Archive for the ‘Catholic feminism’ Category

Darfur-WomenLa Stampa has collected some comments from influential women on the conclave, and on what they’d like to see during the new papacy.

Sister Maria Barbagallo, as the General Superior of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, has tackled many thorny issues. “If I had been able to talk during the congregations, I would have said that women are essential to the new evangelization started by Benedict XVI”, she explains. And adds: “We feel we are a living part of the Church even when our role is recognized. Women are freer from powers and special interests. We do not chase after positions of power”. In fact, “our service to the Church is qualified but not self-interested: I would have wanted to say to the Cardinals that women in the Church can do more”. Not only at the pastoral level, in preaching and charity, but also at the decision-making level. “We can bring Evangelical ferment with a female sensibility in order to intuit the spirit of the times”.

In fact, “Jesus always had women around, Hildegard of Bingen confronted popes, bishops and abbots”. In the US, Saint Francesca Cabrini overcame the sexist prejudices of the Church. “Still, today, if there were women in positions of power there would be fewer scandals in the Church: whether child abuses or Vatileaks”. With a maternal sense “we defend the rights of life”. Although “we can become the President of the Republic but not the Pope, we offer innovative contributions in the philosophical, spiritual, and mystical spheres”. Men often walk around problems, “we jump over the bureaucracy”. So, “the world must be looked at with the serenity of a God who is father and mother”. And she recalls: “Up until the Council, we were structured according to a monastic organization, where the vocation was measured according to the ability to obey and observe strict rules”. They were rules that, with some permits, could sometimes be changed, but “our life was still very disciplined. Vatican II introduced the crucial distinction between monastic life and apostolic life. Those indications arrived as a wind, even with a certain violence, driven primarily by North American nuns.

Lucetta Scaraffia, Professor of contemporary history at the “Sapienza” university, is responsible for the female insert of the Vatican’s daily newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.  “In our monthly inset we give voice to those who work in various roles in the Church,” she says. “In view of the conclave, the opinion of women was not formally accepted because in the General congregations it is not permitted by the statutes, and to let women talk would require a change to the laws of the Church”. For the next conclave “it would be opportune if the Cardinals could listen to abbesses, to the general superiors of orders and to the most influential lay women”. In the Synod Room the role of women was addressed. “In society there is confusion between women’s empowerment and women’s liberation from her biological maternal destiny, while the Church has continued to defend the female specificity, that of motherhood,” she stresses. Until the twentieth century, the Church has given women more opportunities for development than the rest of society: just think of Saints or the founders of active lifestyle congregations who travelled freely and managed great amount of funds”. Then, in the last century, “the situation has been reversed and the Church today does not recognize the equality of women within it. Yet in the defence of women the Church is always at the forefront”.

And [she] adds: “The Billings method of birth control is perfectly ‘feminist’ because it is totally managed by the woman and it does not harm her health”. The changes in Western societies that have opened to women spaces that were reserved for men have caused “a revolution in the configuration of sexual roles, introducing the issue of expanding the role of women, even for the Catholic Church”.  It is a problem of equality that “the Christian tradition has seen very clearly from the very beginning, bringing it to start a revolution against the concept of sexual difference”. This radical change “is the origin of contemporary women’s revolution”.

Sister Giuliana Galli, Vice President of the Compagnia di San Paolo, has always spoken clearly to Cardinals and bankers. “The social and religious framework is shaky,” she underlines. “There is the need for certainties that do not arise from human and divine knowledge”. The Gospel is always confronted with the real world. “You cannot perpetuate the image a society from two-thousand years ago when women were ignorant, yes, but it is not that the Apostles were luminaries either”. She appeals to the Bible: “God created man and woman”. The woman is the carrier of life in the long run, “without her there would be no evolution”.

So, more than the traditions, it is the word of God that counts: “The Word became flesh”. And it became flesh through a woman. “It was women who took care of corpses; they mended the sheet and prayed on the Shroud”. Yet society and the Church “still find it hard to enhance the role of women”. Indeed, “the most reactionary and closed environments towards female participation are the Church and finance”. But a house without woman falls into disrepair, it is cold, it doesn’t breathe”. A ban on speaking to the congregations is “crystallized on who-knows-what tradition”. So the female contribution to the Church is “like good wine forgotten in the cellar”. Evangelization is fullness of life. “And who better than a woman could be witness to this fullness which brings life?” Certainly at the congregations “I wouldn’t have made ‘sentimental’ speeches: we speak of love too much these days”.  In fact, “a colossal hypocrisy has defaced the meaning of this word in the private dimension of relationships and in the public one of institutions, of the Church and of communication”. Maybe the time has come not to mention it any further, to let it be.  There is the urgent need of a lay “eleventh commandment”. That is: “Though shalt not mention love in vain to retrieve the radicalness of meaning of an abused and mistreated word”. Charity “is not a substitute for justice. It is a better dress than justice, which is a part of charity. Women know this”.

