Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Response to Elizabeth Kaeton's Comments

Alice C. Linsley

I’ve been asked to respond to the substance of Elizabeth Kaeton’s comments. Perhaps this will clarify why the facts and the evidence do not support her distorted view of Christianity.

Women and Ordination

Elizabeth argues that women “weren't ordained because of ancient, cultural misogyny.” Actually, only those in the priestly orders were ordained by the pouring of oil over their heads. Since women were never priests, none were ordained. That doesn’t mean that women weren’t called to and confirmed in ministry. Some were prophetesses and judges in Israel. Huldah, Deborah and Anna are examples.

Further, there is no evidence of widespread misogyny in the Bible. About 70% of the women named in the Bible are the wives and daughters of ruler-priests. They were women of influence and wealth. Some women named in the New Testament were not the wives or daughters of priests, but were independently wealthy and recognized as prominent women. Lydia and Phoebe are examples.

Women and the Bible

Feminists often use the Bible to illustrate the horrors of patriarchy. They call attention to the story of the Levite who cut his defiled concubine into pieces and sent her severed parts to the 12 tribes as a call to war (Judges 19). They want us to see how horrible patriarchy is that the Levite would surrender his concubine to the sodomites. Is this not misplaced judgment? Why not instead be critical of the evil sodomites who sought to defile the Levite and killed his concubine? After all, this is the point of the story!

Feminists despise St. Paul, who they consider to be the arch oppressors of women because he teaches that women should be submission to their husbands. Katherine M. Rodgers in The Troublesome Helpmate: A History of Misogyny in Literature (1966) writes, "The foundations of early Christian misogyny - its guilt about sex, its insistence on female subjection, its dread of female seduction - are all in St. Paul's epistles. They provided a convenient supply of divinely inspired misogynistic texts for any Christian writer who chose to use them; his statements on female subjection were still being quoted in the twentieth century opponents of equality for women."

But this represents an imbalanced and intellectually dishonest approach to St. Paul's writings. It ignores Paul's qualifying statement that husbands and wives are to be in submission to one another. Feminists rail against St. Paul's statement that female chatterers need to be quiet in church and ask their husbands about the message at home. They overlook his assent to women prophesying in the assembly on the condition that they wear a head covering as a sign of modesty. They accuse Paul of limiting women's opportunities in the Church and ignore the evidence that he opened opportunities for women, even assigning them risky duties, such as having Phoebe carry his epistle to the Romans, and consenting to use Lydia's home as his base of operations in Philippi.

The claim that Christianity oppresses women and homosexuals (V. Gene Robinson’s latest argument) is not supported by historical evidence either. EK and those who think as she does rail against the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches which don’t ordain women. They see this as oppression by the Church. These churches regard Mary as the pinnacle of godly virtue and venerate her (something which Anglicans have lost). The Orthodox remember women throughout the liturgical year: Mary of Egypt, the Samaritan woman Photini, who was the first evangelist and called “equal to the Apostles” among the Orthodox. Then there is Lydia, the first European convert to Christianity.

Misogyny in the Church

Is the Church misogynistic? It should be easy to test the Feminist thesis that the Church is an institution that enshrines "guilt about sex," "insistence on female subjection" and "dread of female seduction". If this is indeed the case, we would see evidence of misogyny at the time of Christianity's legal establishment under Emperor Justinian. Let us consider whether the Justinian Law Code increased the oppression of women in the Byzantine Empire. With the implementation of the Justinian Code the following practices quickly disappeared:

* Infanticide
* Polygyny (multiple wives)
* Incest
* Cultic prostitution
* The 3-tiered caste system that limited women's marriage options
* The practice of fathers selling their daughters into slavery.

The Code also made it legal for:

* Slave owners to grant liberty to as many slaves as they wanted.
* Families to retain the estate in cases where the father died intestate.
* Noble women to exercise political power.

While it is evident that Christianity has not solved all societal problems, it has largely improved the conditions of women. Where, then, is the evidence that women have been oppressed under Church rule? Not much of a case can be made based on historical evidence.

Related reading:  Genesis on Homosex: Beyond SodomThe Daughters of Priests; Passing Conversation with Priestess Kaeton; "Women Priests: History and Theology" by Patrick Henry Reardon


Anastasia Theodoridis said...

ISTM a big mistake of some of the heterodox is to consider priesthood a "right." If that were so, then of course women should have the same right as men.

Thing is, *nobody* has any "right" to the priesthood. The priesthood is Christ's. He has all the rights concerning it; they are His exclusively. He normally exercises them via His Chuch, and it is unfair as well as untrue to assume His choices have had anything to do with misogyny.

Alice C. Linsley said...

I fully agree, Anastasia.

Phil said...

I think that if the ancient fathers and the jews of the old testament met "Priestette" Keaton, she would be considered as some pagan priestess or witch. It is arrogance to assume a right that doesn't exist but that seems to be the spirit of the times nowadays.

Anonymous said...


The spirit of the times claims the Holy Spirit is conflicted and all we need is love.


Anonymous said...

I keep you in my prayers,Alice! You always give a balanced and rational rebuttal to people like Ms. Kaeton.

Glad you are keeping the fires burning!

Rdr. james Morgan

Anonymous said...

I have a question. Does Orthodoxy accept the validity of Anglican orders/sacraments.

If so why not?


Alice C. Linsley said...

