Thursday, October 22, 2020

The Byzantine Gender Reveal

 

When I see the way my wife comforts our children, I see God as the Mother loving them through her. I may not see this image of God perfectly, but I know it’s there. Also, when I experience intimacy with my wife, I experience God as the Woman loving me. I may not also experience this image perfectly, but I do know it’s there. Some might find it strange that I can see and experience God in my wife, a woman. On the other hand, I think its strange not to, but that is where we are.

Recently, in the news, the pope was portrayed as promoting same sex unions. This doesn’t surprise me  and I’m afraid that he is just being true to what Catholic theologians have been teaching for centuries. Every time the feminine has been separated from the divine, every time God has been portrayed as genderless, and every time our gender has been taught as mere platform for living out our humanity the theological framework for the LGBTQ community was created.

Our sexuality was given to us to reveal God. The union of the genders is the only perfect manifestation of God in creation. To treat our sexual identity as a mere backdrop for how we exist has been a mistake repeated in the theology of the Church. The essence of this mistake is the refusal to see in the Woman the Image of God in an equal way that the Man is the image. We have been taught man YES and NO to the woman. We have been forced fed God as Father and have abandoned El-Shaddai. Usually this forcefulness comes under the guise of Tradition. Even though Sacred Tradition is clear of God being Father there is nothing forbidden in Tradition in seeking to grow in our understanding of the God with breasts.

By eliminating God in our sexual identity, by refusing to see the image of God in our genders we have created the LGBTQ community. We have given them the theology to proceed. If God is not in sex anything is on the table and he can only be in sex if man and woman are together the image of God. Despite the theology that the Church has inherited in this regard there are still ways to correct this thinking. St. JP2 tried to do this in his Theology of the Body. The Saint made it clear that sexuality leads to a revelation of God. He began with what was natural, something we do not need theology for, just looking at the purpose of creation, which is to reveal God.

In the Byzantine Liturgy I think the purpose of creation is most clear. We are never alone with just the New Adam in our Liturgy, there is also the New Eve, both revealing God to us. This is obviously clear in the iconography, but also when we glorify the Theotokos in song. Our Lady may not be the incarnation, but she is nothing less than the perfect mirror of everything that God is as  Woman. Such is obvious by the titles we give her in the Church. However, the purpose of her gender is most revealing every time we consume the Eucharist. It was St. Symeon the New Theologian who emphasized this when he said that when we partake on the Flesh our Lord, in the Eucharist, we at the same time partake of the flesh of the Theotokos. In his teaching we find the most complete union of genders manifesting God to creation.

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