Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Father and Mother
Christianity is about Revelation, God revealing Himself in His Son and in His Church.
The language of Revelation is “gender specific”. God becomes Man, specifically male. He reveals the first person of the Trinity as “Father”. In a recent email discussion with an Orthodox bishop friend this gender specific revelation was the significant reason for the ordination of men alone, the clergy are an icon of God.
For Catholics too, this is not an insignificant argument, maybe it needs to be taken more seriously.
Today it is tempting for liberals to downplay the masculinity of what has been revealed and to androgenise God. When that happens there is also a downplaying of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the imagery of the Church as Bride, Mother as Mistress. Traditionally the dominant image of the Catholic and Orthodox Church is the icon of the Mother of God. It is interesting too that the groups of women religious that grow are those which delight in speaking of themselves as “brides of Christ”.
Father and Mother are part of the language of Revelation, I think they are also part of the language of Redemption. “God the Father” and “Mother Church” are complimentary, they are not replaceable by the simple notion of “parent”.
I suspect that much of the success of the early Church’s missionary work was dependant on being able to identify God as Father. For a community consisting of women married off at young age, of slaves, whose bodies could be misused by their owners at will, sold off as children, whose fathers were likely to be their mother’s masters, or simply bred, as an animal might be, the notion of a loving Father must have been deeply healing.
In an age as abusive to children as that of the first centuries of Christianity the proclamation of God’s Fatherhood and the Church’s Motherhood is absolutely necessary.
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