Male priesthood and the bride
Monica Migliorino Miller, Ph.D.

The male priesthood has to do with the very nature of the covenant of Christ. Marriage is not just a way of talking about the covenant. The covenant is a marriage. Christ deliberately came as a male, as a bridegroom to wed to himself a people.

The Church is his bride. Women are the reality of this bride, not men. If women functioned as priests, then the nuptially ordered covenant between the head and the body is not spoken.

If men and women both stood sacramentally in the place of Christ, we would have a sexless Head in relation to a sexless Body. The inescapable conclusion is that Christ's male gender has no necessary theological significance. We are right back into a pagan/secular pessimism that the flesh cannot speak the truths of God.

A male and female priesthood does not enhance the spousal imagery of Christ and the Church. Instead such imagery is undone and the One Flesh unity between the Head and the Body is not communicated.

St. Paul calls the one flesh unity of Adam and Eve "a great mystery." He goes on to say that this great nuptial mystery of the One Flesh "refers to Christ and the Church" (Eph. 5:32). Male and female sexuality are from the very beginning of creation sacred symbols.

The male priesthood makes the love of Christ the bridegroom intelligible and sacramentally real. Thus, the male gender of the priesthood cannot be forfeited.

-Monica Migliorino Miller, Ph.D., is associate professor of sacred theology at Madonna University, Livonia, Mich. She is the author of "Sexuality and Authority in the Catholic Church," University of Scranton Press.


Love Crucified