The Image of God is the foundation of human equality. Because all humans are created in the Image of God, all humans are the same in a fundamental way. This sameness, or equality, must have consequences beyond philosophy and theology books, for if humans aren't the same in a fundamental way, there is no such thing as human equality; without human equality there is no humanity; without humanity, who are we?
Why Egalitarian Christians Are Saving the Church
For years I've been hearing people on the hierarchical side of theology say egalitarianism is destroying the church. However, instead of destroying the church, egalitarians are saving the church. Let me explain why.
If egalitarians were trying to destroy the church, they would work hard to reduce the number of people preaching the Gospel. Instead, egalitarians work hard to increase the number of people preaching the Gospel both in their own churches and those elsewhere in accordance with Luke 10.
If egalitarians were trying to destroy the church, they would work hard to ignore verses and biblical people who contradict their theology. Instead, egalitarians work diligently to create a holistic understanding of the Bible that includes all the verses, chapters, and books found in the Bible, and one that begins with Genesis1 instead of 1 Timothy.
If egalitarians were trying to destroy the church, they would ignore the gifts of half of the members of the body of Christ, and refuse to accept their contributions. Instead, egalitarians include all of the gifts of all the members of the body of Christ in order to promote growth of the body itself in accordance with 1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4.
If egalitarians were trying to destroy the church, they would give more power to one gender and allow the imbalance destroy marriages. Instead, egalitarians insist on mutual submission, mutual love and respect, mutual servanthood, and mutual authority in the realm of the body in accordance with 1 Corinthians 7 and Ephesians 5.
If egalitarians were trying to destroy the church, they would tell one gender to care more about needlepoint, cushions and embroidery, than the people who inhabit a world that is neither kind, nor benign. Instead, egalitarians call all Christians to leave the comfort of their homes in order to be the hands and feet of Christ, for if we don't move, neither does he.
By insisting that we should read the Bible literally and live it practically, egalitarians are reviving the church and bringing her back to her roots. That is not destructive, it is healing. And it is a beautiful thing to behold.
Re-reading 1 Corinthians 11: Image and Glory
1 Corinthians 11 is one of the chapters we are taught early on to read through the patriarchal lens: the man is the head of the woman, the way God the Father is the head of Christ; the line of authority flows without interruption from God to man. The woman is created from the man and for the man, and as a result she must wear a sign of the man's authority on her head. The end.
It is neat little package, too neat, for what does it mean that the man is the image and glory of God, but the woman is the glory of man? And why are men and women not independent from each other in the Lord?
Paul refers to Genesis 1-3 in Corinthians 11:3-16:
Genesis 1: Humans are created in the Image of God (11:7)
Genesis 2: The woman is created from the man (11:7-8)
Genesis 3: The woman becomes the mother of all the living (11:12)
All of this is straightforward and needs no explanation. But why is the woman the man's glory? And why is it so important for Paul that the woman was created from the man, and for the man?
Let's begin with the details 1 Corinthians 11 doesn't mention, but that are important for a proper understanding of the text.
The woman is created in the image of God:
"So God created [hu]man[kind] in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them" (Genesis 1:27, NIV).
Jesus is the Image of God:
"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation" (Col 1:15, NIV).
Jesus is also the glory of the Father:
"In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs" (Heb 1:1-4, NIV).
The glory of the image reveals its origin, where it is from:
"And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth" (John 1:14, KJV).
When we look at Jesus, we see the Father:
"Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'?" (John 14:9, NIV).
Yet, we say image of God, not clone of God. The image is a separate entity, which distinct features its archetype doesn't possess.
"Faith is profitable, therefore, when her brow is bright with a fair crown of good works. This faith—that I may set the matter forth shortly— Is contained in the following principles, Which cannot be overthrown. If the Son had His origin in nothing, He is not Son; If He is a creature, He is not the Creator; If He was made, He did not make all things; If He needs to learn, He hath no foreknowledge; If He is a receiver, He is not perfect; If He progress, He is not God. If He is unlike (the Father) He is not the (Father’s) image; If He is Son by grace, He is not such by nature; If He have no part in the Godhead, He hath it in Him to sin. “There is none good, but Godhead.” - Ambrose
The Son is not the Father; he is the only begotten of God, wherefore he is the Image of God. Although the Son is not identical with the Father, he shares in the Father's glory, power, and holiness. If the Son didn't share the Father's glory, he wouldn't be God.
"Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles" (Rom 1:22-23, NIV).
Idols do not possess God's glory, nor are they God's Image, for they didn't come from God.
All creation glorifies God, but only the image is the glory of God; God the Son radiates the glory of God for he possesses the glory of God, being himself God. This glory was given to the first man as he was created in the image of God, wherefore the man is said to be the image and glory of God.
All humans, born or created, are in the image of the first human. Seth, for example, was in the likeness and image of Adam, his father:
"When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth" (Gen 5:3, NIV).
The woman, taken from the man, was in the likeness and image of the first human.
"And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven" (1 Cor 15:49, NIV).
All created things have also their own glory.
"There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory" (1 Cor 15:40-41, KJV).
The human has glory, and it is this glory that the woman shares with the man.
Paul writes that Christ is the head of every man, the man is the head of the woman, and God is the head of Christ. This is usually interpreted to mean that Christ has authority over every man, the man has authority over the woman, and God the Father has authority over the Son. But consider, Paul has already said earlier in the same letter that a wife doesn't have authority over her own body, nor does a man have authority over his own body. Why would a man have authority over the woman's mind if in the realm of the body they share the same authority? Or perhaps Paul is referring to men and women in general? But how logical would it be for all men to have authority over all women, if they had to relinquish it as soon as they marry? And if this is the case, what does the word "head" refer to in Ephesians 5? The labyrinth keeps on growing around us.
What if instead of authority we looked for another meaning for the word "head"? What if Paul was referring to the chain of origin?
There are two parallel passages in 1 Corinthians:
"So then, no more boasting about men! All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future-all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God" (1 Cor 3:21-23, NIV).
"For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many "gods" and many "lords"), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live" (1 Cor 8:5-6, NIV).
We are of Christ, and Christ is of God.
