The Male Christ
from Order of Creation/Order of Redemption
by Michael Azkoul, publ. Orthodox Research Institute, 2007, pp. 31-35.
Republished on our website with permission of the author.
Not only Orthodox feminists contend that the Fathers gave no special attention to Christ’s maleness. Much is made of the fact that the Nicean Creed announces that “He became man” or “human” (anthropos} — en-anthropesantos—and not “male” (aner}. In point of fact, the Greek word anthropos may be used for “human” or “male,” never for female. The Fathers also speak of Christ as “the God-male” (theandros), and precisely because the Word took the form of a male. St. John of Damascus (22) refers to the Incarnation as “the theandric economy” (tes theandrikes oikonomias). Christ became both an individual male (aner) and humanity (anthropos) even as Adam, the type of Him Who was to come (Rom. 5:14).
Christ was not an androgynous being. Adam was male, as Eve was female. We may not jump to the conclusion (as some do) that because Eve emerged from him, He was androgyne, a being as much male as female — until God “liberated” her from his side. To be sure, Eve was born of Adam’s side as he slept on the ground. She was the type of the Church (second Eve) that was born from Christ’s side as He slept on the Cross, St. John Chrysostom observed.(23) Eve was “the mother of the living,” as the Church is the mother of the new living — “the Christian race,” as St. Justin Martyr called it. The human race is the natural progeny of Adam and Eve. All who have been reborn through baptism form the new and spiritual humanity of Christ (male) and the Church (female). In other words, as the woman, Eve, was taken from the one man (Adam) for the reproduction of the human race, so the female Church was taken from the one Man (Christ), to reproduce “the many,” the new humanity. Baptism is her womb.
Orthodox Christology demands that the Savior is a male. He was the Son of the Virgin Mary. The Incarnation of the Word specified what modality of human He was —male. He was given a male name, Jesus (Ieshua). He was “churched” and circumcised as all Jewish males in antiquity. Jesus was always addressed as “He”. He was called Lord, Master, Rabbi, Messiah, all male titles. He offered His male Blood on the Cross to His “masculine” Father—as the story of Abraham and Isaac typify (Gen. 22:1-13). He is the Bridegroom of the Church, her Head, as Adam was the head of Eve: “for the man is the head of the woman” (1 Cor. 11:3). He is male as He sits in Glory at the Right Hand of the Father. It will be the male Christ that returns to judge the living and the dead. The saved shall enter the etwernal Kingdom of the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.
According to St. Gregory the Theologian (329-390), Christ was completely male. “He was a male because He offered Himself for Adam; or rather the Stronger of the strong when the first man had fallen under sin. There is in Him nothing feminine, nothing unmanly. He burst from the bonds of the Virgin Mother’s womb with much power, and a male was brought forth by the prophetess, as Isaiah declares “the good tidings.”(24) Later, St. Theodore the Studite (795-826) will say, “Maleness and femaleness are found only in the forms of bodies, since none of the difference which characterize the sexes can be recognized in bodiless beings. Therefore, if Christ were uncircumscribable, as they are, He would also be without sexuality. But He was born male, as Isaiah said.(25)
If, then, Christ is male, He is male not only because His Father is “masculine” but because He is the “second Adam.” Consequently, if He is the Priest of the Liturgy, His icon must be male. The human priest of the Eucharist is male. As Fr. John Pacheco rightly puts it, “God chose the male sex to redeem the world, and so he chooses males to continue to do so in this the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.”(26) Fr. Louis Bouyer is plainly astonished by those who fail to understand this simple fact. “It would have been monstrous if the Son of God had been a woman,” he writes, “and it would have been a total contradiction to wish that He be represented among us by both men and women without distinction in His work of revealing the Father. (27)
It is shortsighted of Ms. N. V. Harrison that she refuses to accept the connection between gender and the priesthood; or, perhaps, she interprets any male privilege as a sign of female derogation.(28) She cannot imagine the equality of the sexes without equal distribution of power. But this vision of “equality” is secular, if not socialist, and simply irrelevant to the Christology of the priesthood. Men and women are equal by virtue of their spiritual nature and the image of God that is property of every human being. It is, therefore, an inane hyperbole for P.K. Jewett to declare that the “exclusion” of woman from the priesthood is no more than “the reluctance of males to include females in the human race.”(29)
22. Barl, et. losaph. VIII, 60-62; Woodward, trans.
23. Baptismal Instructions. III, 17-18 ACW.
24. Oration on Pascha, 13 PG 36 641A.
25. Ref. Iconom. III, 45 PG 99 409CD.
26. “The Male Priesthood,” p. 3 (Domestic-Church. Com/CONTENT.DCC/19990501 /prst-authority.htm).
27. Woman in the Church. Trans. by M. Teichert. San Francisco, 1979, p. 72.
28. “Orthodox Arguments Against the Ordination of Women as Priests,” p. 165. Ms. Harrington might take a cue from Fr. Schmemann. He writes that the question of women in the priesthood is often seen within the perspective of “human rights” and “equality,” etc. — “categories whose ability to adequately express the Christian understanding of man and woman is, to say the least, questionable.” Yet, so long as the priesthood is conceived in terms of power, men hoarding that power, the Church is reduced to a power structure that is controlled by men even as it is in secular society, then, “the alleged inferiority of women within secular society corresponds to their inferiority within the ecclesiastical power structure, hence, their exclusion from the ‘clergy.’ And therefore their liberation in secular society must correspond to their liberation in the Church, i.e., their admission to the priesthood. The Church simply cannot be reduced to these categories. As long as we measure the ineffable mystery of her life by concepts and ideas a priori alien to her very essence, we mutilate her and her real power, glory and beauty. Her real life simply escapes us” (Preface to the 1982 edition of Women and the Priesthood. Ed. by T. Hopko. Crestwood [NY], 1999, p. 4).
29. The Ordination of Women: An Essay on the Office of the Christian Ministry. Grand Rapids (MI), 1980, p. 121.
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