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Switch to Forum Live View Does the Imago Dei endorse binary gender?
4 years ago  ::  Jan 08, 2011 - 8:19PM #1
Cjbanning
Posts: 282
And God said, "Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky." So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth." And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

And God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind." And it was so. God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, "Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth." So God created humankind in God's image; in the image of the gods, God created them; male and female God created them.

All too often, I think people read Genesis 1:27 as actually affirming binary gender as something which is somehow divinely ordained--that God personally, actively, and deliberately separated the human species into male and female, all by Godself. But I think that's a bad interpretation.

My assumptions: the reference to the imago dei in Gen. 1:27 comes towards the end of what is the first of two creation narratives in Genesis. Gen. 1:1-2:3 is called by scholars the "Priestly" account; Genesis 2:4-25ff is called the "Yahwist." Both stories represent the result of many generations of oral tradition which were ultimately compiled together in the work that would come to be known as the Book of Genesis.

The primary purpose of both narratives, but especially the Priestly account, is etiological: it explains how and why the world came into being. I don't think it's intended to explain what came into being at all; the ancient Hebrews simply could look around to see that. Of course, the "what" needed to be described in order to discuss the how and the why, and the ancient Hebrews did so in the languuage which was available to them, but I don't think the Priestly account is really making an ontological point at all. The Priestly account doesn't tell us that God created birds on the fifth day in order to explain that there is a such thing as "birdness" which all those flying things have in common (leading one to wonder whether non-flying birds like ostriches, and fying mammals like bats, were created on the fifth or sixth day); it does so to explain where all those flying things (whatever we want to call them and however we wish to classify them) came from. Trying to force metaphysics onto the myth seems to be doing it a great disservice, especially if one believes that ideologically-neutral "textualist" or "functionalist" readings are available to a reader.

I'd argue that the mention of gender in 1:27 is functionally equivalent to the mention of avians in 1:20-24: "men" and "women" were categories which were already experientially present to the ancient Hebrews. That men and women existed was already stipulated, rightly or wrongly; they didn't need oral tradition to tell them that. The creation narrative would thus have functioned to explain where both genders came from--from God--rather than to assign them some type of eternal, unchanging essence. 

If we assume the opposite, that Gen. 1:27 is detailing some sort of deliberate "creation" of gender and/or gendered differences (prominent marriage equality opponent Maggie Gallagher describes it as "the idea that God himself [sic] made man [sic] as male and female and commanded men and women to come together in a special way to image the fruitfulness of God"), then we're left with the uncomfortable question of just what was the deal with all those birds and fish that were created (the story goes) on the fifth day. Did the ancient Hebrews assume they just sort of existed genderlessly until the sixth day?

Why mention gender in 1:27 at all, then? Part of me thinks this question is wrongheaded--we might just as well ask why 1:20-24 mentions birds specifically. But insofar as we read Genesis as making a more profound point about men and women than it is about fish and sea creatures, I think the point is to make it explicit that men and women shared equally in the imago dei. Granted that the overall culture would have been a patriarchal one, I don't think this reading is in any way anachronistic, or at least not inherently so. Since Genesis is a compilation of often contradictory oral traditions, we shouldn't be surprised to find a proto-feminist sentiment lurking among the patriarchalism. Furthermore, there's plenty of patriarchal notions which are simultaneously deeply sexist but still (arguably) compatible with the notion of equal participation in the imago dei--for example, the notion of two separate but equal spheres.

Of course, as moderns and postmoderns we do not look to Genesis as etiological in the same way as did those who were actually shaping those oral traditions. For us, the spiritual truth testified to in Genesis 1 that all of creation is God-breathed is in some sense divorceable from any sense of Genesis 1 (or Genesis 2) as historical or scientific fact. But the spiritual truth is still a truth about a relationship between God and the world--that God is the ground and source of all being--and not one about the contents or structure of that world.

We don't construct our taxonomies of nature based on a division between "flying birds," "sea creatures," and "land animals," but based on (if you accept evolution, which I'm hoping you do) DNA and evolutionary processes and so on or (if you don't accept natural selection) fundamental similarities in anatomic structures, so that (for example) bats and whales are both mammals, ostriches and penguins are birds, etc. We recognize that the storytellers which passed down the Priestly creation story were expressing a profound spiritual truth using a pre-scientific language.

Furthermore, we don't consider even our more scientific classifications to represent ontological essences, but simply convenient ways of structuring our knowledge of the natural world. That the platypus is a mammal which happens to lay eggs isn't something that many lose all that much sleep over, nor should they. It's an example of the limitation of human systems of categorization, not a transgression against some law of nature, be it divine or scientific.

It seems to me that the same approach is appropriate in terms of gender. Male and female are categories which we use, for good or ill, to structure the way we think (and which the ancient Hebrews certainly used to structure the way they thought) of human (and non-human animal) diversity, in much the same way that "bird," "fish," and "mammal" are used to structure our understanding of a different type of animal diversity. But these are no more divinely-ordained categories than are "bird," "fish," and "mammal," and nothing in Genesis 1 should make us think that they are. Rather we recognize that they were using their own flawed patriarchal language, lacking the concepts of "intersexed" and "genderqueer," to express a powerful truth as best as they were able, that every human being--male, female, intersexed, and/or genderqueer--is reflective of the divine.


