Unification Theology In Comparative Perspectives - Edited by Anthony J. Guerra - 1988

Male and Female In God's Nature: Dualism or Polarity? - By Helen Bell Feddema


Until recently, theologians and mystics who have experienced and described God's nature as a male/female duality -- or indeed, any kind of duality -- have generally been viewed negatively in both the Jewish and Christian traditions, with orthodox theologies asserting God's nature to be indivisibly one, either in an absolute sense, as in Judaism's monotheistic opposition to the multiple gods and goddesses of its rivals, or in the Christian trinitarian interpretation of one God in three persons. Frank avowals of the male/female duality of God's nature have been few, and have usually won for their adherent's criticism, condemnation as heretical, persecution, and ultimately suppression. Julian of Norwich's description of Jesus as Mother, while not condemned as heretical, has been viewed more as a curiosity than a model; while, more typically, early Gnostic theologians and, more recently, Mother Ann Lee of the Shakers were condemned for their assertions that God was both Mother and Father. It is notable that, historically, the assertion of God's unitary nature has brought in its train an identification of God as male, with a consequent rejection of the female component of divinity -- although maleness cannot be logically deduced from God's oneness.

Perhaps the labeling of God as male was inevitable in societies in which power was observably concentrated in the hands of men. Yet the maleness of God has become a theological issue independent of its origins, and has in turn influenced society and its treatment of women. In recent years, however, the almost unquestioned assumption of God's intrinsic maleness has been challenged, and a new awareness of God's dual nature has arisen, one which can now be seen as positive. The first part of this paper is a retrospection on Jewish and Christian history from the viewpoint of monotheism vs. dualism, with a brief consideration of goddess religions as they contrast with the Judeo-Christian tradition; in the second part I discuss recent feminist thinking relevant to this issue; the third part of the paper describes the Unificationist view of the nature of God; and the fourth and concluding part of the paper evaluates the views of God's nature treated in the earlier parts.

Part I: The Rejection Of Dualism: Monotheism And Misogyny In Jewish And Christian History

A. The Maleness of God in Judaism and Christianity

There can be no serious question but that the God of Judaism (and its offspring, Christianity) is essentially a male God. Raphael Patai has pointed out that even though on an abstract theological level, Judaism's God has been described as transcending all physical qualities, including sex, nevertheless in Hebrew (as in English) God is always referred to with male pronouns;

every verbal statement about God conveyed the idea that He was masculine... Every Hebrew-speaking individual from early childhood was imbued with the idea that God was a masculine deity. No subsequent teaching about the aphysical, incomprehensible, or transcendental nature of the deity could eradicate this early mental image of the masculine God.1

How did monotheism become so central to Judaism? The invading Hebrews' long struggle against native Canaanite religions magnified their tendency to insist on Yahweh's maleness, for while local male gods such as Baal could fairly easily be assimilated to or replaced by the male god Yahweh, such replacement could not be done so easily -- if at all -- with female goddesses such as Anath, Asherah, or Astarte; and thus the oneness of God became fused with the maleness of God. In Judaism, as Patai has demonstrated, the Goddess went underground, after centuries of repeated -- because unsuccessful -- campaigns against her worship, to emerge in medieval Kabbalism as the Matronit. But, in contrast to the independent power of the ancient Hebrew goddess, the Matronit (as Patai shows clearly) was woman in the service of man.2

The Christian God is no less masculine in nature; Mary Daly has pointed out that even though

sophisticated thinkers... have never intellectually identified God with a Superfather in heaven, nevertheless it is important to recognize that even when very abstract conceptualizations of God are formulated in the mind, images survive in the imagination in such a way that a person can function on two different and even apparently contradictory levels at the same time. Thus one can speak of God as spirit and at the same time imagine 'him' as belonging to the male sex.3

The Christian concept of the oneness of God, in addition to its Jewish foundation, was also influenced by the Greek philosophical ideal of the oneness of God's nature: "For Greek thought it was axiomatic that spiritual nature was unitary.... Duality appears only with matter. So God cannot be dual, nor can man's spiritual image be bisexual."4 This was not androgyny, however; either maleness was identified with monism, or God's nature was held to be wholly sexless.

