Skip to comments.Male and female created he them
Posted on 03/11/2006 5:56:10 PM PST by sionnsar
Al Kimel of Pontifications has published an interview of Alice Linsley by Dutch Evangelical journalist Wim Houtman in which she describes the process whereby she came to understand that women could not be made presbyters, or priests, in the Church. I encourage your reading the interview.
Edwin, weblogger of Ithilien, objects here as he has before that the emphasis on the binary distinction of male and female is foreign to catholic Tradition and makes it hard to give an account of how women can be redeemed by the incarnation of Jesus as a particular male human being. At worst, he says, such a notion of binary distinction is heretical. As such, his is an objection that wants answering.
Professor IRNS has addressed the issue to some extent in a previous entry at RatherNotBlog entitled, Male and Female.
In rereading the Rt Revd Dr FitzSimons Alisons book, The Cruelty of Heresy, I came across an argument in which he explains the difference between the Greek terms ousia and hypostasis as they were used in trinitarian theology and christology that I think might have some bearing here, particularly if ordination (specifically, to the presbyterate and the episcopate) is related to the hypostasis of maleness rather than the ousia of humanity (salvation - he could not redeem what he did not assume - would be related to the ousia of humanity, as we know from Chalcedon).
Ousia and hypostasis were so close in meaning that they had often been used interchangeably. [N.B. I do need to consult Archbishop John Zizioulas book, Being As Communion on this point again - CR] But there was an important distinction. For instance, a man and a woman are particular existencies or persons (hypostaseis) who share a common humanity (ousia. Thus, ousia implied a general, undifferentiated reality, whereas hypostasis came to mean a particular reality (man or woman), not the underlying essence (humanity).
The relationship of marriage is a good way to illustrate the importance of this distinction. To deny the distinctions of gender between women and men (their hypostaseis) would be Sabellian. To deny their common humanity would be Arian. One errors destroys the exquisite love and joy that springs from the distinction between men and women (Sabellian); the other denigrates and subordinates one of them as essentially different from and lesser than the other (Arian).
History is replete with examples of tragic attempts to resolve the one and the many by people who have never heard of Sabellius or Arius. Positions of some modern radical feminists are not at all immune to these cruel alternatives. At times womens equality of being (ousia) has been violated in Arian fashion by women being relegated to an inferior humanity. On the other hand, the reaction that denies the distinctiveness [should we say, the complementarity? - CR] hypostasis of women and men, in order to preserve their equality and essential (ousia) unity, is the Sabellian solution. This latter solution is sometimes pressed so far as to forfeit the differences that in no way need imply lack of equality.
The Cruelty of Heresy, pp. 97-8
Is this argument as useful and applicable and, more importantly, as true as it seems to me?
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