Biology and destiny

The idea that sexual differences reflect a spiritual reality is often dismissed as meaning that “biology is destiny.”

In other words, if I think that being a woman shapes my personality, my marital role, or my relationship with God, then I’m a slave to my animal parts.

Feminism reveals its embrace of Cartesian dualism–as well as its misunderstanding of the Christian view–through condemning “biology as destiny.”

As a Christian complementarian, I believe that my female sexual organs–along with the rest of my body–are *me.* They are not just objects to be manipulated, mutilated, or sold.

My body was made to grow and nourish new life. I refuse to hate it for this ability; I refuse to drug it or surgically alter it in order to make it somethig different. Instead, I embrace this ability, not only in its physical aspects but also in the way it affects my interactions with the world. I am more timid and careful than my husband is, because my body instinctually wants to protect any life that may be within it. I am good at appreciating the particular over the abstract, because my body brings forth new individuals, each of whom must be cared for according to his or her particular personality. I am comfortable with mystery and do not seek to subject the world to rational control, because for nine months I can carry a baby hidden inside me, a person who I can cherish without knowing.

Nature is fundamentally good, because God made it. Yes, nature is also in a fallen state, leading to corruptions of its goodness, such as disease, death, and decay. But grace perfects nature–it does not abolish it. In the gnostic Gospel of Thomas, Jesus says of Mary Magdalene that “I myself shall lead her, in order to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit, resembling you males. For every woman who will make herself male will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” But in the Christian, non-gnostic worldview, women need not be stripped of their natures. I don’t need to take a pill to make my body less female; I don’t need to transcend or deny my biological reality. I am made in the image and likeness of God just as I am–body and soul–and hence my spirituality can be in harmony, not in conflict, with my body.

I have a destiny as a child of God.  And my biology is part of that.

7 thoughts on “Biology and destiny

  1. What about women who don’t fit your mold ? I’m thinking about a now-deceased relative who made herself, and everybody else, miserable as a housewife, when she really should have been a corporate raider. (She also got kicked out of elementary school numerous times for beating up boys. )

  2. Haha, she sounds like a firecracker . . .

    I think femininity can be expressed in a number of different ways. I personally don’t come across as very girly–I’m quiet, don’t wear makeup, etc.–yet I still exhibit thought patterns that are very typical of women. So I think a lot of women who claim not to fit the feminine mold actually do, albeit not in an obvious way.

    Of course, there are some women who just exhibit no feminine traits at all. I think it’s fine to acknowledge that they’re rare exceptions–we don’t necessarily have to rethink the norm to fit them.

  3. I love the line, “For nine months I carry a baby hidden inside of me.” That word hidden really get’s at the mystery of child birth and the unique relationship of a child to his mother.

    Your thread reminded me of the too common evangelical protestant notion that Mary is nothing special as she was just the “vessel” for Jesus. And yet, the Catholic Church recognizes her unique role in salvation history as the women from whom Jesus’s body was developed. If all Mary did was give birth to Jesus and then hand him over to a group of sages, that in itself would have been enough to make her one of the greatest figures in human history. But the fact that she raised Jesus, and gave him all the nutrients he needed through her breast milk. Fulton Sheen wrote, “It may be objected: ‘Our Lord is enough for me. I have no need of her.’ But He needed her, whether we do or not. God, Who made the sun, also made the moon. The moon does not take away from the brilliance of the sun. All its light is reflected from the sun. The Blessed Mother reflects her Divine Son; without Him, she is nothing. With Him, she is the Mother of Men.”

  4. If we receive sacramental graces through taking Jesus into our bodies through the Eucharist, then how many more graces must Mary have received through not only housing him in her body for nine months, but feeding him with that body, protecting him, feeling the movements of the Incarnate Divine within her? And imagine what she must have felt when she first received communion. John Paul II wrote, “For Mary, receiving the Eucharist must have somehow meant welcoming once more that heart that had beat in unison with hers.”

    • Wow, your right. I never considered what it must have meant for Mary to receive the Eucharist and take the Son of God into her body once again!

    • Mark Shea wrote in a recent blog that, ” Evangelicals tend to reduce Mary’s role to a vessel miss the point. God made the salvation of the world possible through Jesus, and Mary merely assented to be a part in God’s plan. Evangelicals reserve this sort of language exclusively for Mary. Imagine an Evangelical service for the parents of a son killed in Iraq in which the pastor points to the grieving parents and says, “God was the one who gave these parents their child and it was he who sent their son to die for the freedom of the Iraqi people. They didn’t sacrifice anything. They merely assented to be a part in God’s plan.”

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