Ordination & Subordination – why women should never be ordained

139-Man-created-God-in-his-imageWhilst I most definitely call myself a feminist I have come to the conclusion that supporting the ordination of female clergy is not entirely an indication of feminism. Yes, I support gender equality, and yes, if a woman feels spiritually inclined to take on priestly roles in religion (and for the purposes of this post I am really only discussing Judeo Christian concepts of priesthood) then of course there should be no obstacles to stop her from doing so. However, in this article I question whether female ordination really is something we girls should be striving for, or whether what we really should be doing is acknowledging religion as a male dominated construct and as such just reject the entire institution.

Ordination & Subordination – why women should never be ordained

Published in Grok Magazine, 2013 #3

I was twenty-one the first time I was excommunicated. The second time was at my own request.You may ask, why a second time? Getting excommunicated not just once, but twice, implies I saw the error of my ways – albeit temporarily – and returned to the fold appropriately contrite and willing to subjugate myself to the will of man/God.

This was far from the truth.

You see, my sin against man/God, was the most heinous of sins. Fornication. Don’t you just love that word? It’s so biblical. According to my Macquarie dictionary, fornication is “voluntary sexual intercourse between unmarried persons”, though personally I find the online Urban Dictionary definition more appealing: “Fornication; see ‘fuck’.”

But as exciting a topic as fornication is, the moral of my story really has nothing to do with fornicating, and everything to do with being fucked … over that is.

You see, I had gradually begun to suspect I was accessory to a global movement that sought to oppress women.

At the tender age of fourteen I had asked my Sunday school teacher why it was that only men held the priesthood. (Bear in mind I am coming from a Mormon background here where boys are automatically given the priesthood at age 12)

Why, I asked, were they in charge of everything? I even adopted a phrase I rather liked that I had picked up while eavesdropping on a conversation between my mother and her friend; “It’s all just a big boys club really.”

Over ensuing years I asked lots of questions. By some I was branded a rebel, which I took great offence to considering I wasn’t the one sneaking out for a smoke in the adjacent park between services. Nor did I ever drink alcohol or smoke pot in secret like my good little church-going friends who were seen as the epitome of youthful innocence and righteousness.

No, I just had questions. I was trouble.

It was my experience of excommunication that confirmed my suspicions that Christianity was patriarchal, engendered and thus flawed.

I attended my church court willingly. I entered a large conference room – the inner sanctum of the grand poobah’s – where mysterious men’s business of great import was conducted every Sabbath. In the centre of the room was a large conference table at the head of which sat the bishop, his two counsellors and the scribe; also male. I was given the chance to acknowledge and repent of my sin, evidence of which could be demonstrated by my agreeing to wed my co-fornicator on a date determined for me approximately one month later.

I informed this group of men that I wasn’t there to defend my actions or repent of any wrong doing.  In fact I was not in the habit of doing wrong. Surely if I were doing something I thought to be wrong I would stop doing it? No. I was there to state that my membership of the church was dependent on my support of a set of beliefs and rules. Unfortunately I didn’t support them and so it seemed to me that excommunication was the right course of action, in fact, the only course of action if they were to uphold their own beliefs.

But what of my co-fornicator? He felt terrible, ashamed, burdened with sin. I’m sure the bishop was greatly relieved to hear this. To call a church court for my boyfriend, himself a holder of a priesthood title, would have required not only the bishopric in attendance, but an additional twelve men to decide his fate. Much easier to get rid of a woman.

For many years I supported the feminist argument that as spiritual and intellectual equals, women have the right to hold leadership positions in religion. Why would any self-respecting feminist think otherwise? But over the years as I have watched the argument unfold in the media and seen various faiths adopt the practice of female ordination, my own thoughts have shifted. The more the general populace accepted women clergy, the less comfortable I became with it. It seemed there was something missing in the argument, but I could never quite put my finger on it.

Mary Daly, radical feminist philosopher, academic, and theologian puts it nicely;

“Tokenism does not change stereotypes of social systems but works to preserve them, since it dulls the revolutionary impulse.”

