On marriage for priests.

There is heated debate these days on whether Catholic priests should be allowed to marry. Some priests have felt so strongly that they should be able to marry that they have left the Catholic church and become Episcopal or Lutheran. All Protestant denominations allow their ministers to marry, but these are the closest in ritual to Catholicism.

So, let us look at examples from the Bible, so that we don’t rely upon our own understanding (see Proverbs 3:5) Christians learned about God from the Jews, so it is fitting to look at the Hebrew Testament to see what Jews understood was God’s plan for their priests. Their traditions became the blueprint that the early Christian church started with.

The rules for what renders a person fit to be a priest are in Leviticus.  Among rules such as not touching a dead body except that of a close family member and not shaving the edge of his beard, we find these specific rules about who they aren’t allowed to marry –

They are not to marry a woman defiled by prostitution. They are not to marry one divorced by her husband, for the priest is holy to his God.” (Leviticus 21:7)

By spelling this out, we know that there are allowed to marry other people.

Then there are instructions about their daughters in 21:9.   We can logically infer from this that the daughter was legitimately conceived – hence the priest was married.

Verses 13-15 give more information as to who a priest is allowed to marry.   13 “He is to marry a woman who is a virgin. 14 He is not to marry a widow, a divorced woman, or one defiled by prostitution. He is to marry a virgin from his own people, 15 so that he does not corrupt his bloodline among his people, for I am Yahweh who sets him apart.”

This further proves that priests are allowed to marry.  Why say who they can and can’t marry if they aren’t allowed to?  Thus, marriage is appropriate and allowed for priests in Judaism.

These instructions are repeated and added to later in Ezekial 44:22.    “He is not to marry a widow or a divorced woman, but must marry a virgin from the offspring of the house of Israel, or a widow who is the widow of a priest.”

God does not want us to be alone.  It isn’t part of God’s plan for us. In Genesis 2:18 we read 18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper as his complement.”

One of Jesus’s early miracles was healing the mother-in-law of Simon Peter.  From this we must conclude that he was married – he wouldn’t have a mother-in-law otherwise.  Remember this is the person that Jesus built his entire Church upon (See Matthew 16:18).  He wouldn’t have chosen someone for so important a role that was doing something he thought was wrong.

“As soon as they left the synagogue at Capernaum, Jesus and the disciples went into Simon Peter’s house. His mother-in-law was in bed with a high fever. They asked Jesus to help her. He went to her, and taking her by the hand, he rebuked the fever. Immediately she was healed and she began to wait on them. Later that evening, people began bringing those who were sick and possessed to him. He healed them by laying his hands on them and he drove out demons with a word. Those who were possessed had demons who were shouting “You are the Son of God!” But he told them not to speak because it wasn’t time yet for this to be known. What was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah was fulfilled with his actions. “He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.” (Isaiah 53:4)”  (MT 8:14-17, MK 1:29-34, LK 4:38-41   Condensed Gospel)

Paul, in giving instructions to Titus, says in Titus 1:5-9
“5 This is why I left you in Crete, that you might amend what was defective, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you, 6 if any man is blameless, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of being profligate or insubordinate. 7 For a bishop, as God’s steward, must be blameless; he must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, 8 but hospitable, a lover of goodness, master of himself, upright, holy, and self-controlled; 9 he must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it.”

These elders become bishops – leaders over others. They are allowed to marry – but only once. But they are allowed to marry.

But – all of this is irrelevant.  Jesus didn’t want priests to be different from the congregation.  He wanted us to all be equal, like brothers.  To have any group of people separate from the rest of the Body of Christ is to go against Christ’s teaching.

Luke 22:24-27   24 Then a dispute also arose among them about who should be considered the greatest. 25 But He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles dominate them, and those who have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors.’26 But it must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever is greatest among you must become like the youngest, and whoever leads, like the one serving. 27 For who is greater, the one at the table or the one serving? Isn’t it the one at the table? But I am among you as the One who serves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

(All Bible translations are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible unless otherwise noted)

Poem – Women are not things.

