Reactions to Willy Rordorf Stichworte

Reactions to:

Willy Rordorf, Stichworte:  Gedanken eines Abendländers an der Schwelle des 3. Jahrtausends.  Sigma 11.  Freiburg, CH:  Paulusdruckerei, 1998.

It is an exercise in German to read my dear professor and friend’s Buchlein, in which he presents his thoughts on the threshold of the third millennium, as a humble Westerner, to put together the millions of pieces of the jigsaw puzzle of humanity’s global picture, so that the image of God in man might appear (p. 14).  As a Patristics scholar, Prof. Rordorf is no specialist in the subjects about which he ponders; and my reactions should be accepted in this same light.  We have, however, our unique experiences, and together through dialectic we all become better thinkers about our human situation.  Prof. Rordorf writes:  Wenn sie nun dank der Anregung meines Freundes Heinrich Stirnimann – dem ich dafür herzlich danke – auch in gedruckter Form erscheinen, dann wird das vielleicht zur willkommenen Gelegenheit, mit einigen meiner Leser und Leserinnen ins Gespräch zu kommen und von ihrer Erfahrung und Weisheit zu profitieren (If [my thoughts] are also printed, thanks to the impetus of my friend Heinrich Stirnimann (whom I wish cordially to thank)  then it perhaps will allow the welcome opportunity for discussion with some of my readers, both men and women, and I can thus also profit from their experience and wisdom).  I respond in this spirit.

Kaptiel 1:  Der Mensch ist Mann und Frau (this is difficult to render accurately in English:  roughly, “The human person is both man and woman”)

I enjoyed this chapter.  Rordorf says that each human (Mensch), coming from a man and woman, has—or rather is one part man and one part woman—arguing for duality in unity as regards our true nature.  The event of conception, the mixing of the DNA of both the mother and father, means that we inherit the nature of both male and female, just like all of our ancestors before us.  Life is fuller and richer when one recognizes the two sexes in each of us.  As an artist sees the world, Rordorf claims to see another side, nay another dimension, not only of himself but of other, fellow humans beings, because he recognizes the man in women, and the woman in men.  He rejoices in women’s liberation for it means that they have begun to fulfill the man in themselves, women become truly free to be or become their true selves.  Men on the other hand, when they recognize the woman in themselves, can more easily express physical affection and emotion, especially weeping.  Rordorf concludes that no one ever finds true satisfaction through the expression of one’s sexuality whether homosexual or heterosexual, but only through knowing oneself (and others) in this duality of being both man and woman.

Surprisingly in this chapter, Rordorf does not address the question of the Image of God.  For in Genesis 1.27 (RSV):  “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”  Rordorf’s view leads perhaps to each person being an autonomous self:  since we will always find the seeking of the missing half of ourselves through sexual relationships disappointing, better to find the missing half in ourselves.  Yet I find in Genesis a beautiful complementarity that man and woman together are created in God’s image.  Thus, no matter how in touch man is with his interior woman, or woman is with her interior man, he or she cannot alone reflect the image of God, but needs the other.  Nor can one alone fulfill the Genesis mandate as stewards of Creation, but it takes both man and woman (Gen. 1.28):  “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”

I find myself sufficiently in touch with my feminine side.  E.g., I have in the past cried easily, even in public.  Now, however, I want to live as a man in a world that is offended by the differences between men and women.  Rordorf is right to insist upon our similarity—we are all humans with similar body parts excepting our genitalia.  However, men and women differ in their genetic makeup too, albeit by one chromosome, but that difference exists in each of the billions of cells in our bodies.  Yet today, it is politically incorrect to insist or speak of other differences beyond body plumbing.  The president of Harvard University was forced out of his job because he spoke of men seeming to be better at the cognitive abilities that are necessary for the higher sciences and engineering.  I wish, however, not to be scandalized by such differences, but to rejoice in them, because only together can man and woman reflect the image of a wonderful Creator.  Maudine Fee, when she gave pre-marital counseling to Cathy and me, said that men and women are similar enough that we can relate to one another, and different enough to make it interesting.  It is these differences that I marvel in, recognizing that God, though he is called our Father, and we are instructed to relate to Him in this manner, is not a “sexual” being in the way that we are.  The Triune God must be complete in Himself, not divided into a male and female part—but we humans cannot adequately reflect God’s image, except as both male and female.

