Why Women Were Never Priests
- by Fr. John Peck
//A convert to Orthodoxy from being an Episcopalian priestess, Ms. Alice C. Linsley renounced her priestly order in March 2004.
She left the Episcopal ministry on the Sunday that Gene Robinson was consecrated and has not entered an Episcopal church since. After years of studying the question of women priests she is persuaded that this innovation is the root cause of the schism within Anglicanism.//
The Messianic priesthood of Jesus Christ is the true and single Form of the Priesthood. Every priest, either living before Christ or after Christ's appearing, stands as a sign to this one priesthood. The priesthood is unique (not to be confused with the office of shaman) and it is impossible to change it in any essential way.
All attempts to change the priesthood, such as developed out of Protestant theology or the ordination of women, corrupt the sign so that it no longer points to Messiah. The Church itself has no authority to change the ontological pattern since the Priesthood existed before the Church and was not established by the Apostles.
The first priest mentioned in the Bible is Melchizedek who lived during the time of Abraham. The author of Hebrews tells us that Melchizedek is a type pointing to Jesus as the true Form/Priest:
"This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek." (Hebrews 6:13-20)
Melchizedek represents the Messianic priesthood, but he doesn't represent the beginning of the priesthood. Cain and Abel acted as priests when they offered sacrifices in Genesis 4. This means that the priesthood was not established by the Apostles, it existed long before them. According to Saint John Chrysostom, a Church Father, the priesthood "is ranked among heavenly ordinances. And this is only right, for no man, no angel, no archangel, no other created power, but the Paraclete himself ordained this succession ".
If the Apostles are not the source of the Christian priesthood, what is the source? It can only be the eternal Christ, who is the eternal Form/Priest. Through Jesus Christ the eternal truth signified by the Priesthood comes into focus. He alone is Priest, fulfilling atonement through His own shed blood. The Priesthood therefore, is necessarily tied to the Blood of Jesus Christ. Where people deny the saving nature of Jesus' Blood there can be no true Priesthood. A priest who denies the necessity of repentance and trust in Jesus' Blood as the means of forgiveness, is a false priest.
What can we say about the Priesthood?
First, we can say that the priesthood is verifiably one of the oldest religious offices in the world, traced back to at least 7000 B.C. It emerges out of the Afro-Asiatic civilization which, at its peak, extended from the Atlantic coast of modern Nigeria to the Indus River Valley. The Brahmanas (Hindu Priest Manuals)  express the richness of this institution. The "priest" offered sacrifice at fire altars which they constructed according to geometry and at the proper seasons which they determined through astronomy. The Vedas also reveal the danger of a priestly order that becomes too powerful and self-serving, as happened also with the priests of Jesus' time. When the True Priest appeared among them, they were unable to recognize Him because their understanding of the office of the Priest had become corrupted.
The priest emerges out of primeval perceptions of blood as the substance of life, purity and righteousness. We are able to verify that this conception is very old because it has a wide linguistic dispersion. The Hebrew root "thr" = to be pure, corresponds to the Hausa/Hahm (West Africa) "toro" = clean, and to the Tamil (India) "tiru" = holy. All are related to the proto-Dravidian (Pakistan) "tor" = blood. These cognates point to an ancient priesthood for which purity, holiness and blood are related concepts.
From the dawn of time humans recognized that life is in the blood. They saw offspring born of water and the blood. They knew that the loss of blood could bring death. Killing animals in the hunt also meant life for the community. They sought ways to ensure that their dead entered life beyond the grave, especially their rulers who could intercede for them before the Deity.
This is why peoples around the world covered their dead rulers in red ochre dust as early as 80,000 years ago. This red dust is a sign pointing to the Pleromic Blood of Jesus.