All things come from God, and all things come through Christ.
Let's add these to the text and see what happens.
"Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ (you are of Christ), and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God (Christ is of God). .... In the Lord (through whom all things came and through whom we live), however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God (from whom all things came and for whom we live)" (1 Cor 11:3, 11-12, NIV).
All things come from God: God the Son is the only begotten Son of the Father, the man was created from the dust by God, and the woman was formed from the man by God.
God is the beginning, before him nothing existed. The only begotten Son is the image of the Father, through whom the man was created, making the man the image of God. The woman was created from the man, through the Son, making her the image of God. All three find their origin in God.
Because the image is not a clone, the Son is different from the Father, the man has a human body, the woman's body is different from the man's body. They all possess and reflect the glory of their origin, while they have their own glory. The Son is the glory of God, and radiates the glory of being the only begotten Son. The man is the glory of God, and radiates the glory of humanity. The woman is the glory of God, and the glory of the man, and she has her own glory: her long hair.
"[B]ut that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory" (1 Cor 11:15, NIV).
Shame and glory are connected in the Bible; glory can be transformed into shame.
"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. As they were increased, so they sinned against me: therefore will I change their glory into shame" (Hos 4:6-7, KJV).
The Corinthians were doing something that transformed the women's glory into shame:
"Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors [himself]. And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors [herself]-it is just as though her head were shaved. If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head.... Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering" (1 Cor 11:4-6, 13-15, NIV).
It has been suggested that the women let their hair down. But if this was the case, why does Paul say long hair is the woman's glory? And why does he say women should shave off all of their hair if they are uncovered? It makes little sense to say a woman should shave off her hair if she doesn't tie it up. But it does make sense if the women cut their hair short. If this was the case, Paul is telling them to go ahead and shave it all off. The English translation doesn't quite convey the meaning of the original. The Greek says: if the woman is not covered, let her be shorn, but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered. In other words, being uncovered is equivalent to not having long hair.
Paul appeals to nature. Nature itself teaches that a man should look like a man, and a woman should look like a woman. In an era in which women wore their hair long and men their hair short, a woman was recognized to be a woman by her long hair. Cutting it short would make her resemble a man, and by doing so, she would bring shame and dishonor upon herself, for she would have removed her own glory, her long hair.
The woman was created from the man and for the man. In Genesis 2 we find that the man's loneliness was the reason for the woman's creation; the help the man needed was the woman. Hence we know the woman was created to be with the man. But if the woman was created to be with the man, she must by necessity be what the man is, for the man didn't find what he needed among the animals; only the woman was able to remove the man's loneliness. If the woman is what the man is, she must share his glory, just as the man and woman share God's glory because they are created in his image.
The image of God reflects the glory of its origin. The greater the likeness, the greater the glory.
"And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit" ( 2 Cor 3:18, NIV).
We were created by Jesus, and for Jesus:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together (Col 1:15-17, NIV).
Jesus calls us his friends:
"I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you" (John 15:15, NIV).
Paul calls us God's co-workers:
"For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building" (1 Cor 3:9, NIV).
If we, who are created for Jesus, are his friends and co-workers, why isn't this true of the woman who was created for the man?
An image shares the abilities and capabilities of its origin.
God is holy, wherefore we must be holy.
The man was created to be free, wherefore the woman must be free.
In order to share the man's glory, the woman must have authority over herself to pray and prophesy before God as a woman. If she is the man's subject, she needs permission, but if she was born free, with free will, she has the right to act in her own person, as a woman.
"For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have authority over herself" (exousían échein epí teés kefaleés) (1 Cor 11:10, NIV).
A similar grammatical construction is found in 1 Corinthians 7:37-38, "But the man who has settled the matter in his own mind, who is under no compulsion but has control over his own will (exousia de echei peri tou idiou theleematos), and who has made up his mind not to marry the virgin-this man also does the right thing."
And Matthew 7:28-29, "When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority (exousian echoon), and not as their teachers of the law."
Clearly this is authority that the person in question possesses, not as sign of someone else's authority.
Were the women in Corinth cutting their hair in order to resemble men to have the right to pray and prophesy in the church? Was this the custom no other church had? If it was the case, Paul is telling the Corinthians to allow women to pray and prophesy as women.
Because the man's prior creation may cause some to believe men are worth more than women, or to think that men and women should exist independently from each other, Paul adds that men are not independent from women, nor are women independent from men, for although the woman was formed from the man, the man is born of the woman (1 Cor 11:11-12). Even here Paul finds the common origin of both men and women with God, for God created the man, from whom he formed the woman, from whom men are born. Neither would exist without God.
In 1 Corinthians 11 Paul celebrates our common humanness. Because the woman was created from the man, and men are born from women, we all share one blood.
"And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation" (Acts 17:26, KJV).
Or as Paul put it:
"Now, brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, "Do not go beyond what is written." Then you will not take pride in one man over against another. For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?" (1 Cor 4:6-7, NIV)
We have all received our lives from God; we all belong to God.
The Helper Who Provides and Protects
"It is the word “helper” that suggests the woman’s supportive role.... Subordination is entailed in the very nature of a helping role." (Raymond, C. Ortlund, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, p 104)
According to Ortlund, a "helper" is always subordinated to the one who is being helped. But because according to John Piper, the one who is being helped is the one who protects and provides (p 36), we have to somehow explain the following verse:
"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?"" (Hebrews 13:5-6 NIV)
God is portrayed as the one who helps us when he provides for and protects us.
If the "helper" is always subordinated, and providing and protecting are signs of superiority in a relationship, we must divide God's help into two distinct categories:
1) God helps when he subordinates himself to us
2) God helps when he provides for and protects us
What would Ortlund say?
