Thursday 2 November 2023

Including "the divine feminine" within Christianity? - This may, at last, be possible

I personally find the near exclusive masculinity of traditional Christian theology, and of church organization, obviously inadequate in a spiritual sense. 

What comes across to me is (to a very variable but ineradicable extent) some element of cold and dead partiality of spirit; head without warmth of heart; form without motivation.

The near deletion of the feminine from traditional Christianity (of all denominations) strikes me also as a distortion of reality; therefore necessarily wrong. 

Having recognized the problem and need; with divine help, I assume that we can do better. 

Yet, attempts at including the divine feminine within Christianity have been (to my judgment) unsatisfactory in one way or another. 

The most successful, over many centuries, has clearly been the inclusion of Mary the Mother of Jesus within both Eastern and Western Catholicism. This brings, to some extent, a balance of spirituality which is lacking from the Protestant and other churches. 

The Catholic conceptualization of the feminine is (again, I speak personally) inadequate; partly by its emphasis on literal virginity, and partly by its theology of intercession - which makes no sense to me, and emphasizes what I regard as a mistakenly un-Christian view of God as somewhat hostile: requiring pleading and propitiation.

Most other attempts to introduce the feminine - especially to church organization - have been (whether covertly, or implicitly) been a part of the agenda of secularization - and assimilation to totalitarian leftism - of Christian churches; with predictably destructive consequences. 

Are we then doomed to a partial and one-sided Christianity? 

Well, I don't have a recipe to solve this ancient problem of the exclusion of the feminine, but the prospect is very different in a world where the basis of Christianity has moved from of the (by now deeply corrupted and increasingly malign) churches; to become rooted in personal choices and responsibility. 

There are at least a couple of aspects to be considered. The first and most important is theological. I have found myself first attracted and then convinced by the Mormon conceptualization of God the Creator as a Heavenly Parents, man and woman, celestial and eternal husband and wife.

But what of Jesus? When I immersed myself in the Fourth Gospel ("John") with the assumption that it was the primary and most-authoritative source concerning Jesus; I found that the answer had always been there; which is that Mary Magdalene was (and this, I think, pretty explicitly) described as the wife of Jesus. 

Furthermore, as would be expected if Jesus's wife was an important aspect of Christianity; the five episodes in which Mary features all occur at points of exceptional importance - turning-point of the narrative (e.g. see this text of the Fourth Gospel for further explanation - using word-search to locate the relevant passages). 

1. The marriage at Cana, which I regard as the marriage of Jesus and Mary (attended by Mary's brother Lazarus, who is the author of the Fourth Gospel), is the first miracle of Jesus; his assumption of divine power following his baptism by John. 

(Mary is not named at Cana, but the other four episodes can be found by a "Mary" word-search of the linked Bible text.) 

2. Mary then interacts with Jesus just prior to Jesus's greatest and most significant miracle: the resurrection of Lazarus (her brother). 

3. The episode at Bethany of the spikenard ointment precedes and prophecies the turn towards the events of Jesus's trial and sentencing. 

4. Then Mary is present at the foot of the cross to participate in Jesus's death. 

5. And her last appearance is as first witness to the resurrection of Jesus.  

From this, I think it can be inferred (starting from the assumptions which I have made) that Mary had some kind of role - a complementary role - in the major events of Jesus's time on earth; but what exactly, I am not sure. 

Maybe it is not necessary to know more. But if it is necessary for me, then insight will be forthcoming so long as my motivations for seeking knowledge are good. 

My conclusion is that because Christianity is now a personal matter, a personal responsibility; we do not any longer need to be concerned about the institutionally destructive effects of 'feminism'. We need to satisfy our-selves in accordance with our best intentions and deepest intuitions. 

If we personally feel that traditional Christianity has been - to a significant extent - an incomplete and maimed thing; then we can simply get on with the spiritual work of discovery and creation to remedy this defect. 

Since we are satisfying ourselves, our deepest needs and individual understanding, our need for a strong and lasting personal motivation to follow Jesus; we need not share this with anyone else. 

We can and will, of course (like all of the churches through history) err in our understanding, and be misled by wrong impulses and our propensity for sin. yet, if our intent is sincere and we continue to seek truth; all such errors that have spiritually lethal consequences will be (with the direct help of the Holy Ghost) be detected, repented and corrected - and we do not need to convince other people (or an organization) before doing this vital work. 


Phil said...

