What does the Bible say about androgyny

Ottmar Fuchs Bishop Oster (Passau) contradicts: Action “in Persona Christi” is not restricted to any gender. But what does it mean then that God became man in a man?

The current report in “Katholisch.de” from August 28th, 2017 was: “The Bishop of Passau, Stefan Oster, has spoken out against the ordination of women into priests. Part of the 'mystery of creation and redemption' is that Jesus was a man, he said in an interview with the current 'Herder Korrespondenz'. That is why the priest who acts “in Persona Christi” cannot be a woman. ‘… The fact that women have been marginalized in the church and have experienced oppression,“ that is a sin of the church, that does not work ”, Oster said. In principle, however, the reservation of the priesthood for men does not belong in these "sinful structures", the prohibition of the ordination of women is rather "magisterial clarified". "[1]

Sinful structures everywhere, except in the male-only priesthood, not?

Last but not least, the mystery of the incarnation, the incarnation of the infinitely mysterious God, is at stake that one does not accept such words of a German bishop without being contradicted, even if he claims the authority to determine them.

1. Supersexuality of God

Nobody will claim that the analogy of the three divine Persons is sexually determined.[2] Because after the 4th Lateran Council, all talk of God, including that of Revelation, including the Bible, is less like God than similar.[3] In this infinite and inexhaustible mystery “stricte dictum” all attributions dissolve. So that the talk of God in this side of this mystery is open to many metaphors that illustrate God in one way or another and connect with people's experiences, depending on the cultural situation or the desire to free oneself from it. It is the ruling people themselves who do not prevent the use of the talk of God in an exclusionary and degrading way towards others or towards the opposite sex, and who do not allow any reciprocally inclusive ways in this regard. So every permanent fixation in the talk of the three divine persons on the masculine hides this openness, with which the otherworldly supersexuality of God is reflected in this world, from the consciousness.

God's speech is open to many metaphors

The Bible is not innocent of this either. And also not Bible translations: if e.g. the New Standard Translation reproduces the Hebrew name of God YHWH with LORD. The necessary respect for the Jewish understanding of God could have been combined with an analogous respect for women, especially those who have long been annoyed by the sovereignty of God everywhere and who can refer to the doctrine of the supersexuality of God. Because it is currently taking the sacred secrecy of God seriously not to disambiguate his name with the “vowels” of a mastery word. Even if the capital letters indicate a text signal, HERR semantically contains more uniqueness than the text signal YHWH and thus fails to do justice to the Jewish side (holy secret of YHWH), but it also misses the refusal (for the sake of even more radical reverence) To overcome the "adonai" (Lord) vocalization of the tetragram.

The Bible is not innocent here either

More and more sensitive imagination would have been necessary here. Here the “translation into fair language” has made more effort.[4] The paradoxical chance of making semantic inexpressibility pronounceable in German and thus of shaping the doxology of the original speech “herrrenfrei” has been wasted. The talk of the Lord is increasingly upsetting my stomach, not only in solidarity with women, but also in solidarity with God's vastness himself.

2. A highly ambivalent gender

Of course, God's supersexuality also relates to the second divine person who became human in the man Jesus, but who is open to androgynous illustrations and realizations both in God himself and in its other inner-historical modes of being. The respective openness relates to the context and is given or claimed in accordance with how the incarnation of the second divine person took place in one way and not another due to the Jewish context. Behind this are sociocultural reasons in the context of a patriarchal religion and society, but even more important in the context of the breakthroughs of this system in Israel itself (through important interventions, especially in prophecy). And the latter (not the patriarchal) characterizes the chosen people in terms of content.

Breaking sociocultural boundaries

So that in the incarnation in a man in the context of the chosen people the sharpest dialectics, ambivalences and contradictions intersect «For God am I and not a man, in your midst the saint; I will not get into anger ”(Hosea 11: 9). According to the projection of this contradiction into God, God senses the temptation to be a man, that is, to come into anger, vengeance and violence, and does not succumb to it. God wants nothing to do with such manhood. So being a man is religiously and culturally something highly ambivalent and double-edged. In becoming human in a man in such a context, God is doing so on the gender-wise siniest side of human existence in the culture of that time, in order to represent the unlimited reach of salvation. Because: “What was not accepted in the Incarnation is not healed either; but what is united with God will also be saved ”(Gregor von Nazianz).

God also wants to redeem ambivalent manhood

This culturally and religiously most dangerous gender is also accepted in Christ, also in the sense of 2 Cor 5:21, according to which God “made the second divine person in Jesus sin”.[5] God comes as a man, also to represent a completely different manhood in this contrast, one that does not rule, but serves and opens up to being human. This does not confirm androcentric behavior, but combats it, which is then also shown in Jesus' behavior towards women.

