Thursday, March 8, 2012

Modernity's Debased View of Woman's Equality

    The brouhaha, the flap, over Rush Limbaugh’s latest demented diatribe is nothing more than half a century of Republican outrage that women might be as smart and capable as men. If they are that smart, the male-dominated world—the patriarchal domain of the past—is utterly destroyed by the fact of equality between men and women. And nothing renders that equality more visibly than the issue of by women’s reproductive rights—not their education.
So begins CounterPuncher Charles R. Larson, who claims to be "old enough to remember when contraceptive pills first became available in the early 1960s and the deadlock that immediately resulted: women felt liberated, men (especially white men, who still had all the power) felt threatened" — Women as Wallpaper.

Leaving aside the reality that "women’s reproductive rights" had the deeper effect of liberating men from their social and moral responsibilities towards women and children, giving them licence to act like pigs, does "the fact of equality between men and women" (undisputed) really depend on recent advances in technology?

Leaving behind the confused musings of this "Emeritus Professor of Literature at American University," let us turn to something profound and exalted written in the IVth Century of the Christian Era:
    "In Christ Jesus," says the Apostle, "there is neither male nor female." Yet Scripture says that mankind was divided that way. It follows that our nature is constructed on a twofold plan: united in the common possession of human nature, by which man is like to God; yet divided into the two sexes. There is a hint of this truth contained in the order of the expressions which Scripture uses. The first account says, "God created man, to the image of God he created him"; but when the account is repeated, something is added: "male and female he made them"; and the latter division is not one of the characteristics of God.

    In this passage Holy Scripture contains, it seems to me, a deep and profound lesson, namely, that man's nature lies midway between two extremes between the divine, incorporeal nature, and the irrational nature of the brute creation. Examine the compound which is man and you will find that he has a share in each of these opposite elements. From the divine nature we receive reason and understanding, which are not divided according to sex; from the irrational nature of the brutes, we receive our bodily structure, divided into male and female. Each of these two elements is to be found complete in every human being. From the order of the account of man's first creation we learn that in man power of understanding takes first place, while his sharing in the nature of the brute creation, his similarity to the brutes, is something super added. First we are told that "God made man to his own image and likeness," to indicate that, as the Apostle says, in God there is neither male nor female; then a special characteristic is added to human nature ­male and female he made them."

    What lesson are we to learn from this? I would ask the reader's indulgence if I go back some way to explain the point we are discussing. God is, by his very nature, all the good it is possible to conceive; or rather he surpasses in goodness all that it is possible for our minds to understand or grasp. And his reason for creating human life is simply this because he is good. Such being the nature of God, and such the one reason why he undertook the work of making man, there were to be no half measures when he set about to show forth the power of his goodness. He would not give a mere part of what was his own, and grudge to share the rest. The very utmost limit of goodness is displayed in this work of bringing man into being out of nothing, this heaping on man of all that is good. In fact, so many are the benefits bestowed on every man that it would be no easy task to list them all. And so Holy Scripture sums all up in one phrase by saying that man was created to the image of God; which is the equivalent of saying that God made human nature a sharer in all that is good.

    Now, one of these good things is freedom. Man is not subject to any overmastering yoke of necessity. We are our own masters, to choose what seems good to us. Virtue is something we choose for ourselves, not something forced upon us from outside . . . But if an image bears in every point the impress of the beauty of the Prototype, it can no longer be called an image at all, but is the very Prototype itself, since there is no means of telling the two apart. Wherein, then, lies the distinction between God and the image of God? In this: that God is uncreated, the image of God created. This difference gives rise in turn to other differences. All are agreed that the uncreated Nature is also unchangeable, while for a created nature to exist is to change. The very passage from not being to being is a kind of movement, a kind of change. By the will of God that which was not begins to be... that which came into being through change has a natural affinity to change. And so the Creator, who, as the prophet says, knows all things before they come to be, when he created man saw, or rather foresaw what human nature would incline to, following its self-determining, self‑mastering power. And as he looked upon the creature that was to be, he added to his image and likeness the division into male and female. To this division nothing corresponds in the divine archetype.

    It is borrowed as I have said, from the nature of irrational creatures. The true reason for this additional structure is something that could only be given by those who had received a view of the truth, and handed it down to us in inspired Scripture. All we can do is to give the best picture we can, based on conjecture and likelihood. We shall give it not as the last word on the subject, but as a sort of exercise, submitted to the reader's kind consideration. Our suggestion is this: when Scripture says that God created man, this indefinite expression man means universal human nature. Adam is not yet named as the new creature, as he is later on in the account. The creature is called man ‑not any particular man, but man in general. This general, term, used for the nature created, indicates that God by his foreknowledge included the whole human race in this first fashioning. We may not suppose that anything made by God is left indefinite. Every actual creature must have some definite measure of perfection assigned to it by the wisdom of its Maker and just as an individual man is made with a body of a definite size, enclosing his human nature within the limits of a definite quantity, namely, the dimensions of his body, so it seems to me the whole range of humanity was enclosed, as it were, in one body by the foreknowledge of the God of all things. This is what Scripture intends to convey by saying that God made man and made him to the image of God. The gracious gift of likeness to God was not given to a mere section of humanity, to one individual man; no, it is a perfection that finds its way in equal measure to every member of the human race. This is shown by the fact that all men possess ‑ mind. Everybody has the power to think and plan, as well as all the other powers that appear distinctively in creatures that mirror the divine nature. On this score there is no difference between the first man that ever was and the last that ever will be all bear the stamp of divinity. Thus the whole of humanity was named as one man, since for the Divine Power there is neither past nor future. What is still to come, no less than what is now, is governed by his universal sway.

    The whole of human nature, then, from the first man to the last, is but one image of him who is. The division into male and female was something super-added to the work, made, it seems to me, for the reasons I have given.
So wrote St. Gregory of Nyssa, quoted by Henri-Marie Cardinal de Lubac in the first appendix to his Catholicism: Christ and the Common Destiny of Man.

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