Thursday, December 4, 2014

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: "Crisis of . . . the Family Is Tightly Coupled with the Passing of the Patriarchal Family Structure of Male Headship"

In response to Kelly Stewart's National Catholic Reporter article about the pope's rhetoric on women and the recent Vatican colloquium on male-female complementarity, Luis Gutierrez writes,

The crisis of marriage and the family is tightly coupled with the passing of the patriarchal family structure of male headship. The age of patriarchy is passing away. Patriarchal families are becoming dysfunctional. The church, as a patriarchal family in which apostolic authority is exercised only by males, is also becoming dysfunctional. The complementarity of man and woman is one of reciprocity and mutual enrichment, no mutual exclusion in accordance with rigid rules ("boys do this, girls do that," "boys don't do this, girls don't do that"). The exclusively male priesthood is a choice, not a dogma (CCC 1598). Let's praying and working for the advent of a post-patriarchal church.

I would like to add two things to your thoughtful comment. 
Patriarchal families have long been dysfunctional. It is only rather recently that women have had the option of separating themselves from these dysfunctional units. 
As regards complementarity, I believe that the complementarity is between the two partners in a relationship, and really does not depend on their gender.

I think Alexandra is absolutely right to insist that "complementarity is between the two partners in a relationship, and really does not depend on their gender." The notion of male-female complementarity as it is now used by conservative Christians including the Catholic magisterium is fundamentally flawed and really doesn't deserve to be defended or modified, wtih claims that it might, properly understood, be about reciprocity and mutual enrichment.

The language of male-female complementarity was developed to shore up male dominance of women, to keep women subordinate to men, and to denigrate gay human beings and their relationships. It is tainted from the outset by these retrogressive preoccupations. Its insistence that biological gender is at the core of the Judaeo-Christian revelation and the gospel message is, on the face of it, absurd.

It needs to be discarded, not rehabilitated.

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