This insight radicalizes the theology of incarnation, as it saves it from being generalized unhistorically and from making the second divine person man a super-contextual man, or in other words: from the man becoming the second divine person retrospectively to make man himself and in such a way Circular reasoning "conclusively" to prove that the second divine person, already deprived of its superhistory in the trinity and existing as a masculine, completely forbids permitting female symbolizations for the salvation-economic reference to the world and human beings.

3. Man and woman “in persona” of the second divine person

There is an impressive theological tradition of meeting and calling on Christ as wife and mother, for example with Peter Claver and Francis von Sales, who compares Christ on the cross with a pregnant woman who is expecting her birth.[6] Anselm von Canterbury perceives Christ Jesus as the “woman giving birth”. Juliana von Norwich developed precisely this motif in her “Revelations of Love”.[7] Dorothee Sattler underscores this forgotten memory “of the life-giving willingness to die” of the expectant and child-bearing mother.[8]

Christ as wife and mother

Hardly anyone comes up with the idea of ​​referring the presence of the second divine person in creation only to the masculine in the horizon of pre- and post-existence christology (in God and in creation). Christology must not be separated from the theology of creation, insofar as according to Col 1:16 through Christ everything (also everything feminine!) is created what is in heaven and on earth.

Such is the second divine person according to Mt 25, 35ff. of course not only "in person" at present in the male Sick, naked, homeless, strangers, oppressed and broken people, but also in women. Thus, in the context of theology of successor, the second divine person is present in all those who show solidarity with those who suffer, risk something in it and ultimately risk themselves and follow Jesus in this way, of course not only in the corresponding men, but also in the women. And of course that also applies to the “in persona” of men and Women in the sacramental office.

Even if these remarks sound banal, they are not when you think of Bishop Oster's words. The bishop should also be more careful about teaching:

4. The question of the ordination of women is a doctrinal one Not clarified

The curia likes to prescribe the exclusion of women from the priesthood as a final doctrine, although this doctrine so far, albeit with harsh formulations, only in terms of the text in pronouncements of the ordinary magisterium and therein not as a statement of truth, but as a state of mind about the Church that she does not consider itself entitled to admit women to the Ordo, was formulated. “By stating that the church does not consider itself to be justified, the question is by no means answered whether, contrary to its assessment, it is not in truth justified to do so. The question of truth does not become an issue because of the way in which this point of view is presented. "[9]

It's about gender equality

And since reference is made to the calling of the twelve through Jesus, but not to the revelation statements that women are indispensable for the message of Jesus about the kingdom of God as well as for the proclamation of the resurrection, the following applies: “From a definition of doctrine, women are not Admitting to the priestly ordination can therefore not be an issue for formal reasons alone. "[10] Also because the priestly dignity of all believers is halved through baptism in their ecclesiastical development and because the importance of women in the New Testament texts and in the history of the churches is not taken into account. The signs of the times are clear: it is about the Christian-motivated challenge of gender justice. Where the latter is not given, it is in society and Church about a “sinful structure”, in the Church also about a sin to the corresponding vocations of men and women and to the sacramental presence in the congregations.

For more information on this topic, see Ottmar Fuchs, “But you are a priestly people”. A pastoral theological interjection to confirmation and ordination, Ostfildern 2017, 205-216.

Ottmar Fuchs is professor emeritus for practical theology / Tübingen

Image: alexas_fotos / Pixabay

In an email dated October 12, 2017, Bishop asked Stefan Oster around the reference to this text, which is intended to explain his reasoning.

[1] Cf. Katholisch.de, Current Articles, Church, Freiburg - 08/28/2017, accessed 08/30/17, cf. "I am a seeker", interview with youth bishop Stefan Oster, in: Herder Korrespondenz 71 (2017) 8, 18-22.

[2] On gender openness in the image of God and in the incarnation of the second divine person see Ottmar Fuchs, Der zerrissene Gott. The trinitarian image of God in the ruptures of the world, Ostfildern 3/2016, 144-148.

[3] Cf. Heinrich Denzinger, Peter Hünermann, Compendium of Confessions of Faith and Church Doctrinal Decisions, Freiburg 1991, 361-362.

[4] Cf. Ruth Fehling, How the "Bible in Just Language" smashes our male speeches about God, in: Maria Elisabeth Aigner, Johann Pock (ed.), Gender quergedacht, Berlin 2009, 83-100.

[5] Cf. Fuchs, Der zerrissene Gott, 67 and 71.

[6] Cf. Hermann Häring, The Mother as the Sorrowful, in: Marie-Theres Wacker (ed.), Der Gott der Männer und die Frauen, Düsseldorf 1987, 38-69, 46. The feminine portrayals of Christ on the cross also belong in this context.

[7] Cf. Dorothee Sattler, God's wisdom lives with us, in: Raymund Schwager (ed.), Relativization of Truth ?, Freiburg i.B. 1999, 215-244, 217.

[8] Sattler, God's Wisdom 215.

[9] Elmar Klinger, Christology in Feminism, Regensburg 2001, 235.

[10] Ibid.