In Praise of Patriarchy

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When I was an Anglican priest and the feminists were arguing for women’s ordination, those who were opposed used the theological argument that the fatherhood of the priest was an indispensable part of a patriarchal system of belief, and that the patriarchal system of belief was indispensable to the Judeo-Christian revelation. In other words, in the family of faith, the priest represents God the Father, and a female can’t do that. Tinker with the symbolism of priesthood, and you tinker with the revealed faith.

The feminists countered by saying, “This is not a theological argument. We have no problem with the revelation as it stands. Instead, this is simply a matter of justice. This is about equal rights. That’s all.” So, eventually, they won the argument, and the Anglican Church voted for women priests. Almost immediately, the feminists began to tinker with the liturgy to make it “non-sexist.” Prayers to “God the Father” were changed to simply address “God” or “Almighty God,” and “Father” or “Father in Heaven” was altered to “Almighty God.” The changes were subtle and slight to start with. Then they began their revision on the hymns. Any references to God as Father were changed. If they hymn was too grounded in the Fatherhood of God, it quietly disappeared from hymnals altogether.

The next revision was to excise references to God as Son. An alternative Trinitarian formula was offered: Instead of “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,” it was suggested that we say, “Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer.” New revisions of the prayer book started to include new “female-friendly” psalms and canticles. Not only were feminist-friendly Scripture passages — like the ones personifying Divine Wisdom as female — turned into canticles for worship (no problem with that, necessarily), but sections by much-loved female spiritual writers from the past, like Julian of Norwich, were incorporated and structured as “alternative canticles.” In addition to these innovations, completely new compositions by feminist theologians were also interpolated. You can see the slow drift: Include new scriptural canticles, then include non-scriptural material from the Sacred Tradition, then weave in new material that will eventually become part of the Tradition.
The feminists had promised that their argument was not theological, merely pragmatic and egalitarian. “Women will make good priests,” they said, “and it is unfair that they should be barred from ordination.” However, the argument became theological because it was always theological. The traditionalists understood this from the beginning, and the saavy feminists did too — but they understood that their case for ordination would be derailed if they hinted that they wanted to unseat God the Father completely.
In his new book Criticizing the Critics, English Dominican Rev. Aidan Nichols outlines the case against the feminist theologians who wish to get rid of patriarchal terminology and so get rid of patriarchy altogether. The feminists argue that patriarchy is a culturally determined part of the Judeo-Christian tradition, and as such it is expendable. God as Father originated in a patriarchal culture. It worked then; it doesn’t work now, as we don’t have a patriarchal culture anymore. Therefore the patrimony of patriarchy should be scrapped.
Father Nichols stops them in their tracks with a trenchant argument. First of all, he reminds us that, if we believe in a revealed religion at all, it is revealed by God within the times and cultures of human history. In Galatians 4:4, St. Paul teaches, “In the fullness of time God sent forth his son born of a woman.” Locked within this short phrase is all the theology that unseats the feminists.
The first part of the phrase — “In the fullness of time God sent forth” — teaches us two things: first of all, that the Christian faith is revealed, not relative. God sends forth His word into the world. The entire Judeo-Christian story is one of God revealing Himself to His people. The second thing this teaches us is that God reveals Himself “in the fullness of time.” In other words, He reveals Himself when it is right and through the correct human circumstances — including the circumstances of place and time and culture. To put it bluntly, God revealed His Son Jesus Christ into the world in the first century through the Jewish people, because that was the very best time and place and culture for His self-revelation to take place.
If this is true, then we cannot dismiss the cultural milieu into which Jesus Christ stepped onto the stage of human history. Does this mean we must all speak Hebrew or Greek, wear long woolen robes, and live like first-century Jews? Of course not — but there are certain attributes universal to the human race that were in place at that time that are woven into the human condition at a very basic level of physical, spiritual, and mental reality. One of these essential basics is gender and the intricate relationship of the individual to the family — including the father-child relationship.
This brings us to the second part of the phrase in Galatians: “God sent forth his son born of a woman.” Locked within this simple phrase is the realization that God’s self-revelation is inextricably bound up with His relationship to Jesus Christ as father to son — and therefore bound up with the father-son relationship. Father Nichols explains that this must be so, because the revelation of the Father through the Son is not an arbitrary revelation. It is not chosen because He just happens to be speaking to a patriarchal people, but because the father-son relationship is the essence of God Himself. The self-revelation of the Father through the Son is exactly that: a revelation of God Himself at the most profound level.
Finally, the revelation of God the Father through the Son is accomplished “through a woman.” The crucial role of the Blessed Virgin Mary is thus introduced into the divine economy of redemption as a non-negotiable. Her particular role reveals as much about God the Father and God the Son as it does about the Blessed Virgin herself.
Father Nichols points out that the relationship between the Father and the Son takes us to the very heart of the mystery of the Holy Trinity, and therefore to the heart of the mystery of God Himself. God is who He is, because He is in a relationship with three persons in one. The great I AM says, “I AM because I AM in relationship.” Furthermore, this relationship is essentially a filial relationship: It is the relationship of one who begets the other. It is the relationship of father to child. God the Father’s identity is defined and revealed by the fact that He is Father to the Only Begotten Son. Therefore, the fatherhood of God is not a culturally determined and anachronistic fossil from a patriarchal age that we have outgrown. Instead, it is a characteristic at the very heart of the essence of who God is.
Arguments for the ordination of women may be conducted on sentimental, egalitarian, and utilitarian lines, but once they stray over the border into theology, they must come face to face with the innate patriarchy of the Judeo-Christian revelation. A patriarchal element is of the essence of historic Christianity and, no matter how unpopular, is indispensable.
Of course, to assert the primacy of patriarchy is not to condone the abuses of patriarchy — the abuse of women or the overreach of power-hungry men who use patriarchy to consolidate their control. God the Father sets the example of a servant patriarch who gives all for those in His care. Jesus Christ reinforced that model in the story of the loving father in His parable of the prodigal son. This is the sort of father whom earthly fathers are meant to be, and this is the picture of the Heavenly Father, to whom each of us prodigals is on the journey home to meet.

Rev. Dwight Longenecker

By

Rev. Dwight Longenecker is the parish priest of Our Lady of the Rosary parish in Greenville, South Carolina. His latest book is The Romance of Religion published by Thomas Nelson. Check out his website and blog at www.dwightlongenecker.com.

  • Kamilla

    The moment I read the words, “In Galatians 4:4, St. Paul teaches, “In the fullness of time God sent forth his son born of a woman.” Locked within this short phrase is all the theology that unseats the feminists.” I could see where it was headed.

    So simple, so obvious, a brilliant little gem buried just a few verses away from the religious feminist’s pet proof text.

    Thank you, I have to go read the book now!

    Kamilla

  • Deacon Ed

    in the Sixties that fathers were superfluous in the raising of children and creating of a family. Women could function just as well heading up households without men. So now we have over 70% of African American children being raised by a single parent – a mother – sometime during their development before age 18. The figures are not as high but no less abysmal for Caucasians. The implications? Well, there’s not enough space here to give the dire consequences of such arrangements but I’ll offer one illustration: the ‘man-boy’ Obama was abandoned by his father and anyone with half a brain can see the effects of this on his character.

    Yes, men do matter; fathers do matter. Whether it’s God’s family in the Church or the domestic family. So let’s not give way to their arguments simply because they’re persistent.

    Besides, as John Paul II indicated, even if he wanted to ordain women to the priesthood, he could not; he simply does NOT have the authority to do so.

    How will we convert the hearts of those in the protestant wing of the Catholic Church? It calls for a variation on the New Evangelization.

  • Bob

    Sometimes the discussion can simply be framed right from Jesus’ own mouth when the apostles asked Him how should we pray: “Our FATHER, who art in heaven…..” The holy priesthood is not a function, job or something a man “does.” It is what they “are”, and “maleness” is an essential part of that. The discussions and study should go down the road of why did God send His son, a man, and what is being revealed to us in this.

