense, Korah and his band were swallowed up by the Earth. This is a good sign to us that what they did was wrong.

Another example is when King Saul couldn't wait for Samuel the priest to come and offer sacrifice, so Saul offered the sacrifice himself. Because of this God took the Kingship away from Saul and his descendants and gave it to David.

If we want to be faithful Catholics, we must be obedient to those who Christ set over us, namely the Pope and the Bishops of the Church.

Peter has spoken through JPII - the matter is settled.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am Muslim, using this website to research on this fascinating and beautiful religion. This article has been very helpful and has given me sufficient material to support a debate in school that will prove once and for all that men should be priests and nt females. Whilst this is no way demeans the status of a female.
Many thanks to the author.