Sister Maria Trigilia, world delegate of the Salesian co-operators, sees “a problem of appropriation of the female identity”.  Although women do not enter into the conclave, “the Cardinals should also be bearers of women’s demands”. She hopes that “they will listen to the teaching of recent Popes about the ‘genius’ of women”. Religious women participate “in round-tables and meetings for the processing of ideas: the conclavists have to take this into account”. The template is there and is a half a century old. Vatican II had the appearance of a “sexist” Conference, actually after the Council nothing was like before even for the feminine universe. The 23 women who were accepted in the proceedings by Paul VI starting in 1964 were auditors, and historical research has realized the weight that these women, who were allowed into the room with a black veil on their heads and that the Synod Fathers called “mothers”, exercised in urging the Vatican II to examine the real problems of the status of women and of women’s rights. “It is also because of this that in the Catholic Church nowadays there are female theologians: thanks to the Council the male monopoly on theology ended,” she explains. I would have reminded the Cardinals that Joseph Ratzinger has delineated the presence of women. The woman’s mark is more central and fruitful than ever”. This depends on the Church’s identity, which it receives from God and accepts in faith. “It is this mystical, profound, essential identity that has to be kept in mind when thinking about the respective roles of men and women in the Church”.

Ratzinger’s lesson has to be remembered: looking at Mary and imitating her doesn’t mean orienting the Church towards a passivity based on an outmoded concept of womanhood and condemning it to a dangerous vulnerability in a world where what matters most is primarily domination and power. “The way of Christ is neither that of domination nor the one of power as it is understood by the world”. This “passivity” is actually the path of Love, it is a royal power that defeats all violence, and it is passion that saves the world from sin”.

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I’ve been avoiding the LCWR vs Vatican discussion for at least four reasons. One, I didn’t have time to look into the background (fixed). Two, I don’t live in the US and I don’t presume that what I know about nun/magisterium relationships here in NZ automatically transfers elsewhere. Three, US bloggers were already having a field day, and I didn’t see that I had anything to add. Four, it’s a hot-button issue for at least one of our commenters, and I wanted to avoid a combox full of cliches and undercover venom.

Now the Anchoress has summed up my feelings on reasons three and four in a masterful post that also provides links for those who want to examine the issue in more depth. Thanks, Elizabeth.

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There’s a bit of a dust-up in the States over some lobbyist suggesting that Ann Romney, the wife of republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, has ‘never worked a day in her life’.  A silly statement, of course, as it stands; the storm that descended was predictable, and I’m not at all interested in adding to it.

But part of the commentary has hared off along a track I do want to comment on – the idea that people are defined by their work (and pretty much exclusively by their paid work). This seems to me a highly impoverished view. It doesn’t begin to cover a person’s economic and social worth, let alone who the person really is.

By defining people by what they do for pay, we ignore huge swathes of activity that contributes to social wellbeing. When my children were little, I was privileged to be able to take time out of the paid workforce to focus on family and community.  Later, I went back into the paid workforce, starting my own business (as many professional women do), because that gave me the flexibility to fit in family-centred activities.

The unpaid years spanned three censuses (we have a census every five years in New Zealand, earthquakes permitting). So three times in those years I faced the ‘occupation’ box, which read:


Job, profession, trade or type of work in which you now work full-time or part-time for financial reward, or as an unpaid relative assisting. State fully, e.g. sheep farmer, auto-electrician, builder’s labourer, dental nurse, wages clerk. If unemployed, state previous occupation. If not applicable, write NIL.

I was certainly not unemployed. And while I worked more than full-time, I didn’t do so for financial reward. And I strenuously objected to answering a question headed ‘Occupation’ with ‘NIL’. Was I an unpaid relative assisting in a job, profession, trade, or type of work? That didn’t seem to quite fit, either. The Census Department suggested ‘housewife’ – but that wasn’t accurate; I wasn’t allowing my husband to take full responsibility for the family income so that I could care for the house. So for three censuses, I responded ‘Kept woman’.

