Greek Orthodoxy

What is the role of women in the Greek Orthodox church?

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2008-01-22 06:52:00

Women basically have a similar role to men, except that they

cannot become priests or bishops. In many Orthodox churches, women

sing in the choir and perform many other important duties, such as

raising money for the poor and serving on church committees or

councils. In the early Church, women could also become Deaconesses,

although this was a non-liturgical and non-priestly role reserved

for older women to assist the priest. This practice has largely

been discontinued, but there is nothing to stop it from returning.

It is up to each bishop to decide. Many women also choose to serve

God by becoming nuns. The role of women in the Orthodox Chuch has

always been very important and should not be underestimated, but

this does not extend to becoming priests. The reason for this is

because the Orthodox Church follows the teachings of Jesus Christ,

the Bible and the practices of the Holy Apostles. When Jesus chose

people for His Ministry on earth, He called twelve male disciples

to go and preach to the whole world. Then they chose another 70

male disciples, and so on for over 2,000 years. This is also in

keeping with the Old Testament practice of choosing men to become

priests of the Temple and rabbis of synagogues. So from this we

conclude that Christ has called certain men (but not all men) to

become His Priests. He could have chosen women, such as His own

Mother, or Mary Magdalene, but did not. We are in no position to

say that Christ was wrong in doing this, because Christ is God, and

therefore He is without sin and makes no mistakes. This does not in

any way mean that women are inferior to men. On the contrary, women

were given the same possibility of salvation as men, for the first

time in history by Jesus Christ. Baptism in Christ now enabled both

males and females to be equally saved (Galatians 3:27-28). Christ

also broke many of the social Jewish customs of that time, for

example, by speaking with the Samaritan woman by the well, which

was not permitted for any Jew to do. So Christ elevated women to

the same status as men, but maintained their different roles in

society. In other words, women are seen as equal, but different. In

the Orthodox Church, the highest place that any human being has

ever reached, was achieved by a woman, not a man. The Virgin Mary

was the only human being to be elevated to the second highest

position in Heaven! Second only to God Himself. After God, comes

the Virgin Mary, and then the highest male,who was John the

Baptist, and then the Apostles and others. So the highest position

that any male on earth has ever reached was achieved by the Prophet

St John the Bapstist, but even he is lower in status and importance

than the Virgin Mary. Therefore any male or female can achieve

greatness in the Church and become a great saint, but no one else

can or ever will be able to reach the heights of the Virgin Mary, a

woman, who achieved the highest place of any other human being on

earth. Yet, the Virgin Mary did not have to become a priest in

order to do this! God has given men and women different roles, and

this is something that we humans cannot change. For example, God

gave women the possibility of bearing children, which is a great

blessing. But God did not give this same blessing to men. Does this

mean that God has discrimination against men? Of course not! Men

simply have to accept that only women can give birth to children.

Both men and women can achieve salvation equally, by believing in

God and being baptised (Mark 16:16) and by doing good works (James

2:14). Many men and women have become saints and martyrs in this

way, and many more will be saved. Being a priest, or bishop, or

monk or nun, still requires correct faith and good works, as it

does for lay people. After all, the Virgin Mary was only a lay

person, but she remained pure and faithful to God. She was a human

being like any other woman on earth, yet she became higher than all

other men and women and priests and bishops who have ever lived! So

being a priest does not bring anyone salvation. In fact, it comes

with a very heavy burden and responsibility: to preach correct

doctrine. Just look at the example of the famous priest from

Alexandria called Arius, who was declared to be a heretic by the

church for preaching false doctrines (Arianism) about Christ. Also,

Nestorius, who was Patriarch of Constantinople, was also condemned

as a heretic for preaching fasle dogmas (Nestorianism), not to

mention the betrayal of Christ by Judas Iscariot, who was one of

the original Twelve Apostles. So do not think that being a priest

or bishop or a disciple will automatically bring you any special

blessing or greater benefit than you have now. Sometimes, it can

even cause our downfall.

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