by Keith Brenton
May – June, 2006
One of the elements of The DaVinci Code book/movie phenomenon that has caused a lot of controversy is an allusion to “the Sacred Feminine.”
Other religions have gods and goddesses; a few — like some of the Gnostic writings — actually elevate the feminine as superior to the masculine in deity as well as humanity. But Christianity does not, this work tells us; it’s a men-only leadership club that doesn’t recognize the human feminine, let alone the Sacred Feminine.
What is the Sacred Feminine?
Wikipedia describes it as a concept “rooted in the idea that all life flows through those bodies in nature that are feminine”:
Philosophically, following the path of the Sacred Feminine calls on followers to embrace somewhat essentialist views of spiritual femininity. Cooperation is valued over confrontation, nurturing over domination, peace over war, creativity over destruction. And while these concepts are reductionist and essentialist, followers believe that these concepts must be brought into balance with the predominant patriarchal power structure in contemporary culture.
That may sound prejudicial and gender-incorrect, but as a reaction to centuries of what its adherents perceive as male-dominated culture, perhaps it can be understood as having some basis, and a reasonable emphasis on balance.
And while detractors (inside and outside of Christianity) may snort that there is no such thing as the Sacred Feminine, I beg to differ.
The Sacred Feminine is real, just as real a part of scripture as salvation by grace through faith. And though I don’t buy into a conspiracy theory that it’s been suppressed, I do believe it has been neglected.
It’s a real yearning on the part of many women (and a number of men!) who perceive an imbalance in the description offered in scripture of God the Father, Christ the Son and even the Holy Spirit referred to in the masculine by Jesus.
If we’ll look carefully, we’ll find the Sacred Feminine there, too.
It’s not the Gnostics’ mother-goddess-creators Eve or Sophia (wisdom) or — forgive me, ZOE Group — Zoe (life) that is the Sacred Feminine. (See Hypostasis of the Archons and On The Origin of the World for these alternate creation stories.)
It’s not childbearing that makes the feminine nature more godlike or closer to God than the masculine … any more than it’s the tendency to be authoritative and to claim omniscience that makes the male more like God.
It’s more like the old Pogo comic strip punch line, “We have met the enemy — and he is us!” … with a twist.
The Sacred Feminine isn’t the enemy.
But it is us.
It’s God’s people. It’s us. As Israel in the Old Testament, we were the unfaithful bride. (See Jeremiah 3, Hosea 1 and others.)
As the followers of Jesus since his incarnation, we were ransomed and taken back and intimately washed. (Remember that embarrassing bath metaphor in Ephesians 5?)
We’re the bride of Christ. In the Revelation to John, the Visionary sees us coming down from heaven, a bridal city encrusted with jewels and pearls, ready to meet the Bridegroom. Before that, we appeared as a woman in travail giving birth to a man child and fleeing to the wilderness for protection from a destroyer. We’ve been washed, clothed, decorated, and given a garden with the river of life embanked by groves of the tree of life — the one Adam and Eve never got to touch.
We’re “sacred” in the sense of being set apart, sanctified, forgiven, washed — not by our own wit, power or righteousness — but by His. We become immortal, divine, reigning with Him forever and ever.
And that reunion restores the balance that creation has lacked for so long.
Some of Gnosticism’s creation stories posit a far superior Eve created by one goddess or another, breathing life into limp Adam — then being villified and blamed for the fall in the Garden which, for various reasons in each version, wasn’t her fault.
Perhaps you’ve encountered the same kind of idiotic, chauvinistic sermon which probably gave rise to that myth as a reaction, centuries ago. Don’t fall for either stupid extreme.
Eve was created by the Godhead to be from Adam’s side, at Adam’s side. To her credit: when she was tempted, she did not fall prey to the temptation of selfishness. She wanted to share the fruit (misrepresented to her as something wonderfully good and able to level the playing field with the God-parent who loved them) with her husband.
I have to wonder — given masculine-kind’s predelictions — would Adam have shared a purportedly “good thing” if the serpent had pulled him aside to convince him? Or would he have kept it to himself? If he had doubts about how “good” it was, at least we can credit him with being willing to share in the responsibility and risk with Eve, who had just eaten. They may have betrayed their parent God, but they were loyal to each other. Side-by-side. Willing to share.
Just as Christ (the last Adam) was willing not only to share, but to shoulder, all of the risk for his beloved bride.
It isn’t scriptural — and it is blatantly gender-incorrect — but it is also a telling moment in Mark Twain’s The Diary of Adam and Eve when the mother of mankind has passed on and her husband of many centuries mourns in tribute to her that wherever she was, was Eden.
And Christ, the Bridegroom of Heaven, feels exactly the same way about His Sacred Feminine.
Keith Brenton serves as WebServant/Deputy Managing Editor for New Wineskins. He describes himself at his blog [Blog In My Own Eye] as a “stumbling follower of Christ, husband, dad, writer, occasional Bible class teacher, currently serving as communications specialist at a large metro church. Someone who questions reality and won’t settle for an evasive answer.” That church is the Pleasant Valley Church of Christ in Little Rock [www.pvcc.org]. He occasionally posts at [the New Wineskins blog]. You can reach him by e-mail at [firstname.lastname@example.org].