I received the following email in response to my last post (Breaking News: Feminism!!!) from Luis Gutierrez, long-time supporter of women’s ordination:
Feminism is a sign of the times. For your consideration:
It is about making visible the divine feminine in the Incarnate Word!
Oh, no, I thought! That word, complementarity! One of my ideas for this blog is to examine the various articles on that topic that erupt every once in a while. But note that I seem to find something else to write about.
So I examined the links above from Gutierrez’s Mother Pelican, A Journal of Solidarity and Sustainability. I think my genius is brevity (you may not agree) and Luis’s is not. In solidarity, I insert the links here if you want more. I am not going to address “Patriarchy in the Judeo-Christian Tradition” except to say that it’s an idiosyncratic compilation of events from original sin to Pope Francis. It’s fun.
What I want to examine is “consubstantial complementarity.”
Gutierrez’s fundamental assumption is clear from the beginning: it’s culture, not human nature (I read “not natural law” here) that created “submission/dominance struggles” in primitive times — and that culture has evolved to value working together in structures of equality, which just happens to be alluded to in Galatians 3:29. So far so good.
But then Gutierrez finds in John Paul II’s Theology of the Body (TOB) a way to the equality of men and women in every sphere, from families to ordination. He finds most convincing this section of a new translation of the TOB about the creation story:
… the meaning of “original solitude,” which can be referred simply to “man,” is substantially prior to the meaning of original unity; the latter is based on masculinity and femininity, which are, as it were, two different “incarnations,” that is, on two ways in which the same human being, created “in the image of God” (Gn 1:27) “is a body.” (The Meaning of Original Unity, Pope John Paul II, 7 November 1979 in Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body, Pauline Books, 2006, page 157. See also note 12 in page 158.)
First of all, I would have used “human” where “man” is used above; we do have another word when trying to talk without making gender distinctions.
Second, the point is that Adam was human and that Eve, in being human, shared this “original solitude.” “Original unity,” which to me was THE ORIGINAL SIN, refers to the complementary roles determined by their genders. Gutierrez argues that this came after, and thus is less important than their shared humanity.
Third, really? It takes a phenomenal optimist to suggest that the texts which have been used for centuries to limit women’s roles (see Religious Patriarchy in the Judeo-Christian Tradition, for example) are suddenly to be used to prove “somatic homogeneity” or “Natural Consubstantiality,” or the sameness of men and women, humans as equal-to-each-other “body-souls,” especially when that text itself refers to “two different ‘incarnations.’”
Now I have to admit that I have never read the papal document, and that these brief quotes do not convince me that I would benefit from it. Perhaps as a serious blogger, I should, and Gutierrez provides a guide for his optimistic interpretation:
The entire TOB is a deconstruction of the patriarchal binary:
- Having a body is more personal than being male or female (TOB 8:1)
- Man and Woman are fully homogeneous in their “whole being” (TOB 8:4)
- Bodiliness, not sex, is the foundation of the primordial sacrament (TOB 19:5)
- Imbalance of male domination/female submission must be corrected (TOB 31:2)
- The spousal meaning of the body is not limited to patriarchal analogies (TOB 33:3)
- The spousal bond of Christ-Head and Church-Body transcends patriarchy (TOB 91:1)
- The language of the body, male and female, is the language of the liturgy (TOB 117:5)
The original English translation is online and I have to say that I am not convinced by a brief run-through of these selections.
But enough. Gutierrez includes diagrams in much of his writing, and this working draft includes one. Most charming to me, and unaddressed in the text, is a little purple dot within the three concentric circles (body-soul, gender, body) that is identified as “Intersex.” Really? Big “Female Sex” in pink and “Male Sex” in blue, and “Intersex” in purple? In The Theology of the Body of John Paul II or just a question that is so obvious in 2017 that it cannot be ignored?
Happy New Year!