Then, for a number of years, I balanced offering professional writing services with a whole range of activities that centred around family – from taxi-driver and dress maker to homework advisor and ethics assessor. Which was ‘my occupation’? Why, all of them. I wasn’t defined by any single activity, but by my choices to be involved in the full range of activities.

(Now, I always put ‘writer’. That’s a small part of what I do in my primary paid job – and an even smaller part of my total social and economic activity. But it gives the poor folk at NZ Statistics something to put in their graphs.)

I’m irritated by the ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ questions that well-meaning people ask children. The best answer I’ve heard pointed up the stupidity of the question – my four year old son, thrilled to be given a choice, responded: “a horse”.

A variant is the question about what parents want their child to be:  I want mine to be responsible adults, valued in their communities, and loved in their families. What they do for a living, provided it is legal and moral, is a matter entirely for them.

And, come to that, whatever they have chosen, that decision is unlikely to be final. Nowadays, people move from profession to profession five or more times during their working lives. I initially trained as a kindergarten teacher. I spent a year or so in a typing pool.  I was once a kitchenhand (for one morning – I was fired for being too slow) and I spent a brief period one summer as a strawberry picker. Changing occupations didn’t change who I was.

There have been many moves over the years to value women’s unpaid work. This is an idea with the best of intentions, but I believe it is fundamentally misguided. Let’s value all unpaid work, whoever does it – and let’s value it not by assigning it a putative monetary amount, but by praising and appreciating the people who carry it out. There seems to me something deeply suspect about assigning a monetary value to mothering, household management, or community volunteering. It is saying (in effect) “the work you do to raise your children to be good citizens is almost as good as a real job.” Saying that such work is essential to the economy is true, but misses the point that the motivation is not economic – in fact, for many (if not most) of us, the whole point of paid work is to make it possible for us to spend the unpaid part of our lives on what we really want/need to do.

Perhaps we need a Western version of the Hindu Ashrams.

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Each year on the feast of the Annunciation, Universalis posts a meditation on Mary’s ‘yes’. Go look at the whole thing (it’s quite short), but here are some highlights:

If we believe that the most important decision in the history of the world was in fact inevitable, that it couldn’t have been otherwise, then that means it was effortless.  Now we have a marvellous excuse for laziness…  If God really wants us to do something he’ll sweep us off his feet the way he did Mary, and if he chooses not to, it’s hardly our fault, is it?

…When we fail to seek our vocation, or put off fulfilling some part of it, we try to justify ourselves by saying that someone else will do it better, that God will provide, that it doesn’t really matter.  But we are lying.  However small a part I have to play, the story of the Annunciation tells me it is my part and no-one else can do it….There is one more truth that the Annunciation teaches us, and it is so appalling that I can think of nothing uplifting to say about it that will take the sting away: perhaps it is best forgotten, because it tells us more about God than we are able to understand.  The Almighty Father creates heaven and earth, the sun and all the stars; but when he really wants something done, he comes, the Omnipotent and Omniscient, to one of his poor, weak creatures — and he asks.


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I never wanted to be a heroine. For as far back as I can remember, I wanted to be a hero – not a guy (I liked being a girl), but a woman hero, faster than speeding bullets on my very own; able to leap my own tall buildings in a single bound. In the 50s, when the girls in books and movies were usually wimps with little more gumption than Pauline of the Perils, my own fantasy games and dreams had a strong-minded, competent, female lead.

As a young mother, fresh from two years of Human Psychology and Child Development lectures at training college and university, I was determined not to repeat the errors of past generations. Our children would not be railroaded into gender-appropriate behaviour through their clothes and their toys. They would be left to develop both their nurturing and their adventurous sides.

We dressed our daughter in overalls, in bright primary colours. For her first birthday, we gave her a wooden truck and a wooden tractor and trailer set, as well as soft toys. When her brother came along, we filled his cot with soft toys, as well as cars and trucks. When he asked for a doll at 18 months, we gave him one.

Our daughter used her truck to transport her soft toys and dolls to parties. Our son used his doll as a prisoner, a target for a gun made from his fingers (in an attempt to raise pacifists, I wouldn’t have war toys in the house), and a side-kick in an endless series of superhero scenarios.

As time went by, I calmed down a little, and accepted that boys and girls are, on average, different in the ways they play, and the ways they interact with the universe.

Barbie and My Little Pony infiltrated the house. The boys asked for, and got, Transformer toys.Laser Force and Walkie Talkies were for everyone, and so was the lego – though it was the boys who played with it most.