Now, I'm most certainly not arguing that the Hebrews wanted to include intersexed and genderqueer individuals in their understanding of the imago dei but simply lacked the language to do so. I think that's incoherent: language determines thought, and while it's possible that they might have had some sense of non-binary sex/gender (after all, intersexed individuals would have existed, as would--presumably--those who transgressed strict gender roles), I don't think there's any evidence as to how they cognized it. Rather, my claim is that the exclusion of people non-binary sex and/or gender is indicative of the categories they were using to tell the story and is not the point of the story. In other words, the intent of the ancient Hebrews would have been completely neutral in regards to intersexed and genderqueer individuals, because intersexed and genderqueer are 21st-century Western labels.

Obviously, there's some sense in which the Hebrews intent was to say that every human being was reflective of God because that's what literally the passage says (unless maybe we assume the imago dei can be lost in some way--technically, the passage only claims that the primordial, created humans, the ones about whom we argue whether or not they had belly buttons, were so reflective). What's not clear is what that doctrine of imago dei meant to them.

I take it as read that it didn't mean to them that all people were equally the children of God, for the tribe of Israel was called to a special status. It certainly didn't mean that people were socially and politically equal: after all, this was not only a deeply patriarchal society, but a society in which slavery was (and/or would be) permitted. But even in the later codes which legislated the conduct of how to keep slaves, one sees a tension between the notion that slaves are human too and thus befitting of dignity, and an "us vs. them" mentality where there are winners and losers. I think there's a sense that this tension runs thoughout the entirety of the Hebrew Scriptures.

It sort of makes sense that the primordial created humans in 1:27 would need to be both male and female: we can imagine an ur-Human from which all races ultimately derive, but--especially under the binary understanding of gender which the Hebrews inherited--it's harder to imagine an ur-human which includes all of both genders (sort of like the description of Lilith in Bernard Shaw's Back to Methuselah).

There isn't of course, one single univocal intent shared by all the ancient Hebrews or even represented in all of Hebrew Scripture, which is why I don't think its problematic to hypothesize it might represent a piece of proto-feminist thought even in the context of a patriarchal culture. But I'm also comfortable acknowledging it is a hypothesis. I don't claim to be able to read the minds of the ancient Hebrews, nor do I think it's necessary, so I'd be okay with my interpretation of the doctrine of imago dei as ultimately being more rehabillitative than exegetical, more about our relationship with Scripture as 21st-century post/moderns, with the entire history of Church tradition to draw upon, than the ancient Hebrews'. 

But I also put forth a second (well, actually, it comes first above) alternate understanding of the imago dei: that it has absolutely nothing at all to do with gender, that the text could just as easily have read "in the image of the gods, God created them; green-eyed and brown-eyed, God created them" or "tall and short, fat and thin, God created them" with absolutely no change in doctrinal implications, just like I don't think the meaning of the creation story would be fundamentally changed if God created invertebrates on the fifth day and verterbrates on the sixth, instead of birds and fish on the fith and land animals on the sixth. The reading of the imago-dei as proto-feminist is to offer a possible explanation for those who might argue that they don't think the Hebrews would mention gender in that formulation if they didn't have something to say about it profound. My first answer is still that the Hebrews didn't have much profound to say about birds or sea creatures or land animals, but I think the argument is that the closeness to the mention of the imago dei accords a special signifigance to the division being male and female which the division between birds and sea creatures and land animals simply lacks.

My fundamental argument here isn't a positive argument about what Genesis 1:27 means but a negative argument: whatever the function of Gen. 1:27 was in the culture in which it was formulated (and I stand by my point that the primary function is simply to tell a story of creation and really has very little to do with gender at all), it wasn't to represent male-female relations as divinely ordered, that it's illegitimate for people with a more conservative view of Scripture than my own to use the passage as some sort of proof-text against same-sex marriage. I think putting forth a plausible alternate positive reading of the imago dei helps me make the negative argument, but it's ultimately secondary.

http://cjbanning.dreamwidth.org

"This is my prayer: that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best." -- "St. Paul's" [deutero-Pauline] Epistle to the Philippians 1:9-10

"Come now, let us argue it out, says the LORD." -- First Isaiah 1:18
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4 years ago  ::  Jan 09, 2011 - 12:50PM #2
teilhard
Posts: 51,432

"Gender" is of course a Biological Reality, but SOME Living Things are A-Sexual and some can and do "switch" Gender ...


Still others "Alternate Generations" between Sexual and A-Sexual Arrangements ...


So ... "Gender" is NOT a SIMPLE Topic ... But it IS a Biological Topic ...

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4 years ago  ::  Jan 09, 2011 - 4:43PM #3
JoliverJOLLY
Posts: 440

Jan 8, 2011 -- 8:19PM, Cjbanning wrote:


And God said, "Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky." So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth." And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

And God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind." And it was so. God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, "Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth." So God created humankind in God's image; in the image of the gods, God created them; male and female God created them.

