Women And SpiritualityWomen and Spirituality
What we find as an original response to existences meaning is the belief in a greater being or higher power, eg. God, that we serve and obey in the trade for a fruitful, everlasting life. This can be connected to the theory of the Earth-Mother. The female in nature was intended to represent reoccurring life. Ancient people held the belief that they would return to the body of the womb of mother earth and then be given a new life. This ancient belief is similar to our own when compared. The view of the religious world can give meaning and purpose to the lives of the people as it gives them hope. Hope that if they live their lives as God had intended for them, they will be granted entrance into heaven, an everlasting, peaceful place. It gives people meaning as to what they should do with their lives. The religious view also brings order in people’s lives. Purpose in someone’s life is also introduced in the world view; they can go to church and have the holy rituals which every religion practices. This may offer people a sense of purpose in their life. Religion cannot be contained by a certain definition because religion is, simplistically enough, what you want it to be. No one can write a definition of religion as it is really just personal opinion. Religion can be the way you live your life, but for someone else it may just be another word in their vocabulary. With the advent of the feminist movement, the role of women in all parts of society has come under increasing scrutiny. One area of recent controversy is the role of women in the Christian Church. Some churches whose traditions and practices are less rigidly tied to Biblical doctrines have begun placing women in leadership positions such as pastor or teacher. Other churches which interpret the Bible more literally have been slow to adopt such changes. Most Commentators agree that man and woman are both equally a reflection of God’s image; the word man here is used as a synonym for humanity. Adam and Eve were also given joint dominion over creation. The role of the man is leadership, while the role of woman is as a source of strength and support. If a person wants to understand the Christian authority of a man over his wife, he must consider how Christ demonstrated his leadership as head over the Church. Primarily, he gave his life for his church, not using force or coercion for her submission. Many people would dispute the Bible’s relevance to contemporary thought in general, and in particular to the role of women in worship. If the Bible were not written under divine inspiration, a person or practice is not bound by its teachings. He or she can therefore pick and choose whatever corresponds to his/her point of view. However, if the Bible is of divine inspiration, then a cautious consideration of passages relevant to a particular issue must be undertaken. Traditions and customs, that have arisen after the Bible was written, may thus be carefully scrutinized. Such practices may or may not prove sound after comparison with scripture. If women are not allowed to have a voice or some kind of input, the church could be loosing a valuable resource of wisdom. If a husband does not consider his wives thoughts and ideas as being important or valid, his family is surely incomplete, dysfunctional and doomed to failure. Therefore, as the church strives to realize Gods purpose for women, we must remember the truths of the scripture and apply them to our present day culture. This will allow men and women to present the Christian message to our world in the most powerful way. Feminist ethics has much to offer Catholicism. For one, the main issues that concern feminist ethics are basically the same ones that make up Catholic identity. That is, how women and men define themselves in society, what means are available to them for attaining their ends- in short inter personal and social relations. Second, the founding principles that guide feminist ethics are rooted in the tradition of natural law, a tradition well known to Catholicism. So, while the approach of feminist ethics has been to scrutinize traditions which seek to oppress women by supporting unequal social structures, the guiding principles behind feminist ethics still remain well lodge in natural law. It is in the founding principles of natural law where feminist ethics and Catholicism meet. And it is also here where lies the main contribution of feminist ethics for the future of Catholicism. Feminists, argue for freedom, but only in so far as the common good avoids considering social dynamics and inter-personal relations. Apart from rejecting unequal relations that arise from not taking into consideration what makes up human existence, feminists, like the natural law tradition, believe that a common good is worth pursuing. So, while on the outset feminists may look like as if they are breaking away from Catholicism, they are in fact much closer to Catholicism than one may think. As new challenges bring the Church to question its ethics and as women and men seek new identities, feminist ethics can help Catholicism make the transition so that the challenges of modern society can be met. I believe that Johnson makes an important contribution to Christianity by showing us that it is possible to remain within tradition while progressing. Often I find myself thinking if Christianity will ever be able to survive considering its rigid ethics. The renewal interest in natural law is showing us that we can continue to press forward while remaining in touch with our Christian background.