My crisis of faith has gone on for years.
It started when I was fairly young, because of something, O Great Internet, I won't be telling you about. It continued on because I was an inquisitive, questioning child, and most of the nuns who taught me just told me not to ask such questions. It meant I wasn't a good Christian for questioning things. That's not something you should a curious kid! I went through a time where I didn't believe in God, and hen I thought I did, but I wasn't Christian, and now I've moseyed back around. I'm a Christian. I believe in God.
But am I Catholic?
That's a scary question for a cradle Catholic to ask. I was steeped, brewed in a culture where if you weren't Catholic, you were an outsider. Other. Not Us. I didn't know any people who weren't Catholics until I joined my synchronized swimming club team. My family freaked out when they realized I was going to marry Vor because he isn't Catholic. (Holy argument city, that one. That's a breach that sometimes has yet to heal)
So since I've started asking myself that question, I've been praying, still going to church (though not necessarily a Catholic one), and dragging my mind through the problems I had. One of the first on the list was women as priests. Most of the time I've heard an argument against this, it's been along the lines of "Because we said so!" See above to learn how an inquisitive person deals with that. There's a nice little post over here that handles the argument against women priests, logically. The post is a good one, and long, and my time is limited as Telly is starting to approach the witching hour where he goes from calm puppy to crazed animal, so I'm only spitting out my thoughts at you.
I really have never felt the tradition argument. There is the argument that Jesus choose only men, the 12 apostles continued that tradition, and the Church follows that tradition today. I've always thought, of course He didn't! Look at the time frame He existed in! Anytime I've said that, I've had people respond that Jesus was counter cultural, so if women were meant to be chosen, He would have done it. I'm not so sure. The sociocultural pattern has to be considered. (Now bear with me, I'm pulling some of this stuff from memory as far as proper citations go, and the rest from google books). It's entirely too possible that making a choice like this would have destroyed his work from the beginning. There comes a point where revolutionary is too revolutionary, and the good gets lost. (O'Collins, "Ordination of Women,") God would know what His people could handle.
Jesus may have treated women much better than those men around Him, but the fact remains that society was not great for women at the time. 'If Jesus had lived in a society in which the cultural status of the two sexes had differed from that of his own time, would he not have made a different choice? A choice that was already beginning to show itself in the completely new approach which he adopted toward women in a patriarchal society?' H. M. LEGRAND, 'Views on the Ordination of Women,' Origins, Jan. 6 1977.
In the end, we only have the fact that Jesus didn't choose any women. It's up to us to discern why. I think it's far more likely that Jesus did this because only men could assume these toles at the time, and His message needed to be taught. In the end, I think that the issue of women priests was a pragmatic issue, not an eternal truth.
If I think that, then the tradition argument crumbles on itself, at least for me. It used to be tradition to discrimiante, to have slaves, etc., but it isn't anymore. The same follows. The tradition argument always reminds me of a conversation from great West Wing Episode, Midterms:
BARTLET: I like your show. I like how you call homosexuality anTradition would suck if it still held, wouldn't it?
JENNA JACOBS: I don't say homosexuality is an abomination,
Mr. President. The Bible does.
BARTLET: Yes, it does. Leviticus.
JENNA JACOBS: 18:22
BARTLET: Chapter and verse. I wanted to ask you a couple of
questions while I had you here. I'm interested in selling my
youngest daughter into slavery as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7.
(small chuckles from the guests) She's a Georgetown sophomore,
speaks fluent Italian, and always clears the table when it was
her turn. What would a good price for her be? While thinking
about that, can I ask another? My Chief of Staff, Leo McGarry,
insists on working on the Sabbath, Exodus 35:2,clearly says he
should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him
myself or is it okay to call the police? Here's one that's
really important, 'cause we've got a lot of sports fans in
this town. Touching the skin of a dead pig makes us unclean,
Leviticus 11:7. If they promise to wear gloves, can the
Washington Redskins still play football? Can Notre Dame? Can
West Point? Does the whole town really have to be together to
stone my brother, John, for planting different crops side by
side? Can I burn my mother in a small family gathering
for wearing garments made from two different threads?
(all this compliments of a west wing transcript)
Oh, I can hear you now. Slippery Slope! I can just hear my dad
screaming it. But refer yourself to where we have come from
already. I don't feel like I am at the bottom of a slippery slope
from where my great grandparents were. I like being able to vote,
not be in the kitchen all day, have an opinion, live by myself, hold
a job, be valued for more than just my ability to reproduce. I feel
like someone rolled me inside a boulder up to the top of the hill,
then let me out.
Well. I guess this means that I don't buy this argument against
women as priests.
Yes, there are more arguments. There is the argument that priests
act as Christ, and Christ was a man, so priests must be men.
There's also the idea that priests are married to the Church, so
the Church is female and priests must then be male. I'll drag
this blog through those later, I think.
I'm not proofreading right now. I'll do it later. Maybe I'll even
refine this, because I feel like I'm nearing the end of my journey
through crisis, and I'm ready to emerge again, just as full of
faith as I always will be of questions. Questions fuel faith for me.
Telly is staring me down, and I think he wants a walk. He keeps
putting his head across my laptop keyboard. I'm a bad mother.