Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Jesus and Femininity

Feminism is a reality even within Orthodoxy. Many Orthodox women examine the issues of women and the Church, the role of women within the Church, whether they could become priests, or whether the Church could re-establish the role of the deaconesses. This ‘new’ reality has given significant and important understandings and exegeses of Scripture, Tradition, Church History etc. Following Elisabeth Behr-Sigel argues the issue of Jesus Christ and Femininity, and interesting topic, not known to many.

‘Jesus fully assumed his historical condition as a masculine human being, but the values that he exalted, especially in the Sermon on the Mount, are those which according to cultural tradition, especially in the West, are supposed to be feminine: gentleness, humility (Mt 11:29), forgiveness of offenses, and nonviolence (see Mt 5). In opposition to the classical, virile, and unfeeling hero, Jesus did not attempt to put down his emotions. For instance, he wept at the tomb of his friend (Jn 11:34-35). His relations with women show no trace of domination or seduction; there is no sign either of an idealization of femininity. The exaltation off feminine purity was often hypocritical because it was a purity expected of women only and not of men. The ugly side of this exaltation was cruelty and scorn towards the prostitute and the adulterous woman. To this feminine purity, Jesus opposed the sober reminder of the common state of sin: “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone” (Jn 8:7). Jesus took care of the sick, of the physical and moral wounds of men as well as women. He healed them, put them back on their feet: the paralytic of Matthew 9:2 (Mk 2:3; Lk 5:18) just like the crippled and bent over woman of Luke 13:10-13.’[1]     

[1] Behr-Sigel, Elisabeth, The Ministry of Women in the Church, (California, Oakwood Publications, 1991), p. 62. 

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