Friday, June 1, 2018
"Christology and Women": A new book by theologian Consuelo Velez
April 25, 2018
The Javeriana Theology Faculty has just published my book "Cristología y Mujer. Una reflexión necesaria para una fe incluyente" ["Christology and Women: A necessary reflection for an inclusive faith", Javeriana Teologia Hoy No. 79, 2018]. It was the fruit of a sabbatical semester but above all it is fruit of my theological and existential experience of recent years. As a woman theologian, I have not been able to be distant from a reality that is easy to verify in society and in the Church: the situation of women has changed lately but much is still needed so that, everywhere, it would be reality that because of the fact of "being women" we are not considered in a subordinate position or in second place or, worse, as sexual objects or someone's property.
Hence the concern to contribute to keeping on changing that situation and specifically from the field of theology and faith experience. In fact Christian revelation has not propitiated this situation -- in the book of Genesis the fundamental equality of men and women is affirmed: "God made them in His own image, male and female He created them" (1:27) -- but it has allowed it and has maintained it by a bad interpretation of the Biblical text and by an accommodation to social patterns where the model has been the masculine.
As the book cover says, it emphasizes the Christological because it's a central field in theology and, therefore, from a good Christological understanding that promotes women, a transformation of all other theological fields can emerge.
Many aspects can be treated in Christology; in the book, I look at some that I consider relevant. First of all, I pause to contextualize the perspective from which Christology is approached. We call that perspective feminist theology. This statement has some prejudices. The word "feminist" is often identified exclusively with positions against life or with the loss of femininity.
But we must repeat it "many times" to see if it can be understood: there are many feminisms and we are referring to the fundamental -- that movement that allowed women today to be citizens and hence we can study, occupy positions reserved for men for centuries and bring everything we are to the building of society and the church in true conditions of reciprocity and fundamental equality.
Once this perspective is put forward, I define some fundamental terms: feminist movement, sexism, patriarchy, androcentrism, kyriarchy, femininity and gender, and then I linger on the developments that have already taken place in so-called "feminist Christology," an already long history, of decades, but quite unknown in our context. One of the values of this book is to approach with a simple language -- as is my style -- the work already done in North America and Europe but, as I have just said, very unknown in our theological centers.
Second, I return to what is closest to our reflection and to which many theologians already refer: Jesus' attitude towards women in which his option for them and their inclusion in the group of his own is recognized quite significantly. Later I refer to inclusive language that allows naming God in masculine and feminine. That is His true face and the language -- as a living entity -- has to express it. In this sense, the title "Wisdom of God" that was left aside, privileging masculine titles such as Logos, Lord, Savior, etc., can contribute to enriching an understanding of God revealed in Jesus, inclusive of both genders.
Another chapter in the book refers to the masculinity of Jesus. No one is denying that Jesus was male, without a doubt, and no one is claiming to change that. But you need to liberate that masculinity from an exclusively male vision to allow us women to identify with Jesus too and be able to be in his image, without being told that because we are not men we can not occupy the places that men occupy because Jesus was male. It is an interesting discussion because it greatly enriches the Christological vision and new horizons of understanding for men and women emerge.
The last chapter refers to the cross of Christ, a theme so central to the experience of the Christian faith, but while it ought to be a redemptive and transforming sign, it has sometimes been a sign of passive resistance and resigned acceptance of the violence that is suffered. In the case of women, it has been a repeated story of the call to forbearance to save family members -- be it father, mother, brothers, husband or children --without taking into consideration that women have the right to their own lives and not for that do they stop being a good mother or a good wife or much less a good Christian. We recover the cross of Christ in its most authentic sense, showing how the cross denounces all violence against women and at no time contributes to their resignation and denial of their fundamental dignity.
In the postscript of the book it is said that it is aimed at women who already conceive of themselves in a different way, capable of questioning traditionally assumed roles and proposing another way of being and acting. But, of course, the book is also aimed at men because, in face of women's new way of positioning themselves, they need to rethink their identity and feel called to contribute to this new social configuration that breaks with the established roles due to biological sex and builds inclusive gender identities and authentic reciprocity between the sexes.
The invitation, therefore, is to read this book but especially to fully understand this patriarchal and sexist reality that has constituted us and of which today we are all still debtors - as Pope Francis affirms - and look for ways of transformation. Hopefully these reflections, which are limited and only explore some fields, can continue to be deepened but, above all, can be lived out to build a truly inclusive, liberating society and church, creator of communion and reciprocity among all.