Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals

Often times in egalitarian vs. complementarian/patriarchal debates, the patriarchalists accuse the egalitarians of giving the gate to support homosexuality and the egalitarians accuse the patriarchalists of supporting slavery and racism.

I will first clear up the patriarchalists. Nothing could be further from the truth! As a matter of fact, the Catholic Church has actually formerly condemned slavery during the slave trade’s prominence in the Americas. The problem is that the egalitarians read “the church” here as referring to those who supported the slave trade in the Americas as if the Catholics are somehow included in that mess. The only problem is that in early America, Catholics were severely persecuted themselves so they really had no power in the matter.

The first condemnation of slavery comes from Gregory XVI in In Supremo Apostolus. You can read the encyclical using the link. The second formal condemnation comes from Pope Leo XIII in In Plurimus. In that same encyclical, Pope Leo XIII writes “Our advantages flow from the new birth and adoption into the household of God, not from the eminence of our race; our dignity arises from the praise of our truth, not of our blood” (10). The encyclical Christi Matri written in 1966 by Pope Paul VI formally condemns racism. In St. John Paul II’s Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, he references Pope Paul VI, “When the question of the ordination of women arose in the Anglican Communion, Pope Paul VI, out of fidelity to his office of safeguarding the Apostolic Tradition, and also with a view to removing a new obstacle placed in the way of Christian unity, reminded Anglicans of the position of the Catholic Church: “She holds that it is not admissible to ordain women to the priesthood, for very fundamental reasons. These reasons include: the example recorded in the Sacred Scriptures of Christ choosing his Apostles only from among men; the constant practice of the Church, which has imitated Christ in choosing only men; and her living teaching authority which has consistently held that the exclusion of women from the priesthood is in accordance with God’s plan for his Church.” (1)

Pope Leo XIII argues in Arcanum, Secondly, the mutual duties of husband and wife have been defined, and their several rights accurately established. They are bound, namely, to have such feelings for one another as to cherish always very great mutual love, to be ever faithful to their marriage vow, and to give one another an unfailing and unselfish help. The husband is the chief of the family and the head of the wife. The woman, because she is flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bone, must be subject to her husband and obey him; not, indeed, as a servant, but as a companion, so that her obedience shall be wanting in neither honor nor dignity. Since the husband represents Christ, and since the wife represents the Church, let there always be, both in him who commands and in her who obeys, a heaven-born love guiding both in their respective duties. For “the husband is the head of the wife; as Christ is the head of the Church. . . Therefore, as the Church is subject to Christ, so also let wives be to their husbands in all things.” (11)

So it is deliberately, intellectually dishonest to assert that patriarchy leads to slavery and racism. True, St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas attempted to justify a form of slavery, but these people could hardly be considered racists either. St. Thomas Aquinas was influenced by an Arab (a white European influenced by St. John of Damascus), and St. Augustine was influenced by several Greek men who would be far more closer to black than they would white (not to mention, the Africans influenced his thoughts on infant baptism). And St. Augustine was also a white Latin. The problem is that the men and women issue is dealing with a significant biological difference and this is why it is largely unjustified to assert that patriarchy leads to racism and slavery.

Over to the egalitarian side. The egalitarians, on the other hand, insist that since God has given women the same exact spiritual gifts as men (and patriarchalists would agree as well), they should be allowed to be ordained. Further, egalitarians also argue that the image of God is at stake in this argument. But here-in lies the problem–most Evangelical egalitarians reject homosexual ordination. So in arguing that being in the image of God and having the same spiritual gifts as men, egalitarians actually are submitting that they either affirm homosexual ordination or they are saying that homosexuals aren’t created in the image of God. And what about infant preachers? Are not infants made in the image of God too? So they should be eligible according to this logic. And of course, people like me with a potential psychological impediment. Of course I have the gift to teach and lead discussions which is why I’ve considered becoming a catechist, but I suffer from manic-depression and that has caused me to suffer through self-inflicting pain on myself which would bar me from ordination. Nevertheless, am I not in the image of God too? I might be less so than a priest, true, but I’m still made in the image of God though I am barred from ordination yet I still have the opportunity to exercise my gifts.

So the image of God is not at stake unless the egalitarian is supporting homosexual ordination on account of the homosexual being made in God’s image, or the egalitarian has rejected the homosexual as being made in the image of God. So it can be said that a fair argument can be given as to the idea that egalitarianism strays toward promoting homosexuality.

*I point out that theologians over the centuries have debated the fullness of women’s being made in the image of God due to the sexual difference between man and woman and I further point out that many theologians still debate the fullness as to which a woman can image Christ as well. These should be taken into account as well.

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About newenglandsun

A student. Male. Passionate. Easily offended. Child-like wonderer. Growing in faith, messing up daily.
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