In Christianity the Goddess was able to maintain a certain influence in the person of Mary, whose role in Catholicism vastly outreached both the scriptural testimony to her importance and her position in the early church. (If anything, the gospels indicate at least as much her opposition to his work as her support of)- Yet Mary is far from being a goddess in her own right; she is defined by her ancillary relation to another, as Mother of God (i.e., Jesus) rather than as Goddess, and she is praised for her perfect -- almost mindless -- docility and obedience. Indeed, Mary Daly is justified in calling Mary the "Totaled Woman."5

In addition, Christ, the mediator between God and humanity, is also male, and even if one does not go so far as to say, as did the authors of the Malleus Maleficarum, that Jesus came to save males,6 or that -- as some opponents to women's ordination have claimed -- Jesus' maleness demonstrates that only men are suited for the priesthood; yet still the symbol of Christ is a male symbol, which thus sabotages the claims made by some feminist theologians that Galatians 3:28 ("in Christ, there is no male and female") indicates that Christianity (at least in this passage) is not -- or need not be interpreted as -- basically male chauvinistic.7

B. Can Christianity Be Purified of Misogynism?

A number of feminist thinkers have asserted that Christianity can be purified of its age-old misogynist bias, and reworked into a religion that is liberating for all. Their most common approach is to emphasize those passages in scripture which are relatively free from sexist bias, and to reinterpret others. One of the most impressive examples of this genre is Phyllis Trible's reinterpretation of Genesis, which completely reverses the traditional interpretation of the Adam and Eve myth to show Eve as intelligent, assertive, and dominant, in search of wisdom and a fuller life, while Adam is revealed as a passive, lackluster character who follows Eve's lead in everything.8 Her interpretation is without doubt the more natural one; the text must be tortured to yield the traditional interpretation of Adam as strong and dominant, and Eve as sly, evil-minded, and weak. Rosemary Ruether has argued that Jesus Christ, though male, can be a liberating symbol for women if he is regarded primarily as an iconoclastic prophet, offering fellowship and salvation to all oppressed people, including women.9

But Mary Daly, representing the opposing point of view on this issue, has argued most convincingly that it will simply not do to just declare that God is, in fact, not male (which, after all, has been the "official" theological position all along), or that Jesus' prophetic iconoclasm and openness to women is of primary importance, and not his gender. For the maleness of God and of Christ has permeated 2,000 years of Christian history, and God was male through several hundred years of Jewish history before that. In a recent work, Daly states bluntly that "there is no way to remove male/masculine imagery from God."10 One cannot simply wipe out millennia of masculine identification of the Godhead by fiat -- even if one is right in doing so. I believe Daly is correct in claiming that the traditional Christian (and Jewish) God is hopelessly male-identified. Only an explicit redefinition of God's nature as a male/female duality, with use of both male and female imagery and pronouns in religious texts and prayers, can remedy the exclusion of the female element from our representations of divinity. Yet such redefinition meets with strong opposition; it is not yet clear whether mainstream Christianity will be able to become inclusive of God's female nature.

C. Dualism outside the Judeo-Christian Tradition: Goddess Worship and the Position of Women

As a sidelight to Judeo-Christian insistence upon a unitary male God, it is useful to consider societies whose major deity was a goddess. While theoretically a monotheistic Goddess religion is possible, one which identifies femaleness with unitary divinity the way maleness has been identified with divinity in the Judeo-Christian tradition, it appears that Goddess-worshipping societies have always included male gods in their pantheons (though sometimes in inferior positions), and thus have granted the existence of both male and female elements in divinity.

