The Feminine Role in Religion: an Antidote to Violence
Religion is a kind of relationship that links the human to the divine. Philosophically speaking, it is the manifestation of the human quest of happiness, where the latter is eternal and certain only when linked to some being beyond all the finiteness of this world. In this context, violence appears to be a distortion where the human strive for being more becomes a selfish taking attitude, where being more is understood as being all. This selfishness takes the form of rejecting otherness as a whole, which becomes a rejection of the feminine value in a world supposed to be governed by the masculine power. But complementarity between men and women is a fact to be emphasized in all aspects of life, and since religion is the human quest for perfection, where life is found abundantly, it cannot but take into consideration both aspects of humanity in relationship with the divine. After all, humans were created as men and women, and any tentative to disturb that order in creation by undervaluing an aspect of humanity would end up in violence. A common aspect of violent patterns is the marginalization of women’s role in decision making and in social development, not to mention the scandalizing marginalization of women in religious leadership. Here the distribution of roles between men and women becomes a very important field for research. The paper shows the importance of the feminine role in religion, while focusing on the feminine role in avoiding violence, mostly in the monotheistic religions. The feminine role is to be explored on the anthropological level as well as the psychological and metaphysical levels. The feminine is an essential aspect of our humanity, and we can only get in touch with it through the active role of women. The paper draws our attention to the confusion between the symbolic aspect of receptivity, associated to the feminine, and the passivity imposed on women by some misunderstanding of religious passages, which minimizes the role of women. Women have an important role in protecting and nurturing humanity, making sure the religious path develops into an environment where empathy and forgiveness are promoted, which is a religious message that prevents violence, and helps religion fulfill its purpose.
The feminine, Complementarity, Religion, Marginalization of women.
See Gn. 3:12-14, Adam blames Eve for giving him from the fruit of the tree, and she blames it on the serpent
“The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper like himself.” (Gn.2:20)
"Evil has no positive nature; but the loss of good has received the name 'evil.'"; Augustine, The City of God, XI, CHAP. 9
Al A’araf 7: 189.
Edith Stein (1996) Essays on Woman, 2d ed. Revised, translated by Freda Mary Oben, Ph.D. This includes eight essays on the theme of woman and her vocation, p 89
See: Emiliana R. Simon-Thomas (2007) “Are women more empathic than men?” in Greater Good, issue 1 June 2007.
See: Quran 7:19-22.
Poem by Pierre Teilhard de Charidin (1881-1955) entitled ‘The Eternal Feminine’. See also: Henri de Lubac (1971) Eternal Feminine: A Study of the Poem by Teilhard de Chardin Followed by Teilhard and the Problems of Today (New York: Collins).