All too often, I think people read Genesis 1:27 as actually affirming binary gender as something which is somehow divinely ordained--that God personally, actively, and deliberately separated the human species into male and female, all by Godself. But I think that's a bad interpretation.

My assumptions: the reference to the imago dei in Gen. 1:27 comes towards the end of what is the first of two creation narratives in Genesis. Gen. 1:1-2:3 is called by scholars the "Priestly" account; Genesis 2:4-25ff is called the "Yahwist." Both stories represent the result of many generations of oral tradition which were ultimately compiled together in the work that would come to be known as the Book of Genesis.

The primary purpose of both narratives, but especially the Priestly account, is etiological: it explains how and why the world came into being. I don't think it's intended to explain what came into being at all; the ancient Hebrews simply could look around to see that. Of course, the "what" needed to be described in order to discuss the how and the why, and the ancient Hebrews did so in the languuage which was available to them, but I don't think the Priestly account is really making an ontological point at all. The Priestly account doesn't tell us that God created birds on the fifth day in order to explain that there is a such thing as "birdness" which all those flying things have in common (leading one to wonder whether non-flying birds like ostriches, and fying mammals like bats, were created on the fifth or sixth day); it does so to explain where all those flying things (whatever we want to call them and however we wish to classify them) came from. Trying to force metaphysics onto the myth seems to be doing it a great disservice, especially if one believes that ideologically-neutral "textualist" or "functionalist" readings are available to a reader.

I'd argue that the mention of gender in 1:27 is functionally equivalent to the mention of avians in 1:20-24: "men" and "women" were categories which were already experientially present to the ancient Hebrews. That men and women existed was already stipulated, rightly or wrongly; they didn't need oral tradition to tell them that. The creation narrative would thus have functioned to explain where both genders came from--from God--rather than to assign them some type of eternal, unchanging essence. 

If we assume the opposite, that Gen. 1:27 is detailing some sort of deliberate "creation" of gender and/or gendered differences (prominent marriage equality opponent Maggie Gallagher describes it as "the idea that God himself [sic] made man [sic] as male and female and commanded men and women to come together in a special way to image the fruitfulness of God"), then we're left with the uncomfortable question of just what was the deal with all those birds and fish that were created (the story goes) on the fifth day. Did the ancient Hebrews assume they just sort of existed genderlessly until the sixth day?

Why mention gender in 1:27 at all, then? Part of me thinks this question is wrongheaded--we might just as well ask why 1:20-24 mentions birds specifically. But insofar as we read Genesis as making a more profound point about men and women than it is about fish and sea creatures, I think the point is to make it explicit that men and women shared equally in the imago dei. Granted that the overall culture would have been a patriarchal one, I don't think this reading is in any way anachronistic, or at least not inherently so. Since Genesis is a compilation of often contradictory oral traditions, we shouldn't be surprised to find a proto-feminist sentiment lurking among the patriarchalism. Furthermore, there's plenty of patriarchal notions which are simultaneously deeply sexist but still (arguably) compatible with the notion of equal participation in the imago dei--for example, the notion of two separate but equal spheres.

Of course, as moderns and postmoderns we do not look to Genesis as etiological in the same way as did those who were actually shaping those oral traditions. For us, the spiritual truth testified to in Genesis 1 that all of creation is God-breathed is in some sense divorceable from any sense of Genesis 1 (or Genesis 2) as historical or scientific fact. But the spiritual truth is still a truth about a relationship between God and the world--that God is the ground and source of all being--and not one about the contents or structure of that world.

We don't construct our taxonomies of nature based on a division between "flying birds," "sea creatures," and "land animals," but based on (if you accept evolution, which I'm hoping you do) DNA and evolutionary processes and so on or (if you don't accept natural selection) fundamental similarities in anatomic structures, so that (for example) bats and whales are both mammals, ostriches and penguins are birds, etc. We recognize that the storytellers which passed down the Priestly creation story were expressing a profound spiritual truth using a pre-scientific language.

Furthermore, we don't consider even our more scientific classifications to represent ontological essences, but simply convenient ways of structuring our knowledge of the natural world. That the platypus is a mammal which happens to lay eggs isn't something that many lose all that much sleep over, nor should they. It's an example of the limitation of human systems of categorization, not a transgression against some law of nature, be it divine or scientific.

It seems to me that the same approach is appropriate in terms of gender. Male and female are categories which we use, for good or ill, to structure the way we think (and which the ancient Hebrews certainly used to structure the way they thought) of human (and non-human animal) diversity, in much the same way that "bird," "fish," and "mammal" are used to structure our understanding of a different type of animal diversity. But these are no more divinely-ordained categories than are "bird," "fish," and "mammal," and nothing in Genesis 1 should make us think that they are. Rather we recognize that they were using their own flawed patriarchal language, lacking the concepts of "intersexed" and "genderqueer," to express a powerful truth as best as they were able, that every human being--male, female, intersexed, and/or genderqueer--is reflective of the divine.


