Last One For A While On “Ladyness”, I Promise

Jesus chose twelve male apostles, not because men are better at getting the message wrong, cutting off ears and trying hard to make themselves important, but because there were twelve tribes of Israel.

Never forget that Jesus was a Jew. He is Messiah. He has come to inaugurate the Kingdom of God and the citizens of that Kingdom are the People of God. To underline it and hammer it home, to emphasise it beyond any doubt so that everyone would know what he was trying to do, he chose twelve patriarchs, symbolically representing the twelve tribes.

If that is what he was trying to do, then he couldn’t have chosen a woman amongst the twelve. It would have lost all the symbolic power.

Women advised Jesus, paid for Jesus, lived with Jesus (so totally scandalous!), learned from Jesus and then proclaimed the resurrected Jesus. Jesus’ interaction goes a way beyond dignifying and saving adulterous women and hanging out with the whores. The fact that there were no female apostles doesn’t in any way indicate that there shouldn’t be female leaders.

Now I’ll leave you with the excellent contribution from the Intern.
Your Correspondent, Possesses billions of potentially dangerous atoms

24 Responses to “Last One For A While On “Ladyness”, I Promise”

  1. QMonkey says:

    So it’s symbolic, Jesus chose 12 men disciples/apostles as a symbol of the tribes. First of all, you need to let me know where he said that (he didn’t choose each apostle from a different tribe, so the tribe symbol thing… wasn’t THAT important)

    Symbols are important though, I grant you, it would have been a big symbol of his plans for women if he had chosen 6 female apostles, but he symbolically didn’t (there were women in the tribes too you know).

    >Never forget that Jesus was a Jew
    You can’t say that … then say the other stuff about shaking things up and being radical

    So what can we learn from the symbolic decision not to choose women as apostles (he certainly wouldn’t have shied away from it, if he’d wanted too)… that coupled with 1 Tim 2 ,1 Tim 3, 1 Cor 11 and Eph 5 it’s clear what Jesus and Paul had in mind for the role of women in the new church… equal, but very different roles.

    The catholic church knows this, the Anglican church knows this, countless churches around the world don’t have women pastors and priest because of this… I really don’t think any of the posts the furiousthinkers have written on this will convince the women otherwise -- I could be wrong.

  2. Vox O'Malley says:

    I see the faith as being organic, a process. It clearly starts in a unique place of space time and progresses through its rumbling growth and understanding then hits a point of “Crux” with the coming of Jesus. Paul is only beginning to express the repercussions of that event in his day. If it were a book that gave us all the answers to gender, genes, space travel, economic systems, global warming then it would have been a very different kind of “thing”. I prefer to see the trajectories and directions set in motion. The fact that some religious people or denominations still want to hold on to their interpretations is neither here nor there. Do we not read of such a “crucial” debate in the pages of the New Testament? – the transition between Judaism and global world religion… they held a counsel, they debated, they fell out. Circumcision, food laws etc. etc. Paul championed the new direction, he fought with Peter over it. That is there in the text for us.. a fight if you will – are we supposed to take each verse out of context and attempt to live by the words of each side? NOPITY NOPE? But we get the direction, we see the debate and we expect ongoing debate. Debate has been sanctified INSIDE HOLY Scripture for even the most literal or fundamentalist of readers.

  3. QMonkey says:

    …but Jesus…. he wasn’t on a journey of discovery… right?…. we can take the things that he said and did, not to be part of that sanctified debate? Peter didn’t debate with Jesus about food, circumcision and role of women? Peter and Paul might have been wide of the mark when they talked about women in church (and grace)… but the symbol of Jesus’ return to Jerusalem is as notable as the symbol not to choose women apostles.. right? if not… then the whole shooting match is up for grabs surely

  4. Vox O'Malley says:

    In reference to the gender debate… what is your point?

  5. QMonkey says:

    you’re cheekily flushing me out because you know what my point is 🙂 and its nothing to do with the gender debate.

  6. QMonkey says:

    … scripture is sanctified by god, and no where in the new testament does it say women should be in a teaching or leading role, in fact in lots of places it says they shouldn’t, and jesus symbolicaly didnt place them in that role. So, if god was lets say, in a editorial control here, then he meant for this to be the case, and we should suck it up and accept it… in the same way we suck up the bits we like…

    But … of course vox…you’re right, that’s not my point…

    It’s the hypocrisy of saying things like I believe Jesus turned water to wine cause it says in the bible, I believe Paul was converted by a blinding light on the road to Damascus, Jesus ascended to heaven because the bible says it etc etc (nevermind Sam saying that its notable the order in while Paul greets people in the letters!)

    So stuff that we ‘like’ that’s all well and good. But suddenly there’s something that doesn’t sit comfortably… and it all turns to ‘look at the general thrust’ ‘read it properly’ etc

    Either the New Testament is reliable and sanctioned and overseen my god (through out the ages, choosing of the cannon and translation), or its not. If its just ancient people’s experiences of god… then im quite entitled to say, they were deluced or misquoted or words manipulated… and that Jesus probably didn’t rise from the dead… because people make mistakes and have wishful thinking… just like those who saw Elvis after he died.

