The Short Answer
When I, who have written much on the subject, am asked for a short answer for why I don't believe women should be ordained as priests or pastors, I say this:
One identifies Christianity—and thus also not-Christianity—by certain positive (and so likewise excluding) signs—the cross, and not a cosmic circle; the Bible—and not other texts, as its Holy Book; the doctrines of the Creed—and not competing teachings; the bread and wine of the Lord's Supper—and not tea and biscuits. These are visible symbols by which the invisible faith of Christianity is recognized, understood, and adopted by those who would be Christians. The maleness—and not-femaleness of Christian elders (priests and ministers) in a world where there have always been priestesses is by any historical reckoning one of these positive and excluding signs, so wherever a woman appears in the church in the place of a man, it is at the very least a radical disruption in Christianity—like a circle instead of a cross, or the Book of Mormon in the place of the Bible—and the operation raises grave doubts about whether the Christian God is now the object of worship.
This is what I tell those who want the short answer, but something a bit more than, "It isn't Christian." It is essentially the reasoning given by C. S. Lewis in his famous article, "Priestesses in the Church?" and I think understandable by non-Christians and Christians of every denomination: just as a ball is unrecognizable as a ball without dancing, so a "church" with priestesses (or pastoresses) has become unrecognizable as Christian. There are other valid arguments, but this one I find most obvious and compelling.
S. M. Hutchens is a senior editor.
calling all readers
"There are magazines worth reading but few worth saving . . . Touchstone is just such a magazine."
—Alice von Hildebrand
"Here we do not concede one square millimeter of territory to falsehood, folly, contemporary sentimentality, or fashion. We speak the truth, and let God be our judge. . . . Touchstone is the one committedly Christian conservative journal."
—Anthony Esolen, Touchstone senior editor
• Not a subscriber or wish to renew your subscription? Subscribe to Touchstone today for full online access. Over 30 years of publishing!
Transactions will be processed on a secure server.
Order Touchstone subscriptions in bulk and save $10 per sub! Each subscription includes 6 issues of Touchstone plus full online access to touchstonemag.com—including archives, videos, and pdf downloads of recent issues for only $29.95 each! Great for churches or study groups.
OR get a subscription to Touchstone to read on your Kindle for only $1.99 per month! (This option is KINDLE ONLY and does not include either print or online.)
Your subscription goes a long way to ensure that Touchstone is able to continue its mission of publishing quality Christian articles and commentary.
more from the online archives