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  #1  
Old 28th November 2006, 04:53 PM
Joan
 
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Default Status and Role of Women in a Christian Society

Should Catholics adopt a social lifestyle and gender roles like the Amish, but within a Catholic religious framework? In that framework, is the only model "pleasing to God" one in which the status and role of women is clearly subordinate, silent, carefully regulated and limited, dependent, relational to males and unequal?

Examples from Amish lifeways drawn from 16th Century practice: girls to receive only the minimal education required to rear literate children and provide literate companionship to a male, no authority, no decision making or responsibility in the home from small matters (what time is dinner) or large (should we buy a new plow), and influence is not permitted in the larger society. All that is permissible is "kinder, kuchen, kirk" (children, cooking, church), or dependency for "unaffiliated" females (unmarried equals useless and devalued).

Perhaps our utopia should be drawn from the more permissive 19th Century Model, pre-suffragist?

Is the ultimate utopian vision for faithful Catholics that should be instituted by the Great Catholic Monarch, with the endorsement of the Angelic Shepherd, that of a feudal peasantry, women subservient and disenfranchised?

I would submit that originally, God offered a form of representative democracy as superior to monarchy. While the Israelites were faithful, they merited a system of "judges" and at least one female is recorded among those duly selected to serve as a representative. As the pagan influences began to demoralize the Israelites, God finally gave them what they clamored for, the status and pageantry and tyranny of hereditary monarchy. They wanted to be like "the nations" and God gave them what they clamored for although God told them the pitfalls and inferiority of that system, which was not what He chose for them.

The system of judges could only work successfully among self-controlled, devout and godly persons. As they degenerated, central authority and rigid hierarchies became needed, through a divinely sanctioned system of monarchy. The reign of the Great Monarch will be over devout and godly people. Therefore, the system of judges, representative democracy, could certainly be a viable system, "pleasing to God," could it not?

Feudalism or democracy are the choices--because it is not feasible within representative democracy, that women would never under any circumstances have any authority, responsibility, or representation. Among the Amish, women's role and responsibility is totally circumscribed to the domestic, and relates directly to status pertaining to male relationships, such as, daughter, wife, mother, sister--not apart from relationship to a male figure. Yet, because they are embedded within a democracy that guarantees civic and financial freedoms for women, the Amish female is not chattel and should she chose to exercise her rights or leave the Amish community, her freedom and worth as a human creature are guaranteed.

Regardless of the Catholic religion and the sterling character of a future monarch, under feudalism and peasantry, it is inevitable that women would be abused and oppressed. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Domestic violence, predation by greedy male relatives, vulnerability through lack of civic and financial rights, all of these represent the status quo ante of 19th Century realities for women. Clearly, unless the mechanisms of autonomy such as education and political representation, the capacity to redress grievance and remove from power are embedded for women into the social fabric, then abuses will occur. The best safeguards are to foster the talents and contributions of females and that women be considered autonomously and as intrinsically co-equal, rather than in a relational context.

Muslim, Amish, feudal, pre-suffragist approaches I do not see as utopian or beneficial.

If we are in fact marching boldly into the 13th Century, the 16th Century, the 19th Century -- I say that those are insipid, uninspired halfway measures. Let us march boldly back to the 6th Century BC, and live like devout Israelites worthy of representative democracy.

Last edited by Joan : 28th November 2006 at 05:12 PM. Reason: typo
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  #2  
Old 28th November 2006, 05:51 PM
Climacus Areopagite Climacus Areopagite is offline
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Interesting points Joan. A priest I knew had an interesting insight about how God was almost "heartbroken" when the Isrealites desired a king. The judges ruled as God's chosen representative, but God Himself was considered the King.

As far as a Christian Utopia, I dont think it will ever exist unless perhaps in the Millenium. As far as what the system will be who knows. The nice thing about the feudal systems is that power is decentralized and all the citizens within the fife are accounted for.

As far as the role of woman in society I think all we need to do is study the life of the Blessed Virgin and apply that to society.