Tokenism. We’re getting close.

Yes, female clergy appeared to me a token gesture, one designed to calm our disturbed uterus’ which having achieved the end goal had apparently turned our hysteria into post-coital bliss.

But I still wasn’t satisfied that this was the missing argument.

While taking a unit in Anthropology at UWA I learned to define religion as a cultural system, one made up of symbols and practices that served to shape the deepest values of society. It occurred to me that symbols and practices were more than a set of definitive morals. It was bigger than that. Deeper. More pervasive.

Something so big was standing right in front of me that I had missed it entirely, yes, even I had come to accept it as the cultural norm; man/God.

Many of us feminist types like to throw in the idea that God is a woman. Alanis Morrisette portrayed woman/God in the movie Dogma; Emily Watson in a much more oblique sense in Breaking Waves. But in general two thousand years of cultural manipulation has entrenched the idea that God is male, and as such the entire male species has become representative of higher power on a global scale. We are much more ready to accept the idea that Morgan Freeman can be God than a woman. Even the god-fearing members of The Klan might be challenged in this regard; black man, white woman, which is the lesser of the two evils?

To quote Mary Daly again from her book Beyond God the Father,

“‘God’s plan’ is often a front for men’s plans and a cover for inadequacy, ignorance, and evil.”

I realised Gods very existence as male legitimised a world in which I as a women existed only as a vessel for male progeny.

We are getting closer to the missing argument now, but before I do I think a quick run-down of the main arguments for and against female ordination is in order.

Author and theologian father Dwight Logenecker … who can take anyone seriously with a name like that? … claims that feminists have only put forward three very broad arguments, none of which come even remotely close to the academic theological musings he himself is capable of. And they are:

Utilitarianism; she is capable of carrying out the required tasks of the clergy and can do them well, so she is useful, particularly when it comes to understanding the needs of the female laity.

Sentimentalism; ahhhh, women, so sensitive, so emotional, so in tune with matters of the heart. Women have natural empathy, are gentle and kind, so she is suited to the job.

Civil Rights; men and women are equal. End of discussion.

Of course there are in fact some real theological arguments for the ordination of women – women can muse academically too – but they all come down to interpretation of both historical practices and religious texts. I’ve organised these into three theological arguments just to prove to Father Logenecker I have a brain and I’m not afraid to use it.

Firstly, and as already covered, cultural bias. That is to say cultural systems engendered by patriarchy have affected men’s view of women’s power as both inferior, unclean, and dangerous. As women we are by our very nature, and by virtue of our sister Eve, considered evil. This view is archaic and it’s time to let it go.

Secondly, there is this thing called latent tradition, which is defined by Pope Benedict XVI (aka Joseph Ratzinger) as the gospel which was not written but was taught by word of mouth and “simply entrusted to the hearts of the faithful”. This “gospel of the heart” at one time openly accepted the idea that women were ordained as priests. Mary was perhaps the one most accepted in this role and was often referred to as a priest until the church forbade the reference in 1922.

Lastly, Jesus did not specify that priesthood was a male domain. According to the very book Christianity is founded on, we all become like Christ through baptism.

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians. 3:28)

This passage, taken from the King James Version implies that through baptism women have just as much right as men to hold the priesthood.

The idea that Jesus actually empowered women as priests is a really important clue in my quest for the missing argument, so I’ll come back to it later.

Of course, as any experienced bible basher would know, for every scripture quoted in support of one cause, there is another designed to refute it;

“I do not permit a woman to have authority over a man in church.” (I Timothy. 2:12)

In some weird convoluted way the general consensus theologians pose against ordaining women is that man is alter christus as in, he plays the role of Christ because like Christ, he is a man, this is known as redemptive sacrifice.

Likewise, women have their own redemptive sacrifice, basically that they are women, and thus mothers, which despite some women’s choice not to be, is still considered a non-negotiable thing, because men can’t bear children. Ergo, it is as impossible for a woman to be a priest as much as it is impossible for a man to be a mother. This according to Father Logenecker is all about the natural order of things.