Thank you, James. I value your prayers.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Baptism in the Episcopal Church USA is not regarded as valid in Orthodoxy. In Orthodoxy, each parish priest is responsible to investigate the validity of Baptism for those coming to Orthodoxy; case by case according to the guidelines they receive from the Church. I was baptised at age 16 in the American Baptist Church using the Trinitarian formula and by full immersion. I was not required to be re-baptized when I came into Orthodoxy. However, had I been baptised in the Episcopal Church, I would have been re-baptised.

Only Orthodox may receive Communion and this will continue until the Church is no longer divided.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Alice. Are Episcopal/Anglican priesthood valid in the Orthodox Church?

The Roman Catholic church, does not accept, them, so those converting will have to be re-ordained.

What is the Orthodox position on this?


Alice C. Linsley said...

In the 1920s Orthodox and Anglicans were close to entering into Communion but that was when Anglicanism began to slide into modernism and away from Holy Tradition. Many former Anglicans/Episcopalians have become Orthodox (Stephen Freeman, Patrick Henry Reardon...) but as far as I know all had to be re-ordained.

Anonymous said...

A parenthetical comment to the whole discussion (about rebaptism). I'm not sure the economia decision(rebaptism vs just chrismation) is uniform across all of the Orthodox churches. I know the GOA accepts baptisms from the Episcopal church as being valid, provided one can produce the written documentation. I know this does not please many Orthodox who know the current state of the TEC.

- Steve

Anonymous said...

Thanks Alice.

It seems like the plot gets even more complex. I do recall the Protestant reformers, rejecting the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and even calling it an abomination.

It seems like the Anglicans are turning Protestant slowly.


Alice C. Linsley said...

Anglicanism has a strong Protestant or Reformed strain. This started after about 1555. It became much stronger after Anglicans who opposed Bloody Mary fled to Calvin's Geneva where they were influenced by Calvin's ideas.

In 1563, the 39 Articles of Religion were approved by a C of E Convocation. They are found in every Book of Common Prayer. These are anti-Rome in their tone. Some say that they were not intended to be a dogmatic definition of faith, but Protestant/Evangelical Anglicans have insisted that they are essential to Anglicanism, making them something like the Augsburg Confession for Lutherans. This would make Anglicanism a confessional religion (like Lutheranism), but many Anglicans insist that the Nicene and Apostles are the only confessions needed.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Thanks, Steve. I agree. It doesn't seem to be uniform and the entire question has become a cause of contention among Orthodox groups.

Teena Blackburn said...

Hello, Alice. This conversation is funny because of a fight I've had on Facebook for the last couple of days. An Orthodox man (not here in Ky.) who regularly prays with Episcopalians, supports the ordination of women and active homosexuals-and who told me my approach to the faith is juvenile because I took exception to the acceptability of such things. I got dragged in to an argument with a bunch of Episcopalians as well. You really cannot reason with these people-but what bothers me is there not willing to just keep their heresy in their own communion. They are eyeballing us and the RCC as well. No room for those of us who disagree in their world.

Teena Blackburn said...

They're-not there. Sorry.

Alice C. Linsley said...

I'm sorry that your faith has been called juvenile. You have great intelligence and intellect, Teena. I know you also have great faith. Keep teaching under HIS anointing and let the juveniles think as they will. Reasonable and well informed people are able to recognize the unity and integrity of Holy Tradition.

Anonymous said...


The Protestant reformers rejected the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The rejection was not enough. They sought out to get it banned wherever they could.

Many RC saints gave their lives to preserve it.

This is another stealth/backdoor attempt to get rid of the Holy sacrifice and the sacraments.

Just tell them that RC's and Orthodox are not interested in being Protestants.

Why destroy something you don't believe in?


Teena Blackburn said...

Well, Savvy, these people are Anglo-Catholics. They want the Liturgy, and the sacraments, and the Real Presence, while also ordaining women and active homosexuals. Best of both worlds in their minds I guess.

Anonymous said...


They would end up with a different liturgy, different sacraments and and a different God.

C.S Lewis on Priestess in the church said"

"Why should a woman not in this [priestly] sense represent God?... Suppose the reformer stops saying that a good woman may be like God and begins saying that God is like a good woman. Suppose he says that we might just as well pray to 'Our Mother which art in Heaven' as to 'Our Father'. Suppose he suggests that the Incarnation might just as well have taken a female as a male form, and the Second Person of the Trinity be as well called the Daughter as the Son. Suppose, finally, that the mystical marriage were reversed, that the Church were the Bridegroom and Christ the Bride. All this, as it seems to me, is involved in the claim that a woman can represent God as a priest does.... ...Christians think that God Himself has taught us how to speak of Him. To say that it does not matter is to say... that all the masculine imagery is not inspired, is merely human in origin... And this is surely intolerable: or, if tolerable, it is an argument not in favour of Christian priestesses but against Christianity."...


Teena Blackburn said...

Savvy, I know. I've read that too-and I agree. But, what do you do with people who think they can make it up as they go along?

Bill Humble said...

Very helpful article, Alice. The misogyny thing is just another empty argument that holds no merit. The veneration of The Theotokos and the high regard for her is evidence of that. It was once common for a Roman Catholic to believe that all prayers to the father had to go through Mary first. What misogynists! What horrible patriarchal woman hating! (That's sarcasm, btw). I will say that, as an Anglican, I know of many fellow Anglicans, myself included, who have a deep verneration and devotion to the most blessed Theotokos. The movement as a whole may not find it prevalent, but it isn't forbidden, and is encouraged in some circles. Peace to you.

Alice Linsley said...

Thanks for reading, Bill.