Women Are Human!
by JUSTIN D. BARNARD
Director of the Institute for Intellectual Discipleship
February 17, 2012 - It is an axiom of contemporary public discourse that with respect to participation in Reason, women and men are unequal. Feminists, of course, would deny this. Yet their incessant insistence upon the necessity of female voices in conversational contexts where rational deliberation is understood to be the guiding principle reinforces the inequality. A case in point is the furor over the lack of a female witness at a recent congressional hearing on religious freedom and the HHS mandate requiring religious institutions to fund medical goods and services contrary to their religious convictions.
The creation narrative of Genesis 2 provides grounds for the ontological equality of men and women. Just as God is three persons in one being, man is male and female: an economic distinction of function rooted in a substantial unity of being. The creation of Eve from Adam’s rib underscores the depth of this unity. Women and men share a fully human nature.
Historic Christian theology illuminates what this entails. The fully human nature that men and women share implies no substantial distinction in rational faculties. Women and men are creatures whose participation in the Divine Logos is equal.
Sadly, this theological truth has not always been consistently acknowledged nor properly applied in the history of the West. However, wherever and whenever it has been grasped, it has, in contrast to cultures that are not shaped by this Scriptural teaching, resulted in social and political improvements with respect to equality between the sexes.
Ironically, the recent outcry over the all-male panel at the congressional hearing is fundamentally opposed to the male-female equality that is nourished by Christian orthodoxy. The strident objection to the lack of female speakers presupposes that the Reason in which men participate (namely, human reason-as-imaging-Divine) is different in kind from the reason of women. This explains why men, who speak with Reason, can’t speak for women. In this respect, so the reasoning goes, women aren’t equal to men.
Some may gladly embrace the implication of inequality. After all, this division creates space for a contest of raw power that those who relish the conflict of polytheism – of the struggle between gods and goddesses – might welcome. But for those who are weary of blood-soaked paganism, the yoke of Christ the Logos, in whom there is neither male nor female, is a cross of peace.