Today, I admire my strong-minded, competent daughters – who paint their fingernails, wear skirts and high-heels, and enjoy being women. I pity anyone who thinks any one of them is a pushover because of her gender, and when they work together they’re unstoppable. Barbie and the colour pink didn’t teach them to be passive. Nor did guns and war play teach my boys to be brutal. It would be hard to find gentler, more kindly men.

It was, as some of you may have guessed from the picture at the top, pink Lego that set me thinking along these lines. Some people see the introduction of a line targeted at girl-type play as an attack on freedom. Others ask whether the appeal of feminism is so weak that pink building blocks can destroy it.

The reference in two of these pieces to the princess industrial complex set me smiling. Been there; done that! My older granddaughter is through the princess stage, but the younger one is right in there. And their mothers and I have used the many princess stories and movies as opportunities to talk about which princesses show the most sense; what makes a real princess; how princesses relate to real life. Jennifer Fulwiler says that princesses inspire her daughters to dream:

After we went to the toy store that day, my daughters pulled out their tattered princess dresses and magic wands and ran around singing and dancing. Their polyester gowns have rips and fraying hems, their scepters are missing rhinestones, and their tiaras are held together by scotch tape. On top of that, they seem to have inherited their mother’s inability to carry a tune. They were a long, long way from the idealized images they’d seen in their fairy tale cartoons. And yet they radiated joy, dancing through the house with the certainty that they were beautiful. For them, to want to be a “pwincess” is not about concrete things like money or body type or hair color; it’s about exploring weighty aspects of the human experience like beauty and hope and fear and goodness, encapsulated in a way that’s understandable to their young minds.

And Lynn Harris very sensibly concludes that:

…we are powerless to fully shield our children from the pink princess tractor beam. Or, really, from any of that crap that is apparently streamed directly into their brain cells by an unsettling process I call Elmosis. (My kids had never seen him. And yet they knew him. What is that?) Anyway, if I forbid princesses completely, she’ll only sneak out and experiment. Best to do it on my watch. Ultimately, when it comes to princesses, the incessant marketing makes me much crazier than the inherent mythology.

Plus, I figure, I liked princesses, not to mention my Barbie Beauty Salon, and… I still turned out okay. Why? In part because princesses and skinny Dawn dolls and mommy’s lipstick were not the only things I was exposed to. I also climbed trees, raised pet lizards, and watched my mom do local environmental activism and my dad value her for more than, I don’t know, her hair.

There is no way I want my girls and their daughters to live in the kind of culture portrayed on Big Fat Gypsy Weddings, where a girl is a princess on her wedding day and a skivvy before and after. But that result, I believe, has more to do with how their mothers behave, and how their fathers behave towards their mothers, than with the colour of their lego blocks.

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Here’s a link to a post from Joanne McPortland on her feelings about the abortion debate in the United States. The following quote strongly resonates with me:

Tomorrow marks the 39th anniversary of the passage of Roe v. Wade, and everybody I know is–literally or figuratively–on the bus to Washington for the annual March for Life. Most of the Catholics I know and love are on the bus in support of the march and in passionate protest of the right to legalized abortion that Roe established. Most of the non-Catholics I know and love are on another bus entirely, in protest of the march and in passionate support of retaining and expanding Roe’s provisions.

There’s a seat saved for me on each bus, but I feel more like I’ve been run over by them both.

I loathe the vitriol that so often fuels both vehicles, quite frankly. Taking a seat on either bus would mean aligning myself not only with the finest ideals and most compassionate goals of that side of the debate–and believe me, I know how much of a limb I’m going out on even to cede that both sides have ideals and compassion!–but also with the worst bigotry and stereotyping and hatred that side can muster. All this in the name of human life, that most precious and dignified gift of God–as precious and dignified, I deeply believe, in the form of a woman struggling to choose where her life goes next as it is in the tiny footprint of her fetus.

And this:

I want passionately to advocate for a world in which no woman aborts, because there are no circumstances in which there aren’t better and safer and more affordable and compassionate and communally-supported alternatives that respect the woman as a person as much as the child she carries. I want to stand up for the wonder and glory of life in all its complicated, messy, terrifying, holy forms and circumstances.

What she said.

