Women in the Clergy

Women in the Clergy

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Women in the Clergy

For a number of years the issue of women's role in the church has
divided the Christian community. Their ascent through the ranks of the
Anglican clergy has angered the more conservative Roman Catholic sect
of the church. Feminists have also condemned the church's archaic
sexist views, highlighting the fact that such policy would not be
allowed in any other aspect of modern life.

When feminist theology began in the 1960s, women began to complain
about the church's male dominated language and sexist attitudes. They
complained that God is always referred to as a man, and claimed this
was wrong because they argued that the creator of everything must have
been both male and female, and hence it is wrong to always refer to
him as a he. But it has been hard for Christian feminists because
sexism has been evident in church since its birth, and there are many
examples of sexism in the bible. Firstly and most obviously is the
creation of original sin in genesis, when Eve is responsible for
humans' removal from the Garden of Eden. In addition the book contains
quotes such as 'I permit no woman to teach or have authority over man,
she is to keep silent in1Timothy 2:12' and in 1Corinthians 14:13-35
'the head of every woman is man'. Feminists also argued that because
women are equal to men in God's eyes, women should be allowed to
preach the word of God, and become members of the clergy. The issue
split the Christian community almost completely in half. Roman
Catholics staunchly opposed it, while Anglicans have allowed women to
become priests causing controversy amongst their own followers.

Roman Catholics do not believe women should be allowed to become
members of the clergy for many reasons. Firstly, they support their
argument with evidence from the teachings of Jesus. They think that
because Jesus chose 12 men as his apostles, they are not free to break
that tradition and consequently all preachers should be male. They
also cite the fact that Jesus did not call any women to the

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priesthood. Also, when celebrating the Eucharist (during holy
communion), the role of the priest is to represent Christ himself, and
the imagery of this ritual is disturbed if a woman plays the role.
Secondly, they support their argument with biblical quotations.
Corinthians 14: 13-35 says 'Women should remain silent in the
churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must remain in
submission' and Catholics argue that if the bible says women should
not speak in churches then they cannot preach in church either.

However, members of the British Anglican community disagree and in
1992 the General Synod of the Church of England voted to allow women
to be priests. Although they agree that Jesus did have 12 main
disciples, all of which were male, the Bible indicates in Luke 8:2
that he did have female followers of some kind whom he acknowledged.
He also appointed deaconesses to spread the word of God, but the
Catholics argue that there is no evidence that these deaconesses were
fully ordained. Jesus also often spoke directly to women and was happy
to preach to them, which was not customary for religious leaders of
the time so Anglicans believe he thought them to be equal to men. He
taught that all peoples should be respected and treated well, and
Anglicans think women are included in this teaching. In addition, the
Church of England believe that when God created humans, 'So God
created man in his own image, in the image of God He created; male and
female He created them' Genesis 1:27, he created both males and
females in his own image, and the 'man' that is referred to is a term
for the human race as a whole. For all these reasons the majority of
Anglicans believe that women are equal to men and consequently they
allow them tom become priests.

In conclusion, there are clearly many arguments for and against the
rights of women to become priests. The bible offers many opinions from
many of its sections and seems to contradict itself many times
regarding the issue. Personally, I am of the opinion that if God
created women and men with the same intellectual capacities then he
must have wished them to be equal to men. So I think that women should
be allowed to become priests.
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