Now, I'm most certainly not arguing that the Hebrews wanted to include intersexed and genderqueer individuals in their understanding of the imago dei but simply lacked the language to do so. I think that's incoherent: language determines thought, and while it's possible that they might have had some sense of non-binary sex/gender (after all, intersexed individuals would have existed, as would--presumably--those who transgressed strict gender roles), I don't think there's any evidence as to how they cognized it. Rather, my claim is that the exclusion of people non-binary sex and/or gender is indicative of the categories they were using to tell the story and is not the point of the story. In other words, the intent of the ancient Hebrews would have been completely neutral in regards to intersexed and genderqueer individuals, because intersexed and genderqueer are 21st-century Western labels.

Obviously, there's some sense in which the Hebrews intent was to say that every human being was reflective of God because that's what literally the passage says (unless maybe we assume the imago dei can be lost in some way--technically, the passage only claims that the primordial, created humans, the ones about whom we argue whether or not they had belly buttons, were so reflective). What's not clear is what that doctrine of imago dei meant to them.

I take it as read that it didn't mean to them that all people were equally the children of God, for the tribe of Israel was called to a special status. It certainly didn't mean that people were socially and politically equal: after all, this was not only a deeply patriarchal society, but a society in which slavery was (and/or would be) permitted. But even in the later codes which legislated the conduct of how to keep slaves, one sees a tension between the notion that slaves are human too and thus befitting of dignity, and an "us vs. them" mentality where there are winners and losers. I think there's a sense that this tension runs thoughout the entirety of the Hebrew Scriptures.

It sort of makes sense that the primordial created humans in 1:27 would need to be both male and female: we can imagine an ur-Human from which all races ultimately derive, but--especially under the binary understanding of gender which the Hebrews inherited--it's harder to imagine an ur-human which includes all of both genders (sort of like the description of Lilith in Bernard Shaw's Back to Methuselah).

There isn't of course, one single univocal intent shared by all the ancient Hebrews or even represented in all of Hebrew Scripture, which is why I don't think its problematic to hypothesize it might represent a piece of proto-feminist thought even in the context of a patriarchal culture. But I'm also comfortable acknowledging it is a hypothesis. I don't claim to be able to read the minds of the ancient Hebrews, nor do I think it's necessary, so I'd be okay with my interpretation of the doctrine of imago dei as ultimately being more rehabillitative than exegetical, more about our relationship with Scripture as 21st-century post/moderns, with the entire history of Church tradition to draw upon, than the ancient Hebrews'. 

But I also put forth a second (well, actually, it comes first above) alternate understanding of the imago dei: that it has absolutely nothing at all to do with gender, that the text could just as easily have read "in the image of the gods, God created them; green-eyed and brown-eyed, God created them" or "tall and short, fat and thin, God created them" with absolutely no change in doctrinal implications, just like I don't think the meaning of the creation story would be fundamentally changed if God created invertebrates on the fifth day and verterbrates on the sixth, instead of birds and fish on the fith and land animals on the sixth. The reading of the imago-dei as proto-feminist is to offer a possible explanation for those who might argue that they don't think the Hebrews would mention gender in that formulation if they didn't have something to say about it profound. My first answer is still that the Hebrews didn't have much profound to say about birds or sea creatures or land animals, but I think the argument is that the closeness to the mention of the imago dei accords a special signifigance to the division being male and female which the division between birds and sea creatures and land animals simply lacks.

My fundamental argument here isn't a positive argument about what Genesis 1:27 means but a negative argument: whatever the function of Gen. 1:27 was in the culture in which it was formulated (and I stand by my point that the primary function is simply to tell a story of creation and really has very little to do with gender at all), it wasn't to represent male-female relations as divinely ordered, that it's illegitimate for people with a more conservative view of Scripture than my own to use the passage as some sort of proof-text against same-sex marriage. I think putting forth a plausible alternate positive reading of the imago dei helps me make the negative argument, but it's ultimately secondary.




 


I have looked at this, as it states "Our image", there is already the denote of more than one person speaking,


The spirit of Wisdom as written 


Proverbs 8.22 "God created me when his purpose first unfolded, before the oldest of his works. From everlasting I was firmly set, from the beggining before the earth come into being"


So from the very beggining wisdom was and wisdom is feminie,


8.12 "I, wisdom, am the mistress of discretion, the inventor of lucidity of thought."


Book of wisdom 7.27 "Although alone she can do all: herself unchanging, she makes all things new. In each generation she passes into holy souls, she makes friends of God and prophets; for God loves only the man who lives with wisdom. She is more splendid than the sun, she outshines all the constellations, compared with light, she takes first place, for light must yeald to night, but over Wisdom evil can never triumph.......


8.3 "her closeness to God lends lustre to her noble birth, since the lord of all has loved her. Yes, she is an initiate in the mysteries of Gods knowledge, making choice of the works he is to do."


9.17 "As for your intencion, who could have learnt it, had you not granted wisdom and sent your holy spirit from above?"  

