*Note: This is a guest post by Amanda Iosa. Amanda is an artist and writer who is passionate about proclaiming humanity’s true identity as the image and likeness of God. Her background is in cultural anthropology, and she brings that awareness and expertise into her writing and worldview. Her first published work will be released in 2018—a powerful children’s story about our divine origins and truth worth—which she co-authored and is illustrating. You can find more of her work at amandaiosa.com.
Everywhere you look these days, it seems that the very real divide between men and women is being brought to the forefront, highlighted, and exposed. From the top tiers of the political world, to the entrenched traditions of conservative American Christianity, to Hollywood and beyond, patriarchy and misogyny seem to be gaining more ground and becoming alarmingly normalized. Indeed, we are bombarded almost daily in the news cycle with the most blatant and grotesque examples. It seems the war between the genders* has never been more intense.
How did this war begin, anyway?
As it is written, we had peaceful beginnings. God created humanity—male and female, at the same time—and we walked together with Divinity in oneness, trust, and love. Yes, I just said that man and woman were created at once. The scriptures tell us that: “God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27) This is the beginning of the story, folks! The rest unfolds later. It appears that Eve was actually inside Adam the whole time. In the very beginning, humanity was whole. There was no separation, no enmity. Man and woman were literally one. It’s a beautiful picture.
Everything changes, however, when Adam looks around and suddenly perceives that he’s the only one who is alone. I believe what we call “The Fall” happens right here. Perhaps suspicion and resentment toward God had already set in—creating the satan—the system of deception and accusation. (FYI, the satan is discussed in detail in a previous post)
The story goes downhill from there. God separates the woman from the man, to show him that he’s not alone, but the seed of fear and suspicion has already sprouted. The woman buys into the lie, too. She and the man grasp for the very divine likeness they already had, and it all tumbles down. Accusation and blame follow, and the dividing lines are drawn. Man resents woman, and proceeds to lord it all over her. Patriarchy is born.
According to sociologists, a patriarchy is a society, system, or group in which men dominate women and possess the power and authority. This has been the case in the majority of cultures throughout history. Early Hebrew culture was no exception, as is most of Christian culture today. Religion is a Petri dish of hierarchy and power-mongering, and Christian culture is one of the world’s foremost purveyors of patriarchy and the marginalization of women. The examples are many, ranging from women being excluded from leadership, being placed under the authority of their husbands by so-called “divine” mandate, being told that in order to be a “good Christian” one must to be a devoted wife and mother above all else (the more kids, the better!), and on and on. Biblical cherry-picking is then employed, “justifying” it all. Women are often silenced, or simply ignored. Those that speak up and claim their place and authority as ones made in God’s likeness are condemned and shunned, or simply thrown out of the fold. And while patriarchy may manifest blatantly or subtly, what I’m getting at is that it’s not easy to be a woman in the “Christian” world.
Indeed, patriarchy reaches far outside church walls, and has been woven into the very fabric of society. It has affected women—and men—everywhere. Men are not served well by the unhealthy, twisted masculinity they’ve been taught by culture and religion. From the murder of Abel and ever after, violence, competition and twisted mimetic desire have ruled, costing men their hearts, their true selves, and their authentic expression of the Divine.
And yet, women are just as prone to negative mimesis. (Human beings learn through imitation, often subconsciously.) Women are understandably hurt and angry about the ways they’ve been collectively treated by patriarchal societies. And sadly, many have banded together into a collective enemy camp, fighting back against the patriarchy with the same twisted masculine energy that has oppressed them. So much of the “feminist” movement seems to have just as much focus on being against men as for women, if not more. “Anything you can do, I can do better.” This negative mimesis then goes on and on.
So, how to we begin to heal this divide?
No doubt, men have a great deal of collective work to do. Patriarchy must be exposed and dealt with, and a search for a healthy, whole, divine masculinity must begin. The violence and rivalry have to stop. But who can lead the way? Women. Yes, that’s right! I believe women have an astonishing opportunity to lead the way in healing, reconciliation, and restorative justice.
Women are uniquely equipped for such a task. For men to be able to ratchet down the violence and dismantle the patriarchal system that comes out of the unhealthy masculinity that we see, they need a positive example. Humanity needs a new, creatively positive mimesis that encourages compassion, relationship, and healing—truly loving one another as ourselves, just as Jesus instructed us to do. In short, it’s going to take a truly different approach because the status quo is clearly not working.
As it is written, there is no male or female in Christ, for we are all one. We are not enemies. We’re in this together. May we support one another in the journey toward oneness, and grow together into the true image and likeness of God.
*For the purposes of this article, and for clarity, I’ll only be addressing the simple gender dichotomy of male and female. I would like to recognize, however, that there is a much wider spectrum of gender identity in society today.