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Mary, the Ark As Revealed in Mary’s Visit to Elizabeth

Golden Box: Ark of the Old Covenant Mary: Ark of the New Covenant
The ark traveled to the house of Obed-edom in the hill country of Judea (2 Sam. 6:1-11). Mary traveled to the house of Elizabeth and Zechariah in the hill country of Judea (Luke 1:39).
Dressed as a priest, David danced and leapt in front of the ark (2 Sam. 6:14). John the Baptist – of priestly lineage – leapt in his mother’s womb at the approach of Mary (Luke 1:41).
David asks, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” (2 Sam. 6:9). Elizabeth asks, “Why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:43).
David shouts in the presence of the ark (2 Sam. 6:15). Elizabeth “exclaimed with a loud cry” in the presence of the Mary (Luke 1:42).
The ark remained in the house of Obed-edom for three months (2 Sam. 6:11). Mary remained in the house of Elizabeth for three months (Luke 1:56).
The house of Obed-edom was blessed by the presence of the ark (2 Sam. 6:11). The word blessed is used three times; surely the house was blessed by God (Luke 1:39-45).
The ark returns to its home and ends up in Jerusalem, where God’s presence and glory is revealed in the temple (2 Sam. 6:12; 1 Kgs. 8:9-11). Mary returns home and eventually ends up in Jerusalem, where she presents God incarnate in the temple (Luke 1:56; 2:21-22).

(Table from Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant, by Steven Ray)

Happy feast day of the Immaculate Conception.

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The Assumption (An Answer)

Before Earth saw Him, she had felt and known
The small soft feet that thrust like buds in Spring.
The body of Our Lord was all her own
Once. From the cross her arms received her King.

Think you that she, who bore Him on her breast,
Had not the Word still living in her heart?
Or that, because one voice had called her blest,
Her inmost soul had lost the better part?

Henceforth all generations……Ah, but that
You think was an ancient song she knew!
Millions this night will sing Magnificat,
And bring at least one strange prediction true.

Think you His heaven, that deep transcendent state,
Floats like Murillo’s picture in the air?
Or that her life, so heavenly consecrate,
Had no essential habitation there?

Think you He looked upon her dying face,
And, throned above His burning seraphim,
Felt no especial tenderness or grace
For her whose life-blood once had throbbed in Him?

Proof of his filial love, His body on earth
Still lives and breathes, and tells us, night and day,
That earth and heaven were mingled in His birth,
Through her, who kneels beside us when we pray;

Kneels to the Word made flesh; Her living faith
Kneels to Incarnate Love, “not lent but given,”
Assumed to her on earth; and, after death,
Assuming her to His own heart in Heaven.

Alfred Noyes.

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Melinda Selmys blogs about the other side of our modern hysteria about sex – the Catholic oversanctification of sex as a holy act that unites husband and wife, and mirrors the self-giving love of God. While this is true, she says, it is no more the whole truth than the view it is meant to counter – that sex is essential to human life, and always fun, liberating, and empowering.

It’s just sex. If you don’t have it, it’s not the end of the world. If you do have it, and it’s rushed, mediocre, and half-asleep, it’s not the end of the world. A lot of the time, you end up with a situation where there is a strong biological imperative to make love on the part of one spouse, and a total lack of interest on the part of the other. This isn’t reductionistic and selfish, it’s just biology.

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Tim Muldoon at Patheos has been running a series that meshes nicely with our ongoing discussion of marriage. He’s talking about Sex and Christianity – he’s up to part 4.

In Part 1, he asks a number of questions that he proposes to answer in the series. He also presents his working hypothesis:

Human beings are each uniquely created by God to praise, reverence and serve God, and so all their desires are rooted in this fundamental orientation, known in the tradition as a “vocation” or calling to become the person God has created us to be. Because of the complexity of human life, a mishmash of competing voices, incentives, objects of desire, noble goals, imagined outcomes, confused directions, and so on, it becomes difficult to distinguish or discern which desires are worth listening to. For much of human history, it was fine to just go along with the crowd, because one generally lived amidst families and clans who guided one through rites of passage into social roles that redounded to a common good.

In modern times, though, with greater mobility and access to a complex world through modern communications and advertising, the previous models and guides are insufficient, leading many people to bewilderment about how to discern which desires are worth listening to. And increasingly, amidst pluralism and interreligious and nonreligious currents of thought, people have lost the provincial certainty that characterized earlier epochs of history. People don’t know what to believe. And lacking a belief which gives structure to all other beliefs, the way religions have done in the past, people have no way to make judgments about which desires are more important than others, and they fall into patterns of responding to the most immediate desires, one of the most powerful of which is sexual desire.

He goes on to ask whether freedom from discipline is consistent with real freedom.

