In order to make good on this comment over on the blog discussion that has so warped my attention span:
"Okay, I can’t help but retrace a thought from Travis: we treat this as a solely hermeneutical question, but in fact, it is a theological and anthropological question as well. In other words, it is a question involving our beliefs about who God is and what God is like, and who we are and what men and women are like. In my opinion, this is the REAL discussion, because these beliefs affect in a strong way how we interpret this particular handful of snarky Bible verses",
here is some stuff I've been reviewing for the theological anthropology section on my Systematic Theology comp tomorrow. Yes, tomorrow. And what am I doing? Yes, I'm blogging. Again.
No one picked up on the suggestion that we talk theology/anthropology instead of playing "What Does the Bible Say," round 12,846,729,000,000,000,003. But here is what I meant. What are human beings? Well, we could get all complicated and stuff, but why don't we start with the affirmation, straight from the Bible and Christian tradition, that whatever human beings are, they're the image of God, whatever that is. We can even set aside for right now what that even means. All we need to say, here, is that the imago Dei applies to all human beings that have ever been, regardless of any other characteristic that might distinguish them. Including gender. Even in the CofC, this is not a particularly contentious assertion. Everyone's ready to say, sure, women are made in the image of God just like men are--who would say different? Go read your Bible, for crying out loud.
From here what needs to be talked about is what does this mean in terms of the way we interact with and treat each other, as men and women, in the church and out of it.
From Elizabeth Johnson, She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse, (excerpts taken from pages 69-76):
As women's experience of their own worth is articulated today, ownership of the imago Dei doctrine is occurring at a foundational level...Practically speaking, this leads to the moral imperative of respect for women, to the responsibility not to deface the living image of God but to promote it through transformative praxis...If women are created in the image of God, without qualification, then their human reality offers suitable, even excellent metaphor for speaking about divine mystery, who always remains greater then ever.
Further, Christian women, Johnson says, are imago Christi:
Due to the androcentric nature of the traditioning process, the understanding that women are likewise christomorphic has been more difficult to grasp...But this confession [that Jesus is the Christ] also witnesses to the insight that through the power of the Spirit the beloved community shares in this Christhood, participates in the living and dying and rising of Christ to such an extent that they can even be called the body of Christ. Identified with the redemptive acts of Christ's historical and risen life, women and men together form one body that lives through, into, with, and in Christ.
Johnson points to baptism as the sign of this imago Christi reality, and cites Paul: Galatians 3:27-28, 2 Corinthians 5:17, and 2 Corinthians 6:15a (later she also cites Acts 9:1-5, pointing out that there is an identification by Christ of "men and women" perscuted by Saul and Christ himself); and continues,
If the model for sharing in the image of Christ be one of exact duplication, similar to the making of a xerox copy, and if Christ be reduced to the historical individual Jesus of Nazareth, and if the salient feature about Jesus as the Christ be his male sex, then women are obviously excluded from sharing that image in full. But every one of those suppositions falls short and twists the central testimony of biblical and doctrinal traditions. The guiding model for the imago Christi is not replication of sexual features but participation in the life of Christ, which is founded on communion in the Spirit: those who live the life of Christ are icons of Christ...One in Christ Jesus, women precisely in their female bodily existence and not apart from it are imago Christi.
The fundamental capacity to be bearers of the image of God and Christ is a gift not restricted by sex....Such views [of restriction] are distortions of God's good creation in women. They do not derive from the egalitarian doctrines of the imago Dei or imago Christi central to Christian life, but from androcentric attitudes striving to protect patriarchal privilege. As such they are simply wrong, expressions of the sin of sexism. Women know from experience that such views are also existentially ridiculous, as well as logically incoherent when set within the larger context of Christian belief. As women name themselves in power, responsibility, freedom, and mutual relatedness, and affirm themselves as embodied, self-transcending persons broken by sin and yet renewed by amazing grace, new ownership of the gift of the female self as imago Dei, imago Christi is transacted. Simultaneously, it becomes obvious that the imago is flexible and returns to its giver, so that women who are genuinely God's image in turn become suitable metaphors for the divine.
If women truly are the image of God, the image of Christ, then women, too, fall under the same privilege and responsibility to be that image.
This requires witness. It, in fact, demands it. How can we affirm all of this, and yet still think that the Church of Christ status quo of female silence is in any way consistent with this affirmation?