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4 years ago  ::  Feb 11, 2011 - 12:47PM #4
Derekj
Posts: 62

 CJBanning:   “My fundamental argument here isn't a positive argument about what Genesis 1:27 means but a negative argument: whatever the function of Gen. 1:27 was in the culture in which it was formulated (and I stand by my point that the primary function is simply to tell a story of creation and really has very little to do with gender at all), it wasn't to represent male-female relations as divinely ordered, that it's illegitimate for people with a more conservative view of Scripture than my own to use the passage as some sort of proof-text against same-sex marriage. I think putting forth a plausible alternate positive reading of the imago dei helps me make the negative argument, but it's ultimately secondary.”

-----------------------------


In making your arguments however, you have blown by some important ideas in Catholic anthropology based on these scriptures. We find them used as the basis of John Paul II’s Theology of the body. Dr. David L. Schindler elaborated six principles contained in the late Pontiff’s teachings in his article The Embodied Person As Gift.  Reading selections here, but let me summarize the six (my apologies for the numbering feature which doesn't work): 


  1.  
    1. The soul is “the principle of unity of the human being, whereby it exists as a whole — corpore et anima minus — as a person” ( Veritatis splendor, 48). “It is in the unity of body and soul that the person is the subject of his…acts” (VS, 48). “The human person cannot be reduced to a freedom which is self-designing, but entails a particular spiritual and bodily structure” (VS. 48).

      These statements, first of all, affirm the unity of the human being as a dual, or differentiated, unity of body and soul. The soul as it were lends its spiritual meaning to the body as body, even as the body simultaneously contributes to what now becomes, in man, a distinct kind of spirit: a spirit whose nature it is to be embodied



I would comment that this is precisely what you are doing here (reducing the human person with a self-designing freedom) with your gender based constructions and comments on this “negative argument” for same-sex marriage. But more from Dr. Schindler:


2. This second point is complex. It begins with this dogma: “The likeness with God shows that the essence and existence of man are constitutively related to God in the most profound manner. This…relationship…is therefore not something that comes afterwards and is not added from the outside” {109, emphasis original; see CCC, 356, 358}. And further: “The relationship between God and man is reflected in the relational and social dimension of human nature. Man . . is not a solitary being but ‘a social being . . . “ {cf. Gs, 12j} and then explores six “elaborations” (which I will take up here A through F:

a. It establishes “constitutive relatedness among human beings” which implies that we are, in our original and deepest meanings, persons who are ordered toward God and others.

b. We bear a constitutive order toward generosity that always-anteriorly participates in the generosity we have received and are always-already receiving — from God and other creatures in God. Although sin weighs down and profoundly skews this constitutively generous order of being, sin can never destroy the integrity of this order as naturally given. What are marvelous statement: no matter to what depths of despair we sink in battling sin, God knows that we cannot be destroyed. Jesus will help us.  It recalls Matthew 19.  

c. Man “is a being whose innermost dynamic is… directed toward the receiving and giving of love.” The relation to God, and to others in God (the constitutive relatedness among human beings), that establishes our individual substance in being is generous. The relation itself makes and lets us in our substantial being be.

d. The relationality of the human person introduced by love is first the relationality characteristic of the child as the one who is absolutely from the Other — God — and from other beings in God, even as he is thereby simultaneously also for the Other, and for other beings in God. It is for this reason that Pope Benedict XVI has stated that the child in the womb provides the basic figure for what it means to be a human being and why the Catholic Church wars against abortion.

e. “The account of Genesis 1 does not mention the problem of man’s original solitude: in fact, man is ‘male and female’ from the beginning. The Yahwist text of Genesis 2, by contrast, authorizes us in some way to think first only about man inasmuch as, through the body, he belongs to the visible world while going beyond it; it then lets us think about the same man, but through the duality of sex.


Bodyliness and sexuality are not simply identical. Although in its normal constitution, the human body carries within itself the signs of sex and is by nature male or female, the fact that man is a ‘body’ belongs more deeply to the structure of the personal subject than the fact that in his somatic constitution he is also male or female.


For this reason, the meaning of original solitude, which can be referred simply to ‘man,’(or the human) is substantially prior to the meaning of original unity; the latter is based on masculinity and femininity, which are, as it were, two different ‘incarnations,’ that is, two ways in which the same human being, created ‘in the image of God’ (Genesis 1:27), ‘is a body” (John Paul II, Man and Woman He Created Them, 157).

Original solitude, as understood by John Paul II, is the absolute priority of the whole man’s being ordered to God in a relation of prayer and adoration. It is in just this priority of the whole man as originally made for God alone that forms the priority of virginity (purity) already in the order of creation.


So as to your point that “it (Genesis 1:27) wasn't to represent male-female relations as divinely ordered” we can see that Catholic Teachings are almost universally aligned against your assertion. To continue with Dr. Schindler’s points:



f. As Genesis makes clear, the relationality is double in a sense: reference to other beings is begins with a relationality with another being who is fully human while at once embodying a different way of being human, that is either male or female. The sexual differentiation of mankind into man and woman is much more than a purely biological fact for the purpose of procreation. It is unconnected with what is truly human in mankind. In it there is accomplished that intrinsic relation of the human being to a Thou, which inherently constitutes him or her as human, the very basis of our personhood . . The likeness to God in sexuality is prior to sexuality, not identical with it.