  • Christian C

    Thanks for writing on this topic. I think that Anglican decisions to ordain women and also change the nature of the language in which we talk of God the Father, and the Trinity, and so forth, have been very rash.

    It seems to me that it’s not at all enough to use the secular arguments of why NOT ordain women or why NOT make the language inclusive. What is demanded is an exhaustive theological argument FOR doing these things. But your arguments don’t go far enough for me.

    In today’s world of scientific developments that impact directly on birth and families (IVF, cloning, and other things), there is a great need to look afresh, from a theological perspective, at the nature of man and woman, fatherhood and motherhood.

    Of course, God chose His time for the incarnation of Jesus. Any time He chose would have had a time stamp on it. Just to assert that He must have meant for the norms of that day to persist in the Church for all time is, however, not a convincing enough argument in itself. We know that Jesus challenged some of the norms of his own time.

    You say “…the fatherhood of God is not a culturally determined and anachronistic fossil from a patriarchal age that we have outgrown. Instead, it is a characteristic at the very heart of the essence of who God is.” You may well be right, but you haven’t convinced me yet. I suppose my point is how to expound this “essence” theologically?

    The Church does not have to react to everything in the secular world, but in these days of IVF and cloning and single parent families becoming a substantial part of social life, what does “fatherhood” mean? How are young people today able to know what this means? Does it still really mean what it did in Jesus’s time on earth? What is the essence of this concept that you put forward as the essence of God himself?

    The role of women today, even faithful Catholic women, is different from what St Paul dictates for them in his day. If a woman of today can be different, what about a father? What is intrinsic to fatherhood despite cultural change? I don’t mean I want to hear a depiction of what a father should look like in some “Father Knows Best” or “Leave It To Beaver” family.

    It’s not enough to say, it is written, it is revealed. Surely we have to know what it means. Everyone talks about fatherhood as though we all agree on what it means. But I don’t think we do. What is truly distinctive about a fatherhood relationship (as opposed to a more generic parenthood relationship) that makes it essential, the “essence” of the “God the Father” – “God the Son” relationship? It’s not clear to me. I wish smarter people than me could help me understand it better.

  • Austin

    God the Father, and God the Son, are “masculine” or the cosmic equilivent thereof, but our religion classes never really assigned a gender to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit being somewhat genderless, more of a spirit or a force. Assigning traditional gender to God is difficult, as I don’t know that you can contain or capture God within human gender roles. Very good symbolism of course, but there is that problem of no female God, which makes the traditional Father-Son-Spirit “persons” seem to be missing something. Does God in all three persons have only masculine attributes and no feminine attributes? Nature has both masculine and feminine attributes, why not God?

    God is complex and not easilly put in a nice, neat box. God the Father and God the Son are wonderful symbols and attempts to understand the Almighty, but I don’t think it is quite that simple. Perhaps theologians are trying to be too precise, trying to quantify that which is unquantifable? All these attempts to precisely define The Trinity seem to fall short and only muddy the waters.

    We can pray to Christ and to some degree identify with Him, being both God and man, but trying to define the Trinity is beyond my feeble intellectual powers and only ends up with me being even more confused than before.

    A good case has been made by the author against ordaining women. Of course, this case does not torpedo the idea of ordaining married men, which is a Discipline, not a real theological problem.

  • Lindsay

    A good case has been made by the author against ordaining women. Of course, this case does not torpedo the idea of ordaining married men, which is a Discipline, not a real theological problem.

    It would certainly be problematic had the author torpedoed the idea of ordaining married men since he himself is a married priest[smiley=wink]

  • Brandon

    Such shows in my view are actually anathema to the Catholic conception of family…they are a commercial for the 2.5 kids suburban TV dinner concept. The Feminists are wrong about this, and they have always been wrong. I liked this article.

  • George

    Of course, God has no gender, He is a Spirit. And women are also made in His image and likeness. God is Pure Act as Saint Thomas teaches, no potency whatsoever. By analogy the male is act, he is the principle of life as begetter. The man was created first. The woman receives passively, and is the recipient of the seed of life. The female is passive, receptive, she is taken from man. So, the Church is formed from the side of Christ as Eve from Adam. The Church is “ecclesia,” feminine. The priest is the begetter, as Saint Paul says, I have begotten such and such in Christ. The bishop begets priests in the fullness of Orders. Truly a father, as the principle of his offspring. Does God have feminine attributes? Austin asks. Of course. He is the Source of every created attribute and He gives what He has. We are His Image. The rest of creation is referred to as His vestige, like a footprint, reflecting His attributes in whatever way. He is Feeder, Nourisher. Christ compared Himself to the mother hen, who gathers her brood under her wings.

    In the Inner Life of the Trinity, all procession is Act. There is no potency to receive. The Son is begotten as Eternal Act, as the Word, Wisdom. The Father, however, is the Principle in the Trinity, but not as Cause, as Origin. The Holy Spirit is breathed forth eternally as Love, Spirated, from the mutual Love between Father and Son, as One Principle. Jesus refers to the Person of the Holy Spirit in the masculine, as “He.”

  • Kamilla

    George,

    You are seriously mistaken about the process of conception in which the woman is much more than merely passive recipient.

    Kamilla

  • AImee

    Austin makes a good point about God as both male and female–I think Genesis supports this idea. For me, the argument that Jesus established a male priesthood is compelling, when we think about why he might have done so. People fail to remember that the model of masculinity he offers in his own life, and sets forth in the Our Father, is radically different than the model of masculinity most of the world embraces. What he asks priests to do often runs against the grain of what men are asked to do by the larger culture. Basically, I think he gave a charge to MEN: and that was not only for the sake of the church, but for men themselves.

  • Mena

    Do these feminists also call Mary “our person.” Is Mary genderless? Can we call Mary “our father” or “our guy”?

    These kooks conduct their whole lives on the notion that there is a war between men and women. Instead of appreciating and celebrating differences, especially as Nature presents them, feminists try to destroy differences, or else pit men and women against each other.

  • Mena

    Male leadership throughout history is tied to biology itself. The female throughout history is generally too damn busy raising the generation of tomorrow to be out fighting wars, leading crusades, organizing society and law, or being the primary bread winner. Her biology has given her this role, and there’s no way around it. Blame Nature if you don’t like it, but it is what it is.

    Perhaps if we simply had high cultural praise of child rearing, and fostered the industry of it properly, feminism would go away, or become subsumed back into the business of the proper creation and education of humanity.

  • George

    I was writing in philosophical terms of what you might call “first” and “second” not in the order of number, but in terms of act. ANd why do say “mere” passive recipient? I in no way am implying that the woman, as bearer, plays a lesser role than the man as the sire. There is a first and a second that is all. The mother, obviously, plays a greater and more indispensable role in the generative process.

  • Kamilla

    George,

    I said “mere” because you repeated the word “passive” with the woman as recipient. Yes, I was aware of the philosophical tack of your post — and even in those terms, the word “passive” is inappropriate.

    Woman is recipient, certainly. But passive? No.

    Kamilla

  • Austin

    To create life, you need both male and female. All this argument over which is more important is missing the point, that both are necessary. Jesus, both God and man, has a masculine nature, but God, as in the Trinity is not a totally masculine concept, as the assignment of a male gender to the Almighty seems to not exactly fit. Does “God” have gender? Does God have race? I think perhaps we are trying to assign human concepts to an Almighty Spirit, the force of the universe.
    The ancient Hebrews did not try to quantify and define God. Perhaps they were correct?

    Recently, I saw a Protestant Televangelist on TV going on in great detail about what Heaven is like. The man went into such detail, that he really lost his credability. Theology is not mathematics. You cannot take theological concepts down to five decimal points, although some people seem to try.

  • Barbara

    Do these feminists also call Mary “our person.” Is Mary genderless? Can we call Mary “our father” or “our guy”?