"The fallacy lies in the implication of what she says, namely, that God cannot be subordinate to human beings. He does so whenever He undertakes to help us. He does not “un-God” Himself in helping us; but stoops down to our needs, according to His gracious and sovereign will. Similarly, I subordinate myself to my children when I help them with their homework. … So it is with God. When He helps His people, He retains His glorious deity but (amazingly!) steps into the servant role, under us, to lift us up. He is the God who emptied Himself and came down to our level – below us, to the level of slavery – to help us supremely at the Cross. Therefore, the fact that the Old Testament portrays God as our Helper proves only that the helper role is a glorious one, worthy even the Almighty." (p. 104)
Yet, because God's help is so often described as that of a superior, Grudem doesn't agree:
"It is true that God is often called our “helper,” but the word itself does not imply anything about rank or authority. The context must decide whether Eve is to “help” as a strong person who aids a weaker one, or as one who assists a loving leader. The context makes it very unlikely that helper should be read on the analogy of God’s help, because in Genesis 2:19-20 Adam is caused to seek his “helper” first among the animals. … Yet in passing through “helpful” animals to woman, God teaches us that the woman is a man’s “helper” in the sense of a loyal and suitable assistant in the life of the garden. The question seems to assume that because the word (like helper) has certain connotations (“Godlikeness”) in some places it must have them in every place." (p. 87)
In other words, the woman's help must be compared to that of the animals to prevent her from becoming the help that protects and provides. But by doing so, Grudem removes the woman's humanity.
Christian: So which one is it? Does the word “help” subordinate the woman to the man, or not?
Theologian: I think there is a huge problem with the concept of the woman being a help. Someone who helps others doesn’t have to help. Help is optional. God doesn’t always help us, even when we ask him, and the Bible is full of warnings against the kind of behavior that will get a cold shoulder from God in time of need.
Christian: So why is she called a help?
Theologian: Is she?
Christian: What do you mean?
Theologian: Is the woman called a help, or is the woman the help the man needed? If it wasn’t good for the man to be alone, what did he need: another human or a servant?
Christian: Another human?
Theologian: If the man needed another human, why did God create a woman to “help” the man? Do your friends help you?
Christian: Sometimes they do.
Theologian: Do they have to help you?
Christian: Only if they want to.
Theologian: Do you help your friends?
Christian: Of course I do!
Theologian: So if your friends help you and you help your friends, what’s the difference?
Christian: There is none.
Theologian: Do we help God?
Theologian: And does God help us?
Christian: Yes, of course he does.
Theologian: If we help God and God helps us, what’s the difference?
Christian: Maybe there is a difference in how we help God and how God helps us?
Theologian: Is there?
Christian: Well, yes. God is, well… God.
Theologian: True. So when God helps us it is a help we couldn’t have provided ourselves.
Theologian: And if that is the case, God’s help is not that of a subordinate, for someone who is subordinate helps with menial things.
Christian: Yes, I would say that is accurate.
Theologian: If God’s help is that of a superior, can we compare the woman’s help to God’s help?
Christian: Only if we want to make the woman superior to the man.
Theologian: If we don’t wish to make the woman superior to the man, we must compare her help to that of an equal, or to that of an inferior.
Christian: But how can we tell which one it is.
Theologian: Is a woman a human or an animal?
Christian: A human, of course!
Theologian: Then she is the man’s equal.
Theologian: If she is the man’s equal, her help must be that of an equal.
Christian: Why can’t it be that of someone who is subordinated?
Theologian: Does your friend become your subject when he helps you?
Christian: No, of course not.
Theologian: If your friend doesn’t become your subject when he helps you, and God doesn’t become our equal when he helps us, we must retain our original position towards those we help.
Christian: That seems fair to me, but is it not possible that the woman was created to help the man in a special way that makes her the man’s equal, yet his subject at the same time?
Theologian: Does the man help the woman?
Christian: I think so.
Theologian: How does a man help a woman?
Christian: Well, one of the obvious answers is that the man helps the woman become a mother.
Theologian: Does it make the man the woman’s subject?
Christian: Not really.
Theologian: So your friend doesn’t become your subject when he helps you, God doesn’t become our equal when he helps us, and a man doesn’t become the woman’s subject when he helps her. Why would the woman become the man’s subject when she helps the man?
Christian: There seems to be no reason.
Theologian: And what about the animals? Do they become our subjects because they help us, or do they help us because they are our subjects?
Christian: They help us because they are our subjects.
Theologian: Hence the same must be true of the woman. If she was created to help the man, she was by creation the man’s subject, and never his equal.
Equality cannot contain inequality, wherefore the woman had to either be the man's equal or his subject from creation. If the woman was created the man's subject, human equality doesn't exist; if the woman was created the man's equal, human equality is a reality. We cannot have it both ways. In the end, the woman wasn't created to help the man, she was created to be with the man. It was her humanity that ended the man's loneliness, and ever since that day humans have sought the companionship of other humans, for it isn't good for a human to be alone.
Verses that describe God's help
Blessed are you, O Israel! Who is like you,
a people saved by the LORD?
He is your shield and helper
and your glorious sword.
Your enemies will cower before you,
and you will trample down their high places."
I love you, O LORD, my strength.
The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.
He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise,
and I am saved from my enemies.
My heart says of you, "Seek his face!"
Your face, LORD, I will seek.
Do not hide your face from me,
do not turn your servant away in anger;
you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
O God my Savior.
We wait in hope for the LORD;
he is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD,
even as we put our hope in you.
Yet I am poor and needy;
may the Lord think of me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
O my God, do not delay.
Strangers are attacking me;
ruthless men seek my life--
men without regard for God.
Surely God is my help;
the Lord is the one who sustains me.
On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.
Who will rise up for me against the wicked?
Who will take a stand for me against evildoers?
Unless the LORD had given me help,
I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death.
When I said, "My foot is slipping,"
your love, O LORD, supported me.
When anxiety was great within me,
your consolation brought joy to my soul.
In my anguish I cried to the LORD,
and he answered by setting me free.
The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?
The LORD is with me; he is my helper.
I will look in triumph on my enemies.
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob,
O little Israel,
for I myself will help you," declares the LORD,
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.
Why the Catholic Church Does Not Ordain Women and Why They Really Should
The Catholic Church does not ordain women, and there are many reasons for it. Let's look at some of the arguments in favor of the exclusion of women from the priesthood.