Does the fact that the predominant divinity in a society is female have positive implications for women in that society? Mary Daly has said that "if God is male, then the male is God."11 Some feminist theologians have suggested that this dictum can be reversed to state that if a society worships a goddess, then its women are regarded as divine. Elizabeth Gould Davis, for example, claims that "the goddess is synonymous with gynocracy: where the goddess reigned, woman ruled."12 Yet this position is naive; one has only to consider Periclean Athens, whose predominant deity was the goddess Athena, to see that women's position need not be elevated over that of men in a society which worships a goddess. Athenian women of the citizen class could not participate directly in the political life of the city; girls received little education compared to their brothers, rarely going beyond bare literacy; their diet was severely restricted, with minimal amounts of protein; they were married (by their fathers) in their early to mid-teens, and valued primarily for their production of sons; and, in general, women's lives were restricted to staying at home and performing household tasks.13 This is hardly a situation in which "women ruled." A society can worship a goddess, and can be matrilineal as well, without even treating its real-life women members equally -- much less granting them superior status.

Nevertheless, it must be granted that the worship of a goddess does at least grant to women in that society -- however low their real-life status may be -- the knowledge that femaleness is not excluded from the divine image; that there is nothing intrinsically wrong, shameful, or unnatural about being female. And such positive self-awareness has, in general, been denied to women within the Jewish and Christian mainstreams.

Part II. Dualistic Trends in Feminist Theology

The anthology Womanspirit Rising, a recent collection of feminist writings on religion ranging in treatment from scholarly to popular, illustrates the central importance of the concept of dualism to much recent feminist theology. For purposes of clarity, it should be noted that two basic dualisms are at issue here: the male/female dualism, and the masculine/feminine dualism which arises from it, is connected with it in a way which remains unclear, and is often confused with it.

For the purposes of this paper, I will define the male/female dualism as the genetically-based physiological differences between male and female human beings; these differences in and of themselves are not a matter of dispute. The masculine/feminine dualism is the controversial one: the actual observed (and prescribed) behavioral/experiential differences between men and women. The category of male/female dualism includes, for example, the female potentiality for pregnancy and childbirth, and the male capacity to become a parent well into old age. The category of masculine/feminine dualism includes, e.g., the observed superiority of boys' math scores and girls' language scores on standardized tests. Throughout this paper, I shall use the terms 'male' and 'female' to refer to the biological differences between men and women, and 'masculine' and 'feminine' to refer to the personality and ability differences noted and/or prescribed for the two sexes in various societies.

It is an open question whether some masculine/feminine differences may not have (as yet undiscovered) biological bases; or whether some of these differences may not arise from acknowledged biological differences. Some people think, for example, that the nurturant and receptive nature often ascribed to women may derive from their potential to bear children.14 Some light may be shed on this issue by reviewing the work of anthropologists who have studied male and female roles in different cultures. Margaret Mead's work is particularly valuable in this respect, because of her cross-cultural comparisons of sex-linked character traits.

Her findings are illuminating. She notes that:

in every known society, mankind [sic] has elaborated the biological division of labour into forms often very remotely related to the original biological differences;15

and that

we always find the patterning. We know of no culture that has said articulately, that there is no difference between men and women except in the way they contribute to the creation of the next generation.16

Yet the results of her cross-cultural research undermine the foundations of these claims, however unquestionably valid they may appear to those whose outlook is restricted to one society's world-view.

If in one culture, boys are thought of as especially vulnerable, and in another, girls; if one culture considers women too weak to do heavy labor, and another culture holds that they are especially constituted for it "because their heads are stronger than men's," both claims cannot be true.17 One cannot prove that there are no differences in character or abilities between men and women (other than the acknowledged physiological differences), for the same reason that one cannot prove that all ravens are black by examining even enormous numbers of ravens and finding all to be black; the problem is that the next example encountered might be the counter-instance that invalidates the universal claim. Nevertheless, as more and more sex differences once held to be innate are disqualified by being found assigned to one sex in one culture and the other sex in another culture, the less likely it is that there are any genuine, i.e. innate, sex-linked differences; and the more likely it is that the masculine/feminine duality (in its strikingly different variants across human societies) is inherently false and arbitrary, an unjustified limitation of individually varied human potentials.

