Butch and Femme Metaphors in the Spiritual Life: The Revenge

Butch and Femme Metaphors in the Spiritual Life: The Revenge June 28, 2012

An addition to the end of my post about Brave: “Surrender” is one way of conceiving of Christian faith and practice; it’s a metaphor. It’s probably the metaphor which speaks most deeply to me. But there are lots of other possible metaphors out there: discovery, spiritual warfare, and liberation, for example.

If one metaphor is pushed to the exclusion of all the others, you can end up with serious misunderstandings of the faith. Overemphasizing submission to God can leave people feeling powerless, and obscure their own responsibility for their choices. Overemphasizing liberation can make it hard to see meaning in suffering, or obscure the necessity to take up the Cross.

Similarly, if metaphors are divvied up by gender, you end up with a Christianity which is unable to understand forms of spiritual life which don’t fit contemporary, culture-bound gender norms. Christopher C. Roberts has some good stuff in Creation and Covenant countering the tendency to universalize particular cultures’ gender roles and to focus on the parts of Scripture and history which correspond to contemporary culture rather than parts which challenge it. We’re the people of St Francis and St Joan, not Ken and Barbie.

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