    These kooks conduct their whole lives on the notion that there is a war between men and women. Instead of appreciating and celebrating differences, especially as Nature presents them, feminists try to destroy differences, or else pit men and women against each other.

    Mena:

    Feminists don’t deny Mary’s femininity, nor do they deny Jesus’ masculinity not out of hypocrisy but because both Mary and Jesus were human (therefore embodied) beings with a physical sex. They do question the masculinity of God and the Holy Spirit because unlike the former two, the latter two are not human beings with physical bodies and a biological gender. The issue that feminists have with God as father, is that they feel excluded from communion with Him and from being made in his image. In the feminist view God can relate to men as a fellow as well as a father, however God can only relate to women as a father/husband which under patriarchy equals the same thing: an ultimate authority sending down commandments which must be shiveringly obeyed.

    I’m not saying I agree with this view, but this is how they have traditionally seen it. Personally I think it has to do with how fatherhood used to play itself out in society during the formative period of feminism (the late 1800’s). The father was the equivalent of the absentee landowner who had absolute power over the family and yet remained frequently disconnected emotionally and sometimes physically from them, locked in his study or off spending time with his friends, or just generally demanding to be “left alone because he had a hard day”. Leaving the mother in charge of all of the labor of raising the children and being the steward of the home, yet she herself being viewed as little more than an overgrown child who must be sheltered/protected and disciplined and thus having very little say in important matters.

    This is very different than the image of the Present, Loving and Self-Sacrificing Father which Catholic theology presents nowadays.

  • Mena

    Barbara, feminists live in a self-made bubble of stereotypes and imaginations about ideal living. They are not realists, nor are they at peace with their own biology. In fact, they are at war with their own bodies, at least as Nature has fashioned them. To a great degree, biology is destiny, and feminists hate the burden of their natural child rearing, falsely imagining that men at work have it better or easier. People lost in such delusional fantasy can’t be trusted with much of anything, much less the faith formation of Christianity.

    God is not a human man, but he has revealed himself predominantly as male, whatever that means for a Pure Spirit. I think it wise to remember that both male and female are mysteriously in the image of God, despite their differing genitalia and functions in the real world.

    I disagree that women naturally “feel excluded from communion with Him and from being made in his image.” I think this entire concept is synthetic and manufactured by Marxist thinking, which is obsessed with “power,” and which places everyone at warfare with “the other.” People don’t naturally gravitate to Marxist thought, but they can be corrupted by it, as are the unhappy feminists, who reject loving and self-sacrificing on principle. To the Marxist, power is everything.

    As to the commandments, they must be shiveringly obeyed by male and female alike. I gladly shiver away, and I don’t neglect getting to Confession in those times when I fail. It beats getting gradually and deceptively sucked into evil.

  • Adam Wood

    I have so much to say on this topic, I hardly know where to start. Except, perhaps, this:

    God the Father, the almighty Creator- the First Person of the Trinity is personified at great length in our scriptures, and God’s various body parts are discussed, enumerated, and revealed in some amount of theologically significant detail. God, apparently has:
    -hands (Ex 32:11, et al.)
    -arms (Dt 4:24, et al.)
    -wings (Rth 2:12, Ps 57:1, et al.)
    -feet (Ps 99:5… well, at least He’s got a footstool)
    -a mouth (1 Kg 8:25, et al)
    -a face (Ex 33:20, et al)
    -a back (Ex 33:23)

    So with all that human-body language, I bet there would be some clue about the gender of God…
    Oh yes, there is. One that you could argue about, but then another that is undisputable.

    The one you can argue about, you may have heard:
    The name El-Shaddai, which we usually translate as “Mighty God,” can be understood to mean “God the Great Breast” or “God of the Great Breasts” or “God, the many breasted one.”

    Many people will tell you that this is incorrect. El-Shaddai means “God of the Mountain.”

    I’m not a linguist, but here’s a problem with that:
    For “shad” to mean “mountain” instead of “breast” you have to:
    1. assume the word is Akkadian, not Hebrew
    2. Assume that “mountain” doesn’t really mean “breast”

    So, okay- Maybe.

    But then there’s Job.

    Chapter 38.

    God apparently has a womb.

  • Kamilla

    Mena,

    Thank you for your response to Barbara. Feminists are so fragile that they can’t tolerate not being included but are also supposedly so strong they want to be running our churches. I used to be like that, but now I glory in the privilege of resting in my Father’s arms.

    I forget where I read it first — but isn’t it interesting that the feminists don’t include in their grand project of equalization a Satanness? Not a single one of them that I’ve seen has *ever* complained about the Adversary being personified in the masculine.

    Kamilla

  • Travis

    George,

    You are seriously mistaken about the process of conception in which the woman is much more than merely passive recipient.

    Kamilla

    You are delving into the topic deeper than need be. I doubt George would argue with that the woman brings something forward during intercourse.

    THe point he is making, however, is that the man’s substance is transmitted to the woman. What the man offers is produced and given from his body. This is just as God the Father, sent forth from His substance and Himself God the Son to earth and His people.

  • Diamantina

    Kamilla,

    I think that many feminists, like other theological Modernists, do not believe that Satan is a person and tend to think that Satan is a metaphor for the undesirable impulses in every human consciousness. Therefore, whether Satan is male or female is irrelevant.

    For a long time, I doubted the existence of a personal Satan, but now I believe Satan exists. Traditionally, Satan has been seen as male, but since angels (whether fallen or not) have no gender, I suppose Satan is as much female as male. [smiley=evil]

  • Barbara

    Mena,

    Thank you for your response to Barbara. Feminists are so fragile that they can’t tolerate not being included but are also supposedly so strong they want to be running our churches. I used to be like that, but now I glory in the privilege of resting in my Father’s arms.

    I forget where I read it first — but isn’t it interesting that the feminists don’t include in their grand project of equalization a Satanness? Not a single one of them that I’ve seen has *ever* complained about the Adversary being personified in the masculine.

    Kamilla

    Wow! thank you both of you, presidents of the broad-brush league for explaining exactly what every single feminist across the whole of humanity from ages 12 to 181 thinks. Apparently there is no difference between them, they merely receive their marching orders from the disembodied voice of Satan/Karl Marx and fall into a mindless borg-like collective whose sole purpose is to tear down all that is Noble Right and Good in the World!. These cyborg non-women must be stopped at any cost.

    In my world, that is the real world, feminism is a complex field embracing a lot of different and sometimes even contradictory streams of thought, some of them compatible with Catholic teaching, such as the dignity of women and the rejection of pornography and sexual exploitation, some of them in direct opposition (such as some of the attitudes of feminist theologians and the pro-choice movement). A feminist may hold any number of these ideas with varying degrees of intensity and radicalism. I’ve known as many feminists inspired by the writings of John Paul II as feminists inspired by Karl Marx. I’ve known feminists who are socially conservative, who are pro-life, who are pro-choice, who believe that women should embrace motherhood as an intrinsic part of the feminine condition, and feminists who believe that all gender difference is an imposition of society.

    Anyway my point was not really to defend feminism but to address the error in Mena’s comment regarding the “hypocrisy” of referring to Mary’s femininity and also to suggest that there is a 3 dimensional social reality which the feminist theologians were reacting against and trying to find a place for themselves in. I used to be a feminist myself. My conversion affected my perception of a lot of things, including allowing me to see the how beautiful the Fatherhood of God really is. Nevertheless my conversion failed to inspire in me the revulsion which many Catholic women such as Mena and Kamilla have for the feminism, a movement which has allowed me the freedom to develop my mind, to work, to vote, to write and read and to testify in court. Maybe the Holy Spirit didn’t get through to me enough but I still have this nasty habit of seeing feminists as human beings with human motives trying to eek out a place for themselves, not comic book red commie villainesses engaged in a massive conspiracy to remove the red from roses and the pink from children’s cheeks.

  • Mena

    Barbara, I agree with the feminism you describe.

