Deep breath. Here we go.
I’m considering converting to Catholicism. I will be talking to local priests and taking RCIA classes in due time, but I want to dig into some of the theological areas that I am wrestling with. I ask for your patience as I am still in the early stages of learning.
The teachings that worry me the most regard:
- pre-marital sex
- heteronormative perspective on marriage
- ordination of women
It seems to me that all of these topics stem from the concept of complimentarianism.
Complementarianism is a theological view held by some in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, that men and women have different but complementary roles and responsibilities in marriage, family life, religious leadership, and elsewhere.
And the basis of complimentarianism is (among others, possibly) Scripture, specifically Genesis:
“So God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.” – Genesis 1:27
“Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them “Humankind” when they were created.” – Genesis 5:2
So, women and men are created in God’s image as distinct and binary genders. Gender of the body is related to the nature of the soul (one cannot be fully separate, so women cannot be priests by their nature as women). Contraception and non-reproductive sex are prohibited because they deny the life generating purpose of intercourse. Sex outside of marriage is prohibited, and only hetero couples can marry because they can reproduce (but infertile couples can still marry).
Here is where I get confused - if these teachings hinge on the assumption that men and women are, by design, wholly distinct and binary, then what would happen if that assumption proved false? If humans were, by their nature, not so easily categorized in one of two options, then the premise behind these teachings would weaken, would they not?
God created man AND woman in his image, not man OR woman. Also, HIS image. If both men and women are created in the image of a single (usually described as masculine) being, isn’t it possible that men and women may not be strictly binary? Eve was not created separately from Adam, they started out as one being, and just because they were separated does not mean eve was solely feminine and Adam solely masculine when the dust settled. A binary view of gender does not adequately explain intersex or transgendered individuals. Men can have feminized brains and women can have masculinized brains. Science is showing us that gender is far more nuanced than culture generally accepts. So I am struggling to accept as given that men and women are completely distinct (or even the only options) and by extension certain teachings stemming from that.