    So which is it… Women shouldn’t teach? Or Jesus maybe didn’t resurrect?

  7. teragram says:

    The Gospels tell a set of stories, and the epistles discuss the meaning of those stories. When you tell a story, there are often (usually?) indications in the words you use as to what kind of story it is. For instance, I would argue that there are indications in the story of Jonah that it is a story told to convey a meaning, rather than one told to recount actual events. The Gospels, on the other hand, give every indication of being first or second hand accounts of things that really happened. When I say that, I don’t mean that *you* should assume that those events did happen that way. If I told you about my extraordinary day last week, you wouldn’t necessarily assume that everything I said was true, but you would almost certainly be able to tell how I intended you to hear it. It would be a different kind of story from the one I might tell my kids before they go to sleep at night.

    The epistles are a whole other kettle of fish. They’re not stories, they are explanation and discussion and response to specific problems. When Paul says X should do Y we have to try and understand whether he meant X should *always* do Y, or X should *in this specific circumstance* do Y, of X should *usually* do Y but there might be circumstances where Z would by better.

    Where there are inconsistencies between two accounts of a single event (as there always are between eye-witness accounts — a fact used by law-enforcement agencies to determine whether witnesses have colluded) we might try to imagine what actually happened. Where one writer appears to be wildly inconsistent in his exhortations when they are taken at face value, it is wise to attempt to take them at more than face value to understand what he was really getting at.


  8. QMonkey says:

    for some reason… this is what i assume Zoomster looks like… am i close?

  9. Vox O'Malley says:

    I think you have been mixing up your categories Qmonkey. You said:

    “the hypocrisy of saying things like I believe Jesus turned water to wine cause it says in the bible”

    implying that we say we “believe” these events but don’t “believe / accept / follow” phrases like “women should be silent in the churches”. If the issue is belief in what has been stated then fine, if the issue is “what moral ‘ought’ is relevant to my now” then that is clearly different. No one thinks we should turn every water jar we see into wine… at least in the literal sense…

    That is a mixture of two categories. I “believe” Paul said what he said in that letter. Thinking it applies in a changing context and that it was intended to imply in the way some people think it should today is a different issue. It is not hypocrisy. He also spoke about women prophesying…. so either they forgot to “iron” out the supposed inconsistencies or we are forced to think more deeply than you are forcing us to.

    If a further text said “Jesus never turned water into wine” then we’d have a debate on that [aside from the issue of the miraculous].

    Can’t you see the difference between a statement in a narrative an an imperative in a personal letter? When Paul tells Philemon to accept Onesimus back as a friend and brother instead of a slave – do we think that all people called Philemon and / or Onesimus are bound by that imperative? OF COURSE NOT.

  10. QMonkey says:

    i take your point… on mixing my categorys… accepted. so lets leave the gospels aside (just for now)

    The epistles are regarded as more than a ‘personal letter’ by the global church (by and large)…
    if not, then are mine or your views on the gospels as valid and as useful as Paul’s? Were Paul’s letters sanctified in anyway, more than say… Zoomtard’s blog post? Or are there possibly things in those episiles which had jesus been around, he might have said… hang on, thats not really what i intended. Is gods hand on it? or is paul talking to Timothy personally in 2 Timothy 3 about all scripture is inspired etc etc

  11. QMonkey says:

    i’m being fed to the lion that is Vox here… but before that happens can i just point out… that i think my response to Zoom’s original post… was pretty good in a judo sense using his ‘symbolic’ defense against him to show the weakness

  12. zoomtard says:

    QM: It would have been a meaningless “symbol” if there were 6 men and 6 women. It would just be an inner circle of 12. It wouldn’t have any echoes of the tribes and the patriarchs. You haven’t judo-chopped me, you’ve just ignored the actual meaning of my post.

    But I’ll leave you to chat with Vox and Teragram and I can go off and pull more wool over our eyes. 🙂

  13. QMonkey says:

    Z – thats disingenuous… if he’d chosen 6 women, you would have sung from the rooftops about its symbolism and radicalism. (no…! don’t leave me with Vox, he uses big words, and has no time for my man on the street defence!)

    I feel i need to clarify.. and apoligise for calling people hypocrites.

    Using the word hypocrisy was OTT, and not in the spirit.
    It’s more a mater of having your cake and eating it.

    focusing on my point….
    Either the epistles are inspired by god, god was talking through Paul (he specially knew the mind of god), and god has had his hand on the tiller through the whole process of getting the book onto my church pew……(in which case the ‘women not leading’ verses apply just as much to us as the Ephesians or Colossians)…

    …..or Paul was just a bloke writing letters, some of it was good, some of it was probably nonsense meanderings (which he regretted after pressing send (oh wait, that’s me)) -- in which case, if Zoomtard says… he’s read the gospels and thinks its ok to have women preaching and leading… then his opinion is as valid as any of the apostles. And Zoomtard’s and Jayber’s posts, and voxo’s comics are as valid as any epistle to be read on a Sunday morning.

  14. zoomtard says:

    It’s not disingenuous- it’s logical.