Nicholas
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Old 29th November 2006, 12:42 AM
VeiledProphetess
 
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Very interesting, Joan. Has it occurred to anyone that if the whole world was Catholic and followed Church teaching on birth control, women would not have leisure for much of a role outside the home? This troubles me, although I myself am childless, and became Catholic at an age that makes this a non-issue for me.

Also, I am currently reading the Bible in its entirety, and am almost finished. Taking Scripture as a whole, it seems clear to me that God wills for women to be in a subordinate position, although they are equal in worth. But it's hard for us humans to really believe in "different but equal." Scripture does not forbid women to do work other than housework, but clearly their main focus is supposed to be on home and family.

However, I must confess that I myself work full-time, my husband does most of the housework and is better at it, I have short hair and wear pants, and I struggle much with this issue.
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Old 29th November 2006, 10:25 AM
MARIAN
 
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This subject is a deep issue that we keep going back to. Your points are very ineresting. A friend of mine recently visited St Peters and could not find any representative of a female saint other than The pieta. She considered it a mausoleum for dead Popes. Women I think will never get recognition in the world we live in but then the Christian vocation is not about power and recognition. Many of the popes represented in St Peters may not even be in heaven. Our lady is the mother of the Church and the Church in its infancy was grouped around her and was inspired by her. She is really active in the Church today and she has been commissioned by God to defeat the serpent. In the Old testament there are many women who saved the people of Israel. Gods plan for men and women is that they are equal but different. When we look with the eyes of the world we see the subjuctation of women. We should look with heavens eyes and look to Our lady. Look at the state of the Church which is led by men. Its in tatters. Women, in the Church we now find ourselves in, should embark on the spiritual battle that includes prayer, fasting sacrifice to renew the Church and make it holy. Womens recognition will come in eternity. THATS WHERE IT IS IMPORTANT.
Mary
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  #5  
Old 29th November 2006, 12:35 PM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
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Joan,

You mention a number of extreme approaches to women in society, which you rightly criticize. But your ideal of democracy leading to a proper role for women has not proved to be true. We have had democracy in Western society for many generations. What has it led to? Neither men nor women have proper gender roles, nor has democratic society moved closer to God.

I have a degree of understanding on this topic, but it would take a long time to write out. In summary, women must not have positions of authority, teaching, or leadership over adult men, nor over groups that include adult men (with some exceptions out of necessity). Women who wish to marry and have kids should do so in their younger years. Then, in their later years they can puruse further opportunities in education, work, or volunteer work, arts and literature, etc. There should be a certain partial separateness between men and women in society, as well as opportunities for men and women to work together. None of this is subjugation; it is order and the will of God.

VeiledProphetess,

Why don't you take a step in this direction, since you feel called to it.
Make a change such as wearing skirts and dresses more often, or growing
your hair long, or giving up being a lector.


Ron
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  #6  
Old 29th November 2006, 01:29 PM
Hope
 
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[SIZE=2]The most important task is rearing children. This goes for men and women. Perhaps this idea distorts the idea that only women are to be subservient, when in reality, men are supposed to be subservient as well. It is the role of men and society in general, to be subservient to a mother’s needs when it comes to nurturing children. The husband is subserviant to the wife's needs, and she in turn, is subservient to his authority--which comes from the fact that he has only her best interest (which is the physical and spiritual well-being of her family) in mind.

Men are to toil the fields or commute in order to provide for her—the woman—the mother, who in turns provides for the children. Men seem to be as confused as the women these days (maybe more so)—thinking that their occupation is for their own ego and satisfaction alone, and not for the good of their wives and family.

Perhaps the Bible is telling us society needs to put the task of mothering at the center of everything. Men are to earn a living to protect her role as mother. Men are to lay down their lives to protect her and protect the children. Men are ordered to love their wives, and women are to obey their husbands under the assumption that the man is deferring his existence to her role as mother; and the husband should be influenced by the understanding that his purpose is secondary to her purpose as caregiver.

It is difficult for a woman to defer to her husband, when he is not deferring this role that God has given him. No matter his occupation her motherly occupation is the more worthy of the two. A man’s leisure, friends, social-circles and his entire focus should be for the pleasing God and he can do this by concentrating on the betterment of his family—rather than his own status at work and among his peers, or toward his own fulfillment and pleasure outside of his family. His life, in relationship to his spouse, should be modeled on Christ, who labored ceaselessly and made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure the well-being of his Church. When men adopt this attitude (ha, ha), it will be easier for woman to accept them as leaders.