“When we play about with these core truths that come to us from the natural order we do so at our peril, for they were put there by the creator himself for our good and the good of the whole human race.”

So here is where my missing argument comes in, in its own convoluted way.

If – as written by Paul in Galatians – Christ stated that men and women are equal in his eyes and therefore in the eyes of God, then it seems pretty likely that Christ was not as misogynistic as his post-enlightenment followers would have us believe.

This is my argument.

What Christ taught and what Christianity teaches is not one and the same. Regardless of what Christ thought about the spiritual enlightenment of humanity as a whole, somewhere along the line things changed.

One only has to look at the pomp and ceremony associated with Catholicism and other such older forms of Christianity to know that something got lost in translation. Poor old Jesus would be rolling over in his ossuary box if he knew the atrocities associated with his name today. If he saw the expensive garments, the ridiculous phallic hats, the big fat precious gem stones begging to be kissed, and, the acquisition of ridiculous wealth spent on such worthwhile human endeavours as the $1.5 billion temple of consumption also known as City Creek Shopping Centre in Salt Lake City Utah.

As a woman I reject the token gesture of female ordination for I reject the patriarchal intuition of Christianity as whole.  What woman in her right mind would aspire to walking around with a big embroidered penis on her head? As Daly said much better than I, the church as we know it was created by men for men; to cover up their inadequacies, to maintain a sense of power and control.

So why is it than men feel such inadequacy? Well, that I cannot answer. Perhaps it is their disconnection from the workings of the universe. That we as women, share the creation. Our cycles, deemed unclean, in sync with the cycle of the earth, our bodies capable of bringing forth and sustaining life.

The second time I was excommunicated it was at my own request. To participate would be to deny my creation, my ordination would be nothing more than a new form of subordination, and to the subordination of women, this woman says, “No!”


Legalizing Discrimination – the dichotomy of religious freedom

You may not have noticed, but there has been a lot of talk in the news lately about gay rights. I know, it’s weird isn’t it. I mean seriously, what is there to talk about? One person expecting to be treated just like any other person … why is that newsworthy?

Ok, it would be different if we lived in an age where inequality was rampant … women not being allowed to vote … blacks being expected to work for free … people being forced to sail around the world or traipse on foot from one side of America to the other just so they could practice their religion ……. religion … did someone just say religion?

I have always found the term ‘religious freedom’ to be a sort of oxymoron, a noun which in this case is ironically apt as it is taken from the Greek word oxus, meaning sharp, and moros, meaning dull. So depending on how you look at it, an oxymoron is not just a term to describe another term which is a contradiction in terms, but a term to describe a person who has a profound ability to make stupidity a talent… more on this in a future blog post.

Anyway, enough pondering on the magnificent beauty of the English language, where was I? Oh yes, equality among humans…

Right now in the US state of Arizona, attempts are being made to pass a law that allows businesses to refuse service to gay people. The controversial bill has already passed the House of Representatives at a vote of 33 to 27. Does this make Arizona a state populated by bigoted red-necks? I have no idea, I don’t live there, but I like to think that just like the majority of people here in Australia who support gay equality, the people of America probably often wonder – who are these people in government who are supposed to be representing our views??? And – why don’t we just change the name of the House of Representative’s to the House of the Personal Opinion of Those Among Us Who Have Enough Money and Clout to Get Into Government?

So what about freedom to practice religion then Sarah?

Ok, well another little known fact is that religious affiliation has been the cause of many confrontations; wars, murders, genocide … even the refusal of service! But, that a person should have the right to practice religion, is in my book a given (though I question the line at which a religion becomes a political theory or promotes hatred and inequality … cue Islam and the Westboro Baptists).

But, to give someone the legal right to discriminate by simply citing a constitutional right to freely practice religion???? That is opening one major can of very scary worms. Is that not obvious?

If there are business owners among us who want to refuse service to anyone who doesn’t live according to a set of religious morals and who really believe that is their way of honouring their beliefs, then they’d have to refuse service to a whole bunch of other people too.