Women are people first.
We are not things.
We are not toys or tools.
We aren’t something to use.
We do not exist for your pleasure or fantasies.

Our bodies are just the vehicles our souls ride in.

We do not care if our bodies are
too tall,
too short,
too fat,
too bony
for you.

We do not care if our hair is
too dark,
too straight,
too kinky
for you.

We aren’t for you, you see.
We are for ourselves,
first and foremost.

We are our own guardians,
our own nurturers,
our own teachers.

We do not define
ourselves
in relationship
to you.

We do not need your permission
to vote,
to drive,
to work,
to feel.

We do not need your permission
to be,
period.

We are not
objects to be objectified,
possessions to be possessed,
or fantasies to be fulfilled.

We are people, pure and simple,
and if you don’t
start treating
us
like that
then you are missing out
on half
the human race.

Stop trying to
get our numbers
and
get into our pants.

Start trying to
know us
as fellow travelers
on this Earth,
at this time,
with you.

Marry out of strength, not weakness

When you have half a person married to another half a person they don’t make a whole, they make a half. When you have one solid person married to another solid person they make something amazingly strong.

People shouldn’t try to marry to find their other half. They should marry to get even stronger. They shouldn’t marry in order to have someone “complete” them. If you have to have someone else to make you whole then you aren’t whole to start off with.

If you want to get married so she will cook and clean for you, you don’t need a wife – you still need a mother. If you want to get married so he will protect you and keep you safe, you don’t need a husband – you need a guard dog. If you want to get married so someone will cheer you up, you don’t need a spouse – you need a therapist.

Marry out of strength, not weakness.

If you marry out of need and loss and lack, then you will grow into that and get even more needy and even more empty. It will be like getting crutches for your broken leg. You go years with those crutches, and your leg never gets used and gets weaker and weaker. Then when the crutches go away, you can’t stand at all.

Women as appliances – the source of gender violence

I was walking outside at lunch last week, and a guy drove by in a car and yelled at me. It took me a bit to process it. I couldn’t believe that someone was yelling at me. What he yelled was “Your skirt is too f—–g long, b—h!”

Except he filled in the blanks. He threw his words, like trash, out of the car, and at me.

I was shocked. I felt attacked. And I was confused. My skirt is too long? That is a problem? Oh, so I should hem up all of my skirts so they show off my legs so he can see them. I get it.

Like that kind of person deserves to see any part of me.

I’m married, after all. I’m not on the market. But even before I was married I dressed modestly. It just isn’t other people’s right to treat me as an object, a thing, a body. I am a person first. By hiding my body I make people look at me instead of my body.

I’ve written quite a bit about how men objectify women who wear clothing that is revealing. I’ve written that women should think about what they wear so that they do not get unwanted attention.

But now I’m rethinking that. I was wearing an ankle-length skirt, and I got unwanted attention.

And then I remember that at work, wearing very modest clothing, I get unwanted attention. Guys hit on me and they know nothing about me. They don’t know my name other than what is on my nametag. They don’t notice that I wear a wedding band. They don’t know what I read or what my hobbies are. They know nothing about me other than I am female and they are male. They think that should be enough to ask me out.

Perhaps I’ve been going at this wrong all along. Perhaps the boy who killed women simply because (other) women wouldn’t date him is part of this problem. Perhaps all gender violence and miscommunication stems from this same root.

Some guys don’t know that women are people and not objects.

Some guys don’t know that they need to make friends with women first – and as real friends, not just as an attempt to get to date them. And by “date”, I don’t mean “have sex with”. A lot of guys get that confused.

Yes, we women have been sold the idea that our looks are more important than anything. We’ve been sexualized and objectified by the media. We’ve been sold this idea that we have to have a man if we are to be anything. But men have been sold the same message along with us. It isn’t just women who have been short-changed by this message. It is men who are missing out on knowing women as individuals, as people.