    The problem is that the establishment feminism of NOW and academia has for decades rejected the nuanced views you embrace as an enlightened and empowered Catholic woman.

    Perhaps the establishment is starting to moderate now that years of sexual freedom have produced increasing slavery and heartache for women. The “battle of the sexes” was always a Marxist idea based on exploiting our human flaws and turning men and women into enemies, when we are designed as partners.

    I didn’t mean to sound harsh, but establishment feminists gave us horrific policies like no-fault divorce, abortion, contraception, and more. These policies have given us bloodshed and broken families, and I have little patience for the warped and diabolical thinking that lies at the root of such social evil. I suspect this corrupted thinking still masquerades around the Church in various forms, and recently exposed itself in the Anglican corruption as described in the article.

    We need all cancers exposed and rooted out.

  • georgie-ann

    feminists are a strange phenomenon,…truly, they don’t “feel of the natural order,”…where, in warm-blooded nature, do we find anything as preposterous as a self-entitled bunch of exceptional-izing females to the normal unifying order?,…

    i’ve heard that some female spiders eat the male after mating, but this is what the virulent feminist reminds me of, much moreso than the warm-blooded pattern,…and that is NOT a compliment,…

    what could possibly be a sorrier state of affairs than to be a female and not be able to find/have appreciation for the loveableness and strength of the male?,…(i.e., of God the Father?),…

    truthfully, i think it is a symptom of the fallen internal nature of the spiritually unredeemed female, which seeks to dominate, castrate and supercede the male,…

    this IS a VERY observable phenomenon in daily life,…watch how many (low-life, imho) mothers automatically treat their young sons, treat their husbands,…listen and hear the negativity and put-downs,…and then how they rationalize their own “rightness” in doing these things,…

    the dominating “animus”/witchcraft nature of this ingrained type of psychology sets a tone that no one can work their own position around, except to cave in or boogey,…or fight and argue,…

    some cultures have more noticeable or overt problems with this than others, but i’m sure it’s a tendency in the base nature of all females (with the exception of Mary, of course, which is why she is so valuable to us),…

    i theorize (to myself) that cultures with high percentages of absentee fathers, and/or high rates of homosexuality (hidden or not), are cultures with an endemic problem of this nature,…it is very very easy to pass this along from generation to generation,…the blind leading and manipulating and destroying the blind,…

    to maintain this distorted and imbalanced position, requires constant effort and the need for making new “myths,” new interpretations of reality which supposedly “prove something,” but only grow more ridiculous, lop-sided, and obviously insufficient with time,…

    Satan will work through whomever he can,…any yielded vessel will do,…& he loves to take the “poor me” pity route,…

    surreptitiously conniving women “in denial,” encroaching a little bit here, a little more there, being humored or catered to by co-operative, compromising, hood-winked males, is a basic 101 recipe for disaster,…

    none are so blind as those who can’t/don’t/won’t see,…

    if God’s advice is taken seriously and followed, there is no reason why a woman cannot find a way to develop in harmony with femaleness and talent and intelligence and awareness,…

    greed and competitiveness, and the mind warps needed to accomplish these things so characteristic of modern life, do NOT fit with God’s advice picture, btw,…

    oh, for a return to cultural sanity!

  • Bob Stone, CM

    While Fr. Longenecker’s reflections on priesthood and patriarchy are interesting, I find them somewhat “off the topic” of priesthood. Priesthood is through, with, and in the Son. While the custom in some countries is to call all priests “Father,” our priesthood according to the order of Melchisedek comes from Jesus Christ. We are called to be like Him: “Son though He was, He learned obedience from what He suffered.” We are called to minister to the Church not only in the name of Christ, but, especially in the Eucharist, in the person of Christ. We all relate to the Father and, in the end, we all find identity in the Father, but the special gift of priesthood is an expression on sonship. especially of suffering sonship. I have no problem with feminism, and I, too, have some concerns about its more radical expressions; but I am called to follow Jesus, and, in the particular apostolic society to which I belong, I do so evangelizing the poor, as did Jesus.

  • Barbara

    Barbara, I agree with the feminism you describe.

    The problem is that the establishment feminism of NOW and academia has for decades rejected the nuanced views you embrace as an enlightened and empowered Catholic woman.

    Perhaps the establishment is starting to moderate now that years of sexual freedom have produced increasing slavery and heartache for women. The “battle of the sexes” was always a Marxist idea based on exploiting our human flaws and turning men and women into enemies, when we are designed as partners.

    I didn’t mean to sound harsh, but establishment feminists gave us horrific policies like no-fault divorce, abortion, contraception, and more. These policies have given us bloodshed and broken families, and I have little patience for the warped and diabolical thinking that lies at the root of such social evil. I suspect this corrupted thinking still masquerades around the Church in various forms, and recently exposed itself in the Anglican corruption as described in the article.

    We need all cancers exposed and rooted out.

    I’m sorry too. I shouldn’t have been so snarky in my response, being pregnant has made me more short tempered than usual. I am an academic so I run up against the type of views you describe all of the time. A fellow student who I used to consider a friend before my conversion once told me point blank that she didn’t care if an unborn child was a human being, it was still her body and her right to kill it. That was very shocking to me. When I was pro-choice it was because I believed that a woman’s body was a sacred thing and not the property of a woman’s father or her husband. When I converted it was as though the Holy Spirit took my beliefs, cleaned out the lies and left the truths intact, rather than simply mowing down everything and building me up anew. Thus while a woman is an impure or defective or infantile version of a man, neither is an unborn baby a “mere organ” of a woman.

    Anyway in reference to your points. I don’t know if you can fully blame feminism for all of the things you describe. Abortion and Contraception certainly (though I’m sure a lot of men really needed their arms twisted into accepting those things.) The breakup of families, however, has a lot of causes, economic, social, moral etc. I would suggest that an individualistic consumer based society in which the ego is God has done more to foster a culture of divorce than letting women have jobs and vote. In fact, feminism allowed many women the opportunity to find the means to support their families after their husbands left them for “the 20 year old secretary who gets me.”

    As for the whole “battle of the sexes” idea, nothing happens in a vacuum (which was kind of my point about patriarchy) if the female sex were not constantly being referred to and treated as “lesser” than there wouldn’t have been anything to fight against. Even Marxism itself rose as reaction to something (to the excesses of the industrial revolution). Marx himself was a philosopher, not a politician. He was engaged in thought experiments. Angry people who were being worked to death in factories by unscrupulous owners were the ones who took his ideas and created a political movement out of them. That is not to make the ideas or the actions any less wrong, but to say that foul breeds foul. Each generation tries to remediate the sins of the one before and unearths a whole bevy of sins in the process.

    It’s like a man who, walking on the beach, finds a hole in the sand and trips over it almost breaking a leg. Desiring to prevent anyone else from falling in the hole he starts digging in the sand to fill it in. When the hole is finally filled he rests, and looks with pride upon his work, not realizing that while digging sand to fill in the one hole, he created another one. Then awhile later another man comes along and trips on the hole that the first man made to fill in the one before. He becomes angry with the first man, saying “Look at this hole you created” and begins to try and fill it in by digging up sand from another place (or from the same place). The truth is that hole is original sin. Trying to remedy it just displaces sin from one place to another. The hidden or ignored sins of one generation are placed under a heavy glare and become socially taboo (racism for example) while other sins which used to be under the same harsh glare are suddenly acceptable or “understood” (sexual licentiousness. Only Christ can truly fill the hole, He filled it with his blood.

  • Austin

    Barbara has a point. Feminism and Marxism did not just exist in a vacuum. Feminism is a reaction to women being treated badly by men, and Marxism is a reaction to workers being treated badly by management. Both of these movements have gone way overboard, but they are essentially a reaction to a situation which was often rather awful. Some posters seem to yearn for the “good, old days” but the good, old days had their problems too. I am not a big fan of most feminists, and they usually go way overboard, but on occassion, they have a point, and it seems to me, if men treated women better, much of their argument would go away. The Marxists got traction, quite often, due to the horrific treatment of workers by management in days gone by [and sometimes even today].