Sign on shop front door …

This establishment has the right to refuse service to anyone who is gay, and seeing as we are a god-fearing business we also refuse service to anyone who has sex outside of wedlock, uses the words fuck, shit, christ, hell or damn in their vocabulary, doesn’t go to church, uses contraception, masturbates or looks at other peoples wives and wonders what they look like naked.

Sign on shop front door 1 month later …

Shop for Lease

And there-in lies the hypocrisy and contradiction of religious freedom expressed through the mistreatment of other human beings. Discrimination can never be legal. We can never allow religious beliefs to creep into our secular governments. We can’t say it’s okay to let people express their devotion by ostracising gays any more than we can say it’s okay to express your devotion through honour killings.

…. There has been a lot of talk in the news lately about gay rights. I know, it’s weird isn’t it. I mean seriously, what is there to talk about? When will we stop having to define people by their sexuality … Black, white or female, red-head or grey, a person’s a person no matter how gay!…okay, that was a bit of a cheesy finish wasn’t it, lol.

New Study finds that individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome don’t lack empathy – in fact if anything they empathize too much


Really good read for anyone out there who’s life is touched by the beautiful Autie’s and Aspie’s in this world.

Originally posted on seventhvoice:

Art work by Aegis Mario S. Nevado

Art work by Aegis Mario S. Nevado

“A ground-breaking theory suggests people with autism-spectrum disorders such as Asperger’s do not lack empathy – rather, they feel others’ emotions too intensely to cope.”

“People with Asperger’s syndrome, a high functioning form of autism, are often stereotyped as distant loners or robotic geeks. But what if what looks like coldness to the outside world is a response to being overwhelmed by emotion – an excess of empathy, not a lack of it?

This idea resonates with many people suffering from autism-spectrum disorders and their families. It also jibes with the “intense world” theory, a new way of thinking about the nature of autism.

As posited by Henry and Kamila Markram of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, the theory suggests that the fundamental problem in autism-spectrum disorders is not a social deficiency but, rather, a hypersensitivity to experience…

View original 1,054 more words

Marriage equality will lead to incest!

Today the ACT (Australian Capitol Territory) became the first state in Australia to legalise same sex marriage. Yay :)


Of course it may not survive that long due to the fact that marriage here in Oz is a federal law and not a state one, and the federal government has made it known they will be challenging the bill in the High Court Ay-sap! But for now at least we can stop hanging our 21st century heads in shame for living in a country that claims to be progressive yet just elected a leader quoted in 2010 for saying…

“I think it would be folly to expect that women will ever dominate or even approach equal representation in a large number of areas simply because their aptitudes, abilities and interests are different for physiological reasons.”

Don’t believe me? Here’s the transcript. But anyway, I digress and will save my feminist issues with Mr Abbott for another post. This post is about stupid comments. Comments like:

… and this one just in  … and I should point out that I am paraphrasing from memory because I only just witnessed this live on ABCNews24. It went something like this…

Religious spokesperson (will update his name as soon as I can locate the video file): “Same sex marriage will lead to incestuous relationships”

Anchor, Joe O’Brien: “How so?”

Religious person: “Well, if marriage is defined as being between two consenting people who love each other, then what’s to stop brothers and sisters from getting married.”

Joe O’Brien, and this is really paraphrased...”Ohhhh-kay then, thanks for your comments…in other news today…..”

Now, I don’t hold a PhD in psychology, sociology, linguistics, or any other thing that might help me understand the cause and effect logic of this claim, but I’m going to try and unpack it to the best of my ability.

Firstly, marriage has been defined world over much the same as it is in the Australian Marriage Act 1961, and I quote, “Marriage means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.”

Secondly … well, I don’t actually have a second point. Do I even have to explain it?

The 21st century definition of marriage is increasingly shifting to something more like, “marriage is the union of two people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.” (or at least until you change your mind).

So, how does one definition lead to incest and the other not?