Another way of exploring the reality of the masculine/feminine dualism is to eliminate artificial barriers to women's entry into masculine fields or men's entry into feminine fields. If (as has been the case), as barrier after barrier is removed, the gender differences in measured abilities (math test scores, for example) continue to decrease, this is good evidence -- though again, not absolute proof -- that such masculine/feminine differences are culturally rather than biologically conditioned.

Perhaps the only way to accurately determine whether any of the elements currently composing the masculine/feminine dualism are innately distributed differently between the sexes would be to raise several generations of children in an atmosphere absolutely free of gender discrimination, with physiological sex differences treated in the same way that differences of hair and eye color, height and strength are treated today -- that is, as (at most) having specific implications for the performance of certain tasks, but not as criteria for separating people into groups which are then treated differently in general. In such an experiment, each individual would be allowed to develop in accordance with his/her individual abilities and interests, and it would be noted whether or not consistent patterns of differences between the sexes would emerge. But perhaps after living without masculine/feminine stereotypes for several generations, no one would care much whether greater numbers of men than women were pediatric nurses or electrical engineers, any more than people now care to count how many blue-eyed or red-haired people choose specific careers.

In the realm of theology, the masculine/feminine dualism noted by feminist theologians has informed their approach to theology, religion, history and lifestyle, though not in a uniform manner. Those feminist theologians who have condemned the masculine/feminine dualism as an artificial limitation on varied human potentials have tended to incorporate in their theories both male and female contributions to human accomplishments and ideals; while feminist theologians who have accepted the masculine/feminine dualism as innate have often emphasized male/female differences, glorifying females and denigrating males in a manner that mirrors past misogynist denigration of women.

A number of feminist thinkers, particularly those oriented toward a Goddess-centered religion, tend to glorify the stereotypes, i.e., to accept as essential (and positive) qualities of women certain personality characteristics traditionally ascribed to women in recent Western cultures. The fact that anthropological research has revealed quite different patterns of sex stereotyping in other cultures has been given little -- if any -- attention by feminists of this persuasion. In some cases, these feminine characteristics are not just accepted, but almost idolized, in a way which seems quite unjustifiable, both theoretically and practically.

Goddess-oriented feminist theologians often emphasize women's ties to biological functions and the natural world, as when Sheila Collins claims that women have "a deep empathy for the organic world"20 and that women have the power to create new life21 (the male's role in this process is not mentioned). Apart from the inadequate justification (considering the anthropological evidence) for assigning any particular personality characteristics to women and denying them to men, such binding of women to the limited role of child-bearing and nurturing and an anti-technological, separatist, back-to-nature lifestyle carries with it serious dangers, not just for women, but for the whole human race. If women (and nor men) are seen as the creators of new life, then women will bear the full blame for the tragic results of overpopulation. If women reject technology entirely (not just the abuse or careless use of technology) in favor of a revival of benign witchcraft and a close-to-the-earth lifestyle, then social oppression and pollution of the environment -- which must be predominantly blamed on men, who have had most of the decision-making power in industrial societies -- will continue unchecked, and women's role will become wholly peripheral.