God planted eternity in our hearts so we innately know that Christ's Blood is not only redemptive, but also the source of our life. This is what St. Paul calls "the mystery of Christ". As his second missionary journey, Paul preached that,
"in Him [Jesus Christ] we live and move and have our being." (Acts 17:28)
He also wrote:
"In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times, He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth." (Ephesians 1:7-10)
These words follow Paul's explanation of the saving work of Jesus Christ in Ephesians:
But now in Christ Jesus, you that used to be so far apart from us have been brought very close, by the blood of Christ. For He is peace between us, and has made the two into one and broken down the barrier which used to keep them apart, actually destroying in His own person the hostility caused by the rules and decrees of the Law. This was to create one single man in Himself out of the two of them and by restoring peace through the Cross, to unite them both in a single body and reconcile them with God. In His own person He killed the hostility Through Him, both of us have in one Spirit our way to come to the Father. (Eph. 2:13-14)
Second, we know that the priest functions to mitigate blood guilt. Anthropologists have noted that there is considerable anxiety about shed blood among primitive peoples. Among the Afro-Asiatics, the priesthood served to relieve blood guilt and anxiety and to perform rites of purity. The priest addresses impurities by seeking purification through blood sacrifice. He also addresses anxiety about shed blood through blood sacrifice.
Third, we know that no woman served as a priest in any official capacity. Women didn't enter the area of the altar where blood was offered in animal sacrifice. We know this because the Afro-Asiatics, from whom we received the priestly office, believed that the blood shed by men and women were never to mix or even be in the same place. Sacred law prohibited the blood shed in killing (male) and the blood shed in giving life (female) to share the same space.
1. Plato taught that there is but one true Form of all observable entities and this Form exists in eternity (outside of time and space). Species of natural objects observed in the world are merely reflections of their true Forms. We know what trees are because one Form/Tree exists, which our souls intuitively recognize.
2. St. John Chrysostom, On the Priesthood, St. Vladimir's Seminary Press (1977), p. 70.
3. The Brahamas are Vedic texts that provide instruction for Hindu priests. These texts give detailed instructions about sacrifices offered at altars of fire. They also make it evident that the Priest is a close associate of the King and the King relies heavily upon the Priests' services. This is evident in the Priest-King relationship that we find n the Old Testament. For more on this, see Bujor Avari's book India: The Ancient Past, pp. 77-79.
4. Anthropologists have discovered that the wider the dispersion of a culture trait the older the trait.
5. Sophisticated mining operations in the Lebombo Mountains of southern Africa reveal that thousands of workers were extracting red ochre which was ground into powder and used in the burial of nobles in places as distant as Wales, Czechoslovakia and Australia. Anthropologists agree that this red powder symbolized blood and its use in burial represented hope for the renewal of life.
6. "Pleroma" means the fullness or totality of all things. Blood symbolizes life. Since the Blood of Jesus works to bring life both in time and in eternity, the Blood of Jesus is perceived to be the original source of life and the means of eternal life.
7. This has been discussed in many of the great monographs: Benedict's Patterns of Culture, Lévi-Strauss' The Raw and the Cooked, and Turnbull's The Forest People.
Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries
George C. Thomas
- This binary worldview supports clear distinction between life and death.
The same distinction of life-taking and life-giving is behind the law that forbids boiling a young goat in its mother's milk (Deut. 14:21).
The only Christian denomination to have women priests is the Episcopal Church. Not surprisingly, the Episcopal Church also has a Seminary President, Katharine Ragsdale, who recently stated in a sermon:
Let me hear you say it:
Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done.(*)
Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done.
Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done.
Women Leaders in the Church are Never Priests
In this essay we have discussed the origins and nature of the priesthood. Holy Tradition and Scripture reveal numerous women in positions of leadership; Deborah and Huldah among them. Daughters of priests are remembered as great women also, Asenath and Zipporah among them. However not a single woman can be identified as a priest in Holy Tradition or the Bible. It is clear then that women have never been priests and that the nature of the priesthood from the beginning has been such that it pertains only to men.
So called "priestesses" of ancient Greece were not priests at all. They were seers who pronounced oracles in a trance state, like shamans. Likewise, Shinto "priests" are also shamans as they deal with the spirits. Use of the term "priest" in both cases reveals ignorance about the different worldviews of priests and shamans , an ignorance (or bias?) that pervades 20th century academia.
