Monday, November 12, 2012

Some Thoughts on Women Priests

Alice C. Linsley

I was glad to hear of Anglican Archbishop Robert Duncan's initiative to study the question of women priests, and ask readers to pray for and support him, as he will certainly come under criticism for forming this Commission.

Many consider this a step backward, but it is the most progressive move any Anglican leader has taken since the Anglican Communion split over the consecration of gay activist Gene Robinson and the unregenerate Presiding Bishop Kathryn J. Schori.

Meanwhile, the Church of England continues to be torn by the question of women bishops.Those interested, should read this briefing by members of the Conservative Evangelical and Catholic groups in the general Synod of the Church of England: Women Bishops Legislation: Not Fit For Purpose

The new Archbishop of Canterbury favors women bishops, which does not bode well for Tradition-honoring, Biblical Anglicans.

The question of women priests continues to divide Anglicans and remains a significant barrier to ecumenical relations with the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholics. Putting off a definitive study of this question only delays the inevitably clash that is coming within Anglicanism.

Having been a priest in the Episcopal Church for 15 years, this is a subject about which I have rather strong feelings.  Here are some of my thoughts.

Women who now serve as priests must be granted continued service, but their ministries should be directed toward preaching, teaching and pastoral ministry, especially among women and children.

There should be an immediate moratorium on the ordination of women as priests.

Women should be ordained as preachers, teachers, theologians and pastors, but not as priests.

Women should not serve in liturgical roles, except as cantors and lectors.

Only males should serve at the altar during Divine Liturgy.

Anglicans must restore the male nature of the Priesthood, which is the Priesthood of the God-Man Jesus Christ.

Anglicans must restore the veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary, by which Christians are reminded of God's plan of salvation through the faithfulness of the Woman.

Related reading:  What is Lost When Women Serve as Priests; What is a Priest?; God as Male Priest; Growing Consensus that Women Priests Must be Addressed; Impressions of the New American Anglicanism


Matt Viney said...

As always, your views are very interesting!

Alice Linsley said...

Not sure how to take that, Matt. I'm not trying to be provocative. I hold to Scripture and Holy Tradition.

jdwoods76 said...

I'm reminded of the John Milibank article that you posted on 9/28/12. The article offered a blueprint for restoring a healthy Anglicanism, listing "steps towards an eventual reunification under Roman primacy." It seems like the right prescription to me; it also seems like it will never happen. Will the ACNA someday reunite with Rome or Orthodoxy, Alice?

Alice Linsley said...

One day in Christ's eternal Kingdom, but until that day, what Anglicans need most is to be restored to catholicity.

George Patsourakos said...

In line with the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches, the smaller Anglican Church should not permit women to be priests.

Even Orthodox Judaism does not allow women to be rabbis, although the more liberal Reform and Conservative branches of Judaism do allow women to be rabbis.

One of the reasons that Jesus did not select any women to be His apostles was because Jesus did not want women to have to suffer as men did. Indeed, this is an attribute of Jesus that should be respected and appreciated by women, as they do not serve as priests.

Alice Linsley said...

Søren Kierkegaard on the Blessed Virgin Mary
Who was a great in the world as that favored woman, the mother of God, the Virgin Mary? And yet how do we speak of her? That she was the favored one among women does not make her great, and if it would not be so very odd for those who listen to be able to think just as inhumanly as those who speak, then every young girl might ask: Why am I not so favored? And if I had nothing else to say, I certainly would not dismiss such a question as stupid, because, viewed abstractly, vis-à-vis a favor, every person is just as entitled to it as the other. We leave out the distress, the anxiety, the paradox… The angel was indeed a ministering spirit, but he was not a meddlesome spirit who went to the other young maidens in Israel and said: Do not scorn Mary, the extraordinary is happening to her. The angel went only to Mary, and no one could understand her. Has any woman been as infringed upon a was Mary, and is it not true here also that the one whom God bless he curses in the same breath?... She needs worldly admiration as little as Abraham needs tears, for she was no heroine and he was no hero, but both of them became greater than these, not by being exempted in any way from the distress and the agony and the paradox, but became greater by means of these.” (from Fear and Trembling)

Anonymous said...


Thanks for this post. The churches that embraced women priests are also opening up their doors to pansexuality or the LGBT groups.

The arguments are political and do not take into consideration that theologically this cannot be reconciled. It's a different Gospel, even a different God.

Alice Linsley said...

"It's a different Gospel, even a different God."


jdwoods76 said...

Last night in an RCIA class I attend some young adults asked about women priests; since we had much material to cover, the answer was a quick allusion to Tradition and we moved on. They politely accepted the answer, but no one seemed really satisfied with it. People want a specific answer to this question, yet they seem to prefer an answer of about 150-200 words. So what would you tell them? The best answer I can recall is one of your articles about blood: for males, blood traditionally means violence and sacrifice, while for females blood brings life, as in childbirth. Therefore, a male needs to offer the "body and blood" of Christ's sacrifice. This explanation seems concise to me, but I want to check it with you before I(maybe)ask the instructors about it. Thank you for your time.

Alice Linsley said...

Yes, that is a good brief explanation drawing on the anthropological observation of the division of labor and blood work. The sign of the priesthood is blood, but this makes sense to people only when they understand the overarching binary framework of the Biblical worldview. Blood is the ground of Being in the Bible. The first man Adam is also the first blood - Ha-dam. His counterpart is Ha-vah (Eve) and is associated is bone and flesh (The Man said she is bone and flesh of me.) Here we find blood, bone and flesh as representing human being, of the one essence (kind), but of different forms with different signs.

Abraham's ancestors saw a hierarchical, gendered and binary order in creation. The priesthood originated with them so to understand the priesthood we must also understand their metaphysics, their ontology, and their epistemology.

You may find this helpful:

People want this sophisticated worldview presented in little sound bites because they have short attention spans. Unfortunately, this means that they do not care enough to find out what the Bible actually says.