Not surprisingly our Holy Father Benedict XVI has diagnosed the “feminist revolution” as one of the key factors that has contributed to the moral decadence of our society. Once an “artist” insists upon playing an instrument for which he is not qualified, it ruins the best orchestras. This long and fascinating theme is, however, not our topic.
We suggest that we look at the question from a “male” point of view, and question whether this “discrimination virus” which has infected the female sex, should not also be applied to the male one.
In other words, we are raising the question whether the moment has not come for the male sex to finally discover how unfairly they have been treated in the Bible.
All we need do is to read Genesis. It tells us that Adam’s body was formed from the “slime” of the earth – not a very “aristocratic” origin. The one of Eve, however, was taken from the body of Adam - that is a person made to God’s image and likeness. Which one of us would be give preference to her origin?
Moreover, when Adam waking up from his sleep saw Eve, his response is one of joy: “bone of my bones; flesh of my flesh.” No word is, as far as we know, spoken by Eve when she saw her husband, even though being a woman, I cannot help but think that she was impressed by the beauty of his masculinity.
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We are told that “man will leave his father and mother” (obviously this does not apply to the first man) and cleave to his wife. We are not told that she will leave her family. This is mysterious, but a fact. Adam calls her “the mother of the living.” He is not given the title of “father of the living.” This sheds light on the fact that the Serpent addresses himself to Eve, not to Adam. The great St. Augustine claims that it was because being the weaker, she was easier to defeat.
I dare challenge this claim. I rather believe that the Evil one, being a murderer from the beginning, hated the one called “mother of the living,” for being a murderer from the beginning, he hates life. This gives us a key to the history of salvation; the duel between Satan and the Woman. The serpent defeats her, and her punishment is more severe than the one of the husband; they both share the fearful fact of death, of hard work, but she is particularly affected in the very domain which is her glory: to give birth.
From this moment on, Eve’s beautiful vocation – to give life – will be linked to severe pains. Often in the Old Testament when referring to great suffering, an explicit reference is made to “a woman in labor.”
Socrates, lecturing one of his sons, on his duty to respect his mother reminds him that “she has suffered to bring you into the world.” Obviously procreation is very different for the father and the mother. When a man tells me proudly that he has fourteen children, my reply is “I congratulate your wife.” I do not think that to be a father one hundred times deserves particular eulogy.
Particularly amazing is Eve’s remark when she gives birth to Cain: She explains, with God’s help “I have brought a man into the world.” (Genesis, 4:1) Adam is not even mentioned. One wonders whether he did not sheepishly whisper to his wife: “I also had some role to play in this birth.” If he did, Genesis does not mention it. One thing is clear: a mother’s relationship to her child is much closer than the one to its father. His role is paradoxical: both crucial and yet very modest. Referring to this undeniable fact, Chesterton starts doubting of the equality of the sexes. (What is Wrong with the World).
The sacred bond between mother and child is not only essential, but pre-given.
Paternity must be “conquered.” If an unworthy father abandons his child, we are less shocked and grieved than if a mother does. This is why God’s words: “Even if you mother would abandon you, I shall not do so” are not only so consoling, but also so revealing. This leads us to an obvious conclusion: the day the Evil one convinced some very foolish women that motherhood was some sort of “curse,” crushing female talents in the bud, he achieved his greatest victory since original sin. He who is a murderer from the beginning defeated “mothers of the living.”
The whole drama of redemptions takes place between the Evil one and the Woman.
(Column continues below)
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But this is not the end of the Biblical story. God, in his infinite goodness and mercy, decides to send man a savior. In his own good time, He created a little girl, who from the very moment of her conception was tota pulchra, in no way affected by original sin. This young female was offered to become the mother of the Savior. After expressing her amazement at this divine offer, and reminding the divine messenger that she is a Virgin, she is guaranteed that her virginity will be preserved; she will be covered by the Holy Spirit. Her answer is: “Be it done to me according to Thy word.” In this very moment, the greatest event in history took place: she conceives the Savior, He who was to declare solemnly that He Was Life itself. Eve was honored by the title: mother of the living. Mary gives birth to Life Itself.
Jesus – God and man – has therefore an earthly mother and no earthly father: the male sex is granted no role whatever in this earthshaking even. Is he not discriminated against? Indeed, Christ, the One Priest, has a mother, but no human father. In fact there is only one priest. And this priest has a mother: it is therefore clear that a woman’s mission is to be the mother of priests. The conclusion is luminous: one cannot be mother and son. This is why women are excluded from the priesthood.
The two charismas: mother and priesthood are complementary, but incompatible.