God has not changed the office of the priesthood. It survives in Christian communities that preserve catholic Holy Tradition.  When the priesthood is held high and priests live above contamination, the world is drawn to Jesus Christ. This happens because there is only one Priesthood: the Messianic Priesthood. There is only one Priest: Jesus Christ, and there is only one Blood, Christ's pleromic blood which is the life of the world. St. Paul expresses it this way:
"There is one Body, one Spirit, just as one hope is the goal of your calling by God. There is one Lord, one Faith, one baptism, and one God and father of all, over all, through all and within all." (Eph. 4:4-5)
As C.S. Lewis has written:
"With the Church, we are farther in: for there we are dealing with male and female not merely as facts of nature but as the live and awful shadows of realities utterly beyond our control and largely beyond our direct knowledge. Or rather, we are not dealing with them but (as we shall soon learn if we meddle) they are dealing with us." (From C.S. Lewis' "Priestesses in the Church?")
8. Read the full report on President Ragsdale here: http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=10231
9. To read about the difference between the worldview of the Priest and the Shaman, go here: http://jandyongenesis.blogspot.com/2007/08/shamanic-practice-and-priesthood.html
10. To read more about Holy Tradition surrounding the Messianic Priesthood, go here.
Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries
George C. Thomas, Kuwait
- Recently, many people expressed their views on 1 Corinthians 14:34 -38 under the title 'Women in Churches' - of course, omitting the unpleasant latter half of the text - (unpleasant for the 'liberal minded') . As mentioned already, 1 Timothy 2:11-15 happened to be the Epistle reading on 7th April's H. Qurbana. I thought both portions were complimentary to each other, giving exactly the same instructions and that was the main reason for my 'post'. Also, the writings of the Russian Patriarch HH Kirill. In (ICON) Digest no. 4882, I read what Mr. George C Thomas of Kuwait has written too on -" Why women were never Priests".
I have never been and hopefully will never ever be angry with any of the bible verses at all. Of course, there are biblical instructions that I can not follow, because of my own personal 'frailty ' - like; to dismember a part of the body if it causes one to sin etc. But in spite of that who am I to get angry with the 'word of God'! On the contrary, I was extremely happy to have heard the above text read, in our H. Qurbana on 7th. Many 'contributors' to this forum earlier mentioned that Paul's instructions were directed only against the Corinthian church possibly because of the special problems that existed there and not meant for others. Obviously, 1 Tim 2:11-15 nullify that notion.
It is my firm conviction that we should try to follow biblical instructions as they are given in plain and simple language in the Bible without any modifications or biased interpretations, however much unpalatable they may appear to some in the present modern 'liberal' society. Again it appears childish to me to believe that ' we should be perfect in every other instruction' in the Bible before we follow the above instructions!
Even if it may appear 'primitive'(!) to some; in a Christian family a husband and his wife should try to lead their lives as if they are one - not physically as a pair of 'Siamese twins' - but as one in thoughts, words and deeds. Unfortunately, that family unity is breaking up very fast as each partner behaves as if he/she is independent of the other, bothering about his /her own life only. At least in Trivandrum I know; many Orthodox/Marthomite men attend H. Qurbana on Sundays - alone, with their wives/children attending/preaching at various 'Born again' fellowships. Obviously, there is no family prayer at such homes either. 1 Cor. 11:11 says, " IN THE LORD, however, woman (wife) is NOT independent of man (husband) , nor is man independent of woman". Like in 1 Cor .14, here also Paul says in 11:16, " If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice- nor do the churches of God". 1 Cor. 7:4-5, " The wife's body does not belong to her, but to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him, but to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you, because of your lack of self control ".
Again in my humble understanding, a husband and his wife should pray together with the very same faith and that only is the one acceptable to God; rather than an Orthodox husband (almost always) in the church alone with out his family and the wife in a 'so called' fellowship with her Pastor; and their children in various other 'fellowships' with their favourite pastors - male or female! I knew the family of a widow (her husband was an Orthodox believer, but passed away because of cancer of the stomach) with a 'Fellowship' at her residence conducted by a woman pastor. But the lady herself goes to another one conducted by a pastor of her liking; one son goes to a fellowship in Quilon headed by a woman pastor and the younger son - a drug addict! Because of the fear of physical harm from the 'addict' son, the mother bought a flat and lives there away from her children. 1 Cor. 11:3 says, " Now I want you to realise that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God'. 1 Cor. 11:7-9 " Man is the image and glory of God, but the woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man".
