Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Priests and Double Standards

People thought my comments yesterday were somewhat bland. Perhaps they were, but I wanted to emphasize the fact that not everything should be treated equally.  I've met people in the past who have a hard time understanding that.

Now back to the original topic of the priesthood. In the Catholic Church, men can become priests and women can become nuns, but never the other way around.  Men get the roles of spiritual fathers and brothers, while women get the roles of spiritual mothers and sisters.

I don't see this as a double standard.  When you assign fatherly roles to men and motherly roles to women, that's not bigoted; it's logical.  And it also happens to be how Jesus Christ, the founder of the Catholic Church, split up his male and female followers.

For the sake of argument, though, what would make this situation an unfair, sexist double standard?

1. If only priests are allowed to have administrative roles. That would effectively prevent women from having any say in how the church is run.

2. If priests have superiority, spiritual or otherwise, over non-priests.  That would effectively force women into a subordinate role.

3. If men could be priests and nuns, but women could only be nuns. That gives men more options than women.

In the past, there have been evil priests who used double standards and abused their positions for power, wealth, honor, and pleasure.  In some places, this sort of behavior was widespread.  Needless to say, this is wrong, and it goes directly against what the Catholic Church teaches and believes.  As good and faithful Catholics, we are called to follow church teaching and help eradicate these evil behaviors, as best we can.


Anonymous said...

So, if the Catholic Church doesn't promote sexism, why are males only allowed to be in the most powerful position the church has, the Pope? Just because they had the "luck" of being born with a Y chromosome? A woman could be the most pious nun, but she can't even be considered to be the Pope simply because of her sex. I'm sorry Michael, I'm not attacking you personally, but the institution. It's biased against women, no matter how you justify it.

William D said...

To Anon at 9:15 AM: Christ established that, and there is no ''luck'' as to which gender you are born into. It is all part of the plan of God. Now wether you follow His will or not is up to you. (we have free will)
Anyways, I agree, Michael, there were a lot of priests who took matters into their own hands. They abused the holy power invested in them by Christ. It obviously is a bad thing, but think Women = mother or sister (a nun) and man = a brother or father (priest/monk) There are 3 choices for women and men. To be normal Catholics, to become the third order (more prayers and such without being an actual nun/monk) And then there is the calling of being a nun or priest. There is no unfairness to either gender.

James said...


Likewise, you choose to believe that's what Christ said. We have no record of anything he himself wrote. Nobody will ever know what he really said, and what his followers interrupted, and then wrote down instead.

Kuhna said...

What is the difference between a priest and a nun, besides gender? What purposes does each fulfill? I genuinely don't know, so I'm honestly asking.

What makes a man more suited to be a priest, BESIDES and totally exclusive of gender? Same question for nuns? Again, I'm honestly wondering. I know pretty much nothing of the Catholic Church.

Kuhna said...

If there is literally no difference in role and purpose ... then I don't see bigotry or sexism - just a different title for different genders. Which is not wrong.

If there IS a difference in role, then is there any reason a woman cannot fulfill the man's role? Vice versa?

If what Anon@9:15 says is true, why can't a woman be a Pope (again, honest question)? Why would she, as a woman, be unable to take on that responsibility? Tradition? Are you against the prospect of female presidents?

Anonymous said...

You should really do a walkthrough on the PC game for Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None. It's a really great game, and i think you would be really good at it. Sry for interrupting.

Anonymous said...

"I wanted to emphasize the fact that not everything should be treated equally. I've met people in the past who have a hard time understanding that."

The only people I can think of who have a hard time understanding that are people who benefit and have more power due to the "single standard".

Anonymous said...

Except there were no priests in the Christian church until after Jesus died. And yes, there were female priests during this time. It wasn't until hundreds of years later that women weren't allowed to take on more administrative roles.

You keep trying to sidestep this argument every time it comes up, but it's a well documented fact.

Also, like the first anonymous poster points out, only men are allowed to take on the top administrative roles in the Catholic church, which DOES limit the women's ability to determine how the church is run, and this is because men are considered to be superior spiritually to women (you've already discussed why men can take these superior roles on back in May so I don't see why you're trying to backtrack now.)

Anonymous said...

To Kuhna> Well, first of all the roman-catholic church would need a different name for a female "pope" as "pope" derives from "papam" which means "father". Obviously a female can't be a father as much as the other way round (male and "mother"?). Obviously that seems to collide with tradition in the RCC, but I'll better not comment on that one as I'm a german Lutheran-protestant, so I'm not playing on homeground. ;) But what I can comment on, is that here in Germany and Central Europe many members of the RCC (m. and f.), don't agree with the positions females can reach in the hierarchy. It's no more than service without power.
Oh, and about a female president (or chancellor in Germany's case). We got one as you might know. No real difference when it comes to quality I'd say. So I doubt that the US would suffer severe damage if they had a female president.

Anonymous said...

How long has the Catholic Church been around? A pretty long time. It's experienced the ton of changes society has gone through. That being said, it is my opinion that the Catholic Church is under no obligation to conform to today's standards of sexism. As long as they are not actively harming a group of people, I think they should be able to do whatever they want. Membership is voluntary, too. If you don't support how the church operates, you don't have to join.

Emily said...

@ the anonymous above me,

You've got a pretty good point. After all, it's not like the Catholic church is unique in having separate gender roles within the church. I think most major religions, including large chunks of the Protestant Christian faith, follow similar rules. At least as far as the United States is concerned, you don't have to join any of these groups (though obviously some regions put a lot of pressure on people to do so) and as long as they aren't causing harm they should, at least in theory, be able to do whatever they want.

That said, if a religion wants to survive they do need to conform to the standards of the day. Otherwise nobody will join and they'll just stop existing. The Catholics were one of the first churches to modernize to try to attract more people, so it's kind of surprising that now they're making such a fuss about sticking to old rhetoric that seems to be clashing with the cultures of today, especially since it doesn't seem to have a huge bearing on many of the lessons that are taught to the members of the church.

Since there's a new Pope that appears to be very progressive it will be interesting to see if that kind of mentality starts to shift.

Anonymous said...

^ I think the new Pope has been doing an excellent job.

Kuhna said...

Anon@12:20 and Emily -

I admit that I myself did entertain similar thoughts ... I'm not sure what I think, especially as I don't have any familiarity with the Catholic Church or the feelings of its members, or the incredibly long, complex history it has.

But it is jarring when I'm talking to my friends about what my pastor told us in church, and the one thing they pick up on is that she's a woman. "Your pastor is a girl? She can do that? Weird" And I see absolutely no reason why that's a strange concept. Same with the fact that one of my previous pastors (male) was married.