    A lot of women would prefer to stay home with their children, but have been forced to go to work by economic conditions or a husband who refused to support them. We need to be careful about yearning for a “paradise” of 50 years ago, which may not have really existed as we wished it did.

  • Mena

    Barbara, I had a feminist defend the right to kill her unborn because it was “an intruder” and she had the right to kill the intruder in self defense. She was absolutely dead serious. She knew she was killing another human being, and she soothed her aching conscience by deluding herself that a baby was equivalent to a violent thief breaking into her home. Sick, twisted, devilish. I called her on it. I repeatedly told her that the analogy didn’t hold up and that therefore she was, by her own admission, murdering a person. I know in the course of the discussion that the truth was evident, and I can only pray that some day that truth causes her conversion. Feminists live a lie that they maintain by aggressively suppressing and censoring the truth spoken by christians.

    Next, feminism cannot attribute its existence to men. All people struggle and hurt each other. But Marx introduced “power” and class warfare into the mix, so that the Christian idea of self-sacrifice and mutual service and subservience was replaced by the Marxian idea of power. Feminism, like all other Marxist ideologies, is the insatiable quest for power. People who imbibe Marxist theory are power mad Machiavellians who justify their corrupt, unethical and immoral power moves by claiming to be in service of some ultimate justice. (By any means necessary.)

    The most enlightening feminist teachings I have read have to do with the REAL issue: a woman vs. her own natural biology. Radical feminists rightly understand that it is their own biology that “enslaves” them to babies, which then create dependency for both mother and child. Therefore, since sexual abstinence is not acceptable, the devout feminist, to be liberated, must kill the babies and/or require the man to be the stay-at-home parent. Anything less is slavery to the patriarchy.

    BTW, the break up of the family was caused by no-fault divorce legal policy. Divorces in our grandparents’ generation was less than 8 percent. Divorce skyrocketed when no-fault divorce changed marriage from an enforceable lifelong family contract to an unenforceable temporal romance contract. The change in the terms of the contract destroyed the family, which takes legal commitment and much effort to maintain.

  • Austin

    Marxism does not really work, largely due to human nature. The whole Marxist ideal “from those according to their ability, to those according to their need” is claptrap and people generally will not work and bust their butts so others can benefit [except perhaps for some genuine saints]. The Communists communited all manner of atrocities, murdering people by the millions in their evil quest for power. Now, all that being said, we are still left with the problem of workers being exploited by by management, and today, even shareholders being exploited by often, crooked management. I am not sure that we can blame so many of our problems on Marxists. You seem to blame Marxism for Feminist excesses. I do not think that they are the same thing. Some overlap, yes, but generally, two different things.

    I am not a big fan of no fault divorce, but the good old days when there were fewer divorces was no paradise either. A lot of unhappy, miserable people, as I recall. I don’t know the answer, but I doubt that making divorce impossible will solve all of our problems. You seem to yearn for a return to the 1950’s, and yes, some things were better than, but a lot of things were not better at all. I was there, and I do remember some big problems, “Father Knows Best” notwithstanding.

  • Mena

    Marxism is coerced slavery to the State. The first christians did not sell all they had by compulsion and give all proceeds to Caesar. Rather, they divested their own rightful property based on charity and contributed those goods to the church for distribution to the poor.

    We are not left with the problem of workers being exploited by “crooked management.” You’re confusing businesses with the mafia.

    Marxism is the root ideology of feminism, liberation theology, the black identity movement, the gay rights movement, and more.

    Next, in any society, an 8 percent divorce rate is paradise compared to a 55 percent divorce rate. Divorce does *not* solve problems; it multiplies problems and deepens them.

    No person in his right mind would start a business partnership using the terms and conditions of the present day marriage contract. To do so would be economic and professional suicide. But the marriage contract prior to 1970 would have done nicely and would have protected the parties and the enterprise.

  • Austin

    Yes, Marxism is slavery to the state, but we do have a problem with greedy, crooked management in this country {see Bernie Madoff, Dennis Kowlowski, “Kenny Boy” Lay, Richard Fuld, etc].
    This answer is not Marxism, the answer is honesty and fairness, yes, much like business was more like back in the 1950, so perhaps you do have a point in admiring the 1950s in that regard. Touche.

    You are quite right in saying that divorce does not solve our problems. But on the other hand, keeping miserable people together is not exactly paradise either. What to do? Well, perhaps a lot of those people should not have been married in the first place? Marriage is tough and you have to really try, try and keep trying. But, for some people, even that is not enough. I wish I had a pat answer, but I do not. It’s a problem and one that has gotten worse.

  • Barbara

    I am not a big fan of no fault divorce, but the good old days when there were fewer divorces was no paradise either. A lot of unhappy, miserable people, as I recall. I don’t know the answer, but I doubt that making divorce impossible will solve all of our problems. You seem to yearn for a return to the 1950’s, and yes, some things were better than, but a lot of things were not better at all. I was there, and I do remember some big problems, “Father Knows Best” notwithstanding.

    Austin, thanks for making this point for me. Yes the divorce rate was lower, but how were the quality of many of these marriages? Were marriages strong, loving unions in which both spouses treated each other with respect and dignity? or did they exist in a kind of miserable state of resignation. My maternal grandmother once admitted to me that she was actually happier being a widow than being a wife. She married because it was expected of her, and lived in a conflict filled marriage with an alcoholic who had no qualms about solving arguments with the back of his hand. Her life was not the exception, it was the norm in the place and time that she grew up, in an isolated rural community in Canada. My father also talks a lot about how his mother lived in a constant state of bitterness trying to raise five children in a very similar circumstance as my maternal grandmother, only she became hardened and bitter and vented her frustrations out on her children. The Catholic ideal of marriages were the exceptions, though they did exist as they do today. This was because of the proper disposition of the spouses. Not because the spouses were forced to stay together as though bound with a heavy chain. There are a lot of problems in today

  • georgie-ann

    it’s no simple thing to attempt to reduce this topic to a simple cause and effect explanation–original sin and fallen human natures being what they are in both sexes,…

    with extreme variables and variations on the theme observable everywhere, culturally and historically, it is in fact an extremely complex and confusing picture both spiritually and psychologically–the stuff dramas and novels and philosophy books and cartoons and jokes and divorces and heartbreak and on and on are made of,…

    the human condition:…fallen on all accounts,…and very much in need of a Savior, and good and spiritually true examples,…

    good psychology and good spiritually should be identical,…bad psychology is an indication of bad spirituality at work,…and vice versa,…Mary is our shining example,…(most especially for us women),…

    we can only see naturally from our slanted points of view,…and we tend to take a lot of what we perceive as “natural” (really, “fallen”) inclinations to be the “norm,” as givens–as in “everybody” or “all men” or “all women” do this,…yes, maybe, but this doesn’t make it anything but a commonplace fallen tendency,…

    but a spiritual antidote does exist!,…beginning with the “truth shall set you free,” and calling on the Grace(s) of God to fill us and lift us to higher places,…places that “eyes have not yet seen, nor ears heard,”…

    if you’re unsatisfied or bored with your commonplace self or your commonplace life, DO NOT DESPAIR!,…there is a New Frontier for you to discover and enter into!,…it is time to look up!,…

    the new frontier is spiritual transformation for ALL,…the men and the women,…the simple and the complex,…the rich and the poor,…the privileged and the disadvantaged,…all need the transforming power of the Savior at work in their lives,…

    without it, life becomes an ultimately frustrating and boring dead end, with broken pathways leading to nowhere,…and many well-intentioned efforts that seem to fade into unfulfilling purposelessness,…

    we were definitely created for much more than this!,…

    but it’s a bit more like “hide and seek” than a simple hand-out!,…

    (to be continued)

  • Victress Jenkins

    This desire to rid ourselves of a Father image is very perplexing as many of these same people are in favor of “gendercide” against female unborn babies.