Of course, early church had a lot of women followers of Christ like Phoebe, Priscilla, Mary, Tryphena, Tryphosa, Persis etc and the most important of the lot being Saint Mary herself. Absolutely no denial of that fact. But we are to follow what is given as very clear instructions. To my mind, that is the reason why Orthodox, Catholic churches does not have any women Priests/Bishops. To my understanding of the Bible, there is no justification for changing that practice just because Anglican communion/born again groups follow some other 'ideas' including the acceptance of homosexuality.
If anyone thinks that the 'texts' from the Bible quoted above are taken out of 'context', and these are expressions of 'arrogance ' and 'pride' etc on my part, I do not have anything to say by way of explanation. But I shall be delighted to see " the correct context " for the above verses! My very earnest appeal is that we should avoid personal 'attacks' using insulting and abusive language in this forum. We should have the emotional maturity to tolerate differing opinions of others.
Dr. Babu Thomas
St. Gregorios Hospital, Parumala.
- Dear readers of ICON,
I would like to interject only briefly on George C. Thomas of Kuwait’s recent contribution, which is sourced from the 'Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries'- whatever and wherever are its antecedents and authority. The issue I wish to bring to your notice is the sentence that is part of the article: “The only Christian denomination to have women priests is the Episcopal Church.”
I work with the National Council of Churches in India, and of our 30 Protestant and Orthodox Members, several of the Protestant and Reformed churches have ordained women priests, eg., the Church of South India (CSI), the Church of North India (CNI), the Baptist church [in Nagaland in the North East of India], and several of the 10 Lutheran churches. These are not fly- by- night Pentecostal or Evangelical churches, they all are 'mainline'.
Some of these churches also have ordained women bishops. It is true that not all their congregations are comfortable with women priests /bishops, and in some cases the women priests are merely 'ornamental', [without any real jobs], but they are a reality in the making, and we the Orthodox cannot wish them away by pretending they do not exist, or are 'inferior' to male, married clergy or unmarried bishops-such as is our tradition. Several of my colleagues have been- and still are-'women priests', and they are as fine priests and human beings as any males in that category.
We don’t agree with ordination of women as priests, that is our stand. These churches do, and that is their stand. Let us not try to judge them or prove who is right, or wrong. Let us get on with the 'business' of being Christ's followers and representatives on earth.
With warm regards and wishes,
Fr.) Philip Kuruvilla,
Ecumenical Solidarity for HIV and AIDS (ESHA) Program,
National Council of Churches in India (NCCI),
PO Box 205, Christian Campus, Civil
Lines, [near CP Club],
Nagpur- 440001, Maharashtra, India.
- - In IndianOrthodox@yahoogroups.com, Babu Thomas <drbthomas@...> wrote:
>But I shall be delighted to see "the correct context " for the above verses!Most of the Bible quotes suppressing women freedom in Church is found in St. Paul's Epistles. So many Christian men appears to be not followers of Jesus Christ, but of St. Paul, whose teaching gives lots of materials for suppressing half of human race saying I am the head and you are the tail.
Manhood and marriage for many among them is a license to dominate women. There is a whole text about what Jesus said about marriage and resurrection in St. Luke Chapter 20 verses 34 onwards. First read this and analyse St. Paul's teachings in that context.
There is no head and tail comparisons in Jesus's teachings. Everyone created by God in this world and faithfully believing in Him was/is an angel from heaven and going to be an angel in heaven. Can't people at least try to learn to treat every other human being as an angel from God??
Are we trying to deprive a chance to an angel to praise his/her creator because he/she is made for certain physical functions in the world or made in certain colors or born with certain sickness or born poor or rich???
If we do not understand this one point of equality in creation, what is the point in claiming to be a Christian???
