Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Some Real Tradition 

There has been a discussion going over at All Too Common on the subject of Women's Ordination. The general tenor of the posting and the subsequent comments is hostile to the ordination of women to say the least, and in one particular instance, flagrantly hostile to the state of being woman at all: Fr. Lee Nelson wrote, "This is to say that there is something essentially flawed about being a woman." I have been following the discussion with no small amount of dismay; I commented once and asked a question, which was responded to but not answered satisfactorily.

I firmly, wholeheartedly, and without pause or reservation reject this line of thinking.

There is certainly a tradition in the church of not permitting women to enter the priesthood, but thankfully, in the Episcopal Church, this has changed. I believe it will also change the world over if we can manage to stick it out together, but this will take time. However, contrary to what Fr. Nelson wrote, there is absolutely not a tradition of the church that believes that to be female is to live an essentially flawed existence. Some may have espoused that over the years, but they were in error. It is with that in mind that I want to offer you today, on this feast day of The Motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary, some words of real tradition, taken from the Anglican Breviary:

That the Blessed Virgin is Theotokos (that is, God-bearer or Mother of God) was proclaimed by the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus in 431. This Council was held in opposition to the Nestorian heresy which denied that the Son of Mary was at his birth the Son of God. In answer to which the Council declared that Mary is rightfully to be called the Mother of God...Wherein we learn, amongst many other things, that Mary as Mother of God is blessed amongst women, and hence that womanhood is sacred in God's sight..."



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By Blogger G. Brooke, at 11:24 AM  

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By Blogger G. Brooke, at 1:48 PM  

It's interesting to see someone prooftexting to justify their position, then reject prooftexting when used to justify a different position.

By Blogger Dawgdays, at 1:49 PM  

On reflection, I decided to remove my earlier two comments. I have not done that before, preferring to leave even hasty posts undeleted. But obviously I was in too much of a snit to be civil, so...

My difficulty with the posts at the linked discussion is simply this: in argument, one ought to represent one's opponent's views in a way that the opponent would recognize them. A supporter of women's ordination, or an ordained woman, ought to be able to say, "Yes, you begin by representing my position the way I would articulate it." But women priests do not represent themselves as "pretending" to consecrate the elements in the eucharistic liturgy, or as "confused," or as "masquerading" as priests.

Sorry for the "litter" of my deleted comments, Ryan. Every couple or three years I have to remember why I don't blog when tired and hungry. :^)

By Blogger G. Brooke, at 8:42 PM  


I responded to your question of ontology. From now on, if you feel your question is inadequate, please feel free to question further, debate, or ask in another way. You can type as much as you want and you are always welcome over.

As for your quotation of Fr. Nelson, I am afraid you read it out of context. What he said was, "She [The Church] does not do any better by placing women in male roles in the 21st [century]. [Doing] [t]his is to say that there is something essentially flawed about being a woman." Fr. Nelson, recently married and a friend of mine, does not believe or teach that there is anything flawed about being a woman.

In Christ,

By Anonymous The Common Anglican, at 2:25 AM  

Dear Andy,

I appreciate your reply and your invitation to further dialogue. From my perspective, the truth of the matter is I have had this disagreement many times with many different persons, and I am experienceing fatigue with it.

I am thankful you cleared up the misconception about what Fr. Nelson had to say. I knew he was married and I could not understand how he could be making such a statement. It would help though if in his lengthy postings, he sought to be more clear. Furthermore, I am of the opinion that, no matter how he defends his position, to say that the priesthood is a male only position and that women cannot possibly occupy the role is to imply that there is something essentially flawed about being woman. My reading is that from the very early days of the church women had important leadership roles in the spreading of the gospel. Some served in what today we would consider ordained positions. It was only when the power structure got ahold of the religion once again that the women were excluded.

I speak this way from the perspective of a person who has not always held this conviction. I once thought as Fr. Nelson seems to think; that women cannot be priests. When I was in my early teenage years I experienced the ministry of an ordained woman in a powerful way, and even though I was bothered by the fact that she was a woman and a priest, I had to acknowledge to myself that that really did not matter. Once I realized the issue had more to do with my fear than with God's ideas about the priesthood, I was gradually able to come around to accepting the full inclusion of women in Holy Orders, Catholic or Protestant. And now that I have heard some of the stories of my female colleagues, which are not easy to hear I assure you, I will help them fight this fight.

Again, thanks for your response. I enjoy reading your blog from time to time and do not believe in letting a disagreement to prevent that.


By Blogger Ryan, at 10:36 AM  

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