I think society should be arranged around these principles, but . . . Although, the role of mother is the most important one, it does not mean a woman cannot or should not be in a leadership role. People are misconstruing the high status that God places on motherhood, as meaning that this should be woman’s only purpose and place. God’s emphasis on the role of mother may be saying that the world needs to support her in it; but it in no way implies that she cannot be good leader in secular affairs or engage in other occupations if she is childless or her children are grown. Mary is Queen of Heaven is the ultimate example that woman are capable and worthy of positions of authority.

Instead of focusing so much on what woman's roles should be, it'd might be more useful for men to call out other men on men-issues, asking each other if their lives support their God-given role as a spouse that loves his wife as much as he loves his own flesh.
[/SIZE]
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  #7  
Old 29th November 2006, 02:26 PM
MARIAN
 
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Eternity
I like your arguments on this and I concur. If the world were not so sinful and mankind so filled with arrogance and selfishness then every role in life for both men and women would be valued equally and harmony between the sexes would prevail. Motherhood is not valued in society today. Women almost feel they have to apologise for being mothers and not having a career outside of it.
Mary
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Old 29th November 2006, 04:49 PM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
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The idea of mutual subservience is contrary to what the Bible teaches.
There is no such mutual subservience in the roles of men and women in the Bible. Obedience between a husband and wife is in some sense reciprocal, but also assymetrical.

It is true that a woman's role as mother is important and undervalued by secular society. But it is not true that this is the most important role and that men must subjugate themselves to the importance of this role.

It is contradictory to claim that men and women have an equal role and responsiblity in raising children, and that a woman's role is more important because she is raising children.

Also, Mary did not have a position of authority.

I am continually dismayed as to the number and extent of errors on faith and morals found among otherwise faithful Catholics, in this group and elsewhere. Where do such ideas come from? If it is not from Tradition, Scripture, or Magisterium, then it must be from secular society.
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Old 29th November 2006, 06:38 PM
Climacus Areopagite Climacus Areopagite is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Conte View Post
I am continually dismayed as to the number and extent of errors on faith and morals found among otherwise faithful Catholics, in this group and elsewhere. Where do such ideas come from? If it is not from Tradition, Scripture, or Magisterium, then it must be from secular society.

The power and influence of secular society over Christians is unprecedented in history. I was baptised as a Catholic and raised as a secular pagan, with barely any religion even though I recieved the Sacraments occasionaly. I had no concept of religion, the Trinity, the Holy Eucharist, sin, etc. After I had a type of conversion, I started to seek and learn about the faith. Even then I have had some good teachers and some bad. I have spent years reprogamming myself of errors and bad sinful habits I grew up with.

Once I learned what the Eucharest truly was and how I had spent years recieving it in mortal sin and not knowing I wasnt suppose too without going to confession, this made me extremely anxious, and full of doubts and made life miserable for about 5 years. Each time I went to confession I felt I had never been able to confess all my sins properly cause by the time I converted I had already been a huge sinner. This caused me to start smoking, as if I didnt have already enough bad habits to conquer. Its been one battle after another.

So yes secular society is full of errors, and sins unprecedented in history. I have always been a sensitive person, and when I started to meditate on the state of the world and history I had a feeling we were in the end times. I wouldnt be dismayed Ron, it is the truth about the world.

That is why I am looking forward to the Warning. I know it will be a terrible day but I need it and a lot of people need it.


Nicholas
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  #10  
Old 29th November 2006, 08:35 PM
Hope
 
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I never meant to imply that men and woman had equal roles in rearing children. I thought what I wrote implied that the majority of the task fell upon the woman and the man's role was the supporter and protector of the woman as she attended to motherhood duties.

