TBM Topic 15: Feminine Genius – The Interior Edition
“Made in the Image of God?” by Julie Robison
“Peace Within” by Trista at Not a Minx, Moron, or a Parasite
“She reigns” by Elizabeth at Startling the Day
We three are from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. We’re here to dispel the myths and misconceptions- please join us for the discussion!
[Second disclaimer: I wrote this in the wee, dark hours of the morning on a train to Berlin while drinking a wee, not-as-dark cup of coffee. Enjoy! I’ll be back in the country soon.]
A stumbling block for many people is the notion that women are made in the image and likeness of
God. How can this be? We’ve seen God; Paul wrote in 1 Colossians 1:15, “Brothers and Sisters, Christ Jesus is the image of the invisible God.”
Hm. Well, there goes my “God-showed-himself-as-a-burning-bush-ergo-women-are-made-to-be-smokin’-hot” theory.
Then the question is raised: how is it then that the world’s population do not look more like the bearded man from Nazareth?
Only a small percentage of people come from the tiny town of Nazareth and, besides, I’ve been to Asia—the men there can’t grow facial hair. Despite what a former professor at my college liked to quip, God is neither black nor a woman either. The wrench in this whole matter is that God the Father has never seen in toto.
In the Old Testament, the litmus test for God’s calling card was usually clear:
Did you see a physical sign (i.e. oversized finger writing on stone tablets, wall falling down because of trumpets, a large body of water parting down the middle, a relative turning into a pillar of salt, the world flooding, etc.) and/ or hear a booming voice?
Were you visited by an angel?
Did your prayers and faithfulness to the God of Israel result in a child/ a victory/ not dying?
If you can answer YES to any of the above, the invisible-to-us God the Father was more than likely involved.
What does this have to do with women? Everything, if we truly believe that the God of one is the God of all. If women do not superficially look like God, then they must interiorly look like God.
Our very soul mirrors God! The genius of our femininity is not encapsulated by our charm, curves or womanly ways, but the way we yearn for communion with God, to love and be loved, and are given equal and indiscriminate dignity. These manifest both spiritually and physically; the body plays a distinctive role, as does the mind. We women are not amorphous beings for a reason!
|Here to fulfill our purpose in God’s plan!
Women are good because they are part of God’s creation; gender is the primary indicator of their role and purpose in this world. It is the first objective a person is given to discern one’s relationship to self, God, and other humans. There is no room for a “better than” comparison between the genders. God made the two to complement, not compete.
Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk from the 20th century, wrote, “Life is more than submission: it is creation.” Man and woman together can create a new life, in marriage and having children, as well as participating in the community, in communion with the Church and individual participation in the sacraments.
The criticism of St. Paul’s instruction for women to submit to their husbands overlooks his next point: husbands, love your wives, as Christ loves his Church. Submission, whether it be to one’s husband or one’s God, is never intended to be a controlling mechanism. Rather, submission is the greatest act of love. Jesus himself submitted himself to false accusations, horrible suffering and even death in order to save us from the heavy weight of sin and open Heaven’s gates. So, too, must women overcome such growing pains.
The genius of this instruction is even more marveling than a once-over read: St. Paul understands women’s importance in the Kingdom of Heaven, and thus urges them to model Christ for their husbands, and any others watching. St. Monica’s goodness, prayers and pious submissiveness, for example, helped convert the heart and mind of her pagan husband and famous son, St. Augustine.
It stands, of course, that any misuse of the term “submit” mangles the loving objective and devalues any expression freely given. Nonetheless, this easily tossed about and abused verb is another opportunity for women to lovingly correct any misinterpretation, if the occasion arises.
Women have a great role to play in this world, whether their vocation is religious, single or married. To shirk one’s purpose to evade happiness. Too many women today see the need for emancipation in order to thus prove their worth and equal standing among men.
The message of woman’s feminine genius is that such a worth is intrinsic to our very female personhood, and our equal standing is not determined by a side-by-side salary comparison, but the confirmation of what women actually want: to be loved and respected, encouraged in our work and cherished as ourselves, just the way God made us.
The heresy of modern womanhood is the false claims that freedom can only be achieved through our own-will-be-done, lipstick, contraception, a satisfying career and an individualism that oftentimes denies males the chance to step up into manhood; instead, the modern woman’s view of love infantilizes man through an accessorizing attitude (“Aaaaand I’ll take one of you!”).
|I think this about sums up the modern womanhood ideal.
For women to experience the very revelation of the feminine genius, they must first want to reject the temptation to bite the apple, and not just avoid the tree or company of snakes.
Woman is made in the image of God in her humanity; she has the likeness of God through the logos. The divine nature of womanhood is sweet, filled with joy and sorrow, which are merely accidents of the human life, like tasting bread when consuming the Eucharist.
Women have an equal share in the Kingdom, and are thus given their feminine genius in order to claim it.