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Seeing Gender: Orthodox Liturgy, Orthodox Personhood, Unorthodox Exclusion


Eastern Orthodox theology affirms the liturgy as an anticipatory icon of God’s reign that establishes a pattern of relationships by which Christians are called to live in and for the world. Taking at face value an Orthodox theological claim that the liturgy is the sole source for deriving ethical actions, Orthodox theologians typically address the question of female priesthood within the existing visual parameters of the liturgy in which men exercise authority. Given patterns addressed by both aspects of ritual theory and contemporary anthropology, the articulation of anthropologies that likewise limit the authority and capability of women is to be expected. However, these defenses of the exclusion of women from full participation in the liturgy, including sacramental ordination, are the result of a reductionistic view of the priesthood, the liturgy, and human persons. Neither Orthodox personalism, nor its ethical implications, nor a few rarely glimpsed snippets of the Orthodox tradition support such reductionism. Rather, recognition of the unique capabilities of women by the community and their welcome participation within the community encourages the joy that underlies the transformation of a people who live for the life of the world.

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