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The Mystery of Woman and Her Destiny
By Helen Jonas

In the Orthodox church, in order to understand mystery, one must understand that "only where human beings approach a mystery with a correct liturgical attitude does that mystery manifest itself." In order to understand the Orthodox perspective on woman, one must understand what a human being is in the eyes of the Church.

Human beings, both male and female, were created in the Image and Likeness of God. Do we as Orthodox Christians truly understand what this means? Oftentimes, women feel that "the Church" treats women as second-class citizens. Orthodox theology never treats women as second class citizens. However, nor does she view women as needing to compete with men as feminism does. Women have their own special role in Orthodox theology, a role which is crucial to the salvation of the world. According to Paul Evdokimov in the book Woman and the Salvation of the World, "The truth about woman is expressed not so much in this or that female, no matter how remarkable her human qualities make her. It is found rather on the spiritual level of the charisms, as revealed in the archetype (the Virgin Mary) of the feminine, because it contains and explains all the modes of being a woman."

In order to understand woman, her mystery and her role in the Church, all Orthodox Christians, both male and female, lay and clergy, must know the teachings of the Church. The female has a crucial role in not only being a role model to all in order to bring salvation to the world, but she also has the crucial role of the encourager to all men, so that they can fulfill their role as Orthodox Christians by identifying and following the example of their archetype, St. John the Baptist. Finally, women are the "good stewards" of Orthodoxy. It is crucial that all Orthodox Christians have a clear understanding of the value of each person created by God for His purpose.

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