The reasons for barring women’s ordination are often proclaimed as having nothing to do with “gender equality” and everything to do with Jesus naming the disciples. Why women can’t be priest or bishop is because the churches elders framed history in a male dominated society. Biblical text states that Jesus only choose male disciples and that is why women can’t participate as disciples, apostles, or priests. Mary his mother was titled Virgin. Early Christian women were not chose, named or given a title at all or named sinner. Women were happy with their place in society as mothers, healers, and teachers of the children at home.
The declaration, which was approved by Pope Paul VI in 1963 with Vatican ll, remains the Church’s most explicit explanation for why women can’t be priest or ordained. It recounts that beginning with early Church leaders. St. Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origen, St. John Chrysostom, and extending through the Middle Ages down to the current popes, a male-only priesthood was an unquestioned tradition. The biblical authors and their descendants have no “spiritual” reason why women can’t be priests or bishops, theologians, or scholars. Men set the tone and limitations of a male-dominated culture that did not recognize the value of women.
A Principle reason for Why women can’t be a priest.
In an open letter, Pope John Paul 1988 acknowledged to the women of the world, that women have been oppressed and discriminated against. Mary and Early Christian Women were denied access to the priesthood based on a belief that women are less competent than men. I would ask, Mary, birthed the Wisdom of the Lord of the Universe and she was a woman, what does that mean for women? She was one woman of that caliber, are we not all called to the same holiness and service?
Today’s bishops and priests still defend an outdated commitment to Jesus’ apostolic teachings that barely mentioned gender. This authority of men and their interpretations ensures the Church’s teachings remain true to a bias invented but not in keeping with the teachings of Jesus Christ. They are missing the “deposit of faith” the body of unchangeable teachings entrusted by Christ. The text says, “To love God with your whole heart and soul, to live as one of us, and to live as Christ in the spirit. “ None of these mandates are gender specific. I see no reason why Mary and Early Christian Women can’t be eligible for being named priest or bishop and disciple or apostle. Are we to believe women have less faith and spiritual understanding?
Of course, the authorities find no room to fairly consider why women can’t be church leaders. What we need is a deeper theological investigation for the reasons we continue to defend a tradition and societal norm that is outdated. If women held more credence, think of the potential to educate, inspire, debate, and re-orient Christian theology.
One Icon Painter’s COMMENTARY on Facebook offers some REFLECTION
Peter Pearson is a recognized Iconographer. He responded to the images presented here and shows how traditionalists defend why women can’t be priest or bishop.
Iconography is a liturgical art and it’s much more than a technique. It involves theology, history, contemplative silences, and deep prayer too. Most people just dabble with techniques. Often people use the Byzantine “style” for making political statements or doing prophetic images, and I think both of these are a mistake. It lends legitimacy to a cause, but it is not truly appropriate. If you want to paint icons, learn the tradition before you fiddle with it. I’m trying to be as kind as I can but sometimes love says no.
An iconographer has the responsibility to reverence Holy Tradition as liturgical art rather than reassemble it in an abused and spiritually disfigured way. In this image of an unnamed woman bishop, we see Tradition perverted to reflect the materialist spirit of the post-Christian age rather than reflecting the consensus of belief that has been at the core of faithful Orthodox Christians across the centuries. Tradition does not concur with the ‘spirit of the times’ tempting those who are ignorant of the faith to adopt current fads such as feminism to produce works that masquerade as icons. This is sad because many converts have come to the Orthodox Church to escape the spiritual abuse and chaos that is illustrated in this image posted by Mary Jane Miller. It is blasphemous to even suggest changing the reasons for why women can’t be a priest.
New series on Iconography and Women
Above, two unidentified bishops stand beside one another as Wisdom and Silence. Tradition Iconography would have named these two bishops St Nicolas, Sr Basil, St Gregory, or any other ordained Bishop. I was inspired by the geometric garment design and its significance. I renamed them “Silence and Wisdom” imagining the world needs more of those two attributes regardless of whatever bishop is named while painting, I was also struck by the many saintly bishops who teach dressed like this in the cannons of traditional iconography. I began to ask if women could uphold the same attributes that bishops possess and what would they look like had they been clothed in such glory.
Christian Women were not called to the priesthood in the catholic or orthodox church but just recently in the Anglican Church. As I began designing the image I could not help but ask, what would be the attributes of a female bishop? Imagine them as pillars of the church that lead, protect, heal, teach, prophesy, and administer the sacrament in service. I found eight qualities required of a bishop on the internet: transparent, honest, humble, holy, collaborative, servant, leader, and willing to make tough choices.
Just recently Christian Women in the Anglican Church have been called to serve.
The book she holds says, “to trust and be conscious leads us to be children of Light. ” The garment of crosses has changed to the six-petaled rose, a motif used in the Mary Magda stone in Magda, Jerusalem, and the rose chapel in Scotland. Here the whole idea is solidifying and the feminine is beginning to emerge. There is a small jar of ink on the stool beside her where she writes and contemplates the word of God, the teachings of Christ, and what it means to love without limit, prejudice, or bias.
Another un-named female priestess stands on a fisherman’s net. The net catches the life that surrounds us. She is the “ fisher of women.” She is a prophet and priestess holding the book of sacred text and a monstrance with the spirit of Christ within. Peculiar perhaps, I found myself almost uncomfortable with the direction the series was taking. I was aware of how much my upbringing prevented me from embracing what this image could mean for me as a woman. I know many women who are prophets and priestess acting in their daily life as professionals, mothers, contemplatives, teachers, and mystical thinkers.
Why women can’t be a priest or bishops is because the churches elders framed history in an age of a males dominated society. The Anglican and Lutheran church have begun the change.