Sunday, May 14, 2017

Why God Created Woman: My Feminist Theology

-- by Tom Phillips

The Bible tells us that God created woman as a helper to man, because it was not good for man to be alone. But God's ways are not our ways, and God's reasons are hidden from us.

For Mother's Day, let me offer an alternative theory of Why God Created Woman.  Maybe he just saw the flaws in his original design, and wanted to improve it. 

Woman was a new form of humanity, not just a helper but a refinement of the original.  Botticelli painted it in his "Birth of Venus."  This was a new being -- more beautiful, subtle, gentle, peaceful, more like God herself. 

Plato described it in his Symposium.  The character of Aristophanes tells us the first humans were hermaphroditic, all in one, like primitive organisms that reproduce themselves.  ".. Each human was a rounded whole, with a double back and flanks forming a complete circle... These people could walk upright like us in either direction, backwards or forwards, but when they wanted to run quickly they used all their eight limbs, and turned rapidly over in a circle, like tumblers...  Their strength and vigor made them quite formidable, and their pride was overweening."  Aristophanes says their arrogance led them to attack the Gods, so Zeus decided to weaken them -- he took a sword and cut them in two, "just like fruits." 

The Bible also describes this separation as surgery, but adds general anesthesia.

"God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs, and closed up its place with flesh.  And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man."  (Genesis 2, 21-22.)

The operation was a success, but like most major surgery, it left the patient permanently wounded.  The division of humanity left an ache in the human psyche, a feeling of incompleteness, of longing for one's other half.  In the Symposium:  "Each of us is the mere broken tally of a man... it is clear that the soul of each has some longing which it cannot express, but can only surmise and obscurely hint at...  The reason is that this was our primitive condition when we were wholes, and love is simply the name for the desire and pursuit of the whole."

Love is what are left with, as a result of the bisection of humanity.  Love, and a new source of enlightenment.  Though visiting a permanent curse of loneliness upon humanity, God established a dialogue, a dialectic between aspects of his creation.  God separated the two in order to give the female an independent existence, a voice of her own, a softer voice. 

In my experience, it was like the difference between the 1957 and 1958 Chevrolets.  To my teenage boy's eyes the '58 Chevy Impala was like the Birth of Venus, or the Creation of Eve. General Motors, playing God, decided that it was not good for  people's cars to be merely flashy and functional --- they could be sublime.

In the same way, God's new model of humanity was a refinement of the original.  It was more frugal and efficient -- for example, women don't use a new glass for every drink of water, and they bring their own bags to the grocery store. They are more compassionate, or at least less oblivious to the needs of their neighbors. They see their surroundings more completely, which aids them in interior design. They use all their senses, not just bulging eyeballs. They are less boisterous, not so rude and arrogant. (Some exceptions may apply.)

And of course, every new design includes some tradeoffs -- thus women have less horsepower.  They must leave the hardest driving tasks to men in souped-up SUVs.  But less power leads to safer performance, longer life, a smoother and more satisfying ride.    

And God saw that she was Good. 

So Happy Mother's Day, to all women, not just literal mothers. One doesn't have to bear children to bring the blessings of femininity to the human race.  Love you all!

-- Copyright 2017 by Tom Phillips

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