The Catholic News Service writes:
“The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that only men can receive holy orders because Jesus chose men as his apostles and the "apostles did the same when they chose collaborators to succeed them in their ministry." Blessed John Paul II wrote in 1994 that this teaching is definitive and not open to debate among Catholics.”[i]
But the men Jesus chose were not only men, they were Jewish men; when was the “Jewish” dropped from the equation and Gentiles included in the priesthood?
For example, why did Jesus choose Paul (a Jewish man) to become an apostle to the Gentiles and have him appoint overseers in their churches if Gentiles were not eligible for the priesthood?
In Acts 9 Saul meets Jesus on the road to Damascus, and becomes Paul; in Acts 10 Peter is sent to a Gentile called Cornelius.
"Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached- how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him. "We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen-by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name." While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message" (Acts 10:34-44 NIV).
God does not show favoritism.
The Jewish apostles sometimes struggled with the idea of including the Gentiles in the church.
"When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, "You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?" (Gal 2:14, NIV).
The inclusion of Gentiles was done by a special revelation, after the formation of the church, after Jesus had sent the first apostles. What was the rationale behind the decision to include the Gentiles? The one concept that Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, never ceased from declaring: Jesus had ended the enmity between Jews and Gentiles caused by the law and made the two one body through his death.
"For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit" (Eph 2:14-18, NIV).
If Gentiles were included in the priesthood because of the death of Jesus, and not because Jesus had sent them, why isn’t this true also of women?
A common misconception is that only the first twelve disciples were considered apostles. Barnabas, for example, wasn’t one of the Twelve Apostles, but he was nevertheless called an apostle.
“Although Barnabas was not among the original Twelve, he is traditionally thought to have been among the 72 commissioned by Jesus to preach; thus, he is given the honorary title of Apostle.”[ii]
All of the 72 sent by Jesus were Jewish, but were they all men?
“After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go” (Luke 10:1-2, NIV).
We know of one woman apostle who had “been in Christ” before Paul, which would place her before Acts 9 and 10, before the conversion of Paul and the inclusion of the Gentiles. Junia is mentioned together with Andronicus (Rom 13:7), wherefore they could have traveled together as apostles. Since women were apostles before the inclusion of Gentiles, why are women excluded from the priesthood if the priesthood was given to the apostles and those they appointed after them?
In addition, if Barnabas is recognized as an apostle by tradition, why do we not accept the apostleship of Junia by tradition?
“Salute Andronicus and Junia my kinsmen.” …Then another praise besides. “Who are of note among the Apostles.” And indeed to be apostles at all is a great thing. But to be even amongst these of note, just consider what a great encomium this is! But they were of note owing to their works, to their achievements. Oh! how great is the devotion (φιλοσοφια) of this woman, that she should be even counted worthy of the appellation of apostle! But even here he does not stop, but adds another encomium besides, and says, “Who were also in Christ before me.”[iii]
And if those who were sent by Jesus were eligible for the priesthood, certainly the Samaritan woman and Mary Magdalene should be included in those sent by Jesus to preach the Gospel (John 4, 20:18).
At this point, Dominican Fr. Wojciech Giertych, the theologian of the papal household, claims we can’t know why chose only men as his apostles.
“According to Giertych, theologians cannot say why Jesus chose only men as his Apostles any more than they can explain the purposes of the incarnation or the Eucharist.”
But then Giertych somewhat surprisingly states that only men are eligible for the priesthood because Jesus was a man.
"The son of God became flesh, but became flesh not as sexless humanity but as a male," [Fr. Wojciech] Giertych said; and since a priest is supposed to serve as an image of Christ, his maleness is essential to that role.”[iv]
Image of Christ.
Aren’t we all in Christ and reflect therefore the image of God, Christ being God?
“Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all” (Col 3:9-11, NIV).
After the “we cannot know” and the “Jesus was a man” arguments, we finally arrive to the core of the question:
“Men are more likely to think of God in terms of philosophical definitions and logical syllogisms, he said, a quality valuable for fulfilling a priest's duty to transmit church teaching.”
But should not women who think of God in terms of philosophical definitions be included in the priesthood? No, because male priests love the church in a “male way” and show concern "about structures, about the buildings of the church, about the roof of the church which is leaking, about the bishops' conference, about the concordat between the church and the state."”
In other words, we really don't want to know why God chose men for the priesthood, because there is no why.
In the end, Giertych, makes an astonishing comment:
"The mission of the woman in the church is to convince the male that power is not most important in the church, not even sacramental power," he said. "What is most important is the encounter with the living God through faith and charity." "So women don't need the priesthood," he said, "because their mission is so beautiful in the church anyway."
Let’s take one more look at the arguments presented above. Men should be priests because Jesus chose men to be his apostles, because Jesus was a man, because men think philosophically, because men are concerned about buildings. But what about the Bible? Why does Giertych not take his own advice?
"In theology, we base ourselves not on human expectations, but we base ourselves on the revealed word of God," the theologian told Catholic News Service. "We are not free to invent the priesthood according to our own customs, according to our own expectations."
The Catholic website, Catholic.com finds the prohibition for women to become priests in the Bible.
“While women could publicly pray and prophesy in church (1 Cor. 11:1–16), they could not teach or have authority over a man (1 Tim. 2:11–14), since these were two essential functions of the clergy. Nor could women publicly question or challenge the teaching of the clergy” (1 Cor. 14:34–38). [v]
But this begs the question, if men are eligible for the priesthood because Adam was created first, why were Gentile men excluded from the priesthood in the Mosaic Law, and why was Jesus a priest according to the order of Melchizedek?
All humans descend from Adam, in him we all die (1 Cor 15:22). How can the first man be the foundation of priesthood considering he is the beginning of humanity itself? All that is true of humans in general is found in Adam: he was created in the image of God, created to care for the earth and its inhabitants, created to be walk with God and to be with other humans. If we say the man’s prior creation is the foundation for the man’s authority, we are essentially saying that being an incomplete human is required for authority; the man was a lonely creature before the woman was created. Perhaps this explains why the Catholic Church insists on celibacy for priests.
But this begs the question: why did priests in the Old Testament marry if spiritual authority requires celibacy? And why did God choose first Melchizedek and Aaron to be his priests, if being a man is the only requirement for the priesthood? And why is there a long line of qualifications for priests in 1 Tim 3, if being a man is the most important qualification for the priesthood?