For many men, women are a means to an end. Women are girlfriends and then wives and then the mothers of their children and homemakers. Women are yet another thing they have to have in their lives.

They are appliances.

They are washing machines and stoves.

You have to have a washing machine to get your clothes clean. Sure, you could wash your clothes in the sink and hang them to dry. Or you could take them to the Laundromat if you don’t have a washing machine in your house. Or you could take them to the dry-cleaners if you don’t know how to use a washing machine.

Or you could get married and let your wife do it.

The same with food. Everybody needs to eat. You can cook for yourself, or you can eat out. When you eat out, you can eat fast food or you can eat at a fancy restaurant.

Or you can get married and let your wife do it.

Men have been short-changed by our society. We have told them that women are the ones who cook and clean. Women are the ones who hold the keys to these basic needs. So they have to have a woman to fulfill these basic needs.

Sex is extra.

You have to have clean clothes and you have to eat.

If we teach men how to take care of themselves, then women won’t be a means to an end.

It is all making sense now.

If a man cannot take care of himself – cannot clean his clothes, clean his house, feed himself – he will have to have someone else do this for him. This is embarrassing, and it is a slight against his manhood. Sometimes that someone else is a stranger – the dry cleaners, the fast food worker. The prostitute.

Sometimes that someone else is his wife.

One of the most powerful things you can do is to give control back to people. It is essential to teach people how to help themselves. It is vital for their souls. We must, as a society, start teaching all people how to do all the things that they need to take care of themselves. We have to cross-train everybody.

Men must learn how to cook and clean. Women must learn how to repair cars, plumbing, electricity. We both must learn each other’s tasks, and our own. No more gender division. No more “women’s work” and “men’s work”.

For our own sanity, survival, and strength, we must do this. If we all can stand on our own, imagine how much stronger we will be together? People will marry out of strength instead of weakness.

And men won’t “have” to have a woman. They won’t see women as objects but as people. They won’t see women as appliances – washers, dryers, stoves. They will be able to take care of their own human needs, so they won’t feel the sense of empty desperation that comes from feeling helpless.

Gender violence and gender harmony

This is about gender violence, specifically it is about violence against women performed by men. Yes I know that there are women who attack men. Yes, there are women who attack women, and men who attack men. This is not about that.

This is about the fact that there are way more women who are being attacked by men just because they are women. Just because they are seen as lesser. I speak about what I know. You always have to write from what you know and what you experience.

Simply being a woman is seen as lesser. We are seen as the weaker sex. We are not encouraged to do anything that is rough-and-tumble. We are not encouraged to do anything outside of our proscribed gender roles. When a woman does anything that is seen as traditionally masculine she is seen as is as butch. When a man does anything that is seen as feminine he is seen as effeminate and is considered to be weaker.

This is a shame. It is not fair for men to not be allowed to be who they are. It is not fair for women to not be allowed to be who they are. There is nothing specific about our genders that make us better able to wash dishes or better able to pay bills. There is nothing specific about our genders that make it logical that one is supposed to be nurturing and caring and the other one is supposed to be hard and aggressive.

Everyone can take care of the house and everyone can take care of the children. It is important that everyone knows everyone’s roles. The role has nothing to do with gender but with ability. And ability comes from education, not gender.

It is important that young boys learn how to cook and darn their own socks. It is important that women know how to balance a checkbook and how to do house and car repairs. It is important that everybody learns how to take care of themselves completely and fully.

If we only know half of our tasks that we are half people.

Perhaps this is why women and men think they have to get married. They think they have to have someone else to take care of them instead of being able to take care of themselves. Imagine how strong marriages would be if both people are independent and strong, so both together make something even stronger.

This is the source of healing. This is the source of peace. We have to stop being women and men. We have to start being people.