What's the deal with men only being able to be deacons?

edited September 2006 in Faith Issues
see subject title


  • I also asked that question a lot but no one answered me. ???If anyone knows, please notify me as well.
  • from what i know it has to do with men being the head of a man (somewhere in one of Paul's letters sorry, i forgot where it is) and women should higher their voice then men in songs at church and the like (1 Corinthians 14:34). Also the example of St.Mary is always brought up because she stayed in the temple only until she was 12. thats all i know. i dont really agree with it but i have accepted it. hope this helps
  • i don't think that men being deacons has anything to do with the fact that they are the head of the woman, this concerns marriage more. everyone has a role to play in the church, tradition dictates that men are deacons, and this is what makes us Orthodox, the fact that we follow traditions. Yet, no role is too big or too small, everyone has a part to play, because we are all limbs and parts of the body of Christ. Being a deacon is a service, and in the same way, we all try to find our service in the Church. A sunday school teacher is no better than a deacon and a deacon is no better than a Sunday school teacher. In addition, don't feel that since you are not on the podium singing the psalm during the Holy Week that you cannot join the prayer. It is all a matter of perspective, you can still sing along quietly or pray along in your seat...the deacon's purpose is to lead the congregation in prayer, he is not elevated by any means. i hope this helped a tiny bit. God bless you during this holy time.


    * A maid that had devoted her life to serve God, and to prayers as well.
    * St. Paul mentioned Phoebe as a deaconess (Rom. 16: 1).
    * She is officially in charg of certain duties in the church. She helps the priest in serving women, particularly the sick and needy, besides at their baptism. She is not to be ordained but raised.
    * In the early church, deaconesses were recognized as a distinct order of women who were vowed to perpetual chastity. They were, nevertheless, allowed to perform only certain duties in the care of women, and no sacerdotal services in the church.

    Coptic Dictionary
    By Fr. Tadros Yacoub Malty

    This also might be of interest:

    Free to work in the community, consecrated deaconesses and working nuns are more concerned with the everyday than the other-worldy concerns of monasticism

  • You might have to research it..but it might have something to do with the old testament how women are not allowed in certain places in temple...don know i think...
  • sumbody plz giv a direct answer....i want 2 kno! it always bothered me as (wen i was little) i had always intended to b cum a saint or a deacon. y cant ? ???
  • if you want a straight out answer without any details cut out, read 1Cor 11:3
  • "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." ~Galatians 3:28
    happy easter every1...ekhiristos anesti :)
  • hey...i'm angela.....i'm a newbie to this site..seems pretty nice here....anywayz...i think that men are only commited to be deacons only to symbolize the strength of Jesus and how high he is above the women. Also, God created man first (Adam) which also adds to how men are considered to lead and protect the rest. I guess this sounds right. ::)
  • Everyone has a role in the church becuse our God is a God of order adn not chaos. I think you are more concerned about the being in the altar and not about the service itself. Service takes many shapes and forms but only those who serve well in front of God and not in front of the people are given the true honor. So in short, we should eb concerned with teh small service that you may have. A lot of people tak ethis point as apoint of superiority or just because the girls/women wnats to be able to sing hymns as the deacons. The matter of the fact is that being a deacon and serving in the altar is not a big responsibility because you are likene with the angels of God in heaven. So imagine if one of those deacons is not really in that spirituality that likens him as angel. He wil surely be asked to answer for that. a lay person can be a 'silent' servant and his work is not noticeable yet in front of God he/ she is great. The short answer to your question is because it was given to us by the discpiles of the Lord to do so and they took that from the Lord himself as He appeared to them even during teh fifty days after resurrection adn taught them about everything and then all these traditions were given to us. ( same scnerio in that God chose Aaron to be the high priest).

    The answere that I need you to think about is .. does it really matter? think about it?

    If you are faithful in your service God will give you more adn you wil be fruitful in your life. Also St. Mary wanted to be handmaid of the Lord. Shouldn't we go after her example. Also there were two ladies that were in front of God much higher in their spiritualities then St. Anthony the Great. So think about it and do not let the devil mislead in the path of pride ( this is not an attack on you but simply a clarification)

    [email protected]
  • Well Put nader
    I agree, everyone has a role in the church, if we didn't, we would have no order. There is a rank of deaconess, which is pretty much consecrated to serve the people of the church by helping children with homework, serving, and other roles that the church needs. We are all equal, we all take blessings for our service. No servant is greater than another servant. Abouna can't do a liturgy unless a deacon and a member of the congregation is there, so we are just as important as abouna is, in that he can't do a liturgy without us.

