Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Could he have been a she?

While I am waiting to get my hands on another copy of “Missing Mary” by Charlene Spretnak, I have emailed her asking her to explain briefly her assertion that emphasising the Church’s traditional teaching on Mary doesn't compromise the attempt to “get people to think of God as much female as male”.

It seems to me that there are two very clear issues:

1) Mary is feminine
2) Jesus is masculine

Its easy to say this because they were human.

God is a more difficult matter, because we acknowledge that as Creator he is above and beyond created gender. Furthermore, we know that human beings image God as "male and female" and not simply as male alone. Nevertheless the scriptural tradition more often speaks of God as "father" than "mother"; and never speaks of God as "wife" although God is often spoken of as "husband". This fits right in with the two facts given above:

1) Mary is a woman, the "spouse" of the Holy Spirit, the "Queen" of Heaven to her son's "King".
2) Jesus, the "image of the invisible God"  (Col 1:15) is male.

And a third NT witness:

3) Christ is male spouse to his "bride" the Church.

So, could Jesus just as easily and just as well have imaged God had he been a she? Was there, so to speak, a 50/50 chance that he could have been a woman? Or was there some intrinsic reason why the Christ had to male, and is that reason intrinsic to God or to humanity?

Those who like things to fit into a neat scheme will, it seems to me, be drawn toward the following conclusions:

God = Father, therefore Male; Mary = Female, therefore Mother.
Jesus = Male, therefore Bridegroom; Church = Bride, therefore Female.

(Note that I have kept the chiastic relation of this scheme)

Mind you, I am a bit uncomfortable when people portray the above scheme as if Mary were the fourth person of the "Trinitarian Family" with Mary as Mom and God as Dad, and Jesus and the Holy Spirit as the kids with us as adopted children of this happy family. I have never heard it put quite this crassly, but I have heard explications that come close, especially from the "Catholic right" (Scott Hahn would be an example).

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