Because the Catholic Church relies on both the Bible and tradition, the same website cites various church fathers to support the idea that women should not be ordained. Most of the examples describe heretical women, but their examples do not prove that Catholic women espoused heresy, nor that the Catholic Church didn’t ordain women. The examples are equally troublesome. For example, when we look at the writings of Tertullian, we find him attempting remove women from the priesthood, for he talks about ordained women.
"How many men, therefore, and how many women, in Ecclesiastical Orders, owe their position to continence, who have preferred to be wedded to God; who have restored the honour of their flesh, and who have already dedicated themselves as sons of that (future) age, by slaying in themselves the concupiscence of lust, and that whole (propensity) which could not be admitted within Paradise! Whence it is presumable that such as shall wish to be received within Paradise, ought at last to begin to cease from that thing from which Paradise is intact."[vi]
The original Latin text supports the above reading:
"Quanti (how many men) igitur (therefore) et quantae (how many women) in ecclesiasticis ordinibus (in ecclesiastical order) de (concerning) continentia (continence) censentur (judge/recommend), qui (who) deo (to God) nubere (married) maluerunt (prefer), qui (who) carnis (flesh) suae (theirs) honorem (honor) restituere (restore). (revive)."[vii]
The same is true of Chrysostom, who approved of Junia as an apostle. By the fourth century the leadership model of the Church had changed from the domestic overseer in the private home to the monarchial bishop who presided in God’s stead over a public assembly. The bishop was seated on a raised dais from which he governed the Church and it was from this seat that Chrysostom wanted to exclude women.
"In what sense then does he say, “I suffer not a woman to teach?” He means to hinder her from publicly coming forward, and from the seat on the bema, not from the word of teaching. Since if this were the case, how would he have said to the woman that had an unbelieving husband, “How knowest thou, O woman, if thou shalt save thy husband?” Or how came he to suffer her to admonish children, when he says, but “she shall be saved by child-bearing if they continue in faith, and charity, and holiness, with sobriety?” How came Priscilla to instruct even Apollos? It was not then to cut in sunder private conversing for advantage that he said this, but that before all, and which it was the teacher’s duty to give in the public assembly; or again, in case the husband be believing and thoroughly furnished, able also to instruct her. When she is the wiser, then he does not forbid her teaching and improving him."[viii]
Chrysostom based his prohibition on Genesis 3:16 instead of Geneiss 2:
"If it be asked, what has this to do with women of the present day? it shows that the male sex enjoyed the higher honor. Man was first formed; and elsewhere he shows their superiority. “Neither was the man created for the woman, but the woman for the man.” (1 Cor. xi. 9) Why then does he say this? He wishes the man to have the preeminence in every way; both for the reason given above, he means, let him have precedence, and on account of what occurred afterwards. For the woman taught the man once, and made him guilty of disobedience, and wrought our ruin. Therefore because she made a bad use of her power over the man, or rather her equality with him, God made her subject to her husband. “Thy desire shall be to thy husband?” (Gen. iii. 16) This had not been said to her before… The woman taught once, and ruined all. On this account therefore he saith, let her not teach. But what is it to other women, that she suffered this? It certainly concerns them; for the sex is weak and fickle, and he is speaking of the sex collectively. For he says not Eve, but “the woman,” which is the common name of the whole sex, not her proper name. Was then the whole sex included in the transgression for her fault? As he said of Adam, “After the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of Him that was to come” (Rom. v. 14); so here the female sex transgressed, and not the male.”"[ix]
The reason for the prohibition seems to be the concept of honor. The priesthood is seen as honorable, and therefore bestowed only on those who are worthy of such an honor. Chrysostom wished to reserve the priesthood to men because he believed only Eve was guilty. Tertullian agreed with a perpetual punishment for women because of Eve’s sin.
"If there dwelt upon earth a faith as great as is the reward of faith which is expected in the heavens, no one of you at all, best beloved sisters, from the time that she had first “known the Lord,” and learned (the truth) concerning her own (that is, woman’s) condition, would have desired too gladsome (not to say too ostentatious) a style of dress; so as not rather to go about in humble garb, and rather to affect meanness of appearance, walking about as Eve mourning and repentant, in order that by every garb of penitence she might the more fully expiate that which she derives from Eve,—the ignominy, I mean, of the first sin, and the odium (attaching to her as the cause) of human perdition. “In pains and in anxieties dost thou bear (children), woman; and toward thine husband (is) thy inclination (conuersion), and he lords It over thee.” And do you not know that you are (each) an Eve? The sentence of God on this sex of yours lives in this age: the guilt must of necessity live too. You are the devil’s gateway: you are the unsealer of that (forbidden) tree: you are the first deserter of the divine law: you are she who persuaded him whom the devil was not valiant enough to attack. You destroyed so easily God’s image, man. On account of your desert—that is, death—even the Son of God had to die."[x]
We no longer believe the woman is an inferior creature punished with subjection, nor do we believe Genesis 3:16 is a commandment from God.
Since the ancient exclusion of women from the priesthood was based on error and faulty theology, should the Catholic Church not move on and include women in the priesthood?
[iii] Homilies on Romans, Homily XXXI
[vi] On Exhortation to Chastity, XIII
[viii] Homilies on Romans, Homily XXXI.
[ix] Chrysostom, Homilies on First Timothy, Homily IX. “The weakness and light-mindedness of the female sex (infirmitas sexus and levitas animi) were the underlying principles of Roman legal theory that mandated all women to be under the custody of males” (Pomeroy, 150).
[x] Tertullian, On the Apparel of Women, Book I, Ch. I.
