Sunday, August 13, 2006

Reason #3,987,235 Why Women Cannot Be Priests

"The obvious and ubiquitous objection to this view is that it is male chauvinism. To quote my colleague Mary Daly, 'If God is male, then the male is God." Besides the logical fallacy of the illicit conversion of an A proposition, I see five other mistakes in this argument- the first and most obvious of which is her claim that Judaeo-Christian tradition claims that God is male. It does not. God is masculine, not male. Women as much as men represent the image of God (cf. Gn 5.1-2). But at the heart of divine revelation is the simple fact that the First Person of the Trinity has chosen to reveal himself to us as Father. This is a category which transcends human biology (male and female), and of which human fatherhood is a shadow (cf. Eph 3.14).

Second, another essential part of the Christian data is the fact that the Eternal Word chose to incarnate and reveal himself as the Son of the Father and Bridegroom of God's People. In order for a human to be a son or a bridegroom, he must be a male. Jesus Christ is male because he is Son, not vice versa, as feminists assume. His choice does not constitute an insult to women, nor does it imply 'an alleged natural superiority of man over woman,' yet it 'cannot be disassociated from the economy of salvation.' For it was part of the divine plan from the beginning for God to covenant himself to a people as a groom covenants himself to a bride. Christ is the Bridegroom, the Church is his Bride. This makes us all feminine in relation to God. Women need not become like men when they approach God, but men must become like women, spiritually. All souls are Christ's brides.

Third, Julie Loesch Wiley argues that if Jesus had been born a woman in the male-dominated world of the first century, his life and teaching of unselfish love for others would not have been as arresting and as instructively scandalous as it was. For women, in all times and places and cultures until modern feminism, have always been in general more altruistic, less power-greedy, less violence-prone, more self-emptying, and more naturally religious than men. (You still see more women than men in church.) In becoming a man, Jesus in a sense let women be and went after men to transform them- not into women, and certainly not into wimps, but into men like himself. He redefined manliness and power as the courage to suffer instead of the lust to dominate; giving instead of taking. Women were a little less in need of that lesson. Christianity seems closer to female chauvinism than to male.

The incarnation was the kenosis, the 'emptying.' The Son of God came down to the lowest place, a crucified criminal in a Roman-occupied hick town- not an angel or an emperor, and not a woman. The incarnation was not into privilege and power, but into suffering and service, and it was into a male. It is the modern feminists who are the real male chauvinists, lusting for reproductive freedom (sexual irresponsibility) like playboys and demanding empowerment, that is, envying and imitating not only males, but male fools, judging inner worth by outer performance, sacrificing being for doing, finding their identity in their worldly careers, not in their inner essence, in their physical and spiritual wombs and motherhoods. This is what Karl Stern called 'the flight from woman.' It is a strange and sad phenomenon. Genuinely hurt women often become radical feminists, hating their own femininity and hating ordinary women who love and enjoy their ordinary femininity. How often have you heard radical feminists praise midwestern housewives?

Fourth, women priests would demean and insult women, for it would be like asking them to be cross-dressers or to wear male sex organs. It would remove the distinctive dignity of women qua women as symbols of the Church, whom Christ, symbolized as the priest, marries. A symbol or sign is to be looked along, not looked at. What would priestesses mean, what would they symbolize? They would signify to all women that they are spiritual lesbians instead of brides.

Fifth, Christ's maleness is not chauvinistic because he had a mother (but no earthly father). Mary is the definitive refutation of the charge of chauvinism. No merely human being was ever nearly as great as this woman, according to the distinctive teachings of this 'chauvinistic' Church. Mary is 'our tainted nature's solitary boast.'

'Mother of God' is hardly a title to sneer at! Mother of anyone is hardly a title to sneer at. A boy and girl were arguing about who would play captain in a game of pirates. The boy insisted on being captain; the girl won the argument by agreeing: 'Okay, you can be the captain. But I'm the mother of the captain!'

The ground of Mary's greatness is the thing so simple and innocent that it is too simple and innocent for the feminists to see. The reason she is crowned Queen of Heaven, the reason for her great glory and power is her total submission to God- her sacrifice, her suffering, her service. Muslims see it, but so-called 'Christian' feminists do not. It is islam, the total surrender, the fiat, and the peace, the shalom, that are the secret treasures hidden in this submission, the delicious fruit of this thorny plant. Modern feminist 'Christianity' becomes radically different from Christianity (or Judaism or Islam) when it drifts into a radically different ideal of sanctity, of the summum bonum, the greatest good, meaning of life, and purpose of all faith. Feminists need most fundamentally what we all need most fundamentally: to go to the cross, unclench the fist, and bow the knee."

-Peter Kreeft, from the book Women and the Priesthood.

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