It is accomplished by the person. The doctrine of the imago Dei is, in the first place, that man is capax Dei: it is the relation to God that originally constitutes each person, and this relation immediately expresses itself in and as relation also to others, which is realized in a privileged way through relation to another who is the same kind of being as myself, differently: through the relation of two beings who share a common humanity in the different ways termed male/masculine and female/feminine.

Thus there is in the structure of the human person a second dual unity latent within the person as he stands in his original “solitary” unity before God, and that is the one expressed in the ordering of each person toward a unity between persons, between a one and an other.


3. The body, always-already informed by soul or spirit and actualized by esse, thus exhibits an order of love. But what is crucial to see here is that this sign of the creature’s constitutive relation to God and others takes a new form qua body. The body, in other words, indicates a distinctive way of imaging God and love, in its very order as a body, as personal — creaturely flesh.

4. The human body, marked with the sign of masculinity or femininity, “contains ‘from the beginning’ the ‘spousal’ attribute, that is, the power to express love: precisely that love in which the human person becomes a gift and — through this gift — fulfills the very meaning of his being and his existence. In this, its own distinctive character, the body is the expression of the spirit…“Sexuality characterizes man and woman not only on the physical level, but also on the psychological and spiritual, making its mark on each of their expressions.”


John Paul II’s theology of the body, in a word, is about God and being as love, and about the body and the sexual difference insofar as these are a sign and expression of this theologically ontologically-anthropologically prior love, even as the body precisely in its sexual difference provides a new and just so far enriched and deepened understanding of this prior love.

5. Man and woman each contain the whole meaning of the person, but in a different order. It is from within the substantial wholeness of each as human that the man and woman bear differently a dual reference from and toward others that is ordered differently in each.

6. In the human being, physics and biology become personalized, even as the person takes the shape of a body. Thus the human person — after Christ and in Christ — becomes the mediator (analogatum princeps) for the whole of creation. In and through the human being, the cosmos itself properly realizes its destined participation in worship of God and fruitful service to God and others.


-------------------------------------


There is nothing here that suggests intersexed or genderqueer individuals experience do not fall into the Genesis 1:27 categories of male and female.  And much more (the metaphysics of Thomas Aquinas for example) indicates that these human souls are merely a simple disorder of sexual development, an impedance to an inheritance of a sexual property, male or female.  Being impeded in the exercise of a power (say, rationality) does not entail that one doesn’t have it. From an Aristotelian-Thomist point of view, every single human being, for example those who are in so-called “persistent vegetative state” -- necessarily have rationality, the capacity to learn languages, etc.  Terri Schiavo, for example, was a severely damaged rational animal, not a non-rational animal, a new category of human.  In the same way these intersexed individuals and genderqueers are still men and women, not new creations on God’s earth. 


CJBanning:   [M]y claim is that the exclusion of people non-binary sex and/or gender is indicative of the categories they were using to tell the story and is not the point of the story. In other words, the intent of the ancient Hebrews would have been completely neutral in regards to intersexed and genderqueer individuals, because intersexed and genderqueer are 21st-century Western labels.


And with that you throw out the baby and the bathwater. The point of the story IS just as John Paul II presents it and your attempt to pooh-pooh the fact that male-female relations are divinely ordered or to somehow assert that by only mentioning the two sexes that “the ancient Hebrews would have been completely neutral” on a third is a downright silly conjecture on your part. Is this what they are teaching in the Episcopal Church these days?  Did you think this up all on your own or did you have help somewhere? I’d love to view your sources for such nonsense.


 

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4 years ago  ::  Feb 12, 2011 - 9:47AM #5
Derekj
Posts: 62

Since your comments hadn't generated a lot of traction here I took the liberty of posting them to another forum where I felt they would receive more attention. 17 comments as of 2/15. I notice you have chosen not to engage. Your privilege, of course, but I thought it was an issue that you held views upon with some passion.


God bless.


dj

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4 years ago  ::  Feb 16, 2011 - 6:53PM #6
Cjbanning
Posts: 282

1. I'm a member of the Diocese of New Jersey, not the Diocese of Newark.


2. I was baptized in 2007, confirmed in 2008, and if anything have only grown more orthodox since then. (Note this was after the consecration of Bishop Robinson in 2003.) The "environment" in which I "stewed" in my "formative years" prior to my entry into TEC can actually be best identified as the four years immediately prior which I spent as a (non-communion-taking, obviously) member of the Roman Catholic community at my undergrad institution, serving on the executive board of that community all four years, and the four years immediately prior to that, spent at a Roman Catholic high school. I'll recite a Hail Mary with the best of them, although my favorite saint is Saint Clare. I don't think I met a liberal Episcopalian in person until I stepped into my local parish church late in 2006. Without a doubt, those eight years of being RCC-adjacent have influenced me deeply and have shaped me into the Christian I am today. Without them, I wouldn't know what the two feet of justice are, what a preferential option for the poor is, or any other piece of Catholic social teaching. Nor would I know how the historical-critical method works, or any other point of sensible Bible interpretation (the Methodist sunday school I attended for a couple years as a very young child left me thinking my choices were between biblical literalism and deism).