If the yearnings of such feminist theologians could be actualized, the result would be a world of segregated enclaves of men and women, suffering equally from stereotyped sexist thinking and unwholesome exaggeration of masculine or feminine characteristics, and with a consequent demonization of the opposite sex and ostracization or persecution of individuals who do not fit the prescribed stereotypes of behavior appropriate to their sex. To my mind, this would worsen, rather than alleviate, the problems of current sex discrimination.22

Another danger in glorifying the feminine stereotypes is that logic and scholarship may be rejected as male tools, in favor of dreams,23 newly constructed myths24 or story-telling.25 Judith Plaskow recognizes this danger in a question at the end of her article, "The Coming of Lilith: Toward A Feminist Theology,"26 yet she does not deal with it. 'Story' or 'story-telling' is becoming a technical term of feminist theology; but it is a term sorely in need of definition, which none of its proponents has given it; I will use the term in its common meaning of a fictional or (auto)biographical account of one's own or another's experience. Stories can be valuable as a means for self-expression, but they lack the precision and logic necessary for an abstract discipline such as theology. A story or myth may be emotionally moving or illuminating -- qualities which are appropriate to religion, as opposed to theology -- but by itself it cannot reconstruct our concepts; it can only change our feelings.

On a positive level, some feminist theologians, most notably Rosemary Ruether and Mary Daly, have used sorry-telling and reflection on women's experience (among other techniques) to enable readers to look at theology and church history from a new perspective. Daly has uncovered the inadequacy of Christian theologians' claiming that God "really" transcends sexuality, while using exclusively masculine pronouns, symbols and metaphors for divinity; she points out that this practice has excluded women from the image of divinity, and has provided a ready-made justification for their oppressive treatment in the Christian Church.27

Feminist theology need not be done -- indeed, cannot be done -- within the bounds of traditional male-dominated theology; but neither should it be a female-dominated theology which excludes and demonizes the male. A feminist theology which views women and men as whole persons, rejecting masculine and feminine stereotypes alike,28 can be a truly human theology, a prototype for the reconstruction of human society on more balanced lines.29

If feminist theology is done without regard for historical accuracy, as when ancient Goddess-worshipping religions are romanticized or prehistoric matriarchies postulated on flimsy evidence, then even sympathetic readers will not take it seriously. But when a feminist outlook is combined with sound and creative use of theological terminology and techniques, as in Mary Daly's or Rosemary Ruether's work, or unimpeachable scholarship, as in Elaine Pagels' research on Gnosticism30 or Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza's New Testament analysis,31 then it can effectively correct and reconstruct theology, purifying it of male bias, rather than suffering rejection as trivial, sloppy, cantankerous, or just plain wrong thinking.

In some cases, a feminist theology may go beyond male/female dualism to virtually deny the existence of the male, in a reversal of some male theologians' denial of true humanity to women. Sheila Collins, for instance, says that women (by whom she must be taken to mean feminist women of her own persuasion) are insisting on defining themselves without relation to men.32 I believe that this is an inherently flawed enterprise. Women who exclude relation to men from their self-definition (or men who exclude relation to women from their self-definition) are cutting themselves off from one-half of the human image, and thereby also from one-half of the divine image; this holds regardless of whether one holds that humanity was created in God's image or God in humanity's image. This is not to say that the inclusion in one's self-concept of relationship to the other sex cannot be negative; it will be so, for example, if women are defined as subordinate to men (or the reverse). But the relationship can be one of mutuality and respect; and then and only then will it be positive and enriching.

Feminist theologians such as Daly, Ruether, Trible, Schussler Fiorenza and Pagels have laid the foundations for the portrayal of divinity as essentially both male and female; either as an androgynous male/female deity or as a God/Goddess couple, symbolizing and prefiguring the unity of men and women in a common humanity. And yet there is a division among feminist theologians, with some rejecting the male component of divinity completely (the Goddess-oriented theologians, Mary Daly in her later works), while others (Rosemary Ruether, Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenzae) try to remain within the mainstream of Christianity while revising its texts and reinterpreting its traditions to purify them of patriarchy -- a difficult task, and one which meets with much opposition. A theology which makes a clear break with patriarchy, but at the same time does not deny to men their part in the image of God, is hard to find.

