Thursday, December 6, 2012

Feminism And The Church

Fr. Dale Matson

And Mary said, “My soul doth magnify the Lord: and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior. For he hath regarded: the lowliness of his handmaiden. For behold, from henceforth: all generations shall call me blessed.” (Luke 1:46-48 KJV)

“Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

"Women have compelled their legislators in every state in this Union to so modify their statutes for women that the old common law is now almost a dead letter. Why not compel Bishops and Revising Committees to modify their creeds and dogmas? Stanton, Elizabeth Cady (2012-05-17). The Woman's Bible (p. 13).  Kindle Edition. Again there are some who write us that our work is a useless expenditure of force over a book that has lost its hold on the human mind. Most intelligent women, they say, regard it simply as the history of a rude people in a barbarous age, and have no more reverence for the Scriptures than any other work. So long as tens of thousands of Bibles are printed every year, and circulated over the whole habitable globe, and the masses in all English-speaking nations revere it as the word of God, it is vain to belittle its influence. The sentimental feelings we all have for those things we were educated to believe sacred, do not readily yield to pure reason." Stanton, Elizabeth Cady (2012-05-17). The Woman's Bible (p. 14).  Kindle Edition. The Woman’s Bible is actually a commentary on selected verses of Scripture.

I believe feminists (even those who actually believe the creation account as a real event) have taken Eve as their role model for women to their own detriment. Their goal has been to get even (equal with men).

“Mary's surrender destroyed the illusion of power embodied in another woman who had refused to be handmaid, and who instead had reached for control and clarity. In the primordial garden a Serpent's fateful words had rung out. "Eat of this tree and you will be gods," the devil had quietly urged, hiding the intensity of his excitement as the first woman toyed with the idea of "forbidden" knowledge and power. Eve grew suddenly suspicious that God might be withholding some tantalizing special something to which she might have a right. She grasped the tempting promise, only to rupture the fabric of God's eternal giftedness in self-giving love poured into creation.

In Mary--the Woman--the Church learns that every act of grasping, control, pride, and ambition distorts the feminine Body which is the Church. These principles anchor our turbulent emotions when wrestling with what are perhaps inaccurately called "feminist" issues in the Church. There are women of our own century who symbolize in their own feminine self-donation the essential Marian image of the Church: among them Mother Teresa, the angel of Calcutta and visible sign of the healing Christ to people of every religion and no religion, and Mother Thecla, co-foundress of the Daughters of St. Paul and, in her life, always in the forefront of evangelization, communicating the word, the essence and the heart of the Church. Amidst the clamoring of labels, insults, speculation, politicizing, and arguments that burden the simplicity of faith today, they are women who embody Marian faith that is handmaid and womb.” (Sr. Kathryn)

I am not here to argue against the feminist assertion that Adam and Eve were created by God as equals. In fact, some feminists use Scripture to argue for the superiority of women over men. “Phyllis Trible, Professor of Sacred Literature at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, for example, holds that far from being a secondary or dependent being, Eve is in fact the ‘culmination’ of creation.”

Feminism is part of the new gospel of the Episcopal Church included in the justice of equality and inclusion. The highest regard for Elizabeth Cady Stanton is evidenced by her inclusion in the “Lesser Feast and Fasts” (Now called “Holy Women, Holy Men”) She is viewed as a “Saint” by the Episcopal Church (TEC) yet listed under “Atheist Feminism” in Wikipedia and elsewhere.
Since when does a feminist who is an atheist, deserve inclusion in the list of Saints?

Am I being unfair to feminists? What about those who refer to themselves as Christian feminists?
“Christian feminism is an aspect of feminist theology which seeks to advance and understand the equality of men and women morally, socially, spiritually, and in leadership from a Christian perspective. Christian feminists argue that contributions by women in that direction are necessary for a complete understanding of Christianity. Christian feminists believe that God does not discriminate on the basis of biologically-determined characteristics such as sex and race. Their major issues include the ordination of women, male dominance in Christian marriage, recognition of equal spiritual and moral abilities, reproductive rights, and the search for a feminine or gender-transcendent divine. Christian feminists often draw on the teachings of other religions and ideologies in addition to biblical evidence.”

With this lens, how will feminists offer a second commentary on Scripture or even a new translation?

1 comment:

MIchaelA said...

Hi Fr. Dale, good post.

Glad to see you all seem to be blessed in Dio SJ. May the Lord be with you always.