In the last verse of 1 Corinthians 14 St. Paul again addresses men and women and says that everything he had said before was "for doing things in a proper and orderly fashion in church". In fact the caption of that whole text is "Order in the Church".
With the same verses where it said " For man did not come from woman, but woman from man......", two verses down in verse 12 of 1 Corinthians 11 it says " For as woman was made from man, in the same way man is born of woman; and it is God who brings everything into existence."
So, getting extremely excited with any part of St. Paul's exhortation without finding it's context would be dangerous.
I am excited with another part of St. Paul's exhortation to Timothy; 1 Timothy 5: 23 "Do not drink water only, but take a little wine to help your digestion" !!!!!
I interpret it as St. Paul asking me to drink wine!!!!!!
Before we justify our behavior with any text from the Bible, we need to understand it's context. There are verses for those who drinks and those who don't. There are verses for those who pray and those who don't. There is a whole book itself called "Song of Solomon" or "Uthamageetham" where God is not even mentioned a single time. We may some time wonder why it was written and why a book with such filthy language was included in the Bible, if we do not understand the behind story and context of that book.
Dear Babu, when I wrote about pride and arrogance I was talking about the general pride and arrogance among all men including me in our manhood and general superiority over women and most importantly the belief that it was Eve who sinned, not Adam. In one of your posts you wrote that Adam too was sitting alone in the garden, but the devil did not approach him... That is very true...But, Adam was sleeping at home sending Eve to pluck fruit !!!!!
- Dear Ronnie,
Ronnie Daniel wrote:
`Before we justify our behavior with any text from the Bible, we need to understand it's context. There are verses for those who drinks and those who don't. There are verses for those who pray and those who don't. There is a whole book itself called "Song of Solomon" or "Uthamageetham" where God is not even mentioned a single time. We may some time wonder why it was written and why a book with such filthy language was included in the Bible, if we do not understand the behind story and context of that book.'
I also suggest everyone to follow the same that won't give others a chance to be misled. The true believers of the Orthodox Church believed this faith with real devotion for so many centuries. How come we entertain all these new thoughts for the last 20 odd years. We submitted the reports to the Supreme Court in 1995 that man is the head of the family and now we have approved that women have voting rights that surely in a few years fight will lead for women priests as happened in other global churches. Taking in general, can't we come to the conclusion that money can `talk and walk' is the catalytic agents to precipitate all the filths to come out of the Pandora's box at the end of days. Let us stick to a general policy and argue, instead of picking up isolated sentences from here and there. I stop it there.
Ronnie Daniel wrote:
`Manhood and marriage for many among them is a license to dominate women. There is a whole text about what Jesus said about marriage and resurrection in St. Luke Chapter 20 verses 34 onwards. First read this and analyze St. Paul's teachings in that context. `
If you can't try to find any worth of what some of us have been writing on the basis biblical teaching over 6, 000 years and also other religions, together with multitude of corroborating evidence, there is no meaning in continuing our dialogue and discourse.
Ronnie Daniel wrote:
`There is no head and tail comparisons in Jesus' teachings. Everyone created by God in this world and faithfully believing in Him was/is an angel from heaven and going to be an angel in heaven. Can't people at least try to learn to treat every other human being as an angel from God?'
I don't understand the theology and the purpose of why angels' taking birth on earth. Is it for like that what happened in Gen.6? Or is it for angels to get promotions? God came down once and for all. I may have some inklings of thoughts about what Clement of Alexandria of the early church also believed on the biblical evidence of Mt.20, 1-21, that the neutral angels who didn't take part in the epic war of antiquity between the God's angels and Lucifer soldiers are sent down to take their birth for filling the mansions left behind in Heaven, Jn.14, 2, the reason for all the unwanted soul are kept in abeyance with out getting a chance by selective parents. Those violent angels are the only souls to come down now, but a God of justice giving chances to try their mettle to enter into glory, so that they can show their worth in these last tumultuous days of hooliganism and global carnivorousness.
Babbling with biblical verses has resulted in so many church denominations, probably the disguise of dark angels as angels of God, 2.Cor.11.
Please don't reply by selecting a sentence/s from my message.
E.S. John, Australia