Part III. Polarity: The Unification Principle View of God's Nature

The Divine Principle, in contrast to both traditional Christianity and to contemporary feminism, clearly states that God's nature incorporates both male and female elements: "God... is a subject consisting of the dual characteristics of masculinity and femininity." (Divine Principle, 25).33 (Here the terms 'masculinity' and 'femininity' are used as abstract terms for maleness and femaleness, rather than in the societally defined sense which I use in this paper.) Yet it must be noted that this clear statement is clouded when the pronoun 'He' is used to refer to God in the English translation of Divine Principle, even in the very sentence in which God is stated to be both male and female -- an unfortunate choice, perhaps based on linguistic usage in standard English translations of the Bible.

Another cause of linguistic confusion in the standard Divine Principle text is the translator's use of the terms 'subject' and 'object'; the labeling of husband as subject and wife as object (Divine Principle, 32) has led some readers to conclude that Unification Principle is as patriarchal as mainstream Christianity. Elizabeth Clark, for example, states that "in each such polar situation the male is described as the subject and the female as the object,"34 and furthermore she objects (quite rightly, in terms of the translator's choice of language) to the description of "the masculine characteristic... as 'positivity' and the feminine one as 'negativity.'35 This misunderstanding is not only understandable, but almost inevitable, for those who have read only the Divine Principle text itself; yet it may be cleared up by referring to other sources of Unification doctrine, such as the speeches of Rev. Moon, guides to the study of Divine Principle, and the writings of Young Oon Kim, the leading Unification theologian.

In the Outline of the Principle: Level 4,36 for example, two pages of examples of subject-object relationships are given. In most of these examples (parents/children, teacher/students, employer/employee, etc.) both the subject and object could be of either sex, and need not even be of opposite sex -- a female teacher with male students, a male employer and a male employee, etc. -- and thus it is clear that a male is not automatically the subject in any relationship, nor is a female automatically the object. Yet, what of the husband-wife relationship, the one example on these pages in which being male and being subject are explicitly linked? In my opinion, this example is out of place, marriage being one of a number of relationships (a business partnership or the sibling relationship between twins would be others) in which the subject-object model is inappropriate; a partnership of equals is the more appropriate model for relationships of this type, where neither partner has built-in superiority 4of knowledge or experience over the other. In relationships of this type, designation of one partner as the subject and the other the object would be quite arbitrary, and would tend to destroy the harmony of the relationship.

In any case, the relationship of subject and object is not one of crude domination (which the English word 'subjection' may suggest -- again, the translator's choice of wording was unfortunate), but rather one of "subject and object becoming one through harmonious give and take."37 Indeed, Rev. Moon has said in a speech that "when men serve women and women serve men, there is lots of joy and great excitement and no boredom. God made it thus and it's supposed to be that way."38

Young Oon Kim has described the basic theme of Unificationist teaching on the nature of God and humanity as polarity, a relationship between two entities which features cooperation and complementarity rather than opposition and separation. "We exist in relatedness. Human nature consists of paired relationships."39 According to her, Unification Principle teaches that the polarity in human nature mirrors the polarity in God's nature, thus bringing humanity closer to God.40 This view, which contrasts sharply with the abstract, utterly transcendent God of early trinitarian rheology and, more recently, of Neo-Orthodox theology, Kim has found expressed in several variants throughout Christian history, noting particularly the teachings of Nicholas of Cusa, Mother Ann Lee, Schleiermacher, Swedenborg, Mary Baker Eddy, and the Jungian theologian Ann Ulanov.41

Kim's notion of polarity offers a constructive reinterpretation of God's nature as incorporating both male and female elements, without one element dominating or suppressing the other, as the subject-object language of Divine Principle tends to suggest. Its emphasis on mutuality and support is important, as it allows the components of God's nature to serve in their internal relationships as a model for relationships among men and women.

