So, in the strange world of early monastic life, there was 100% equality among men and women.

One notable exception to this was within monastic communities. While male and female martyrs were already revered by the early church, the political expansion of Eastern Christiandom across Epicurean communities (friendship communities) made an interesting concession:

They really didn’t have to change much at all.

So the Epicurean communities, without much of a desire to fight (because they weren’t losing anything) and suddenly gaining the financial and military protection of Byzantium it would’ve been an offer too absurd to refuse. . A wise political move was to allow the Epicurean communities to adopt Christiandom in their own fashion, rather than holding them to doing things the way things were done among common people in the cities and villages and this included the already existing equality among women and equality among men in the communities.

Female monastic communities as well as male monastic communities became the highest level of attainment, symbols of “well, SOMEBODY out there is busy praying for us as we deal with real world crap”.

So, in the strange world of early monastic life, there was 100% equality among men and women.

A line on Wikipedia says it all, although I didn’t need Wikipedia for this:
“In the Eastern Orthodox Church there is no distinction between a monastery for women and one for men. “

The rest of the Church however? Well, on sides both East and West, their track records rather sucked. At least priests were married though… ’til the Great Schism and the Western Church wanted to keep land from being split among the heirs. In the Eastern Churches, however, marriage remained a stable part of priesthood, with the celibates typically ending up in monastic life rather than serving a mixed community of men and women.

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