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There is nothing wrong with Women Priests

Change: such a high price for something as 'trivial' as gender equality

by Luana Ackermann

'Priests should be male because Christ was a man.' This is, crudely summarized, the conclusion Susan Bones comes to. While I agree with many of the points put forward, I reach a different conclusion: both men and women should be permitted to take on leadership roles within the church.


I realise this issue is much contested and both sides can be argued based on the Bible and its teachings. But, (you knew there was going to be a but) groundbreaking research is bringing to light some hard-to-ignore new evidence.


One example is the discovery of “Junia”, an apostle (follower of Jesus) in the 1st century, whose name was until recently written as “Junias”, making her appear to be a man. The most popular Bible translation, New International Version, changed her name in 2011 to reflect her gender accurately. Research has now shown – and you can google it if you don’t believe me - that the male name was basically nonexistent at the time. Whereas the female version, “Junia”, was quite popular.


Why would I consider this to be groundbreaking new evidence? Well, this lies in the nature of Junia’s ascribed role. She was the equivalent of today’s priests or pastors! This means that not only are there several women in leadership roles within the Bible, there were also women who were considered equal to their male counterparts and described to have the same roles. If there were female pastors in biblical times, then who are we to restrict those roles today?


There is another of Bones’ arguments that I would like to refer back to, namely that the leaders of the church must be “entirely related to Christ”. I will rephrase this to mean leaders should aspire to be like Jesus in all aspects of their life. The key word is “aspire”, for I doubt that anyone would claim they have succeeded in becoming like Jesus in all they do. What then does this mean for my argument? Well, it would suggest that Jesus’ masculinity is not the trait required for leadership, but rather that he calls us to emulate his behavior: to love, to be gracious, kind, patient and humble -the list goes on.


In my opinion, Jesus was the ultimate feminist! There were so many occasions – too many to go into here - where he broke with the customs and traditions of his time in favor of women’s rights and their empowerment! If you don’t believe me, then have a read for yourself, there are so many examples in the books of the Bible: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.


So, yes, leaders of the church are called to be Christ-like, but that means in all areas of their life. Most importantly, this will manifest itself in the way they treat others, rather than being dependent upon their gender. As a Christian, I believe that we as humans, not just men, are created in the image of God. We all have the innate capacity to become more like Jesus and to become Priests.

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