Augustine on the Creation of Man and Woman
Theologically Augustine was of the Alexandrian school which favored allegory as a means to interpret the Bible. The Antiochian school, of which Chrysostom was the most illustrious example, relied rather on the historic-grammatical method which strived to remain faithful to context and language. Although the Alexandrian school used allegory, it recognized also that the text had a literal meaning. Hence, when writing about the creation of the first man and woman, Augustine sought to find both the literal and spiritual meaning which caused his overall view to become internally contradictory. In his literal interpretation of the creation of the man and woman Augustine wrote:
"But we, for our part, have no manner of doubt that to increase and multiply and replenish the earth in virtue of the blessing of God, is a gift of marriage as God instituted it from the beginning before man sinned, when He created them male and female,—in other words, two sexes manifestly distinct. And it was this work of God on which His blessing was pronounced. For no sooner had Scripture said, “Male and female created He them,” than it immediately continues, “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Increase, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it,” etc. And though all these things may not unsuitably be interpreted in a spiritual sense, yet “male and female” cannot be understood of two things in one man, as if there were in him one thing which rules, another which is ruled; but it is quite clear that they were created male and female, with bodies of different sexes, for the very purpose of begetting offspring, and so increasing, multiplying, and replenishing the earth; and it is great folly to oppose so plain a fact. It was not of the spirit which commands and the body which obeys, nor of the rational soul which rules and the irrational desire which is ruled, nor of the contemplative virtue which is supreme and the active which is subject, nor of the understanding of the mind and the sense of the body, but plainly of the matrimonial union by which the sexes are mutually bound together, that our Lord, when asked whether it were lawful for any cause to put away one’s wife (for on account of the hardness of the hearts of the Israelites Moses permitted a bill of divorcement to be given), answered and said, “Have ye not read that He which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What, therefore, God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” It is certain, then, that from the first men were created, as we see and know them to be now, of two sexes, male and female, and that they are called one, either on account of the matrimonial union, or on account of the origin of the woman, who was created from the side of the man. And it is by this original example, which God Himself instituted that the apostle admonishes all husbands to love their own wives in particular. " (The City of God, Book XIV, Ch 22)
Although Augustine writes that it is not possible to understand “male and female” as two entities in one individual - one ruling, the other ruled – we find the argument in his allegorical interpretation of the same text.
"Who can doubt that this renewing takes place in the mind? But and if any doubt, let him hear a more open sentence. For, giving the same admonition, he thus saith in another place: “As is the truth in Jesus, that ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, him which is corrupt according to the lust of deception; but be ye renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new man, him which after God is created.” What then? Have women not this renewal of mind in which is the image of God? Who would say this? But in the sex of their body they do not signify this; therefore they are bidden to be veiled. The part, namely, which they signify in the very fact of their being women, is that which may be called the concupiscential part, over which the mind bears rule, itself also subjected to its God, when life is most rightly and orderly conducted. What, therefore, in a single individual human being is the mind and the concupiscence, (that ruling, this ruled; that lord, this subject,) the same in two human beings, man and woman, is in regard of the sex of the body exhibited in a figure." (Of the Work of Monks, 40)
“Mind and concupiscence (irrational desire)” are changed into “reason and appetite” in his book Confessions.
"We behold the face of the earth furnished with terrestrial creatures, and man, created after Thy image and likeness, in that very image and likeness of Thee (that is, the power of reason and understanding) on account of which he was set over all irrational creatures. And as in his soul there is one power which rules by directing, another made subject that it might obey, so also for the man was corporeally made a woman, who, in the mind of her rational understanding should also have a like nature, in the sex, however, of her body should be in like manner subject to the sex of her husband, as the appetite of action is subjected by reason of the mind, to conceive the skill of acting rightly. These things we behold, and they are severally good, and all very good." (Confessions, Book VIII, Chapter XXXII, 47)
Although Augustine affirmed that also the woman has a rational understanding, in the same book, in a later chapter, he again changes the metaphor; this time from “reason and appetite” to “understanding and action.”
"Next didst Thou form the living soul of the faithful, through affections ordered by the vigour of continency; and afterwards, the mind subjected to Thee alone, and needing to imitate no human authority, Thou didst renew after Thine image and likeness; didst subject its rational action to the excellency of the understanding, as the woman to the man; and to all Thy ministries, necessary for the perfecting of the faithful in this life, Thou didst will that, for their temporal uses, good things, fruitful in the future time, should be given by the same faithful." (Confessions, Book VIII, Ch XXXIV)
When we return to The City of God, we find yet another metaphor - that of “soul and body” – in Augustine’s interpretation of Genesis 3.16.
"Yet He does not dismiss him without counsel, holy, just, and good. “Fret not thyself,” He says, “for unto thee shall be his turning, and thou shall rule over him.” Over his brother, does He mean? Most certainly not. Over what, then, but sin? For He had said, “Thou hast sinned,” and then He added, “Fret not thyself, for to thee shall be its turning, and thou shall rule over it.” And the “turning” of sin to the man can be understood of his conviction that the guilt of sin can be laid at no other man’s door but his own. For this is the health-giving medicine of penitence, and the fit plea for pardon; so that, when it is said, “To thee its turning,” we must not supply “shall be,” but we must read, “To thee let its turning be,” understanding it as a command, not as a prediction. For then shall a man rule over his sin when he does not prefer it to himself and defend it, but subjects it by repentance; otherwise he that becomes protector of it shall surely become its prisoner. But if we understand this sin to be that carnal concupiscence of which the apostle says, “The flesh lusteth against the spirit,” among the fruits of which lust he names envy, by which assuredly Cain was stung and excited to destroy his brother, then we may properly supply the words “shall be,” and read, “To thee shall be its turning, and thou shalt rule over it.” For when the carnal part which the apostle calls sin, in that place where he says, “It is not I who do it, but sin that dwelleth in me,” that part which the philosophers also call vicious, and which ought not to lead the mind, but which the mind ought to rule and restrain by reason from illicit motions,—when, then, this part has been moved to perpetrate any wickedness, if it be curbed and if it obey the word of the apostle, “Yield not your members instruments of unrighteousness unto sin,” it is turned towards the mind and subdued and conquered by it, so that reason rules over it as a subject. It was this which God enjoined on him who was kindled with the fire of envy against his brother, so that he sought to put out of the way him whom he should have set as an example. “Fret not thyself,” or compose thyself, He says: withhold thy hand from crime; let not sin reign in your mortal body to fulfill it in the lusts thereof, nor yield your members instruments of unrighteousness unto sin. “For to thee shall be its turning,” so long as you do not encourage it by giving it the rein, but bridle it by quenching its fire. “And thou shall rule over it;” for when it is not allowed any external actings, it yields itself to the rule of the governing mind and righteous will, and ceases from even internal motions. There is something similar said in the same divine book of the woman, when God questioned and judged them after their sin, and pronounced sentence on them all,—the devil in the form of the serpent, the woman and her husband in their own persons. For when He had said to her, “I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow shall thou bring forth children,” then He added, “and thy turning shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” What is said to Cain about his sin, or about the vicious concupiscence of his flesh, is here said of the woman who had sinned; and we are to understand that the husband is to rule his wife as the soul rules the flesh. And therefore, says the apostle, “He that loveth his wife, loveth himself; for no man ever yet hated his own flesh.” This flesh, then, is to be healed, because it belongs to ourselves: is not to be abandoned to destruction as if it were alien to our nature." (The city of God, Book XV, Ch 7)
Augustine sees the “turning” as a command, not a consequence (which was also Jerome’s understanding, wherefore he changed the meaning of Genesis 3.16 in the Vulgate). I.e. Cain must allow sin to turn to him in order that he might subject it to his control. The same is true of the man, who must allow the woman to turn to him in order to subject her to his control as the soul rules over the flesh – a Platonic concept. The woman is pictured as a “vicious concupiscence,” an evil desire, which must be subdued by the soul. Because the body is considered decidedly inferior to the soul, the inferiority of the woman becomes part of Augustine’s theology.