    If he had taken on six female apostles he would indeed have been striking a blow for the liberation of women, yadda yadda yadda. He would not, however, have been declaring his intentions to the people of Israel to reformulate their idea of what it means to be the people of God.

    Apology accepted by the way.. I am a hypocrite, just not for the reasons you peg me for.

    And I’m not going to focus on your point unless you make it on your blog. It’s rude to come over here and hijack my post on apostleship as an expression of the New Israel and turn it into a discussion about epistlic authority. It’s also rude to ignore the one woman who has commented on this post so far.

    (By the way, there were dozens of people surrounding Jesus part of his “followers” proper. The Gospels call them disciples. The Apostles are chosen from the disciples to make a point about Israel… your argument is flawed in this way too since there were certainly women playing key roles in the Jesus movement although understandably not playing the role of Patriarch, a role they couldn’t play through no fault or flaw of their own)

  15. QMonkey says:

    in my defence… i replied to your post.. directly read it all a number of times.. and made a very valid response i thought. the discussion flowed else where. (as it happens i do think epistlic authority IS the main issue re: women in the church)

    my arguement isnt flawed, its pivotal… im humbly submit

  16. jimlad says:

    I’d like to ask a question:

    Would it be true to say that the 12 apostles were chosen on an *INDIVIDUAL* basis more for their qualification than for their symbolism? I know that God is known for choosing weak people and has chosen women as leaders according to scripture, but by “qualified” I mean that they maybe were in the right position in society to affect change (as opposed to being amazing people). The essential change brought by Jesus was to undo the curse of the fall and bring God’s kingdom to us, part of which was to promote a reversal of the curse on women that resulted from said fall.

    Men were the leaders of the day. Surely it is the leaders who can effect change with the least disruption of society, rather than the slaves who can only effect change by violent revolution. Maybe I’m being simplistic, but if I were in Jesus’ position I would have treated women with as much respect as the men who followed my example. I would have chosen men who followed my example because just as my example would not have been followed if I were a woman, so I needed to leave the work of women’s liberation to the men, who had the opportunity to do so (given that I only had three years to start the work). So I take the point about the patriarchs being male but even if they weren’t it still seems to be the most logical way to do things.

    I think it is very easy to disprove someone who says that women should not be leaders in the Christian Church. All it takes is one contradiction to bring an argument down. Once we see the difficulty of the argument we have to accept that things aren’t as simple as we think they are. Anyone who wants to say that Jesus and his eyewitnesses didn’t promote women’s leadership must come up with a valid explanation that fits all the facts. The problem is that the leaders don’t want to change. What I mean is that it is all very well saying that women are allowed to do something, but if circumstances are not set up in favour of this or if individual leaders don’t encourage individual women, equality will not be reached. After all, men are encouraged by both circumstance and mouth so there is bound to be an imbalance. We’re talking of the secular world as well as the Church.

  17. zoomtard says:

    I agree totally about the need for more than just the structures of female participation in leadership in church and in business etc. A classic example of this Jimlad is our denomination that has had women leaders approved for decades but we still don’t see that many leaders arise. The best leaders are often girls who seem afraid of the consequences of their gifts and are not helped over that fear

    Another example is the Dáil, which might have Mary Harney but it doesn’t have a representative sample of womanhood even though we heartily encourage female political leaders…

    I do really feel certain that the twelve men are symbolic of the twelve tribes. But each man, I think, was certainly chosen for what he himself brought to “apostleship”.

  18. jimlad says:

    I agree about the symbolism of the 12 but just to be clear, I was wondering on an individual level if it was as important for them to be men as for them to be the right choice. As far as I can see the symbolism of having a male patriarch happens to coincide with the need for the original figurehead leaders to be men in order to bring about a change whereby women might become leaders. It is irrelevant that I personally prefer the pragmatic approach to the symbolic, but I’m wondering what you think of my idea that it was more practical under the circumstances for the 12 to be men and that the feminist cause (just taking this aspect of the greater cause) would not have gotten off the ground if it had been lead by women?

  19. jimlad says:

    That is to say, if it had not had female figureheads.

  20. Vox O'Malley says:


  21. zoomtard says:

    I totally see the angle your taking Jim. I’d have to give up my NTWrightianity to believe though and you know me and Bishop- it’s blind faith all the way…

  22. jimlad says:

    I’m not sure why you would need to give up NT Wright’s take on things but I have only caught your references to him so maybe you are right. All I know is he says something about God saving the community rather than the individual. I didn’t think it was an absolute though, more that the focus is on community but that community is nonetheless comprised of individuals. An example would make my take on Wright clearer: St Paul encouraged different people to use their individual gifts for the benefit of the community. The focus is on healing the community but individuals are still relevant.

    In the same way Jesus may have chosen specific people for the benefit of the whole. My problem is that I can only speculate because I am not well educated what made best logistical sense in first century Palestine.

    And maybe it is some other facet of Wright’s teachings that you refer to?

  23. zoomarthian says:

    You are a theological genius. Your definition of Wrightianity is better than John Piper’s. By Wrightianity I meant that the apostles are male because they are the pillars of the new Israel, the patriarchs of the tribes.

    I really, really, really liked your comments. I totally agree.

    Now let’s kiss.