I had to read this carefully, because my immediate reaction to the title was, “Aauugh, no!! That’s the problem!!”
If anything, the Church in America is over feminized, and hostile to masculinity. Perhaps it’s different on your side of the Pond, with the Anglicans only warming up to female clergy recently (we’ve had them since the 60’s). But as far as the concepts of the Divine & all, We seem to see the Father as a doting grandpa, the Son as a nice beta, & the Spirit as sort of androgenous. “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy” seems to be the motto. I was researching this last year & came across a book called, “The Death of Christian Britain”, D. G. Callum, 2009. His research indicated that this shift began in earnest around 1800, earlier than I had supposed.

My thought on this is that the “Divine Feminine” is emergent because it is to be us, the Church. Now we are still being fitted together & built up. “He’s coming for a bride, not a harem!” We aren’t there yet, & it’s plain that the unity of the Spirit will require a great deal of stress to bring about, but it’s coming.

Of course, when you build a building and you’re close to being done (you just need some interior work now), you begin to take down the scaffolding, the visible superstructures. Now this is a disaster to those who build & live on the superstructures, who see the World falling apart & the Builder’s work coming to naught. We’re not there yet, so we still need the superstructures, especially in the third world, where the Church is growing rapidly among recently reached ethno-linguistic groups. It is, and since these are mostly autonomous & not part of established denominations, they are seriously undercounted. And a lot of the superstructure has been hijacked by enemy agents; it is not clear if we are to try & wrestle it back, build our own, or find some as yet unconverted group.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Phil - I think that we need to recognize that The Left has succeeded (to generalize) because its negative critiques strike a chord in the modern soul - and reveal that 'the traditional' has lost its previous capacities, and become weak.

But the left is evil in its motivations (fundamentally the Left is anti-God, anti-creation - specifically anti-Christian - as I argued in the Thought Prison book of 2011, see sidebar), and works by denial of the spiritual and next-worldly, and reduction to the material and this-worldly.

So there is always *something* of validity in even the most stupid, destructive and dishonest of leftist evils; and this means that if we reject the left *in its entirety* we find ourselves pushing stuff that is false and non-viable.

This criticism applies to most of the "Right" and "Reactionary" thinkers - i.e. they are wrong and futile because they are reacting-against, and inverting the Left (which is, itself, incoherent). To negate a negation is NOT to be positive!

To be specific; there is *something* of validity in the Feminist critique of traditional-old Christianity (of all kinds) - and it is this *sliver* of validity which gives the evil nonsense so much general traction - especially when it is opposed by a dwindling, ineffectual traditionalism.

Also, the Left works by the corruption of institutions - which is very easy to do in comparison with creating and sustaining institutions - and this accounts for much of the Left's 'success' (any fool can destroy a precision machine, very few can build one).

I have no idea how a Christian church might be 'reformed' to include the divine feminine - and every such attempt has just accelerated destruction . But we don't need to try to reform churches, because the churches are already corrupted to the point of causing more harm than good. The Christian churches are self hating and suicidal - like Western Civilization - they cannot be saved from themselves.

What is *institutionally* impossible may, however, be possible to *individuals*: may lead to a more complete, stronger, more motivating Christianity. That is my point.

Sharkly said...

I personally believe that our Godhead is a divine patriarchy. A Father turning over all power to his Son. And they have a uniting masculine Spirit, who Himself impregnated Mary. Men alone are the image and glory of God.(1 Corinthians 11:7) And wives were created for men, to serve them and to reverence them as images of God and to assure that men's descendants should always remain upon the earth. Jesus did not need a sister to fully embody the Godhead. (Colossians 2:9) I believe that it is blasphemous to neuter or emasculate God or to try to make a hermaphrodite of Him. He always identifies Himself as only being male.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Sharkly: "I personally believe that our Godhead is a divine patriarchy."

Yes, of course you do!

But what I am doing is to ask you to *think again* on this subject, and *consider the points I am making*: here, and in the links.

There's not much point in reading this blog otherwise...

John said...

The perception of Divinity as Masculine is natural, as in Humans receive Life or in other words in terms of the relationship between Creator and Creature the Creator is The BrideGroom and Creature is TheBride. As to Creation in everything there is Substance, Form and Use reflecting (it seems to me) the Good, the True and the Beautiful (being full of utility) or Divine Love (essence) coming into existence as Divine Wisdom and manifesting as Divine Action. Mary Magdalene, great lead

Bruce Charlton said...

@John - "in terms of the relationship between Creator and Creature the Creator is The BrideGroom and Creature is TheBride"

That analogy has always struck me as unsatisfying nonsense - as also the church as bride of Jesus.

"The perception of Divinity as Masculine is natural"

From what I know of the range of religious activity among humans, surely that is only *half* true!?