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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Gender and the Incarnation

Tobias Haller BSG has an interesting post on the Incarnation, gender, and the Pope's recent Christmas message. Here's the beginning of the post (the asterisked part is from the pope's message) ....

Pope Benedict XVI has chosen to make use of his Christmas message to do a bit of theology concerning human nature. In doing so he reveals a fundamental failure to grasp the meaning of the Incarnation.

*** ...People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given to them by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being.... They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves.... The manipulation of nature, which we deplore today where our environment is concerned, now becomes man's fundamental choice where he himself is concerned... ***

This rather misses the mark, as the whole point of the Incarnation taking place in the manner it did — via the work of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, without any participation of a human male — was to reveal the secondary quality of maleness and femaleness: Jesus derived his entire human nature from the Virgin Mary (or so says the Definition of Chalcedon). Although Jesus is male, his humanity derives entirely from a female. So the "human nature" is in itself genderless, although each particular human being has, by virtue of genetics and epigenetic factors, a sexual or gender reality expressed anatomically, psychologically, emotionally, and socially. But as with all qualities of a person, sex is not essential to the nature: it is a characteristic particular to the individual, like height, or eye or hair color, or any of the other variable factors that individual human beings have. We even have a very clear sense of the genetic factors that produce this particular characteristic quality of the person. The quality does not make them human; their humanity gives expression to the quality.

The Pope takes what can only be described as a hard-line determinist position, pure sexism in its most precise form: anatomy fixes identity .......


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