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lindagray

Women in Christianity

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The roles of women in Christianity can vary considerably today as they have varied historically since the third century New Testament church. This is especially true in marriage and in formal ministry positions within certain Christian denominations, churches, and parachurch organizations.

Many leadership roles in the organized church have been prohibited to women. In the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches, only men may serve as priests or deacons; only males serve in senior leadership positions such as pope, patriarch, and bishop. Women may serve as abbesses. Most mainstream Protestant denominations are beginning to relax their longstanding constraints on ordaining women to be ministers, though some large groups, most notably the Southern Baptist Convention, are tightening their constraints in reaction. Most all Charismatic and Pentecostal churches were pioneers in this matter and have embraced the ordination of women since their founding.

Christian traditions that officially recognize saints as persons of exceptional holiness of life do list women in that group. Most prominent is Mary, mother of Jesus who is highly revered throughout Christianity, particularly in Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy, where she is considered the "Mother of God".

Both the apostles Paul and Peter held women in high regard and worthy of prominent positions in the church, though they were careful not to encourage anyone to disregard the New Testament household codes, also known as New Testament Domestic Codes or Haustafelen. There were efforts by the apostles Paul and Peter to encourage the brand new first-century Christians to obey the Patria Potestas (lit., "Rule of the Fathers") of Greco-Roman law. The New Testament written record of their efforts in this regard is found in  Colossians 3:18-4:1, Ephesians 5:22-6:9, 1 Peter 2:13-3:7, Titus 2:1-10 and 1 Timothy 2:1ff., 3:1, 3:8, 5:17, and 6:1. Christianity emerged from Judaism. As may be seen throughout the Old Testament and in the Greco-Roman culture of New Testament times, patriarchal societies placed men in positions of authority in marriage, society and government. The New Testament only records males being named among the 12 original apostles of Jesus Christ. Yet, women were the first to discover the Resurrection of Christ.

Clerical (clergy) ordination and the conception of priesthood post-date the New Testament. Thus, the 27 books of the New Testament contain no specifications for such ordination or distinction. Subsequently, the early church developed a monastic tradition which included the institution of the convent through which women developed religious orders of sisters and nuns, an important ministry of women which has continued to the present day in the establishment of schools, hospitals, nursing homes and monastic settlements.

wikipedia.org

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