    Very perplexing!!

  • Mena

    Marriage is not about the bliss of the couple; it’s about the daily functioning of the entire family as a whole. (Stay kid-focused here.) Very few married couples live in bliss, and very few married couples beat each other up. The trick is to keep the 95 percent of normal boring marriages together for the sake of the family and society, and not to let bored partner defraud his kids and spouse by starting the enterprise and then opting out with no personal penalty.

    At the very least, marriage law needs to be as strict as business law. Otherwise everyone gets screwed.

    I assure you there were extended years when my own parents were deeply unhappy. But they stayed focused on the daily needs of the children, and I was a chief beneficiary of their self-sacrifice.

    The most miserable kids of all are those whose parents opt out, thrusting the children and dependent spouse into parental neglect and chronic economic hardship. And the divorced parents typically undergo economic and relational struggles for decades as well.

    No fault divorce must be repealed. It is the chief cause of the break-up of the family.

    Have a great weekend.

  • georgie-ann

    i like to begin with women, because i am one, and know personally whereof i speak,…

    i think that i can generalize for both sexes, though, that we all at least start out feeling/believing that we are in fact much more innocent and much better than we really are,…

    we rationalize our predilections and our prejudices,…we justify our angers,…we are naively self-righteous,…and we take a whole lot for granted,…

    (especially as spoiled and narcissistic as our modern lifestyles have become!),…

    buoyed by the vanity of youth, we live in our own personal dream worlds, focused on ourselves,…true openness to the needs of others?,…true compassion?,…the ability to understand and forgive?,…it’s not there yet,…

    parents who love their children understand this, and are patiently waiting for the more fully developed matured human to emerge,…forgiving, meanwhile, the hurts that preoccupied selfishness often causes,…

    much like God, waiting for us,…

    women have a kind of nicey-nicey pretty-pretty self image, but we all know just how cruel, selfish, jealous and territorial they can be,…

    the BIG PROBLEM is that we don’t admit this personally about ourselves!,…we prefer to see it in others, but to advance our own “charming” nature,…

    we stick with safe platitudes and pronouncements, but not as much as something to discuss and learn/grow from,…no,…we like to “be right,”…lecture lecture lecture,…(which grows eventually and intractably into nag nag nag),…

    the more frustrated we become, although still self-infatuated, the sooner we will inevitably lose some of that “charm” that was our first persona (plan A), but will never be enough to carry us for the long haul,…

    this takes a big toll on us and on our relationships,…

    maybe we’re sticking with “girlfriends” and reinforcing ourselves with our feministic definitions, identities, principles, self-righteousness and goals,…

    or maybe we’ve tangled with a man even more immature than ourselves,…if that be even possible! (-;

    in the frequent result that unsolved conflicts and problems have arisen, we usually become even more determined, headstrong and angry-assertive (pushy?), or depressed, unhappy and resentful–which are basically just two sides of the same frustrated, self-willed coin,…our charms, less innocent now, become more manipulative and designing and seductive,…we are getting farther and farther away from the woman that God designed us to be,…

    spiritually, the sooner we realize that we have been putting the cart before the horse–that we have been driven ourselves, while also tending to relentlessly drive others according to our own rather demanding and short-sighted specifications–the sooner we can begin to lay down our own sword, and begin to listen,…we can learn to pause,…we can learn to let go,…we can learn to offer support to others who may have different, but legitimate, ways of proceeding,…

    this first real STOP in our self-propelled momentum is the beginning we very much need to see and begin to admit to our own personal limitations,…hopefully, it comes mercifully–although all too often, we can have a rather rude awakening,…with the opening up of this new spiritual and psychological vista, we can also really begin to see and appreciate that others are equally important and have their own legitimate personal gifts and needs as well,…

    as Mary was willing to listen and be receptive to the will of God being done within her, for us, as women, to fulfill our true potentials, we also need to take that healthy pause of laying down all that fallen/”natural” driven-ness, and listen and open ourselves as well to what may very well become for us “saving wisdom from on high,”…

    it’s hard for natural man or woman to admit that they might “be wrong,”…it’s that famous ingrown “pride” thing,…but it’s a lot safer to admit that ALL of us have potentially dangerous and misleading flaws inherent in our flesh and attitudes, than to be under the false illusions that oneself or anyone else is perfect,…

    our perfection can only be found in our humility and in our lives truly surrendered to God and one another,…

    Peace and Love do exist,…they begin with and in God,…

  • Milt

    Seems to me there is a basic lack of conceptualization in this thread. That is, God not both masculine and feminine, nor does He have masculine and feminine attributes. God is God, the I AM, the existant.

    It is WE who have masculine and feminine attributes, indeed we are defined as one or the other. We are that way because Gos made us that way. Starting in the creation story and through the scripture we see God’s creatine activity in dealing with mankind (as the article pointed out) as distinctively masculine in nature. Not because God was masculine but because God introduced those creative attributes to males.

    Jesus sometimes cured directly by word or touch, sometimes he used a material object like mud. Because He used masculine and feminine methods did not change His maleness.

    Wish I could explain it better.

  • georgie-ann

    …God the Father,…Who is Love,…

    any personal lifestyle or philosophy that prevents one from being able to come into relationship with God the Father, as He has revealed Himself faithfully to us, must be flawed and lacking in merit,…

    isn’t there something patently absurd about man/woman endeavoring to remake God in his or her image?,…

    some things are just too plain and simple,…how do we allow them to get tied up in such a knot?,…

  • JMC

    I think the way one priest explained it to me says it best: The Last Supper, where theologians believe Christ ordained His first priests (the washing of the feet), was the Seder. This Passover meal is necessarily a family celebration, and, as such, Mary should have been there. Whether or not she actually was, the Bible does not tell us, but the very fact that she is not mentioned at all should tell us something.

    In the story of her life which Our Lady revealed to Mary of Agreda (see “Mystical City of God,” translated from the Spanish by Fiscar Marison), we learn that Mary actually was there, but withdrew to a separate room before the central part of the Last Supper, i.e., the washing of the feet, and the instution of the Eucharist, because she knew that this part was not for her. Granted, this falls under the category of “private revelation,” which we are not obliged to believe with the same faith we give to dogmatic teachings of the Church, but I see that it simply augments what the Bible tells us about that night, which is, after all, one of the characteristics of any private revelation the Church looks for when determining whether or not it is “worthy of belief.”

  • Tim

    Marriage is not about the bliss of the couple; it’s about the daily functioning of the entire family as a whole. (Stay kid-focused here.) Very few married couples live in bliss, and very few married couples beat each other up. The trick is to keep the 95 percent of normal boring marriages together for the sake of the family and society, and not to let bored partner defraud his kids and spouse by starting the enterprise and then opting out with no personal penalty.
    At the very least, marriage law needs to be as strict as business law. Otherwise everyone gets screwed.

    These are wise words. No fault divorce must be repealed.It is one of the greatest social evils to emerge from the sexual revolution of the 1960’s. Marriage exists for only one purpose. To faciliate the natural family. This doesn’t mean all married couples need have children but every marriage at least offers the potential for family as couples can adopt if they can’t make their own babies.
    Yes we do need to return to marriage as “an enforceable lifelong family contract from an unenforceable temporal romance contract.”
    The reason being is that divorce destroys children. Is it really so bad to put one’s children’s interests ahead of one’s own interests. If one is thinking straight, one should be able to make their marriage work, once they realize that the trick is not to make the whole thing aobut one’s own so-called “needs”. The more you give, the more you get.
    Spousals benefits for common law couples is also nuts. It only encourages the potential for more tenuous family units. These couples don’t even have to get a divorce to break up their families.
    We are not likely to see any of these changes until society falls into the abyss and has no choice but to review its family law, but as Catholics we can certainly make a long of noise in defence of the the family and work to knock our own divorce rate down to nothing.

