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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

More from Father Elijah on Biblical authority and gender identity

I’m not home but in the beach resort of Sochi on the Black Sea. I’m using the computer of the local priest to participate in the forum.

Responding to 'Dicko':

Well, Dicko, being ‘spiritual’ and quoting texts from the Bible is not necessarily opposed to being ‘realistic’. On the contrary, if you respect the different circumstances biblical personalities were living in, you’ll find that they were often more realistic than we are today!

They had no television, computer games, commercial advertisement – and no nuclear missiles and illusions about clean wars. Searching the meaning Bible texts might help us to get back to reality and search the truth today. It seems to me that what you’re afraid of is people piously switching off their own reason when discussing the Bible – whereas they should switch it on.

Responding to Jo:

Jo said, "To me the reality here is that we are beings of depth and meaning, heart and soul and to deny that reality in our lives can lead us to search for fulfillment in some very strange and superficial ways indeed!"

Yes, and on the other hand we need the outside world to learn, to correct ourselves, and manifest the secrets that we hold inside. Man and woman meet each other on the bridge between their interior and exterior realities – and they can help each other to become more truthful – isn’t it? But I think to be really united, man and woman must not only look at each other, but also to the One that created them and gives life through them. Maybe true friendship is the best way not to become a bigot?

Responding to Stephen:

Stephen said, "The young guys who work for me are really stressed by not being able to buy a home, it impacts their self concept. Me telling them they are buying the devils deal would not be particularly helpful. Well may we sit at our computers ruminating self actualized theologically correct thoughts for posting, but people lower down Maslow's hierarchy are still focused on things like shelter in the context of their society and its values."

That’s why a fighting club with a Christian background is very useful in making young men of different intellectual capacities equal on a basic level of manhood, and teaches them to respect each other and look beyond themselves. I think until he discovers himself as mediator between God and life, no male will know himself, nor will he dare to be open to any other person he’s meeting, and therefore he won’t feel at home in his own skin.

Stephen also said, "There is another layer; power."

The balance of power in human relationships is worth a new topic…

There’s different kinds of power. First there is the power to achieve by action a goal or an objective, which seems to be typically part of the male identity. But there is also the power to attract, bind and unite, not by physical force but by attracting to a higher meaning to all actions. This power seems to be part of the female identity. A third power, typical rather of the male identity, seems to be a combination of the two: the power to attract by being an example for others to achieve a goal.

I’m writing all this, because sometimes the will to have power and dominate is only ascribed to men – which is understandable, as much of their life is spent with playing physical power games, but it’s not correct: being spiritual creatures, we are confronted not only by physical but also spiritual powers.

Responding to Narjoy:

Narjoy wrote, "Maybe its time for us as human beings to discard the idea of "masculinism vv feminism" and get back to why God created us male and female in the first place. We weren't meant to dominate one another......we were originally meant to complement each other. I see women in the workforce, with them foolishly believing that to compete with the men they need to become like a man."

I couldn’t agree more. There’s something unfair about ‘shifting the power balance’. Woman can use the legal structures and civil rights to get some domination over men, but men can never attract in the same way as women do. Maybe this is the opinion of a male chauvinist pig, but when I see men paying attention to their (supposed) beauty (like I just saw on the beach) it looks ridiculous to me and I feel disgust.

Narjoy also said, "Women now have the opportunity to ... learn traditional "male" occupations ... and as a result, many men feel threatened. I see no point in labels. But maybe it might be useful if we recognized that men and women are wonderfully different and we were meant to be that way, and instead of trying to compete with each other, try to complement each other."

I think there are two reasons why men feel threatened:

First of all, because they will never be able to attract and unite the way women do, so the arrival of women on the labour market is not founded on an equal exchange. Women gain, men loose or at least gain nothing.

The other thing is, that after all there are jobs implying risk that women will never do as men do them. In the army, for example, for women, lower achievements are required for reaching the same grade. Not only is this an injustice, but also a danger for society if things get really out of hand. And yes, I agree – complementarity is the key. But not just on a human, but also on a religious level.

OK, Narjoy, let's find the meaning, er, wisdom, of being man and woman again – on the condition that we don’t end up making silly rules because we are afraid to be free. If we (re)discover the meaning of being woman or man, we should become more free; and then, as watch life search its truth and reveal its secret, we’ll be surprised, amused, amazed... and grow wiser!


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