Ever heard somebody claim that Christianity is largely to blame for sexism, or at least has done nothing to oppose it? While many Christians and institutional churches have certainly engaged in more than their share of sexist behavior, a strong tradition of Christian egalitarianism runs deep. Consider Clement of Alexandria:
Let us understand that the same virtue pertains to men and women. For if there is one God for both, there is also one Pedagogue for both. One church, one self-restraint, one modesty, a common food, a common marriage bond, breath, sight, hearing, knowledge, hope, obedience, love, all are alike. Those who have life in common, grace in common, and indeed salvation in common also have virtue and a way of life in common. … Therefore also the name “human” is common to men and women.
— Clement of Alexandria, Miscellanies 6.100.2–3, trans. Roberts and Donaldson, quoted from Nonna Verna Harrison, God’s Many-Splendored Image (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2010)
Clement was not, of course, an egalitarian in the modern sense—he probably would have opposed the idea of a female bishop, for example—but theological understandings like his laid the foundations that would eventually lead to modern gender egalitarianism.
Saturday, June 18, 2011
the same virtue
So, what I have been trying to say is that far from being complementary, men and women have the same virtue, they are not identical but the nature and excellence of men and women is, to a large degree, overlapping. It is the overlapping characteristics of men and women which we call "human" traits. Here is a post by Chris Heard,