  • i myself am a deacon, and i always felt like girls are missing out as ive both been a deacon and stood in the congregation, i felt very deprived beening in the congregation, and i felt that girl must miss out, so i asked a priest if girls were being deprived, he answered and told me that since they neva experianced it b4, then they dont know wat their missing.
    he also gave me reasons saying that girls, as they get their periods wouldn't be allowed to serve in the alter, as it is considered impure, in the same way if a ma was bleeding he couldnt be a deacon...
    another point is that having females dress up as deacons, will distract the young male deacons...
    thats all i know...
    ps i believe there should be sumthing 4 girls to do though. maybe some sort of comprimise...
  • I didn’t think of that. Females probably would be a distraction during the service if they are on the alter with males. This is also a reason I think the males and females are segregated in the congregation. As it was previously said, there are other ways of serving god. Although you seem to desire this particular type of service, you shouldn’t let your yearning to be on the alter dominate your thoughts. You must remember the purpose of any service is to offer reverence to god. The means by which the reverence is delivered is irrelevant. Try not to let your idea of service fixate around being a deacon. I do agree with you that it’s easier for me to make these statements because of my gender. On the other hand, we are all God’s children, and he surely doesn’t favor one gender over another, nor will he treat anyone differently based on thier gender. On the Day of Judgment, God won’t be looking to see whether or not you were a deacon. He will however, take into account any type of service given to him, regardless of it's form or the gender of the person that it came from.
  • i sorry marmar, i replied but i guess it wasnt posted,
    thnx for ur kind words, i only know wat God gave me.
    the only thing i can add is that men have service, and women have service, though men serve in the alter, which is unfair, i agree, women can serve in things outside the alter for the church: functions, duties.
    the most imporant thing to remember is, that both service is equal under the eyes of God. dont 4get, God doesnt 4get one who even offers him a cup of water.
    thankyou 4 askin this great question...
    i hope ive helpped in any way.
    God bless u and may God enlighten our minds and understanding.
    ps plz help me out and reply to my posts, im in great need of your wisdom...
    and again i agree that girls will be a distraction in the alter, their a distraction just in the congregation. but thats my view.
    like i said i feel there should be a comprimise.
  • GJI has the right answer....The uncleanliness thing is not anything new and goes back to our predecessors pre-Jesus. When women had their periods they were considered to be unclean....All of the answers sound good, but i think this is truly the root of the answer. I think that a lot of the traditions we have in our church are tied back to rituals / traditons performed by the Jews, and this happens to be one of them. The tradition / rite was given to them by God to Moses, and I beleive if you read through Exodus, you can find information on the uncleanliness part. Its been a while since I've read Exodus, so i can't tell you exactly. That's where its substantiated.
    I guess we can't have it all.... We have a great blessing to be able to carry another human being inside of us....Although its not the same as being a deacon, the gift / blessing of having a child in your womb is something we have one over the guys.
    Don't forget, there's nothing stopping you from learning all of the things that Deacons do and teaching what you know to your own children or children of other people. You're a great asset to your church to be so knowlegeable....What a wonderful difference you will make in the lives of others Marina bambina (this is my daughter's name too) We need more Shamasas like you...
    Take care!
  • Im not sure, but I think that the whole male only thing, is based on tradition. Also, men are the only deacons. There are also deconesses, as Ray posted before, that serve within the Coptic Church.
  • Just to add to the deaconess discussion,

    We at our church have a concecrated deaconess, her service is exactly like any other deacon except she is not allowed in the alter. She basically deals with women related issues in the church, there are certian things that abouna doesnt have the expertise or experience such as this, that the deaconess may have!

    As alot of you said before EVERY one has a role in the church whatever it is ....from ammoo who sells the drinks to the sunday school kids, the servants in the church, the deacons, the priests, the lay people, the children and the parents. We are one body in Christ....
    If i am an an arm in the BODY of Christ, i shouldnt look at the Leg and say how come the leg gets to walk!!..coz the arm has its own wonderful purpose its own service in the church.....

    If anything i have prob confused you even more
    Please pray for me
    Shenouda Andrawis
  • Shenouda,
    Great point!! Concecrated deaconess? That sounds really interesting. What is her dress for church services?
  • I think that is great that there is a female counterpart to help Abouna, but I'm not real sure how valid that is.....When I go to Abouna as a female, i know he may not have hands on experience about "female" issues....But I'd be warry of other people in the church that are trying to take on some of Abouna's responsibilities.... Unless of course Abouna has referred someone to that female counter-part because he has no idea what to help that person. But still, I think that Abouna should always be the first point of contact for anything....Going to someone else for issues that Abouna should addressing is like having communion from the hand of a layperson or shamas (like what happens in other churches). Maybe i'm totally missing the point....sorry if i misinterpreted it.
  • i actually second the person who say that we serve in other ways... i (a girl) used to see it in the light of "it's not fair." but just as it always is, each of us is a member of the same body, it's just that every member has his/her chosen place. if i can't be a deacon, then i guess i'll just make it up in other ways. even if i can't stand up their and sing hymns with them, i can stand in my place and praise with just a loud of a voice as they are. to me, it just comes down to doing what you can with the gifts you're given. the deacons are blessed to be able to vest as deacons, but that's not to mean that we don't have the same opportunity to praise God just the same.. hope this prespective helps..
  • Excellent way of looking at things Mary! :) God Bless!
  • hey, I was thinking about the where someone said that if girls are deacons, then there would be a distraction. But you see, although the deacons are in a different spot from the congregation, they might look at all directions and be distracted.