"For whether all souls are derived by propagation from the first, or are in the case of each individual specially created, or being created apart from the body are sent into it, or introduce themselves into it of their own accord, without doubt this creature endowed with reason, namely, the human soul—appointed to occupy an inferior, that is, an earthly body—after the entrance of sin, does not govern its own body absolutely according to its free will. For I did not say, “after his sin,” or “after he sinned,” but after the entrance of sin, that whatever might afterwards, if possible, be determined by reason as to the question whether the sin was his own or the sin of the first parent of mankind, it might be perceived that in saying that “the soul, appointed, after the entrance of sin, to occupy an inferior body, does not govern its body absolutely according to its own free will,” I stated what is true; for “the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and in this we groan, being burdened,” and “the corruptible body weighs down the soul,”—in short, who can enumerate all the evils arising from the infirmity of the flesh, which shall assuredly cease when “this corruptible shall have put on incorruption,” so that “that which is mortal shall be swallowed up of life”?" (Letter CXLIII, 6)
Augustine understands the relationship between the man and the woman in the post-fallen world as a struggle between the flesh and the soul in which the soul is never able to completely govern the body.
"Did not Cicero, in discussing the difference of governments in his De Republica, adopt a simile from human nature, and say that we command our bodily members as children, they are so obedient; but that the vicious parts of the soul must be treated as slaves, and be coerced with a more stringent authority? And no doubt, in the order of nature, the soul is more excellent than the body; and yet the soul commands the body more easily than itself. Nevertheless this lust, of which we at present speak, is the more shameful on this account, because the soul is therein neither master of itself, so as not to lust at all, nor of the body, so as to keep the members under the control of the will; for if they were thus ruled, there should be no shame. But now the soul is ashamed that the body, which by nature is inferior and subject to it, should resist its authority. For in the resistance experienced by the soul in the other emotions there is less shame, because the resistance is from itself, and thus, when it is conquered by itself, itself is the conqueror, although the conquest is inordinate and vicious, because accomplished by those parts of the soul which ought to be subject to reason, yet, being accomplished by its own parts and energies, the conquest is, as I say, its own. For when the soul conquers itself to a due subordination, so that its unreasonable motions are controlled by reason, while it again is subject to God, this is a conquest virtuous and praiseworthy. Yet there is less shame when the soul is resisted by its own vicious parts than when its will and order are resisted by the body, which is distinct from and inferior to it, and dependent on it for life itself. (The City of God, Book XIV 23)
Here the inherent contradiction in Augustine’s theology becomes clear for although he depicts the woman as part of the soul in Confessions, albeit as irrational desire, he now removes her completely from the realm of reason into the realm of the “animal body,” which is entirely distinct from the soul, but not alien by nature.
"And a man is in this life spiritual in such a way, that he is yet carnal with respect to his body, and sees another law in his members warring against the law of his mind; but even in his body he will be spiritual when the same flesh shall have had that resurrection of which these words speak, “It is sown an animal body, it shall rise a spiritual body.” (The City of God, Book XXII, Ch 21)
Yet, Augustine contradicts himself once more when writing about Ephesians 5.
"And yet the woman [in Eph 5] received not pattern from the body, or flesh, to be so subject to the husband as the flesh to the spirit; but either the Apostle would have understood by consequence, what he omitted to state: or haply because the flesh lusteth against the spirit in the mortal and sick estate of this life, therefore he would not set the woman a pattern of subjection from it." (On Continence, 23)
"The apostle puts flesh for woman; because, when she was made of his rib, Adam said, “This is now bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh.” And the apostle saith, “He that loveth his wife loveth himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh.” Flesh, then, is put for woman, in the same manner that spirit is sometimes put for husband. Wherefore? Because the one rules, the other is ruled; the one ought to command, the other to serve. For where the flesh commands and the spirit serves, the house is turned the wrong way. What can be worse than a house where the woman has the mastery over the man? But that house is rightly ordered where the man commands and the woman obeys. In like manner that man is rightly ordered where the spirit commands and the flesh serves." (Tractates on John, Tractate II, 14)
The man is never called a “spirit,” in the New Testament. He is called a “head.” Neither is the woman called “flesh,” she is likened unto a body, which together with the man - the “head” - creates one flesh. Augustine failed to make the distinction because of his wish to incorporate Plato’s concept of the soul ruling over the sinful flesh. It is noteworthy that Augustine did not see the man’s prior creation as a reason for the man’s rule; instead he understood it as creating a unity of one flesh in marriage, and the unity of humankind as originating from one beginning - the first man.