    And Marxism, I agree is “the root ideology of feminism, liberation theology, the black identity movement, the gay rights movement, and more.”
    Its all about power and warfare.

    And as for the article which prompted this thread. Very well expressed.
    God plays a father role. Church plays a mother and bride role, “bride of Christ.” There is nothing sexist about either of these notions.

  • georgie-ann

    i’d like to try to take a stab at reconciling the fallen female problem with the fallen male problem,…on their own, they usually do not reconcile all that well,…

    as others have alluded to, societies may tend to stylize or codify forms of male-female behavior, and there may be plenty of those who have found these established patterns to be less than fulfilling overall,…hopefully there have been some redeeming benefits as well,…the population seems to keep increasing, nonetheless, either way,…(more people = more collective misery?)

    most of us accept that males and females were created by God and designed specifically to be beneficial to each other–the ideal of this being in Christian marriage,…OR, to choose the celibate, single state, in order to keep the personal life more simple and to be freer to serve God more completely,…

    so, to have and to hold–or not–are already 2 options set before us,…

    when Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden, it was with the pronouncement that Adam would be toiling, beset by earthly difficulties, and that Eve’s desires would be for her husband, who would rule over her,…

    some of the marriages described here by other commenters seem to still replicate this frustrating pattern,…the influence of fallen man and woman has evidently been quite longlasting,…their eyes and hearts now turned away from God, could never find the fullness of their desires in anything else they would seek or behold,…evidently, this was very much an exercise of futility and frustration,…

    a turning away from earthly problems and distractions, making that deliberate break with the automatic and compelling urges and inclinations of the fallen nature, and making a return to face God, to STOP and seek His true will, is again the key to finding the new redeemed path to freedom from egoistic bondage, narcissism, indulgence, manipulation and cruelty,…

  • Christian C

    …Is it really so bad to put one’s children’s interests ahead of one’s own interests…
    …God plays a father role. Church plays a mother and bride role, “bride of Christ.” There is nothing sexist about either of these notions.

    I would contend that it is bad to put one’s children’s interests ahead of one’s own in marriage in the sense that it is in the child’s best interest that the parents are working as a harmonious and cooperative team. If you sacrifice yourself for the sake of your children, how will they learn what a good loving marriage partnership should be like? All you do is perpetuate the problem and leave them to grow up and sacrifice themselves for their children – so the cycle never ends. Your partner is the one you choose, the one you contract with, and the one that is your primary concern. If that relationship is in order, get that right and then the children that you bring up will be well-balanced and loving individuals whom you can later set free to live better lives of their own, while you stay with your loving mate.

    We all make mistakes, even big mistakes, in life. The Church has often allowed a priest who has in good faith entered the priesthood and functioned as a priest and taken a vow of celibacy to set aside that vow and leave the priesthood if he decides he needs to marry, and he is laicised with no penalties. Yet, there is no way out for someone who enters marriage in good faith, but finds at some future time that, despite their best efforts, the venture fails. Even if your partner changes their mind and deserts you and divorces you against your will, you cannot remarry in the Church. You are condemned to single life. That seems very harsh -a punishment for no fault of the person concerned. And it seems like a different standard for the priestly vows and the matrimonial vows. Neither should be taken lightly, both are wrapped in sacramentality, but there seems to me to be a lack of forgiveness, charity and understanding about the plight of so many divorced people today, and a more forgiving attitude for priests when it doesn’t work out.

    On the issue of a male priesthood, I personally prefer and feel comfortable with only males as priests because that is what I grew up with. But when I try to justify this, I find the Church’s explanations quite unconvincing. I think there needs to be much more work in this area. Even if the outcome is to keep the status quo, the justification for it needs an overhaul, in my opinion.

    Tim talks about the Church being in female iconography the “Bride of Christ”, yet this Church comprises both males and females as full and equal members. So it begs the question, why can’t the male iconography of the sonship of Christ, the fatherhood of the God head, the “persona Christi” used to represent priesthood likewise comprise of both men and women?

  • Mena

    Christian C,

    Children are both the cause and the long-range project of marriage. If humans weren’t reproductive, there would be no permanent life-long marriage contracts at all. They wouldn’t be necessary. But sex gives rise to babies, which gives rise to the *absolute necessity* that the adults remain contractually bound to each other and to the kids for life.

    You said: “I would contend that it is bad to put one’s children’s interests ahead of one’s own in marriage in the sense that it is in the child’s best interest that the parents are working as a harmonious and cooperative team. If you sacrifice yourself for the sake of your children, how will they learn what a good loving marriage partnership should be like?”

    But what project are the adults “working on as a team”? They are working on the project of raising their mutual progeny from infants to adulthood. And since children are entirely dependent beings, the parents must put the children’s interests ahead of their own, if they are responsible.

    As for the issue of divorce, the Church does grant annulments in cases where the relationship was not valid marriage from the beginning. Such people can marry because their prior relationship was not christian marriage and was found defective at the core. Also, validly married individuals can separate, but they must *not* proceed to become bigamists by marrying again. They must remain single or reconcile to their spouse. The wisdom and benefits of this societal rule are borne out in the modern era: serial marriages, cohabitation, and single parenting are everywhere, and it is the kids and dependent spouses who are ruined by the uncommitted alternative configurations. Temporal romance contracts are absolutely devastating to children and dependent spouses.

    For sure, the “strictness” of the christian marriage code offers the greatest benefit to children and society.

  • Equus nom Veritas

    An alternative Trinitarian formula was offered: Instead of “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,” it was suggested that we say, “Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer.”

    I’ve noticed this trend amongst feminists, and similarly have noticed that many Catholics in the pews avoid referring to God as “Him/He/His” and instead substitute “God/God’s” when the prayer calls for the former pronouns. My assumption has long been that this is the usual feminist aversion to all things masculine, though I’ve even started to notice even more orthodox parishioners avoiding the masculine pronouns (save in the creeds). Is this something worth quibbling over, in your opinion? Or is it better to let bygones by bygones? For disclosure, I happen to think that this is a serious matter, to an extent.

    Second, and more specifically dealing with the Creator-Redeemer-Sustainer (or Sanctifier) trichotomy, it strikes me as a false trichotomy, since each of the three Persons of the trinity fulfills each of these roles in part. For example, St John begins his gospel by noting that nothing which was created was created without the Word (that is, the Son), though in the formulation given “Creator” is specifically meant to replace “Father.” This strikes me as being a form of Sabellianism: not so much three persons as three “masks” or “guises” worn by a single person in God. Is this too deep a reading of the issue, or have the feminists brought back yet another heresy from the grave?

  • Tim

    [I would contend that it is bad to put one’s children’s interests ahead of one’s own in marriage….
    Tim talks about the Church being in female iconography the “Bride of Christ”, yet this Church comprises both males and females as full and equal members.

    I put the emphasis on children but a better way to phrase it might be that a married couple needs to put family first which by extension looks after children

  • Christian C

    Mena, I expressly gave examples that were not relevant to the narrow application of annulments. It

  • georgie-ann

    i can agree that Marxism has had an adverse influence on our modern society,…my own family bears the scars of having a member who was at least philosophically involved,…

    but to say this, still is NOT to say enough,…we should also want to know WHY our fallen humanity will fall still further for these seductive lies?,…WHY do we “take their bait?”,…WHAT is it IN US that desires to find and attach ourselves to this kind of (violent and atheistic) man/woman-made earthly utopian philosophy–one where the former under-dogs become the new top-dogs–but are just as ugly, or worse, as those who went before?,…

    modern feminists “took this bait” decades ago,…and now we are reaping the fall-out damages on many social fronts,…the desire to self-aggrandize and usurp power and control for themselves has not been the panacea expected,…and the world has not become a better place for it either,…many women have ended up juggling a “heavy load,”…alone,…

    truth is: women need men for many things,…but in a dominating stance, they tend to drive them away,…whereas being thankful, graceful and appreciative can have the opposite effect,…

    (i keep “losing” this post for length or timing out,…so i’m going to try breaking it up into shorter portions,…be back later,…)

  • Nel

    Quite apart from anything else in this very interesting discussion, I’d like to clarify a couple of terms that have come up and have been misused.

