By Paul P. Jesep*/TRT Columnist-
Power and control are some of the most socially, spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually corrupting forces since human existence. These twin evils have been especially used by men to repress women. In doing so, everyone has been denied the guidance, benefits, and contributions of women as religious leaders and spiritual teachers.
Women were priests and deacons in the Christian church for the first several hundred years of its history. There were women apostles that travelled with Jesus. Mary Magdalene, wrongly labeled a prostitute by men of the early church, wrote a beautiful gospel that never made it into the final version of the Bible. The men made sure of it. Although only fragments of a copy have survived, it still provides much timeless wisdom and insight.
As the Christian church developed male insecurity marginalized women so successfully that they were completely pushed out of the hierarchy. Although much has changed in the last fifty years, there is still more work to be done to accord women in several faith traditions the respect and equality they deserve as religious leaders and spiritual teachers. It is necessary because it is the ethical and moral thing to do. Just as important there is the enormous benefit those on a faith journey will receive from the guidance of women.
The dominant male role in overseeing several religions and denominations within faith traditions understandably has distanced many women from a close relationship with a higher power. Overtime, God has wrongly become “father” and paternalistic. This stems in part from the failure to find a gender neutral pronoun (his/her/he/she) in referring to Perfect Goodness. Often is read “God the Father” or references to the Creator as “His covenant” or “He said to them.”
There are many names for God. They include: El, Adon, Yahweh, Yeshua, Elohim, Creator, Jehovah, Almighty, Emmanuel, Holy Light, Supreme One, Alpha and Omega, Giver of Life, Maker of All Good, Governor of the Universe, and the list goes on.
I’ve never thought of the One Who Cannot Be Named as a father or mother figure. If I did then it limits my faith journey and most important projects personal limitations on Holy Silence. Moses asked Holy Mysticism what is the Divine Author’s name and the response was: “I am that I am.” Another translation is: “I-shall-be that I-shall-be.” In my opinion, this suggests that a male hierarchy whether in organized religion or elsewhere cannot be justified because Infinite Knowledge transcends gender.
Anytime I write about God I do so in a gender neutral manner. I don’t alternate between God and Goddess. God is God. Just. Eternal. Infinite. Mystery. Omnipotent.
No human being has the ability or even the potential to grasp Divine Timelessness. Theologians, philosophers, and religious leaders all attempt to establish guides to help the individual journey toward the holy. It’s an effort to foster a personal spiritual awakening that expands throughout life.
In the Gospel of Mary Magdalene the apostle writes, “For the seed of true humanity exists within you. Follow it! Those who search for it will find it.” She told the faithful to “clothe ourselves with perfect humanity.” This perfect humanity is a journey toward God, revelation, and enlightenment. Don’t let religious politics, defined in part by gender or the hypocrisy of those identified as “leaders,” deter you from the spiritual growth and awakening that brings you closer to Infinite Love. Moving closer to the holy will empower you to embrace a higher truth while providing you the opportunity to better the world.
* Paul is an author, attorney, and a seminary trained, ordained priest in greater Albany, NY. His book Crucifying Jesus and Secularizing America – the Republic of Faith without Wisdom, is available on Amazon.com. He may be reached at [email protected].