In Part 2, he states that sex is not a private matter; this powerful driver leads individuals to behaviours that have impact on our wider network of family and friends, and on society as a whole.

…there is potential danger when sexual questions are not public questions, when people believe that intimacy has no implications for families and for societies as a whole.

Sexual issues must be brought into the light of day, for only strong social pressures can restrain the runaway passion that gives birth to the twins of eros and anger. Conservatives rightly point out that we are foolish to sweep away, through short-sighted legislation, social mores that have developed over centuries. Yet progressives are right to point out that social mores always reflect a society’s winners, most of whom have not (for example) been stay-at-home moms or, for that matter, single people. The right balance is what the best of Christian tradition (not exclusively, of course) has practiced: rootedness in a textual tradition, but informed by contemporary commentary.

From the Priestly account of Creation he draws the following message for today:

“Look, God made both men and women. We’re painfully aware of how different we are, and yet even in spite of that difference there’s something we share that makes us unlike any other animals. We are human beings together, and together we can build a good world.”

The creation stories end with a compelling line: “The man and his wife were both naked, yet they felt no shame” (Gen. 2: 25). The task of the good society, the Priestly writers suggest to us, is for men and women to see each other not as competitors, but cooperators: to leverage sexual desire toward reconciliation, in order to inoculate the society against the potential violence that explodes from unrestrained sex.

Part 3 looks at the two sexual myths that bedevil our current approach to human relationships:

The first myth (let’s call it “hypocritical monogamy” or HM, exemplified by Arnold Schwarzenegger, Al Gore, Jesse Jackson, Eliot Spitzer, John F. Kennedy…I could go on) is of the seemingly monogamous marital relationship, a veneer under which there seethes raw natural drives which must be secretly released. Some will suggest that it is nature which makes monogamy a lie, an unnatural straightjacketing of sex.

The other myth (“sex positive” or SP, exemplified by Hugh Hefner, Madonna, Dan Savage, the Marquis de Sade, Alfred Kinsey, and Carol Queen) is of a world of complete freedom, self-discovery, and pleasure unencumbered by false social expectations…

Clearly these temptations are as old as history, and are destructive of relationships. Ancient Israel, Babylon, Crete, India, Rome, and many other nations created laws to restrict such choices, making them subject to law. Ancient peoples were very aware of sexual license and the injury it did to children, families, and societies. Marriage laws, interestingly, amounted to a kind of proto-feminism, reducing the likelihood of predatory activity by men. They were imperfect, favoring men, but what is remarkable is that they nevertheless aimed at the restraint of male sexual drive by promoting lawful marriage and childbearing, and punishing adultery and other forms of nonmarital sex…

Christian spirituality is not utopian about sex: it is realistic, meditative, careful, reverent. It recognizes that people imbue sex with meaning by practicing it in the context of married love: the hard life’s work of coming to see a person of the other sex as beautiful in spite of flaws. It does not ignore the biological roots of sex, but recognizes that like other areas of our lives rooted in biology (eating, sleeping, experiencing illness, etc.), sex is made human by the ways we orient it toward goods we share with others. Sure, there’s temptation: why would cultures proscribe adultery if it weren’t a constant temptation? But ultimately there is great hope in the circumscribing of sex, the hope that in cultivating its expressions in ways that benefit others, there is the opportunity to discover in another human being something of the holy.

Part 4 is about Christian Feminism. In his introduction, Muldoon says:

How to “ensure equality” is the wrong question. The right question is “How can we ensure that girls and women can become the people that God has created them to be?”

Many modern women reject the so-called sexual revolution. They ask why the equality of women comes down to tolerance for behaviour from women that was previously only tolerated in men.

Many forms of modern feminism assume male sexuality as a given, and want women to catch up to it. I want to reverse the movement: instead of wanting women to catch up to male patterns of sexual expression—expressions which are themselves often artificially inflated because of consumer driven desire—we ought to be wanting to release both men and women from false desires for sex and power. The freedom of women is not to be found in sexual autonomy. In fact, the freedom of men isn’t in sexual autonomy either, because such an idea removes sex from the context of interpersonal love and family-making. When sex is about power rather than self-transcendence in love, people get hurt.

Instead, freedom consists in the cultivation of a life lived in practicing love. Love is what moves us to realize our deepest desires, to be who God has created us to be, to reach for great and noble goals, to serve purposes greater than ourselves, to stretch our notions of ourselves beyond what we are capable of imagining in our limited, small worlds.

I’ll update this as he posts more, but meanwhile, take a look at the original articles, and see his full argument.

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