Essay on Women in the Church

Submitted By stackhouse23
Words: 940
Pages: 4

Women in the Church The difference between institutional and charismatic authority is that with institutional authority those in charge usually have control over one's' financial and advancement opportunities. In short if people would like to thrive in the hierarchy of their organization, they have to listen to you. With charismatic authority, people choose to follow you as long as they want or see fit too. There is little chance for women to gain institutional authority within the
Church as those places are limited by Canon Law (authored by men) to priests and bishops. With no institutional authority, it makes it difficult for women to influence the Christian community and it has remained true for most historical periods. It continues to be a problem today. There are many ancient Christian texts that portray women exemplifying charismatic authority. Stories of heroines, like Thecla and Pelagia, who illustrated great charismatic leadership did not result in allowing for an institutional authoritative position or place. I believe the ancient texts that tell stories of heroines, are suggestions by early Christians that women should be able to gain institutional authority
Charismatic authority is far more important than institutional authority.
Therefore I believe women who exemplify charisma, like Thecla and Pelagia, should have institutional authority as well. Authority in my mind is like a pyramid, and charismatic is at the top.
Therefore, if one has charismatic authority they should also encompass institutional authority. In both ancient texts, the heroines have charisma. People saw how heroic and holy these heroines were, and chose to follow them not because they had to but because they were inspired too.


Charismatic authority is defined as r esting on devotion to the exceptional sanctity, heroism or exemplary character of an individual person. Thecla fulfils all of these requirements.
When she is about to be killed by beasts, her only thought on her mind is staying true to her sanctity. Her concern was not living past the wild beasts, but to remain virgin, “And Thecla asked the governor that she might remain pure until she was to fight with the wild beasts.” (Acts of Thecla 27; ANT 282) Thecla, an unmarried women, knew it would be a sin and against her religion if she would sleep with someone. Because she knew Alexander would force them to sleep together; she requested to sleep somewhere else in order to maintain her sanctity. She believed keeping her innocence would strengthen her against the beasts. Not only was she correct, as she was saved by a lioness, but she maintained her holiness by keeping true to one of the most important virtues in Christianity. Thecla claims charismatic authority over the ones who saw her virtuous actions.
Another example of a woman with great charisma is Pelagia in, The Life of Pelagia. She starts off her life as a prostitute but then goes on a heroic journey. When the story is finished she is seen by the people as a holy figure. The bishop Nonnos gives Pelagia the utmost respect and backs her authority when he says, “Maybe we should even go and become the pupils of this lascivious woman.” (The Life of Pelagia, CLA 407) Pelagia has charismatic authority. Jacob, the author, depicts the heroine as a man throughout the story. At times she is dressed in men’s clothing. The clothing symbolizes institutional authority. Jacob was trying to show that women can be as meaningful in the religion as men. When a crowd of people saw that Pelagia was actually a women they too had the same feeling as Jacob. “Praise to