There are depictions of the Holy Trinity that show three men. There depictions of the Holy Trinity that show two men and a dove. When a bird makes it into the Godhead before a woman, you can tell the whole theology was written by men.
My own Presbyterian denomination recently signed onto an agreement with the Catholic Church that recognizes the validity of each other’s baptisms. A number of major Protestant denominations signed the document which was hailed as a movement toward church unity. The very opposite is true. Presbyterians have long recognized the baptisms of other denominations, so what the agreement does for us is bind us more firmly to the patriarchal language and practices of the Catholic Church. For those of us who consider sexist language an odious cancer, and have struggled to use non-gendered language for God, this agreement is a major setback because it will require baptizing clergy to recognize the masculinity of God by reciting the words, “In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”
To be fair, most Presbyterians already use such sexist language for God and consider it a requirement for baptism. The argument runs, “for baptisms to count across the denominations they must be sealed in the proper trinitarian language, which just so happens to cast the Godhead as all male. We know that God isn’t actually a biological male, but we want to honor the traditional language which happens to be masculine.” In otherwords sexist language among the denomination is the tie that binds. We may disagree on everything else, but the masculinity of God is unquestioned by all male dominated denominations. Some Protestant denominations were slipping away from patriarcy, so codifying male language for God becomes a necessity.
If I may be blunt, anyone who thinks human rituals actually save souls from damnation is an intellectual child and should not be leading others anyway. So whatever unity is gained in synchronizing the church’s magical thinking is lost in the struggle for social justice for women. Any claims of unity should include the half of the species insulted by the idea that the sacred is masculine. If this topic seems silly, realize it is actual women the Catholic Church is rejecting from priesthood, and actual men being defrocked when they stand in solidarity with those women.
Father Wojciech Giertych, is Pope Benedict XVI’s personal theologian. He makes the case that since Jesus only chose men, the church is obligated to do likewise. He does not mention that Jesus only chose Jews as well.
“In theology, we base ourselves not on human expectations, but we base ourselves on the revealed word of God,” the theologian told Catholic News Service. “We are not free to invent the priesthood according to our own customs, according to our own expectations.”
No? Well what about where Jesus said not to call anyone on earth “father.” You priests got around that one pretty easy for yourself, how about cutting someone else some slack?
“Women have a special access to the heart of Jesus, in a very vivid way of approaching him, of touching him, of praying with him, of pouring ointment on his head, of kissing his feet.”T
“The mission of the woman in the church is to convince the male that power is not most important in the church, not even sacramental power. What is most important is the encounter with the living God through faith and charity.”
Okay, so women’s role is to call men out of hierarchical thinking by kissing feet, and the role of men is not to listen to that call and to remain in positions of power and privilege?
“So women don’t need the priesthood because their mission is so beautiful in the church anyway.”
I have just wasted ten minutes trying to think of a nice word for “crock,” so let me be perfectly blunt. If God does not have a penis, testicles and a prostate, then God is not a male in any meaningful sense. And since God doesn’t have a girlfriend, the masculine paraphernalia does not serve much purpose. It is true that the word for God in Hebrew (Elohim) is male, but it is also plural and no one translates it that way. The word for “spirit” in Hebrew is female and no one in the church is asking that we bow before the sacred ovaries.
The Church’s use of sexist language is not about expressing the essential nature of God, it is about protecting male privilege. I for one will lose my own ordination before I will participate in the church’s crimes against women by using sexist language in any aspect of ministry.
Thanks to Julie Gillis for the following link: