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Sarah Elizabeth Cowie - Women and the Priesthood

Sarah Elizabeth Cowie - Women and the Priesthood

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Published by: YaHaqq on Oct 31, 2010
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Womenand the fuiesthood
Thes e c o n da r e at h a tn e e d sc o n f e s s i o nis the matterof the
priesthood.
Onewould havehopedthatthe fairhfulofthe Orthodox
Churchwouldn e v e rh a v ehadto defendthe Churchfromt h e i d e a
of womenin the priesthood.
Unfortunately,
that time is uponu s ,
And mostu n f o r t u n a t e l y ,
amongthosewho seemto be promoting
this thoughtaresomeofthev e r y h i e r a r c h s
andclergywho should
behelping
usto stand
onholyground.
Let usbeginourdiscussion
witha metaphor.
Oneofthe sen-
sibilitiesoneg a i n sfrom readingtextsfrom othercenturies
is a
profoundsense
of howd i f f e r e n t l ypeoplethoughtandexperienced
theworld.Thisaddstob o t ht h e b e a u t y
andthedifficulty in reading
Hawthomeor Chekhov.
One beginsto realizethat peopleint h e
pastusedto haveap r o f o u n dsense
of theirp o s i t i o nint h e world.
Thissense
ofpositionor identity,
mightinvolve
thelandownedby
one'sfamily,one'spositionin thefamily,one'sfather's
occupa-
tion, the family'sp o s i t i o nin the town, one's own worka n d
reputation,
and so on. Peoplehad differentroles and even wore
different
clothes
according
to theirposition.One'ssexwasa key
partof one'spositionandidentity.
Orthodox
peopleunderstood
that one'sp o s i t i o nand identity,forgedout of thesefactsof life,
wereaccorded
to eachpersonuniquely
byG o d ' s P r o v i d e n c e ,
as
partoftheirpathto salvation.
Today,however,
we havelostour sense
ofp o s i t i o nand iden-
tity, asp e o p l eandasap e o p l e ,
int h i s r u d em o d e r nc u l t u r eand in
ourdemands
foro u r s e l v e s
asindividuals.
Theissue
ofw o m e n ' s
ordination
isvery,
verysimple.
It is not
God'swillt h a twomenbepriests.
It is notpartof our positionin
life. Theauthorityof Traditionandthesacred
historyofthe Church
over thep a s ttwo thousand
yearsresound
witht h e v o i c eof God's
OFSTONES
ANDSERPENTS
holyw i l l . Thisi s n o t s o m e t h i n g
thatwasinstituted
andenforced
by
men;it isthewill of God.
The reasonfor settingonly men apartfor thep r i e s t h o o dis
partlydueto God'scarefor His Church.
It wasthewomenandone
teenage
boy( S a i n tJohnthe Apostle)who stoodat the f o o to f t h e
Crosswhile the men hid. Why?P a r t l y b e c a u s e
of thew o m e n ' s
love and courage,
partlyb e c a u s e
theirp o s i t i o nin societyallowed
themto do so.DuringthetenibleCommunist
yearsin Russia,
it
wast h e womenwhop r e s e r v e d
thef a i t h a n d k e p t t h e t r u e C h u r c h
alive. Why? Because
the clergyw e r e killed offf i r s t . B e c a u s e
of
theirpositionaswomen,
manyof themweresavedfrom immediate
persecution.
Theyp a c k e d
the churches
whenthe mendid notd a r e
go.T h e yh e l p e dpersecuted
bishopsand buriedthe dead.T h e y
played
a largepartin keeping
thefaithalive.
Because
oftheirposi-
tion as women,they were able to do much that the menw e r e
unable
todo.
This realityis alsopartof God's loveand Providence
for
women.It is a blessing.
Because
we aregiventhe freedomnot to
havee c c l e s i a s t i c a l
authority,and are therebyreleasedfrom the
burdensome
obligations
andperilous
spiritual
responsibilities
that
this typ€ ofa u t h o r i t ye n t a i l s ,
we areable-like God'sm o t h e r - t o
ponder
what is revealed
to us silently,within our hearts.
Thisf r e e -
domalsoenables
usto focusourenergies
on makingandkeeping
an Orthodoxhome,andonr a i s i n gOrthodoxchildren.
Teachingin
the homeis no lessimportant
thanteaching
in the Church;
it is
merelydifferent.
Partof ourp r o b l e min seeingthis is thatwe don o t r e a l l y r e c -
ognize Who God is. Ifwe fully recognized
thatw ea r e c r e a t e d
beings,
creatures
madeby God,ifw e t r u l y s a wwhowe arein rela-
tionto WhoH e i s , w e w o u l dh a v elessproblemin accepting
this
restriction.
Wew o u l d belessliableto try to dictateto the Almighty
andmorelikelyto bowourheads
andsay,
"Thyw i l lb e d o n e . "
We
cannot
justt a k ewhatwe like aboutOrthodoxyand leavethe rest,
or foreverkicka g a i n s t
thep r i c k s .W e d o o u r s e l v e s
a disservice
if
we do because
wed o not allow ourselves
to enterinto thef a i t h
moredeeply.
Beyondthat,it is notg o o dfor ustop r y into the dis-
209

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