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Christian Article

Men and Women in Christ

God has given men and women different roles in the family, the Church, and society. This teaching of Christ is mostly ignored by modern society.

"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." [Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical on Christian Marriage, Arcanum Divinae, n. 11]

"Grace never casts nature aside or cancels it out, but rather perfects it and ennobles it. Therefore the fullness of grace that was granted to the Virgin of Nazareth, with a view to the fact that she would become Theotokos, also signifies the fullness of the perfection of what is characteristic of woman, of what is feminine." [Pope John Paul II, On the Dignity and Vocation of Women, Mulieris Dignitatem, n. 5]

God's Sacred Infallible Scripture teaches the truth regardless of the failings of culture and society:

“But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled dishonors her head-it is the same as if her head were shaven. For if a woman will not veil herself, then she should cut off her hair; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her wear a veil. For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. (For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.) That is why a woman ought to have a veil on her head, because of the angels. (Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.) Judge for yourselves; is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not nature itself teach you that for a man to wear long hair is degrading to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her pride? For her hair is given to her for a covering. If any one is disposed to be contentious, we recognize no other practice, nor do the churches of God.” (1 Corinthians 11:3-16).

Scripture teaches that men and women are intended by God to have different roles in society, the family, and the Church. As an expression of these different roles, men and women should have different behaviors and should groom themselves differently. Men should have shorter hair and should pray to God with their head uncovered. Women should imitate the Virgin Mary. Women should have longer hair and should pray to God with their head covered. Women should wear a head covering while praying or attending Mass.

“Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands.” (Ephesians 5:21-24).

“Wives, be obedient to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.” (Colossians 3:18).

“Likewise you wives, be submissive to your husbands, so that some, though they do not obey the word, may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, when they see your reverent and chaste behavior. Let not yours be the outward adoring with braiding of hair, decoration of gold, and wearing of robes, but let it be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable jewel of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. So once the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves and were submissive to their husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are now her children if you do right and let nothing terrify you. Likewise you husbands, live considerately with your wives, bestowing honor on the woman as the weaker sex, since you are joint heirs of the grace of life, in order that your prayers may not be hindered.” (1 Peter 3:1-7).

Men and women are intended by God to have different roles. The husband is the head of the family; the wife is the heart of the family. When a husband and wife try to have the same role, they have much conflict and disharmony. When each person takes their proper place in God's plan, then there is harmony and peace.

Clothing is an outward sign of an inward state. Clothing is an expression of one's place in life. Women should dress with humility and modesty, as an expression of their gentle and quiet souls.

“As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silence in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as even the law says. If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church. What! Did the word of God originate with you, or are you the only ones it has reached? If any one thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that what I am writing to you is a command of the Lord. If any one does not recognize this, he is not recognized.” (1 Corinthians 14:33-38).

“Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men; she is to keep silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet woman will be saved through bearing children, if she continues in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.” (1 Timothy 2:11-15).

Women should keep silence in church. Women should not be lectors at Mass, for it is shameful for a woman to speak in church. A woman should not teach or lead any group that includes adult men, for women are meant to be subordinate to men.

Women should not have any role of authority, leadership, or teaching over any group that includes adult men. Women should not be extraordinary ministers of holy communion, nor ushers (collecting donations), nor altar servers. Neither should any woman be director of religious education. Such roles are intended by God for men, not women. Boys may be altar servers, but not girls, because boys and girls are meant to have different roles in the Church, the family, and society. Women should not have any role of authority, leadership, or teaching in the Church, except over other women or children. For such is the will of God.

“Bid the older men to be temperate, serious, sensible, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Bid the older women likewise to be reverent in behavior, not to be slanderers or slaves to drink; they are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be sensible, chaste, domestic, kind, and submissive to their husbands, that the word of God may not be discredited.” (Titus 2:2-5).

Men are intended by God to have roles of authority, leadership, and teaching over men, women, and children. Older women may teach and lead young women. All women may teach and lead children. Some roles in the church are related to age. Older men are meant to have different roles than young men. Older women are meant to have different roles than young women. But even an older woman cannot have a man's role in the Church, the family, or society. Even a nun must not have a man's role in the Church.

“A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman's garment; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God.” (Deut 22:5).

Women should wear skirts, dresses, and feminine attire. Women should groom their appearance in a feminine manner. Women should not wear pants, nor should they groom themselves like men. Women should also dress with humility and modesty. Saint Padre Pio use to refuse to hear the confession of women who were wearing pants or an immodest dress.

A woman wearing an immodest dress or skirt offends God much less than a woman wearing modest pants. The first woman offends by a matter of degree: a less revealing dress would offend less or not at all. But the second woman offends against the very order that God built into Creation and humanity. Sacred Scripture calls this offense an abomination to the Lord our God. God gave men and women different roles in the Church, the family, and society. God created men and women, intending each to have their proper place in Creation. Men and women are intended by God to have different roles, behaviors, and appearances. The differences between men and women are part of the beauty of Creation. Just as Jesus and Mary have different roles in God's plan, so also does each man and each woman have a different role in God's plan and a different place in God's Creation.

Women should not take roles intended only for men, nor should women dress or act like men, for this is an abomination in God's eyes. Women should dress and act like the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Faithful disciples of Christ: let no one deceive you with false arguments against these teachings of Sacred Scripture. If anyone presents you with an interpretation of these passages that has the effect of making these passages null and void, of making them meaningless and ineffective for us today, then that interpretation itself is null and void. For God's Sacred Infallible Scripture can never be null and void, can never be meaningless or ineffective.

“Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 5:17-19).

by Ronald L. Conte Jr.

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All Scripture quotations are from the Catholic Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1965, 1966 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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