Thursday, May 6, 2010

In Praise of Patriarchy

Last month, Rev. Dwight Longenecker, in his Inside Catholic column, In Praise of Patriarchy had this to say about Rev. Aidan Nichols' new book, Criticizing the Critics :

[In regard to the religious feminists who would like to scrap patriarchy as a temporary accommodation] Father Nichols stops them in their tracks with a trenchant argument. First of all, he reminds us that, if we believe in a revealed religion at all, it is revealed by God within the times and cultures of human history. In Galatians 4:4, St. Paul teaches, "In the fullness of time God sent forth His Son born of a woman." Locked within this short phrase is all the theology that unseats the feminists.

The first part of the phrase -- "In the fullness of time God sent forth" -- teaches us two things: First of all, that the Christian faith is revealed, not relative . . .The second thing this teaches us is that God reveals Himself "in the fullness of time." In other words, He reveals Himself when it is right and through the correct human circumstances -- including the circumstances of place and time and culture. To put it bluntly, God revealed His Son Jesus Christ into the world in the first century through the Jewish people, because that was the very best time and place and culture for His self-revelation to take place.

If this is true, then we cannot dismiss the cultural milieu into which Jesus Christ stepped onto the stage of human history . . .

This brings us to the second part of the phrase in Galatians: "God sent forth his son born of a woman." Locked within this simple phrase is the realization that God's self-revelation is inextricably bound up with His relationship to Jesus Christ as father to son -- and therefore bound up with the father-son relationship. Father Nichols explains that this must be so, because the revelation of the Father through the Son is not an arbitrary revelation. It is not chosen because He just happens to be speaking to a patriarchal people, but because the father-son relationship is the essence of God Himself. The self-revelation of the Father though the Son is exactly that: a revelation of God Himself at the most profound level.


I found this simple argument so profoundly affecting that I have already sent it around via email to a number of friends. I hope you found it encouraging and affecting as well. Please do read the entire article and get Aidan Nichols' book if you are able (unfortunately, it is not yet published in the US, only in the UK).

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