The ordination of women belongs to the type of
doctrine liable to distortion by cultural perceptions
Throughout the centuries, the formulation of Christian
doctrine has been influenced by the prevailing culture of the time. Culture
shift has affected even core doctrines such as those regarding the Trinity, the
Incarnation, etc. But the doctrines on the margin have often been
totally hijacked by dominant cultures.
social order -- democracy was forbidden, kings were
thought to rule by divine right, the class system was upheld in
church, colonialism was endorsed by popes.
the created world -- Galileo was condemned as a heretic
(!) for believing the earth goes round the sun, astrology was honoured, the
six-day creation taught as inspired teaching.
liturgy -- Roman everyday dress became sacred
vestments, bishops were treated as feudal lords, Latin was considered
Gods own language.
sexuality -- Gnostic fears led to a negative approach,
Roman & German civil laws shaped church wedding rules.
Women were excluded from exercising priestly functions on cultural
Women were considered beautiful
creatures, but totally inferior to men.
not capable of exercising any real leadership
This inferiority was seen confirmed by the
view that women were not complete human beings.
Since the function of the female ovum was unknown,
procreation was ascribed to the male sperm which alone, it was thought,
contains new life.
This was the reason why theologians like Thomas Aquinas ruled out
Women also suffered from a terrible
malady, namely their monthly periods. This made them unsuitable for
service at Gods holy altar.
Menstrual fluid was held to be dirty, awful and even dangerous for
others who touched it. The taboo was strong in the Roman world and prevailed
through the Middle Ages until the 20th century.
Women were stopped from entering church during their periods or
from receiving holy communion. At times they received communion on a cloth
spread out over their hands. They certainly were too unclean to
approach the altar!
To cap it all, women were held responsible
for causing men to sin.
Eve was blamed for seducing Adam, and all women were deemed to
suffer the punishment of Gods curse on Eve, namely that she would always
be subject to men.
It was cultural
prejudices that propped up the exclusion of women from the priestly ministry.
Church authorities have simply not woken up to this fact.
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