Posts Tagged ‘wwjd’

Femme Fatal: Women Are People Too?

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Perhaps Most Terrifying

I have always been confused by the term feminism.  Images of dark, dangerous, and deadly women wielding rusted scissors coming do violence to my manhood come to mind but so does the image of man and woman getting paid the same for doing the same work.  If the latter is feminism then certainly I am one.  It seems silly to suggest that a woman should be paid less for her work on the basis of her sex.  That isn’t to say she should work for a salary in the first place.  How I come at this issue I’m not certain.  Often I have a double impulse one traditional and the other more liberalizing.  I am prone to agreeing with Christopher Hitchens:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8WSpFuMByo  If a woman wants to work then by all means work.  If a woman wants to be a ‘full-time mom’ then so be it, no judgement.  I believe there are virtues associated with both options and that the ‘full-time mom’ is able, by virtue of time, to provide more hominess to the home and her children’s experience of it.  That is not to say that she loves her children more or that the working mother loves her children less.

Be There Because You Care

But what of the male role in this equation?  Mary Daly is very clear, and I think rightly so, in pointing out the churches (only the Catholic Church, it would seem) negative role in propagating the ‘back-seat’ (or even ‘out-of-the-car-entirely’!) position of the father.  What of his responsibilities and care for his children?  Should they really end solely at the office?  I suppose it makes sense, given the unavoidable ignorance of scientific reproduction, that many/most/nearly all church Fathers and theologians assumed woman was merely the passive agent procreation.  The male plants his seed within the waiting receptacle of woman who incubates and births his progeny.  But, in the end, it does take two and let’s not forget that “It’s Different for Women”:  Male/female relations starts to very much look like a power structure with women taking an early lead which men quickly stole in ‘civilization’.  That might be a slight too cynical (and simplistic) but after awhile the whole thing starts to look like a self fulfilling statement.  “Women shouldn’t be educated.  Why shouldn’t they?  Well, because it isn’t in their nature.  Oh, are you sure; have you bothered to teach them?  Well, no but that’s because they couldn’t learn since it’s in their nature.”  Our best example presently to bust this notion is simply the many thoughtful, competent, and educated women around us today who have made and make the world a better place.

Nice Breasts, But You Exist for Other Purposes Too

How does feminism (whatever it’s definition is) apply to organized religion?  Clearly this is a point of great debate today withing many Protestant churches and among many Catholics.  Churches are not established public institutions but ideally institutions for the public.  So, in effect, this is not an issue to which they are legally required to acquiesce.  Certainly, social pressures and those working within to change the system itself might act to influence the institution but there exists no legal injunction commanding obedience.  That isn’t to say such a law will never be passed but the odds do seem slim and might not that law be taking things too far?  There are, however, laws which prohibit discrimination based on disability and race (I assume they apply to private businesses and the like) so why not sex?  In short, yes or no to female ordination in churches and is this an issue the state should even be pressing?  In light of all this controversy, I am prone to asking the old, cliched, sort of cheesy question of WWJD.  So, What Would Jesus Do (or What Did Jesus (already) Say)?

Truth Hurts

What if one of Tevye’s daughters had been gay?

Monday, April 1st, 2013

In the musical Fiddler on the Roof, a devoutly Jewish man named Tevye raises five daughters in early 20th century Russia.  Tevye works hard to stay true to God, often having “conversations” with God throughout the show.  One of the main conflicts of the show is the battle between Tevye’s traditional views on a Jewish marriage and the wishes of his three eldest daughters, who want to choose their own husbands.  One daughter chooses a poor tailor to marry, another chooses a radical stranger, and a third chooses a Christian.  Each concession that Tevye makes takes him further from his traditional values.

But what if one of his daughters had been a lesbian?  Throughout the musical, Tevye asks God where the line is drawn.  After watching Trembling Beofre G-D, it seems that a hard line gets drawn against homosexuality.

The main question of the film Trembling Before G-d seems to be that of how to be gay while remaining faithful to Judaism.  The idea of the family acting as a building block to the community as a whole leaves no place for a homosexual couple.  Like we read earlier in “Theology of the Body” and in many other texts this semester, procreation is the ultimate goal of a marriage.  The family binds the community together, not just social, but in a religious sense.  There is a solidarity to be found in a community of Jewish families.  This can be said for any religion.  Therefore, theoretically,  a gay couple who cannot procreate would not be working towards the good of the community, and by extension the religion.

Again, we find the idea of family and having many children as the center of a marriage.  As one young Jewish man relayed in the film, “I have to accept that I will not have children through a marriage.”  This statement nearly brought him to tears, as he goes on to say that he had always dreamed of having kids.  The film goes on to bring the parents of gay Jewish children into the matter, further highlighting the importance of family.  One rabbi noted that he has had parents with gay children come up to him and ask what can be done to help their child remain faithful: “They want their children to remain in love with the Torah.”  It seems that God becomes part of the family, and is an essential piece that must always remain at the center of that family.

Throughout the film, we come across many men and women who are caught in the struggle between Judaism and their homosexuality.  A young Jewish man discusses the methods by which some have tried to “cure” themselves of their homosexual urges.  He cites aversion therapy (such as snapping a rubber band against his skin whenever he saw a man), or drugs, and he even told his parents, “I’m gay but don’t worry I’m in therapy to change.”  It seemed as though turning straight was the hope.

However, when all else seemed to fail, many believed that God was the answer.  By diving deeper into Judaism, some believed that they could find answers for their apparently sinful urges.  Gay men and women were pushed to pray and fast and find comfort in God.  Greater faith would somehow save these people.  “I belong to God,” one young man says in the film.  Another says, “I live in my faith!”  They seem to recognize that humans are far from perfect, and hope for a merciful, understanding God who will save them because of their good works despite their sexuality.

I think that is a beautiful thing that comes out of such a struggle.  I think someone can just be a good person in the things they do for others, whether they are Christian, Jewish, straight, or gay.  Parts of the film Trembling Before G-d were heartbreaking, as we see so many people who were rejected for their sexuality.  A lesbian couple in the film hoped that they would have a place together in the Next World, and prayed that their good works would be enough to get them there.  I think it’s sad that people feel abandoned not only by their family and their people, but their God as well.