3. How is quoting St. Teresa de Avila anti-Catholic?


4. The exegesis on the Imago Dei was not written for college, but a few months ago on my blog. It's original context is here. It was a gloss on two previous posts, On Being Straight and More on Being Straight, in which I argued that "[g]ender difference is revealed by Scripture to ultimately be a superficial difference in the face of our common similarity: the imago dei, our inherent dignity which is a reflection of God." Recognizing that interpretation of the imago dei was hardly non-controversial, I decided to devote a blog post to outlying my exegesis in full.


5. Besides my Episcopal church (which, despite accepting gay couples and having previously had a gay priest, is actually fairly conservative all things considered) where I attend Sunday morning mass, I also attend an Anabaptist congregation on Sunday evenings which is located somewhere between "evangelical" and "emergent." I also partake in small group discussions with them during the week. They make up many of the actual readers of my blog, are far more conservative than me (and, on a different axis, much more Protestant), and are not afraid to challenge me. (Nor are they afraid to be challenged by me, although some of them may well be secretly convinced that I worship Mary and St. Clare.)


6. Surely my biography is rather beside the point to the validity of my exegesis, no? I find it interesting that you and your interlocutors spend so much time discussing me and so little discussing my argument.


7. I don't feel any of your interlocutors on that site are taking on my exegesis as such, despite the fact that some things, like the Priestly and Yahwist accounts being separate oral traditions, should be non-controversial among Catholics despite being things which would be controversial among some Protestants. (I learned about the Priestly and Yahwist oral traditions back at my freshman year Scripture class at my high school. Many things I learned in that class serve me well to this day.)


Mostly I see people reading things they already believe the RCC teaches into the doctrine of the imago dei. There's nothing wrong with that--we all do it--but it shouldn't be surprising that what I take out of the imago dei isn't the same. It does contradict the notion that the imago dei is the foundation the rest of the Theology of the Body is built on, though, if one is trying to use the "fact" that God created male and female as metaphysical categories as a starting place


8. "Catholic psychologists"? What in the world is a Catholic psychologist? Science is science no matter the religion of the scientist.

http://cjbanning.dreamwidth.org

"This is my prayer: that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best." -- "St. Paul's" [deutero-Pauline] Epistle to the Philippians 1:9-10

"Come now, let us argue it out, says the LORD." -- First Isaiah 1:18
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4 years ago  ::  Feb 16, 2011 - 7:47PM #7
Derekj
Posts: 62

Feb 16, 2011 -- 6:53PM, Cjbanning wrote:


1. I'm a member of the Diocese of New Jersey, not the Diocese of Newark.


2. I was baptized in 2007, confirmed in 2008, and if anything have only grown more orthodox since then. (Note this was after the consecration of Bishop Robinson in 2003.) The "environment" in which I "stewed" in my "formative years" prior to my entry into TEC can actually be best identified as the four years immediately prior which I spent as a (non-communion-taking, obviously) member of the Roman Catholic community at my undergrad institution, serving on the executive board of that community all four years, and the four years immediately prior to that, spent at a Roman Catholic high school. I'll recite a Hail Mary with the best of them, although my favorite saint is Saint Clare. I don't think I met a liberal Episcopalian in person until I stepped into my local parish church late in 2006. Without a doubt, those eight years of being RCC-adjacent have influenced me deeply and have shaped me into the Christian I am today. Without them, I wouldn't know what the two feet of justice are, what a preferential option for the poor is, or any other piece of Catholic social teaching. Nor would I know how the historical-critical method works, or any other point of sensible Bible interpretation (the Methodist sunday school I attended for a couple years as a very young child left me thinking my choices were between biblical literalism and deism).


3. How is quoting St. Teresa de Avila anti-Catholic?


4. The exegesis on the Imago Dei was not written for college, but a few months ago on my blog. It's original context is here. It was a gloss on two previous posts, On Being Straight and More on Being Straight, in which I argued that "[g]ender difference is revealed by Scripture to ultimately be a superficial difference in the face of our common similarity: the imago dei, our inherent dignity which is a reflection of God." Recognizing that interpretation of the imago dei was hardly non-controversial, I decided to devote a blog post to outlying my exegesis in full.


5. Besides my Episcopal church (which, despite accepting gay couples and having previously had a gay priest, is actually fairly conservative all things considered) where I attend Sunday morning mass, I also attend an Anabaptist congregation on Sunday evenings which is located somewhere between "evangelical" and "emergent." I also partake in small group discussions with them during the week. They make up many of the actual readers of my blog, are far more conservative than me (and, on a different axis, much more Protestant), and are not afraid to challenge me. (Nor are they afraid to be challenged by me, although some of them may well be secretly convinced that I worship Mary and St. Clare.)


6. Surely my biography is rather beside the point to the validity of my exegesis, no? I find it interesting that you and your interlocutors spend so much time discussing me and so little discussing my argument.


7. I don't feel any of your interlocutors on that site are taking on my exegesis as such, despite the fact that some things, like the Priestly and Yahwist accounts being separate oral traditions, should be non-controversial among Catholics despite being things which would be controversial among some Protestants. (I learned about the Priestly and Yahwist oral traditions back at my freshman year Scripture class at my high school. Many things I learned in that class serve me well to this day.)