It's not mutual subserviance that I am talking about--it is the woman being able to submit because she trusts the leadership of the man. As right as it may be, it is almost impossible for anyone to submit to someone that does not fear God and that usually has in own interests in mind over that of his wife and family. It is hard for a woman to sit back when she knows her husband's actions are harming the family. A woman must submit, but a man that does not live wisely and righteously will cause his wife to fail in this matter. A man is not deferring to his wife's authority when he puts her needs first; he is submitting his will to God because He commands him to love his wife as Christ loved the Church.

Quote:
"Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the Church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish" (Eph 5:25-27).

If husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the Church, how did Jesus show his love for the Church? He foreshadowed his own death and showed married men that they were to love their wives, to the point of dying for her. This is a man's role.[

Quote:
No Greater Love. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13.



John 21:15-17 - Jesus selects Peter to be the chief shepherd of the apostles when He says to Peter, "feed my lambs," "tend my sheep," "feed my sheep." Peter will shepherd the Church as Jesus’ representative.


Again, if husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the Church, and the Apostles are His successor as earthly head of the Church and Christ is telling them to feed and tend to the sheep . . . God is commanding husbands to feed and tend to their wives. This is their role. [/SIZE]

I should have wrote that the most important task for married men is to raise children, but that for priests, their spouse is the Church and their children are the flock.

Serving God, of course, is the most important task—but many of us serve God through serving our families.

I don't think there is any error in saying that men who have chosen to be married need to subjegate themselves to the role of fatherhood. But this does not mean this is the only role they should fill. And as children become independant, a woman should not be limited to her role as a mother.

The idea that fatherhood is one of the most important roles a man can have is biblically supported. The same goes for motherhood. But fathers can serve in other functions besides fatherhood.

Mystery of Woman Revealed in Motherhood
Pope John Paul II
GENERAL AUDIENCE OF 12 MARCH

During the General Audience in the Paul VI Hall on 12 March, the Holy Father delivered the following address.

(I believe this excerpt is from the footnotes)

Mystery of femininity revealed

Fatherhood is one of the most important aspects of humanity in Sacred Scripture. The text of Genesis 5:3: "Adam...became the father of a son in his own likeness, after his image" is explicitly linked with the narrative of the creation of man (Gn 1:27; 5:1) and seems to attribute to the earthly father participation in the divine work of transmitting life, and perhaps also in that joy present in the affirmation: God "saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good" (Gn 1:31).

3) According to the text of Gn 1:26, the "call" to existence is at the same time the transmission of the divine image and likeness. Man must proceed to transmit this image, thus continuing God's work. The narrative of the generation of Seth stresses this aspect: "When Adam had lived a hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his own likeness, after his image" (Gn 5:3). Since Adam and Eve were the image of God, Seth inherited this likeness from his parents to transmit it to others.

In Sacred Scripture, however, every vocation is united with a mission. So the call to existence is already a predestination to God's work: "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you" (Jer 1:5; cf. also Is 44:1; 9:1-5). God is the One who not only calls to existence, but sustains and develops life from the first moment of conception: "Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you kept me safe upon my mother's breasts. Upon you was I cast from my birth, and since my mother bore me you have been my God" (Ps 22:10, 11; cf. Ps 139:13-15).

The attention of the biblical author is focused on the very fact of the gift of life. Interest in the way in which this takes place is rather secondary and appears only in the later books (cf. Jb 10:8, 11; 2 Mc 7:22-23; Wis 7:1-3).
Taken from:
L'Osservatore Romano
Weekly Edition in English
17 March 1980, page 1
L'Osservatore Romano is the newspaper of the Holy See.[/SIZE]


Another note, while Mary did not have an official role of authority, Christ did as she asked, so he shows that He willingly submitted to the authority of his mother. And since God is timeless, and Mary has stepped into Eternity, she has been crowned Queen. Her Queenship is not bound by time. Still, like all human kings and queens should, she submits to the only True authority--Jesus Christ.

And I'm kinda reaching here, but I'll say it anyway. In a democracy a person in leadership often gets more accomplished through influence rather than through dictating through authority. It seems that Mary was a pro at influencing people, an essential for any good politician. Authority in a democratic society is basically getting people to do what you want them to do. Woman seem to fit that role, even when emulating Mary.

Last edited by Hope : 29th November 2006 at 09:35 PM. Reason: clean up formatting marks
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