Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Orthodox Perspective on Ordaining Women Priests

With a nod to the folks over at Vox Nova, who made me think hard enough to write something down.

The Anglican Church has voted to approve the ordination of female bishops, further intensifying rifts caused by the ordination of women to the priesthood.

The teaching I’ve received from my spiritual father, Fr. Matthew, on the matter of a female priesthood goes like this:

On either side of the beautiful gates there is an icon of Christ (right) and the Theotokos (left).

As icons, they represent the spiritual and physical reality of actual persons, and as such reflect the glory of God. They are also icons of perfect manhood and womanhood; that is, the highest calling that any man can aspire to is that of priest, and the highest calling any woman can aspire to is that of mother. Not all men will be priests and not all women will be mothers, but certainly no man will ever be a woman (plastic surgery and hormone supplements notwithstanding) and no woman will ever be a priest because these we are specifically created for different functions.

Fr. Alister Anderson has written a response to the Anglican decision to ordain women in the priesthood and his comments echo the teaching I related above:

We Christians who advocate only a male priesthood as being the only valid apostolic ministry of the Church do not in any way deny that women have equal rights and opportunities to work. We believe that women should be paid commensurately with men for their labor and skill. But certain leaders deprecate the male priesthood as being a bastion of male chauvinism and a violation of civil and equal rights for women. Nonsense! The Church is not a secular institution governed by democratic processes. The Church is a spiritual organism and not just a secular organization. She is a spiritual and supernatural monarchy with God as Her king and supreme judge. We Orthodox Christians declare that while men and women are equal in the eyes of God and under the secular law, they are very different in their human nature because God has created them for different functions. A bishop, priest and deacon have a specific function within the family of the Church. To ordain women to the sacred ministry would only confuse and destroy that function. In terms of human function a woman can no more be a priest than a man can be a mother.

The full article

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