"[E]ven as it is written in the book of Ecclesiasticus: “Of the woman came the beginning of sin, and through her we all die.” Now whether it be said of the woman or of Adam, both statements pertain to the first man; since (as we know) the woman is of the man, and the two are one flesh. Whence also it is written: “And they twain shall be one flesh; wherefore,” the Lord says, “they are no more twain, but one flesh.” (On the Merits and Forgiveness of Sins, and on the Baptism of Infants, Book I, Ch 21)
"The woman, therefore, is a creature of God even as the man; but by her creation from man unity is commended; and the manner of her creation prefigured, as has been said, Christ and the Church." (The city of God, Book XII, Ch 17)
"And indeed He did not even create the woman that was to be given him as his wife, as he created the man, but created her out of the man, that the whole human race might derive from one man." (The city of God, Book XII, Ch 21)
"With good cause, therefore, does the true religion recognize and proclaim that the same God who created the universal cosmos, created also all the animals, souls as well as bodies. Among the terrestrial animals man was made by Him in His own image, and, for the reason I have given, was made one individual, though he was not left solitary. For there is nothing so social by nature, so unsocial by its corruption, as this race. And human nature has nothing more appropriate, either for the prevention of discord, or for the healing of it, where it exists, than the remembrance of that first parent of us all, whom God was pleased to create alone, that all men might be derived from one, and that they might thus be admonished to preserve unity among their whole multitude. But from the fact that the woman was made for him from his side, it was plainly meant that we should learn how dear the bond between man and wife should be." (The City of God, Book XII, Ch 27)
Even the woman being called “help” was interpreted as signifying marriage by Augustine. "There was, however, undoubtedly marriage, even when sin had no prior existence; and for no other reason was it that woman, and not a second man, was created as a help for the man." (A Treatise on the Grace of Christ, on Original Sin, Book II, Ch 40)
Yet, again Augustine changes his mind:
"Whereas, too, he made the woman to be an helpmeet for him: not for carnal concupiscence,—since, indeed, they had not corruptible bodies at that period, before the punishment of sin invaded them in the form of mortality,—but for this purpose, that the man might at once have glory of the woman in so far as he went before her to God, and present in himself an example to her for imitation in holiness and piety, even as he himself was to be the glory of God in so far as he followed his wisdom." (On the Catechising Of the Uninstructed, Ch 18)
Augustine did not derive his belief in the man’s rule from the man’s prior creation; instead his beliefs about domestic harmony were clearly of Roman origin.
"Since, then, the house ought to be the beginning or element of the city, and every beginning bears reference to some end of its own kind, and every element to the integrity of the whole of which it is an element, it follows plainly enough that domestic peace has a relation to civic peace,—in other words, that the well-ordered concord of domestic obedience and domestic rule has a relation to the well-ordered concord of civic obedience and civic rule. And therefore it follows, further, that the father of the family ought to frame his domestic rule in accordance with the law of the city, so that the household may be in harmony with the civic order." (The City of God, Book XIX Ch 16)
As a Neo-Platonist and Roman, his concern was for the “order of nature” and the preservation of justice, wherefore in the following text we find why Augustine had to liken the woman to the irrational appetite in order to avoid the implication of equality.
"This is prescribed by the order of nature: it is thus that God has created man. For “let them,” He says, “have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every creeping thing which creepeth on the earth.” He did not intend that His rational creature, who was made in His image, should have dominion over anything but the irrational creation,—not man over man, but man over the beasts. And hence the righteous men in primitive times were made shepherds of cattle rather than kings of men, God intending thus to teach us what the relative position of the creatures is, and what the desert of sin; for it is with justice, we believe, that the condition of slavery is the result of sin. And this is why we do not find the word “slave” in any part of Scripture until righteous Noah branded the sin of his son with this name. It is a name, therefore, introduced by sin and not by nature. The origin of the Latin word for slave is supposed to be found in the circumstance that those who by the law of war were liable to be killed were sometimes preserved by their victors, and were hence called servants. And these circumstances could never have arisen save through sin. For even when we wage a just war, our adversaries must be sinning; and every victory, even though gained by wicked men, is a result of the first judgment of God, who humbles the vanquished either for the sake of removing or of punishing their sins. Witness that man of God, Daniel, who, when he was in captivity, confessed to God his own sins and the sins of his people, and declares with pious grief that these were the cause of the captivity. The prime cause, then, of slavery is sin, which brings man under the dominion of his fellow,—that which does not happen save by the judgment of God, with whom is no unrighteousness, and who knows how to award fit punishments to every variety of offence. But our Master in heaven says, “Every one who doeth sin is the servant of sin.” And thus there are many wicked masters who have religious men as their slaves, and who are yet themselves in bondage; “for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.” And beyond question it is a happier thing to be the slave of a man than of a lust; for even this very lust of ruling, to mention no others, lays waste men’s hearts with the most ruthless dominion. Moreover, when men are subjected to one another in a peaceful order, the lowly position does as much good to the servant as the proud position does harm to the master. But by nature, as God first created us, no one is the slave either of man or of sin. This servitude is, however, penal, and is appointed by that law which enjoins the preservation of the natural order and forbids its disturbance; for if nothing had been done in violation of that law, there would have been nothing to restrain by penal servitude. And therefore the apostle admonishes slaves to be subject to their masters, and to serve them heartily and with good-will, so that, if they cannot be freed by their masters, they may themselves make their slavery in some sort free, by serving not in crafty fear, but in faithful love, until all unrighteousness pass away, and all principality and every human power be brought to nothing, and God be all in all." (The City of God, Book XIX, Ch 15)
If the subjection of a human to another is the result of sin, the woman must either lack the rational faculty which makes her human, or her subjection began after the entrance of sin. Incidentally, Thomas Aquinas used the assumed lack of the woman’s reason as the foundation for his belief that the woman’s subjection belonged to the created order. Augustine was not as successful as Thomas in his attempt to create a creation-based subjection for not all theologians were willing to embrace Neo-Platonism in the fourth century, although they for the most part heartily agreed with his synthesis of the ideal Roman society and theology. The church continued to appoint women into ecclesiastical leadership for centuries after Augustine’s death and they disappeared from the medieval church only as a result of the resurrection of Aristotle’s philosophy as the crusaders returned his writings to Europe from the Orient where it had been studied for centuries by Muslims and Jews alike.
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