    The first is ‘passive’ being confused with ‘receptive.’ The two are not synonyms. My water glass is passive. When I wish to pour water into it, my water glass cannot choose to ‘receive’ that water. It cannot say ‘no’ and it cannot move out of the way. It has no power to accept or refuse any action that I impose on it. A woman is never – under any circumstances – passive, because she is a subject, who has a will and can say ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ Thus she is ‘receptive’ in the sexual sphere and in other spheres as well. She has the power to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to receiving the male. In saying ‘yes’ she is not passive; in saying ‘no’ she is not passive. In all cases, the decision to be receptive is an action undertaken by a free subject. This receptivity to the male is echoed in feminine spirituality which is usually very receptive to the gifts of the spirit, the love of the Father, the example of the Son. The receptivity of the woman images the receptivity of the Trinity, since all the persons of the Trinity receive the love of the others, even as they give it. The woman who receives a man in the sexual act also actively ‘gives herself’ to him. I am indebted to Alice von Hildebrand for these thoughts on passivity and receptivity.

    The other term that is troublesome is referring to marriage as a contract. Marriage, being a sacrament, is not a contract, but a covenant. A contract is the exchange of goods services. As a teacher, if I don’t deliver the services I contracted to give, my employer doesn’t have to deliver the goods she contracted to give – my salary – and vice versa. The marriage covenant is an exchanged of persons: I give mySELF to you; you give yourSELF to me and we vow before God that this is what we will do every day, until we die. God ‘binds’ the covenant with his sacramental oath, His ‘so be it’ – and with His grace. (I am indebted to Scott Hahn for this distinction. Everyone should read something of Hahn’s on covenant theology.)

    I submit that perhaps the reason we have no-fault divorce is because marriage was deemed by lawyers to be like any contract entered into in civil society: it was made by the legal actors involved and can be unmade by them whenever one party determines that the goods and services contracted for were no longer being delivered. That mentality about divorce long predates 1970, but the no-fault movement seriously undermined the popular understanding based on Christian culture that marriage is and should be life-long and is only dissolved in the most grave of circumstances, after great efforts to keep it together.

  • georgie-ann

    NOT being a man, i don’t particularly like to speak to or for them, in a case like this,…from observed phenomena, i can only make generalizations and guesses,…i don’t know what a man experiences on “the inside,”…

    and so, i call my personal life-long project “The Applied Theory of Eve-Withdrawal,”…”Eve” as in the fallen state of woman: a vulnerable creature, with insecurities and fears, needs and “desires,” vanity and pride, and habitual, seductive self-centeredness issues,…

    Eve’s surreptitious (and “too easy”) solution to her vulnerability problem(s), is to manipulate herself into a usurping position of control,…”She” will control the power, so to speak,…this becomes her self-ordained authority and ticket to “security,”…her future becomes predictable, because She will be designing it–“her” own way–but unfortunately, perhaps USING others to do so,…

    all too often the “horse” she is riding, in this case, will break down from the constant pressure and demands–especially these days, with no compelling teaching or customs in place to keep this from happening,…one day, it becomes “bye, bye, horsie,”…and Eve is left–abandoned–on her own,…

    maybe she can learn a lesson,…maybe she can learn to pray and look to and trust and hold on to God–to a Greater Source than simply another human being,…and this can help her change her personal dynamics greatly,…

  • Christian C

    You make two really pertinent observations, Nel. I fully agree with you. Thank you so much.

    The receptive (and not passive) nature of woman is good because it preserves her dignity and free will. The male model in antiquity and through most of history has had overtones of possessiveness (women as chattels) and power (headship and dominance).

    What is the male counterpart to this

  • Donna

    >feminists are a strange phenomenon,…truly, they don’t “feel >of the natural order,”…where, in warm-blooded nature, do we >find anything as preposterous as a self-entitled bunch of >exceptional-izing females to the normal unifying order?…

    Elephants are mammals, and smart ones at that. They live in herds consisting of females and young. Males are thrown out around puberty, and live either alone, or in loose ‘bachelor herds ‘. They are only welcome in the main herds when a female is receptive and wants a calf- and they leave once mating is over.

    Many whale societies are similar.

    Spotted hyenas (who, BTW, unlike some other hyaenoids, are mainly hunters rather than scavengers ) have females who are both larger and more dominant than males from the get-go.

    Anybody who’s watched “Meerkat Manor” knows that in meerkat society, it’s the dominant female who runs the show, so to speak….

    And that’s just off the top of my head…

  • Donna

    I’m not recommending any of these as models for human beings- just pointing out that nature is a lot more complicated than it appears on the surface…

  • Donna
  • C. Hunter

    The author makes a compelling point for patriarchy in the church. Locke in his treatise on government thoroughly debunks the idea that patriarchy is a fit model for government. Since then, the progressive weakening of patriarchal society and its traditional gender roles has been overwhelmingly a good thing. However it seems that in the case of the church, if one believes the scripture one is obliged to reject this progress, at least within the boundaries of the institution. If one feels strongly about the value of egalitarian progress, it seems one should bite the bullet and chose to deny scripture. Doing this will certainly be more psychologically taxing than simply reading this argument, but logic carries its own force.

  • C. Hunter

    Also a quick response to Georgie-Ann who writes “that cultures with high percentages of absentee fathers, and/or high rates of homosexuality” may be showing symptoms of women getting above their station and neglecting their proper role. Apart from the fact that I do not give a damn about rates of homosexuality, it may be helpful to point out that in ancient Greece homosexual relationships were overt, very common and coupled with a society that barely had room for women to leave the house let alone speak out of turn to their men. It seems that restricting women in such a way led men to seek sexual satisfaction from people they considered their equals, unable to find it with the wretches they trapped at home. So whilst I am quite happy living in a society with high “rates of homosexuality”, returning to a traditional way of doing things could in all likeliness increase the rate of homosexuality. Oh the irony…

  • Benjamin Smith

    I suspect Rev. Longenecker’s argument is more or less correct. Patriarchy – or “male headship” as many Protestants call it – does seem embedded within the revelation, in a theologically inextricable way.

    So inextricably embedded, in fact, that it was effectively the catalyst for my leaving the church completely. (There were other reasons, of course). I no longer call myself a Christian in large part because being a Christian seems unavoidably to entail patriarchy.

    The problem with patriarchy is not that it overemphasizes biological differences. Biological differences exist, and should not be elided, as some feminists do. The problem with patriarchy is that it sanctions a conclusion about those biological differences that is patently ridiculous and has produced deep injustice for centuries.

    Actual arguments aside (which I would be glad to make, if I find myself back here again!), aren’t some of you troubled at a gut level when you defend systems that have been complicit in so much that is bad? Reverend Longenecker writes:

    Of course, to assert the primacy of patriarchy is not to condone the abuses of patriarchy — the abuse of women or the overreach of power-hungry men who use patriarchy to consolidate their control. God the Father sets the example of a servant patriarch who gives all for those in His care.

    It’s not necessarily illegitimate to distinguish a certain authority from its abuse. I just wish that those who so fervently want to sustain that authority would be more quick to recognize that abuse is inevitable. Power corrupts. Authority – both symbolic and literal – should be as distributed as possible, so as to avoid that corruption as much as possible. What’s illegitimate is to abstractly sever the connection between the historical existence of a certain configuration of power, and the historical injustice for which that configuration has been responsible. Patriarchy is a bad symbol and a bad system not because it has been abused, but because it is especially susceptible to being abused.

  • Jay Staley

    Where can one purchase Fr. Aidan Nichlos’ new book “Criticizing the Critics”? It is designated “out of print” on Amazon.com.

  • Pingback: In Praise of Patriarchy « cinhosa()

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