Moreover, there is something unattractive about women that are too manly, or men that are too womanly.  (To be fair, Rordorf does not call men to imitate women or women to imitate men.)  While I too rejoice that women have today freedoms that they were denied in the recent past, I cannot rejoice in the women’s liberation movement, at least not in how it has expressed itself since the 1960s.  Rush Limbaugh says humorously–or offensively for those people whose occupation is to be offended– that the purpose of radical feminism is to make it possible for ugly women to enter the mainstream.  Indeed, what is beautiful about a woman who is always angry and sees herself as a victim, who constantly fights for her own rights?  It is the duty and honor of men to fight for the weak, the helpless and the oppressed, never to fight for our own rights alone, but for the right of our women and children and our people to exist and thrive.  It is not attractive when a woman becomes angry because a man has opened a door for her, but radical feminism taught women to do this.  So radical feminism is fundamentally unfeminine, but not only so, it is also unchristian, inasmuch as Jesus calls us to lay down our lives, to humble ourselves, and to become servants of all.  A priest I know spoke of a pastoral student, from a nearby evangelical seminary, interning at his former church; he made the mistake of asking her to make the coffee for the adult Sunday school, to which she replied bitterly, “You would not have asked me to do this if I were a man!”  Radical feminism also holds as its fundamental value, the insistence that in every respect a woman can live as a man because she has complete and absolute control over when she can have sexual intercourse and when she will have a baby—for pregnancy and motherhood most fundamentally distinguishes women from men.  The radical feminist insists upon the right of abortion, to maintain this equality with men; thus, the radical feminist demands the right to kill the weak and helpless and to deny her true womanhood, so that she can be like a man, having sexual freedom without consequences.

The women’s liberation movement which began in sixties might be credited with the new freedoms that women now enjoy.  But I think this is too generous.  Already women had gained many freedoms without the radicals; this was already the trend in the West.  Women had gained the vote.  My mother, who was no radical feminist, was a dermatologist who finished her residency the year I was born (1963) and practiced medicine when the radicals were burning their bras.  People like my mother were the true trailblazers, not these women.

I, like Rordorf, rejoice in freedom, for God permits us all free will and gifts each of us with unique talents.  When both men and women have freedom to become what God has made them, then can we begin to reflect back His glory in a broken world.  But like all human ventures, the new found freedom of men to find their feminine nature, and women to find their masculine nature, there is a dark side and the changes that have occurred in our times are often alarming.

Note added November 6, 2007.  Kyle-Anne Shiver essentially agrees that the feminist movement hasn’t helped that much:  “For the past thirty-five years, I have been listening to rabid feminists doing their level best to build a credibly substantive revolutionary “house” on the foundation of non-existent kitchen shackles and an imaginary glass ceiling.  That’s been pretty hard to do, since the shackles were never actually there, and the ceiling was much more a matter of American women’s personal desires than any deliberate barring of their participation in our highly competitive, capitalistic economy.  Jobs actually tended to go to the people who wanted them the most, and who could perform at them the best.  A real revolution, therefore, required quite a bit of embellishment for motivation.”


1 Comment »

  1. Paul who knew of the slavery of the Jews also said not to strive out of our positional will of God in the cosmos. Thus women have a general subservient role to husband, pastor. Men are subservient to other men and God. Children are subservient to parents, authority figures and God. Dogs are subservient to their masters. Etc. Slaves are to serve their human master.

    Thus the world is in general harmony. There are exceptions and conditions which will change things. But true democracy cannot be in marriage because it is always one vote against one vote. True democracy cannot survive when children can have authority over any adults. These things can be seen as negative manifestations in communist countries for instance. Communism generally denies God’s authority and logos (rational design).

    Women’s liberation at heart denies God. God would empower all humans not to be free in the sense of the world, but in the sense of serving God. As servant. This is the mystery of being in freedom. Jesus said to Peter, “Do you love me, Do you love me, Do you love me.”
    Then the commandment. This is Shema to love your God with all of your heart soul and might. Then your neighbor as yourself. It is the way of the meek who shall inherit the earth. Being first a servant to God. Then a servant to whom God tells us.

    One cannot serve two masters. Bondage is sin. The master is Satan. Freedom is Christ. We are free when slaves to Christ. He is master.

    And the freedom of serving Master is the Joy Indescribable. For those who died as martyr, they ran with shining eyes to their own first
    love. In pentecostal joy. As sheep led to the slaughter, the mystery is that these sheep ran with pentecostal joy to the first death.

    I pray to be Shema everyday. And to fulfill it better tomorrow. As many times as we pray Shema, we are commiting to love Him.

    Comment by Sola Yeshua — September 12, 2011 @ 8:47 pm | Reply

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