I normally don’t go to Wal-Mart, but today I found myself walking through the cold, concrete floors filled with hurried people pushing me around to get at those low prices. I’ll give Wal-Mart this much, they do have some low prices. While I was there I realized something I believe changes my whole view of God, theology and Christianity. It was in my search for the best laundry detergent that suits my lifestyle- that of a mildly productive, highly-critical, sometimes lazy, single guy in his twenties that is not the kind to shop at Wal-Mart but once a month- that I received a vision of the real, true Christianity beaming down on me like one of the many fluorescent shop lights hanging from the metal-frame skeleton ceiling a hundred feet above me.
It started with one question: who was at the council of Nicaea (the council in the 4th century where they decided on the doctrine of the Trinity which abolished arianism)? A bunch of men. Who wrote the four Gospels and the rest of the New Testament (to our knowledge)? Males. Who has more books of the Bible named after them than any other gender? Men. Who controlled the church for centuries up until the faint glimmers of light we have in the past few decades? Men.
“My God,” I thought to myself, “we’ve had control of this whole enterprise since the beginning.” These thoughts had completely crowded out whether or not I would buy Tide with Downy mixed into it or regular Tide. I do like soft clothes, but do I want to pay the extra two dollars?
Go back to the early church. Who were the great theologians of that time? The Church Fathers. I’ve never noticed this before. And the Gospels: Matthew (a man), Mark, (as masculine as they come), Luke (a dude), and John (a hombre if I’ve ever heard of one).
What a travesty! This probably means at that council in 325 they got together to see what the best way to keep themselves in power as long as possible was. I bet it went something like this:
“Guys. I’m glad you all could make it to the council. Notice the gender distribution of the meeting (snickers and laughter among the bishops). Any women? Exactly. I’ll say no more. (probably a few chuckles ripple through the crowd). I know it’s a long trip for some of you, and many of you are probably tired, but we all see the importance of why we’re called together. As you know, we’ve recently made a large step in securing our power in the world with ol’ Constantine over there making Christianity legal in the Roman empire. Finally we men can use our power and dominance to keep men on top and those inferior women below us. So, let’s get things started shall we? What’s first?”
From the way things ended up, I bet that’s how they were talking, and not a woman in sight. And I bet that’s how the other six councils went.
I’m not going to let men write herstory (see what I did there?) and dominate theology any longer. Let’s tackle the big issues, shall we?
(As some of you know, I grew up Catholic, and a year ago went back into the fold. For the sake of simplicity, I’ll propose these changes to the Catholic Church specifically, but you can try them out on your own denomination if you like. I see nothing wrong with that. It’s a one-size-fits-all approach.)
This is a big one used to oppress womyn (see what I did there?). How? It’s obvious. What is the Trinity? God. Sure, but Who is the Trinity? Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Do you see the patriarchy reeking like some nasty, green, cheesy stench smelling of nothing other than the worst scourge of our time? How do these men think they can get away with this? Of course we need to change that to Mother, Daughter and Holy Spirit. You may be thinking, “Wait, Will. I understand the change to Mother, but Daughter? Jesus was a man.” Of course you think that. That’s what men have been saying all this time. I have one question for you: who wrote the Gospels? Men. Exactly.
Besides, I think two millenia of a male Savior is about enough. Let’s let the women get a chance to identify with an Only-Begotten Daughter of God. I like the sound of that. We’ll write some new material where there was in fact a Daughter of God doing the same sort of things as Jesus. I’m sure we can make that work. She’ll be Jesus’ sister, no wait, older sister and she pretty much taught Jesus everything he knows. Even better.
Mary can still be the Theotokos because our new savior- also of the same substance as God- can be born of a woman as well. Nothing should change in that area.
And for all those people out there that squirm when they hear father used to refer to the Godhead, well you can have a Mother. I like the sound of that too. This just keeps getting better.
Hmm. This is a tricky one. There are women in the Bible but not enough of them for sure. How about just taking out any passage dealing with men and keep all the parts with womyn? It’d be like the Jefferson/Deist Bible where he took out all the miraculous stuff, but this one would be all stuff involving men and their patriarchal ways. The Womyn’s Bible Commentary wasn’t enough, we need a Womyn’s Bible, revised and updated regularly.
And we can change that stuff in Genesis where Eve listens to the serpent and gets Adam on board. We all know that’s probably not how it really happened. Eve was most likely against the whole thing and never ate of the fruit. This could be why womyn are clearly superior to men. That’s an interesting idea now that I think about it. The sinlessness of womyn. I guess I’d be ok with saying God is the one who saves mankind. The men were the only ones needing salvation.
In our version, the story of Samson and Delilah wouldn’t depict her as a bad figure, we’ll polish that story up too. Also, the work in Samuel and Kings is chock full of men doing manly things we could do without. We’ve had enough of that. But we could keep the story about God not wanting a king. The material about Deborah, the womun Judge was good, but we all know what was really going on when the people of Israel asked for a king and God objected. God knew what Israel needed. It wasn’t a king, but a queen. It would’ve turned out much differently if they’d have asked for a queen. Womyn in power. I like the sound of that.
All those parables with womyn we can keep, and especially keep the material on Mary and all the other womyn. In fact, we can rearrange the whole Bible in order of importance rather than chronologically (what I mean by importance is how womyn are superior to men in all ways except incompetency). First would, in fact, not be the material on Mary, but the story of the Syrophonecian womun telling Jesus what to do (Matt. 15: 21-28). Then we’d have that story in John at the wedding where Mary tells Jesus to perform the miracle. This would be followed by the material in Revelation that talks about the Queen of Heaven. And so on. I feel like I would enjoy that Bible much more than the patriarchal mess we’ve inherited in this so called Christianity.
This is a controversial one. Although some may not like the idea of hell, I think they’ll sing a different tune after hearing this proposal. In the new church we would have a doctrine of hell and it would be like ol’ Dante’s vision of hell, but only with a few minor revisions. There’d be a three tiered system:
The first tier would have the womyn who accepted patriarchy and fed the lie of subservience to men for so long. These would be people like Sarah Palin, Monica Crowley, and any womun who was ever in the Southern Baptist, Pentecostal, or Bible church denominations and remained there.
The second tier would have the men who were against patriarchy, but they didn’t do anything about their oppressive ways and eventually stopped trying to change society.
The third tier- in the bowels of hell at its deepest and darkest abyss- holds those men who kept womyn held down for so long. Many of them, I would venture to say almost all of them, would be here. If you listen closely you can probably hear their screaming right now. Do you know what it would sound like? Justice. Sweet Justice.
Men were the only ministers for nearly two thousand years, it’s womun’s turn to rule things. It will be a womyn’s-only priestesshood. The discussion to ordain men will open again in another 2000 years.
It’s Womyn’s Turn
This was the epiphany I received. I spent four years at Perkins hearing the arguments for the end of oppression toward womyn and how anything men do is disastrous, and now after I graduate I understand what they were saying. The revision of herstory (not history. See what I did there?) has begun. It doesn’t matter if I never bought laundry detergent. Womyn have been doing the laundry of men for centuries. I need to get a grip on herstory.