Part IV. God's Nature: Selection among Alternative Interpretations

The interpretations of the nature of divinity which I have considered in this paper can be divided into six categories:

1. A male God

2. A female Goddess

3. An androgynous deity combining in one entity male and female attributes

4. An asexual, transcendent deity

5. A God/Goddess couple

6. A deity with polar male and female aspects

Several factors must be borne in mind when selecting an interpretation of divinity that offers all of humanity a wholesome model, free from misogynism (or misandry). Firstly, modern women and men have more accurate information about the process of reproduction than our ancestors had. We know that human mothers and fathers contribute equally to the genetic makeup of their offspring (a fact which feminist advocates of the Goddess tend to ignore); and we know that unchecked fertility leading to excessive growth of population is harmful, both to the individual women who bear great numbers of children, and to society and the world as whole. Thus, purely on scientific grounds, interpretations 1 and 2 are untenable.

In addition, it is morally objectionable to deny to one-half of humanity its share in the divine image. A reversal from misogyny to misandry, such as is suggested by Elizabeth Gould Davis' characterization of men as genetic freaks, inferior to women in every way (an exact reversal of Aristotle's description of women), or Mary Daly's virtual ignoring of men in her later works, is unjustifiable. Men, as well as women, are part of the human species, and contribute equally to the next generation. A theology (or anthropology) which does not take men into account is both unfair and unrealistic, and is just as unacceptable as one which denigrates women.

As far as interpretation 3 is concerned, I agree with Mary Daly that the notion of an androgynous deity does not offer a useful alternative. Although initially appealing in its incorporation of both masculine and feminine elements in divinity, such a notion lacks contact with the reality of human nature (unless one believes that human beings were originally androgynous -- a notion which has little, if any, scientific support).

Interpretation 4, an asexual God such as the abstract God of being Daly proposed in Beyond God the Father, only to discard in Gyn/Ecology, is not a deity real human beings can relate to in any meaningful way, for it (the only pronoun appropriate for such a deity) is puzzlingly different from them. Not only that, but, because of the long history of male identification of the Judeo-Christian God, the allegedly sexless God is "a unisex model, whose sex is male"42 -- in practice, if not in theory.

The remaining contenders are interpretations 5 and 6, a God/Goddess couple and a divinity with polar male and female aspects of persons (in the sense of the persons of the Christian trinity). Interpretation 5 is admittedly easier to conceptualize and relate to -- since after all, humanity is composed of male and female individuals -- but it discards the notion of the unity of deity important to many worshippers. In addition, many contemporary people find it hard to relate to a god and goddess conceptualized as separate entities; they are too concrete to be believable in an age used to an abstract deity.

Interpretation 6, the Unification Principle view, preserves the divine unity, in a manner similar to the Christian trinitarian interpretation; but instead of the trinity of three males, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, the deity is instead composed of a male/female duality, united in harmonious interaction. This model of divine nature gives to humanity a clear model of wholesome relationships, while promoting feelings of closeness to God in both men and women, rather than separating humanity from God by describing God as utterly different and transcendent, as traditional Christian theologians have done.

I find the Unification Principle view of God's nature as a male-female polarity in harmonious interaction by the far the best of the above alternatives, as in this view divinity provides a wholesome model for human life, an ideal to which humanity can aspire. The polar view of divine (and human) nature represents the male and female aspects of human nature, not in a sex-stereotypical fashion, and not overemphasizing fertility or physical characteristics, but as representing the essential variation and multiple potentiality of humanity, and thus it allows both women and men to relate to divinity, and to find in divinity a model of their mutual relationship.


1. Raphael Patai, The Hebrew Goddess (1978) 8.

2. Patai, 178, 179.

3, Mary Daly, Beyond God the Father: Toward a Philosophy of Women's Liberation (Boston: Beacon, 1973) 17, 18.

4. Rosemary Radford Ruether, "Misogynism and Virginal Feminism in the Fathers of the Church," in Religion and Sexism, ed. Rosemary Radford Ruether (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1974) 153, 154.