Doesn’t incest more often than not, occur between men and women?

Where is the link between homosexuality and incest… or polygamy… or bestiality… or any other form of human activity, except of course the act of loving each other.

I think no-one says it better than our beloved Australian artist, poet and all round lovely guy, Michael Leunig.

Leunig on Marriage - taken from his October 2012 image archive on his website http://leunig.com.au

Leunig on Marriage – taken from his October 2012 image archive on his website http://leunig.com.au

Now sure, I can understand that for many religious people – and even people who are not religious, just a bit behind in their thinking – marriage can only be a heterosexual practice. They think this due to an entrenched set of ideas they call “morals”, regardless of the fact that in my book any form of discrimination is pretty, well, immoral really. But really, I get it. I don’t agree with it, but I get it.

Seriously though, why is the world full of stupid people making stupid comments. Let’s just have some more love peoples, because, all we need is love, da da da da da.

Moving Juicing posts to a bigger and better site :)

Well juicy peoples, I’m moving sites to a newer, biggerer, betterer website and I hope I’ll be taking all of you with me.

Planet Sarah used to be all about, well, nothing really, just random stuff that I felt like writing about. But then it kinda morphed into a juicing blog, and lo and behold people started subscribing. I thank you all :)

WordPress are about to move all of my juice blog followers and subscribers over to my new self hosted site. I’ve no idea how it all works, so I thought I should let you know just in case you get confused next time you get an email update from The Juice Planet instead of Planet Sarah.

Of course, if you’d like to stay on here at Planet Sarah you are most welcome. I’ll be using this site to get back to writing about, well, who knows … environmental concerns, philosophical ramblings, topics that are relevant to me like Autism, parenting, relationships, and of course cats.  I may even post the odd magazine article I write, and only god knows what that might be about.

Alrighty then, that’s all, hope to see you on the other side :)


8000 Animals and Me

I was lying on the sofa a few rainy months ago watching some TED Talks. I love TED Talks, you really never know what interesting little snippet of information you are going to pick up. On this particular occasion I learned that the average adult consumes 8000 animals in their lifetime.

Damien Mander

Damien Mander – Founder of The International Anti-Poaching Foundation


The talk was given by Damien Mander, here’s the link if it interests you. Damien is the founder of an anti-poaching organisation; a foundation he was inspired to set up after witnessing the mutilated face of an African elephant, killed so that its tusks could adorn “some guys desk in Asia”.

Damien is a rather good looking Aussie bloke, well, in my humble opinion anyway … married … the good ones always are, sigh … an ex-military guy, tall, and shall we say, beefy – which is an ironic adjective because at some point in Damien’s mission to stop the horrific practice of slaughtering animals for trophies he had one of those life defining epiphanies: what makes killing an elephant for a trophy any worse than killing a cow for beef?

But enough about Damien.

8000 animals. That’s a lot of animals.

As I lay there on the couch I actually forgot about Damien and his beefiness. I found myself visualising 8000 animals in a massive paddock; cows and sheep milling about peacefully, a cacophony of chooks, and the odd pig. Little ole me was standing in the middle, a sort of Garden of Eden moment, the ‘lamb lying down with the lion’ sort of thing, except of course there were no lions because I don’t generally eat cats. Oh, and I was wearing more than a fig leaf too. The main point is that it was all peace and love and the wonders of mother nature. Then into the midst comes Farmer Joe … with a big ole shot gun. “What’s it gonna be little missy?” he says in his Texan drawl, “you or them?”

Me or them?

Like Damien I found myself wondering how many animal lives are worth just one human one, in particular mine.

Then I thought, whoa whoa, just hold on a minute … cue sound of record scratching.

8000 animals. That’s a lot of animals. Seriously, that really is a lot of animals. Where did Damien get this figure? Could he have slipped a verbal typo? Maybe he meant 800? And what kind of animals are we talking here, I mean there is a big difference between 8000 cows and 8000 chickens. And what about fish, did his figure include fish?

I started doing the math.