    So I think that if girls are deacons it really won't make a difference of distraction. The girls may be separated from the boys if necessary but it wont make a difference...i say.

    i always wished i was a deaconess....and i know how much im missing because as i participate in alhan competitions, i feel so good standing right in front of the alter and praising god....but i guess i should just go with the rules and ...yea its true....it doesnt matter where u stand....but as long as you follow God.

    these were just my points and opinions b/c this topic is very interesting.......maybe the girls can participate w/the deacons but stand on the lower level....i would be so happy if that happens....
  • It is true that females could be a distraction regardless of their location. However if the females are in the same vicinity as the males it creates and easier opportunity for people to forget the purpose of their time in church. If one was seeking to look at girls, nothing will stop them from turning around and looking, however placing the girls on the Alter with them is taunting. If somebody of the opposite gender is directly next to you, you have no choice but to look at them. However if they are segregated from you; you have a choice to control yourself and keep yourself from looking. Likewise, if the tables turned and girls were deacons and males weren’t permitted, it would be a bad idea to allow the males to be deacons because this would have the same effect on the females; distracting them from what they should be doing.

    One Last Thing… Corinthians 14:34-35
    “Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.”

    Clearly women aren’t expected to keep silent in church. They are encouraged to contribute to the alhan and things being said. But this line assigns roles, and it appears that it isn’t the role of a woman to be a deacon. According to the bible that is; Don’t send me feminist e-mails please ;D
  • that quote helped me, thanx mark423
  • yeah that is true in Gods way of seeing it it will always be the same ;D
  • i dont mean to strike this at the guys, but i have been reading that you all say that girls would a distraction. and i somewhat agree. u forgot to mention that the guys/decons can be distractions themselves. excuse my way of saying this but the decons in the churches in my area just dress up in their tunias and either talk the whole mass, sleep, or stay outside the mamber. and i still havent seen the role of women, only concecrated service(deconess). Decons are not consecrated. any light on this issue would greatly help. pray for me
  • Hmm, you can’t really control the actions of others. It’s unfortunate that the boys in your church don’t take the mass seriously, they also do so in my church. Personally, I rarely ever serve as a deacon and from the congregations point of view I know exactly what you speak of when you mention people sleeping, talking, joking, and horsing around. It can be very distracting. Pray for them? Pray that they realize how privileged they are to be standing in gods presence. Pray that they realize God’s immense glory and that they give him the respect they should; rather when whisper jokes to each other and laugh. It is indeed a sad thing. The way I would handle it is to reprimand them and perhaps prevent them from serving in the future so that they might recognize the severity of not taking church and their service seriously. In any event, the boys horsing around doesn’t deem that the girls be given the opportunity to be deacons. Say for example 50% of the boys are distracted without the girls being deacons, if we allowed them; that might be raised to 80%. Things might not be great now, but we should try our hardest to keep them from getting worse. If that means segregation, so be it…
  • hey, girls are distraction to me when they are not even there ???
    ( thinknig out loud)

    anyhow, there a couple of thingss i want to mension about the role of males in priesthood and alter serving.

    1. In the old testment only me were priests
    2. The first aposles apponted only men as priesnts and deacons (remmember the seven deacons)
    3. my priesnt always said, if it was fit for women to be priests [and alter servers] then st.Mary would have been the first.

    No sexism intended but in my church females sing twice as hig as males (even the deacons at the front) i am sure God will bless them just as much and its not about where and how you worship

    [move]The hour is coming and now is when the true worshipers will worship the father in spirit and truth; for the father is seeknig such to worship him. (John 4:23)[/move]

    that is all that matters
    pray for my poor soul
  • Hey Peet,
    Whats up man! Ok, Women aren't the only deacons, there are also deconesses. However there aren't that many, since we don't have a nunery in the US. However in Egypt and at the Vatican, there are quite a few!
  • I dont think any of us as girls should take it personally, its just the way things have been done. Sure we could change it up to be 'politically correct' but then we've lost a bit of our tradition, which our Orthodox faiths basis; tradition. Not to say it wouldnt be nice to serve but there are alot of other things we can do, and in the end i dont think God is going to be madd that u didnt serve as a deacon, i think you will get a reward if u find another place. If u love to sing have a church choir, if u love to teach become a sunday school servant. Being a deacon is a responsibilty that shouldnt be taken lightly.

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