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Annie Turner

Annie Turner
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Thursday, March 19, 2015

HOLINNESS & GENDER--WHAT'S TRUE?

Is anyone else out there as ticked off as I am by gender terms slapped onto religion, holiness, and personal salvation? I just read on my iPad the entry for "Saint of the Day," which is St. Joseph as it is March 19th. Now I have nothing against St. Joseph.  He was a fine guardian of Jesus and is the patron of workers, fathers, carpenters, pregnant women, the church, and more.  On such a feast day all workers in Christian countries could count on a day off.  I'm all for that.

But to write of St. Joseph's "manly holiness," as it does in today's entry, makes me see red.  What in hell is manly holiness?  Did Joseph hold out muscular, sweaty arms to embrace God? Does it mean that Joseph never cried, even when Jesus was lost to them for three days when he sat in the temple gaining wisdom? Did he nail together sturdy little tables for God's bedside?  I just can't get my brain around this, as if holiness had anything to do with gender.

And not to complain too much, I am also angered by words like "generativity," "receptivity," and "nurturing" being applied to women, as if the only form of holiness has to do with our uteruses.  Excuse me; I thought they were there to provide the next generation, and that they have little to do with sanctity but a great deal to do with blood, pain, pleasure, and birth.

Pope John Paul II, while probably a holy man (but not with manly holiness), gave women a bum deal when he wrote about "complementarity" between women and men, as if the only relationship one could have is with the opposite, binary sex.  I hate to tell you, John Paul--now St. John Paul--but things have changed and evolved.  There are whole genders out there which you never even thought of and would probably condemn as "intrinsically evil" if you knew of them.

Words hurt.  Words wound.  And when they come from the head of the Catholic church, they have a lot of power.  Here's my suggestion:  Let's write a new constitution for religious language which would completely banish words like "complementarity," "receptivity," "generativity," "manly," "womanly," "nurturing," let me see--did I forget any of the toxic ones?

We have to move on with the new gender identities (which are probably far older than we know). We have to have conversations about what holiness truly consists of, and let's detach it from any idea of being manly or womanly because that has nothing to do with sanctity.

While I'm at it, could we please include the possibility that animals are holy too? I swear my Jack Russell terrier qualifies.  She always knows when one of us in the family is sad or in a down mood and props herself on a lap to lick one's eyes.  She catches our joy like a ball and runs with it, no matter the weather.  She stands by our sides when needed. Now that's holy!