Now you might think I was looking for a way out. Looking for a figure to lessen my guilt. But really, I suddenly just wanted to know.

Whether it was 8000 or 800 or even just 80, it made no difference, I just wanted to know how many animals I thought – or should I say, neglected to stop and think – deserved to die for my benefit.

According to United Nations statistics, each of us in the over indulgent, mega consumptive west consume up to 120kg of meat per year. I like to think I’m not one of them, in fact I know I’m not, but I’ll be honest and say I have slipped back into eating a lot more meat than I was 6 months ago. Here’s a chart so you can see what little piggies we really are in comparison to other parts of the world.

meat consumption

Now, according to the US National Sustainable Agricultural Information Services, the average cow yields 249kg of meat, the average pig, 74kg, and the average sheep 14kg. I couldn’t find any hard data on chickens, but I’m guessing 1kg each, average.

With this in mind I have now re-imagined my ‘Paddock of Eden’ to have a lot less cows. After all, if I were to eat 120kg of beef a year for say 70 years, that would be 8400kg, which would be about 33 cows.

Here’s the thing. I don’t know how Damien got his figure. And if you’ve read my blog or juice website much you’d know I have a bit of an obsession with backing up claims. In part I want his figure to be correct, because it is just such a bloody awful image, 8000 beautiful gentle creatures quietly munching on grass until Farmer Joe comes along and slaughters them just so that I can live. Such an image could shock even the most determined carnivore. But the other part of me wants to avoid sensational images and just focus on the truth.

So here is my new 8400kg meat producing paddock…

15 cows, 150 sheep, 10 pigs, 1000 chickens, and a big pond full of fish, mostly Atlantic salmon.

That’s 2175 animals, roughly, including some very big salmon.

Is my life worth 2175 other lives?

I am a juicer yes, but vegan? No.

Vegetarian? No.

Pescatarian (meat sourced from ocean)? Used to be, but I’ve slipped.

I’m not writing this to get on my moral high horse. I just want to provoke a little thought.

8000 animals may not be a figure I can verify unless I was on a chicken diet. But if you imagine yourself standing in a paddock with even just 2175, it’s a humbling image don’t you think?

Growing up I had a pet sheep who thought he was a dog. We had a milk cow who loved a fuss. My hobby farming parents wouldn’t eat their own sheep or chickens … or maybe it was us throwing ourselves on the floor crying that stopped them … so on the odd occasion that they did need to kill one they would have our neighbour do the deed and swap the meat for one of his slaughtered animals. OMG! It has just occurred to me that perhaps this was what our parents told us. Maybe we really did eat Eric the Evil Rooster, and Snowdrop the Dopey Sheep … maybe they lied … I’m going to have to follow up on this. But I digress … Our neighbour Raoul would tease my crazy white family. He was from Chile, and he thought it was funny the way we named our chickens and couldn’t bear to hurt a feather on their heads. Animals serve a purpose he would tell us. Dogs guard the house, cats kill the mice, and all the others are for eating … and that’s okay, but what I am questioning is how many we really need to eat.

As for me, I am still an aspiring vegan, who has spent intermittent months as an ‘almost vegan’ and big chunks over the years as a pescatarian. But the truth is, I don’t expect I will ever be a full vegan and am most likely to stick with the nutritarian approach, because it makes sense. But if everyone in the west decided to at least jump on the Meatless Monday wagon, the benefits to each of us as individuals as well as the planet as a whole would be massive. Our carbon footprints would be greatly reduced without all that methane gas that animals produce floating up into the atmosphere. Water, which is so valuable in my country (Australia, the driest continent on earth) would be saved in a big way. Here’s a crazy number for you; did you know that if the Meatless Monday organisation is right, between 16 and 22 thousand litres of water are used just to produce 1kg of beef! It’s a known fact that cancer loves meat and that by reducing and/or eliminating it from our diets, modern day diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity are eliminated or greatly reduced along with it.

All food for thought huh. But aside from all the benefits for our bodies and our planet by reducing meat, it really does beg asking, how many animals are worth a human life?