I read a disturbing article on Patheos.com today that presents an argument against the ordination of women in the Catholic Church based on the author’s discernment that we are called to obedience over intellect, logic, historical evidence, and evolving theologies.
To support her view, author Joanne K. McPortland quotes Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry’s argument against women’s ordination at length in order to frame her theological stance: we are called to be obedient to our religion as it has been originally revealed by God. We are then reminded of the standard company line: God revealed through Christ that men, not women, were his chosen apostles. Even if new theological, historical, archeological, or theological evidence were to present itself to us today, we should dismiss new discoveries, abandon our quests for equality, and remain obedient to the original teachings of the Church to whom God’s one truth was revealed. The argument hinges on the understanding that the revelation happened in the past: it is done.
I don’t think so. By evidence of this bustling Earth, God has created an incredibly intellectual, artistic, sexual, spiritual, and scientifically-minded species and blessed us with gifts of observation, inquisitiveness, exploration, and discovery. God has blessed us with a bio-diverse and ever evolving planet to explore, and beyond that — an expansive universe that our imaginations cannot begin to comprehend.
To say that God decided some 2000 years ago that women were never to be priestly disciples is to say that (1) God had a singular plan (once and done?), (2) God had definite intentions and spoke with finality on the subject of women in Church before the Church was even born by having Christ name 12 male apostles, and (3) God is direct and doesn’t ask that we discern or interpret spiritual meanings in our lives and for our own times. This makes sense, because God spoke through Jesus in the direct and unmistakeable form of parables.
How does this interpretation jive with what we know about the way Christ taught when he walked among us? How does it jive with the way God designed human beings? Science, technology, and our own consciousnesses are ever leading us to new places. Is it too much to believe that God, too, might be calling us to new understandings of Church in a rapidly changing world? Might our obedience to the Living Christ be the more challenging to embrace?