It has been many years, many decades, really, since I rolled up my sleeves and took on God’s assignment to look into the issue of the ordination of women. At the time, I was very much not interested in church politics, and had the most naive opinion that the Anglican/Episcopal Church would never do anything that would hurt its own congregants.
And so I entered the fray of that time, not understanding the rules of bare-knuckle fighting that had become so quickly the norm of online “discussion” groups. I learned eventually that nothing was off-limits to one’s opponents, that character shredding was very often offered as theological opinions, and that God took a very, very back seat to rampant individualism. In fact, most of the time, God WAS individual desires and wants.
There was no difference between God and the person arguing at the time.
Fortunately for me, I had a strong English background and a very sharp mind, honed on the ragged rocks on the coast of Maine, so piercing what was mostly gibberish for assertions was an exercise for me, but not that difficult.
I had a very specific assignment, though: I was to find someone who would write something specific, if horrific, about me to me.
And after a few very exhausting years, I did.
The obscene accusation came from an elderly woman who considered herself a priest. And when this happened, I bowed my will and beliefs about this issue to God.
Of course, during these same years, I took the personal approach to the matter and “served” as Christian education director and general support to two women who also had collared themselves up.
The two experiences, the online argument and the in-person service, left me with no doubts about the matter.
Overall, and over the years, I boiled the reasons against the ordination of women into a few points:
- The difference in soul structure between men and women that creates between the two a wide separation in spiritual purpose on Earth.
- The transgression of modesty, one of the two great sins of God (the other being presumption).
- The separation in the church between the work of Jesus (reconciliation) and the Holy Spirit (healing), with women being “designed” specifically for the latter.
- The separation of the application of wisdom from understanding when women decide that those who do not support their ministry must be forced OUT of the church: a bottom-line assertion, that I find in everything women who think themselves priests say and do, that these women know better than Jesus Christ, who worked to bring people INTO the church.
But lately, I have been working on studying the phenomenon of viewing God and Jesus as mother in the writings of Julian of Norwich, and I had to stop and breathe a bit here and there as I felt as though I had discovered the very fertile ground that all this trouble is deeply rooted in.
For me, at this point, it breaks down into three parts.
The first relates to one of the arguments against WO listed above:the misapplication of wisdom to theology. The seeing of God and Jesus as mother is a complex and multifaceted mystical view. One that I will deal with on a future date. But for here and now, I will attempt to pare it down to its essential bones so to make my points.
One bottom-line self-glorification in Julian’s writing is that this view that has come to her through a series of visions gives her a superior knowledge of God. And you can see, I hope, how one who assumes that they have a superior knowledge OF God can easily be tipped over into the assurance that one’s knowledge is superior TO God. Because, in this case, the woman’s ability to “contain” God within her body (womb) gives her special insight, or wisdom of God, which amounts to a pretension that she understands God.
(To presume to know God is the very sin of presumption.)
But this woman’s wisdom of God itself makes the woman superior. If not just to man, than even to God, who came to Earth in the form of a man.
Coming out of this is the remarkable view of God being dependent on woman because he was once held in a woman’s womb. And as a human child, Jesus was dependent on woman. And man. But Julian takes this awareness of God’s dependency on woman and expands it to make woman that which God is dependent on, even in states other than infancy.
The woman’s womb is the source of God’s creation, after all, in Julian’s imagination.
And while this is somewhat true in the case of Mary, virgin, (there is after all the contribution from the Holy Ghost), the extrapolation of this concept is that God (the Holy Trinity) is enveloped, literally, in woman.
And these two ideas: the superiority of women’s knowledge of God and woman’s superiority over God through his dependency on her in the womb have crept seditiously through the Episcopal church for decades now. So much so that goddess images appear as representations of churches, and women’s “spirituality” (distinct from Christian spirituality, apparently) is promoted shamelessly. One church even offered The Vagina Monologues as a appropriate Christian religious observance.
But the worst of it , for me, is the equating a woman’s child-bearing pain with the pain suffered by Jesus at his death. The blood loss, the aching thirst, the undulations all bring Julian’s imagination to Jesus’s experience on the cross. Writers on Julian’s work, in fact, refer to her explanation of this as maternal masochism.
Woman as the ultimate victim.
Just like Jesus.
And if anything has taken over the theology of the Episcopal Church it is this one. Instead of Jesus being presented to the world as God’s magnificent warrior, he is reduced to a wounded, blood-spilling victim. That is, if the church even bothers to offer him at all.
But the church as a whole has turned from being a warrior, herself, to being of victim status. It has turned from Jesus’s very real external wounds to making him, and her congregants obsessed with internal wounding.
If you cry out in the world that you are a victim, then you are raised up and glorified by the Episcopal Church. Because you are like Jesus.
Except that the church does not take on the mantle of masochism, taking enjoyment in its suffering, but, instead, it has taken on the very real role of sadist, that is, taking pleasure in bringing pain to others, in this case, Orthodox Christians.
The head of the Episcopal Church, in public, compares a bishop that she has driven from the church with the shooter of the children and teachers in Connecticut. People who “break” the law (in this case, disagreeing with new and improved “victim as God” church policy) are the same as those who break the law in other ways.
I’m not making this up. She has said this.
She has also declared that God works through sexual molesters, and people who damage others in degrading and humiliating ways.
And she has bragged that not allowing break-away parishes to buy back their stripped-away sanctuaries, but instead letting them go to Muslim groups, etc., for much less money, is keeping people who disagree with her out of “her” buildings.
The supreme womb.
In this case, though, one that is stridently toxic and is literally suffocating the life out of the Christian faith that was once experienced in the Episcopal Church.