The Male Priesthood: Culturally Conditioned?


In most discussions with proponents of a female priesthood there is invariably an argument that recurs quite often. This is usually inserted after it is pointed out that the Apostles were all men and that they only ordained men as replacements or additions to their priestly ranks. Then the familiar counter argument usually is made that sounds something like this: “Well, you must take into account the social and cultural conditions of the times because women were seen as little more than possessions. Also they were primarily Jews who only had a male priesthood but there is no reason to forbid women from the priestly ranks in our days.” And, of course, there is something to be said about the culture of the time in respect to modern Western European cultures which look much different to even the most undiscerning eye.

However, I have a hunch that Christ, Who came to do His Father’s Will, would not have let cultural standards of the day stand in His way. Christ was seen as a revolutionary who defied many cultural norms: He went against Moses and his writ of divorce, He allowed His disciples to pick wheat on the Sabbath, He healed on the Sabbath, He said that we must drink His Blood and eat His Flesh (which violated the prohibitions of Leviticus concerning blood as well as hinted at cannibalism), His Apostles would go on to loose the requirement of circumcision of men, He dined with sinners and spoke to women adulteresses and pagan Samaritans when it was culturally forbidden. So Christ would have been either frightened of the people, though he stood his ground with the sadducees and the pharisees, or was sensitive to the scandal that He might cause and left it for a more enlightened time to lift the male only priesthood requirements on His Apostles. I find it hard to accept that Christ, who would suffer and die, to do His Father’s Will would be frightened or fear causing scandal among His disciples. After all, after his insistence on eating His Body and drinking His Blood in John 6, He allowed many of His disciples to leave and He did not call them back or explain that it was just ‘symbolic’ language. He simply let them depart to walk with Him no more.

It seems that the Father who gave the Jews a male priesthood and Christ who mirrored that priesthood in His newly formed Church simply followed and in fact fulfilled and completed a true priesthood that would deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Him . . . doing that which Christ did at the Last Supper. He appointed them to act as He had done, in the person of Christ, and share His Body and Blood with His followers for all time. The same, of course is true in the forgiving of sins which was also conferred on these same men. In both instances these priests acted as ‘other Christs’ and continue to do so even to the present day.

Cultural conditioning did not stop Our Lord from doing anything during His incarnation on earth nor has the Holy Spirit moved the Church to change what Christ established in His male-only priesthood. That which was begun in the OT Church and perfected in His NT Church is the Will of the Father and instituted by Christ Himself.


  1. Good reminder and explanation. In my post, Jaime presented the cultural argument time after time no matter what I said. Eventually it was communicated that it was for the purposes of playing Devil’s Advocate and I simply communicated that we only have time for sincerity.

    However, I dismissed the argument as impossible, countered it with what actually happened it scripture like you mentioned–as opposed to added interpretations… I also reminded that overall Jesus Christ was a rebel, who by challenging the temple customs is what precipitated his death–and we’re supposed to buy that he couldn’t ordain women within the 12? Absurd!

    The cultural argument is a relativist argument. In regards to the commenter on my post, whenever they had been presented with a declaration from either Christ or the Church the response was “I don’t believe” or “I can’t accept.” It appears that they desire faith, but only if their faith serves their needs rather than the needs of God. It’s a narcissism that has infected the world which is reflected by our culture on the web et al.

    We must continue to be mindful of our actions and of our thoughts. We must constantly ask ourselves, “Do we think and act for the Glory of God or for our own?”

    Those who deny, ultimately, have chosen the world, not the gospel.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Christ was not a wimp and neither is the Holy Spirit that has guided the Church these last 2000 years. And neither are they misogynists. We only do what Christ gave us to do and His male-only priesthood will endure forever until the end of time.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Indeed, It must be understood, and therefore taught as such, that we, the Charity of Christ do not invent our own faith–which is what someone is doing with “I” statements. We receive it from God, and we do so through the Church that Christ founded. Many will reject this sentiment, but it is because just like the Hebrews in the desert calling to go back to Pharaoh, they prefer the chains of slavery–the chains of the world–rather than the liberation of the God the Father Almighty.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Jesus chose twelve men, mostly from around the Galilee, mostly fisherman, though one was a tax collector and a doctor, I think. They were all Jewish. If you’re saying that because Jesus chose men that only men may serve as priests, then you need to remember that he chose Jewish Galileans who spoke with distinctive accents. If you’re saying it’s not necessary that priests be Jewish Galileans with accents, then I’d agree that it’s not necessary that they be men either.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You may take your objections up with God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As far as I know, the Holy Spirit has been leading Christ’s Church into all Truth for 2000 years. When you get to heaven you might put God on trial and straighten Him out if you’d like.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. So Paul, who received a special commission from Christ himself, was a Galilean?

        Acts 15 and the debate of Mosaic law didn’t settle the dispute in the early Christian communities about the differences between Jews and Gentiles?

        What about who were chosen by the Apostles, who chose Gentiles? It appears like your refutation has already been addressed, and done so by Christ and his Apostles.

        Wait, why I am discussing if Priest have to be Galilean or not? Something smells fishy here… …

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Jamie, the only problem is that we do not limit God’s word in the way that you suggest (all priests must be “Jewish Galileans with accents”). I assume you were just kidding but even so, that suggestions seems to me to be insisting on putting unreasonable limits on the power of the word of God. It is a literal interpretation that is deliberately misleading and is impossible to implement.

        On the other hand, to insist that the priesthood is limited to males, as the Catholic Church does, is not limiting the power of God’s word and is possible to implement, no matter the ethnicity or language of the priest. God himself differentiates between men and women, in Genesis 2 for instance. It might be worth a re-read of Gen 2 in light of this discussion. This does not demean women, it merely faces the reality, both physically and spiritual, that God created men and women equally in His image, but different. (We are not all clones of each other, every individual human being is different and still a child of God made in his image.)

        I hope this is helpful.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Jaime admitted to being a contrarian of sorts on my posts, or in their words “Devil’s advocate.” Although, judging by their blog posts I do imagine that Jamie wishes to find any leverage in support of a more relativistic view for the priesthood.

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  2. All excellent points, Servus. The gender confusion that is now upon us will only compound the trouble of explaining in a rational way (as you have done so well here) the all male priesthood. The word “male” is in danger of losing its meaning, as we all know. It boggles the mind to consider the ramifications of self-identifying as male or female regardless of the natural biological facts. We are compelled by law to believe what is false to be true. Where does it all end?

    On a brighter note, I hasten to add the obvious which is that the abounding love and grace of God the father is open to all. The Holy Spirit dwells within the hearts of men and women, bestowing all its beautiful gifts and fruits indiscriminately. We all have the vocation of being a beloved child of God, receiving graces, and achieving sainthood (God willing). This is the pearl of great price and no one is excluded.

    End of sermon. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

      1. I think not, Servus. Some good and holy male saints come to mind, but the Blessed Mother is particularly precious in the sight of God by her perfect holiness. We can only hope to learn by her exquisite example.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. I think if I were a woman I wouldn’t be feeling so slighted. After all the ‘new Eve’ is the real ‘mother of the living.’ If you are alive in Christ then She is your mother. Who else can claim this singular boast?

        Liked by 3 people

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