5. Mary Daly, Gyn/Ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism (Boston: Beacon, 1978) 86ff.

6. Malleus Maleficarum, Pan I, Question 6, in Elizabeth Clark and Herbert Richardson, eds., Women and Religion (New York: Harper and Row, 1977) 125.

7. Daly, Beyond God the Father, 80.

8. Phyllis Trible, "Eve and Adam: Genesis 2-3 Reread," in Womanspint Rising. 74-83.

9. Rosemary Radford Ruether, "Christology and Feminism: Can A Male Saviour Save Women?," in To Change the World: Christology and Cultural Criticism (1983) Essay IV.

10. Daly, Gyn/Ecology, xi.

11. Daly, Beyond God the Father, 19.

12. Elizabeth Gould Davis, The First Sex (1971) 39.

13. "Women in Democratic Athens" (excerpted from W.K. Lacey, The Family in Classical Greece) in Women: From the Greeks to the French Revolution, ed. Susan Groag Bell (1973) 21-35.

14. Valerie Saiving, "The Human Situation: A Feminine View," Womanspirit Rising, ed. by Carol P. Christ and Judith Plaskow (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1979) 38.

15. Margaret Mead, Male and Female (1949) 7.

16. Mead, 8.

17. Mead, 7.

18. Saiving, 31.

19. Mead, 99.

20. Sheila Collins, "Reflections on the Meaning of History," Womanspirit Rising. 71.

21. Zsuzsanna E. Budapest, "Self-Blessing Ritual," Womanspirit Rising, 171; also similar statement in Carol P. Christ, "Why Women Need the Goddess: Phenomenological, Psychological, and Political Reflections," Womanspirit Rising, 281.

22. One contributor to Womanspirit Rising, Aviva Cantot, is aware of this problem: while her contribution was a Jewish Women's Haggadah, she had originally aimed at writing a Seder not for women alone, but for men, women and children -- taking into account women's issues, but not to the exclusion of other issues. Aviva Cantot, "Jewish Women's Haggadah," Womanspirit Rising, 188.

23. Naomi R. Goldenberg, "Dreams and Fantasies as Sources of Revelation: Feminist Appropriation of Jung," Womanspirit Rising, 219.

24. Judith Plaskow, "The Coming Lilith: Toward A Feminist Theology," Womanspirit Rising, 198.

25. Collins, op. cit., and Carol Christ, "Spiritual Quest and Women's Experience," Womanspirit Rising, 228.

26. Plaskow, 208.

27. Mary Daly, "After the Death of God the Father: Women's Liberation and the Transformation of Christian Consciousness," Womanspirit Rising, 56.

28. Daly, "After the Death of God the Father," 208.

29. Rosemary Ruether, "Motherearth and the Megamachine: A Theology of Liberation in a Feminine, Somatic and Ecological Perspective," Womanspirit Rising.

30. Elaine Pagels, The Gnostic Gospels (New York: Random House, 1979).

31. Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza, In Memory of Her (New York: Crossroad, 1983).

32. Collins, 71.

33. Divine Principle (Washington, D.C.: HSA-UWC, 1973).

34. Elizabeth Clark, "Women in the Theology of the Unification Church," in Exploring Unification Theology, ed. M. Darrol Bryant and Susan Hodges (New York: Rose of Sharon, 1978), 115.

35. Clark, 115.

36. [Chung Hwan Kwak], Outline of the Principle, Level 4 (New York: HSA-UWC, 1980), 16, 17.

37. Sun Myung Moon, "The Completion Period for the Dispensation," trans. Bo Hi Pak, 12 November 1978 (New York: HSA-UWC, 1978), 8.

38. Sun Myung Moon, "Breaking the Battier," trans. Bo Hi Pak, 10 December 1978 (New York: HSA-UWC, 1978), 10.

39. Young Oon Kim, Unification Theology (New York: HSA-UWC, 1980), 55. 40. Kim, 55.

40. Kim, 57-60.

41. Daly, Gyn/Ecology, 88. 

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