Mostly I see people reading things they already believe the RCC teaches into the doctrine of the imago dei. There's nothing wrong with that--we all do it--but it shouldn't be surprising that what I take out of the imago dei isn't the same. It does contradict the notion that the imago dei is the foundation the rest of the Theology of the Body is built on, though, if one is trying to use the "fact" that God created male and female as metaphysical categories as a starting place


8. "Catholic psychologists"? What in the world is a Catholic psychologist? Science is science no matter the religion of the scientist.




CJ, I guess this is a response to the Catholic Answers Thread -- if it is, you should direct it there as it is incoherent here.


Granted people were interested in your background, but their comments, as well as mine here go to the heart of the argument you presented on Genesis affirming binary gender. I was hoping you might give them a little consideration, rather than outright ignoring them. "What you take out of the imago dei" has been shown to be wishful thinking on your part.


The arguments that John Paul II presents in his TOB are rooted in scripture and show your fanciful (if not presumptious) and heretical conclusions to be wholly in error. Yet you don't give them a word of consideration. How disappointing. I thought you would be more honest in your reply.


Ah well, brother. And nowhere does John Paul II "use the "fact" that God created male and female as metaphysical categories as a starting place." You simply haven't read seriously what I wrote and not responded to any of it.


Thanks for nothing. I think I'll just drop it. I will say however that your mixing of scripture and misquoted Catholic Teachings to defend your POV excites a lot of responses and it is disrespectful of you to blow by it all and walk away. This reply is lame, if not downright cowardly. Go to the thread and engage the folks there. CJ. You write this crap, now go defend it. The link is to one message, click on the upper right hand link to go to the main thread.


dj

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4 years ago  ::  Feb 18, 2011 - 12:51PM #8
Cjbanning
Posts: 282

Feb 16, 2011 -- 7:47PM, Derekj wrote:

CJ, I guess this is a response to the Catholic Answers Thread -- if it is, you should direct it there as it is incoherent here.


I am more than happy to engage with you here or on LibraryThing, but I have no intention of creating an account on a website maintained by another denomination for no purpose other than telling them all the things I think they're wrong about. It'd be rude and disrespectful, and a waste of my time.


I think the people here are capable of following a link if they're interested. I don't blame them if they're not.


Feb 16, 2011 -- 7:47PM, Derekj wrote:

And nowhere does John Paul II "use the "fact" that God created male and female as metaphysical categories as a starting place."


Perhaps not, but you have in your replies to me on LibraryThing (link here so that that comment too isn't incoherent): presented it to me as claim (that that men and women constitute metaphysical categories is justified by scripture) that I couldn't reject, and that everything else you were arguing would flow from.


Almost all of the responses on that site start out by assuming Roman theology I don't accept to be true. For example, TimothyH's statement that "[t]he fact that the Holy Spirit proceedes from the Father and Son's perfect interchange of self-giving and self-sacrificing love is basic trinitarian theology and is revealed to man in a visble way by the manner in which God ordered man and woman." What am I suppose to say? "No it doesn't"? "That's what you say"? The validity of my exegesis as scriptural exegesis is ignored in favor of dissecting how well I wrote fits with what conservative Catholics already believe. 


No surprise, not very.


After many paragraphs of mumbo jumbo about men and women which is provided without any scriptural or scientific evidence, TimothyH concludes that "[t]o claim [. . .] that the writer of Genesis 1:27 could have stated 'green eyes and blue eyes he [sic] created them' as easily as he [sic] did 'male and female he [sic] created them' is an absurdity." Well, obviously I don't think it's an absurdity--I'm asserting it with a straight face. (I'd agree that "[t]he love between God the [Parent] and God the [Child] is not just an objective truth which we understand, but a subjective reality which we experience in a very real and very powerful (a-hem!) way through the sacramentality of our [. . .] bodies" but don't accept that that sacramentality has anything to do with maleness or femaleness, which Scripture explicitly tells us don't even exist in Christ.) 


Another commentator accuses me of postmodernism, as if that is something I should be ashamed of. I'm not.


TimothyH: "God, as the primary author of Scripture, was not just classifying people into categories nor was the human writer simply noting his own observation about the major visible differeneces between individuals. "


It should be non-controversial that the human authors use their own categories in expressing theological truths. Thus in Genesis 1 God creates the world such as there is a dome across the sky above which there are vast waters, which was the cosmology of the Hebrews living at that time. Obviously, we are not required to believe that (or at least, official RCC teaching does not require us to believe that, nor does Anglican teaching).


If there is any particular point you feel that your interlocutors on that site have made which is a particularly powerful objection to my argument that Genesis 1:27 doesn't affirm binary gender, feel free to point it out here and I'll be happy to engage with you on it here.

http://cjbanning.dreamwidth.org

"This is my prayer: that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best." -- "St. Paul's" [deutero-Pauline] Epistle to the Philippians 1:9-10

"Come now, let us argue it out, says the LORD." -- First Isaiah 1:18
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