The Bride of Christ: a feminist reading
The image of the church, or the soul, as the Bride of Christ is a longstanding one in Christian theology, and can be seen as complementary to the image of the church as the Body of Christ. The traditional reading of this image, grounded as it is in a patriarchal understanding of marriage and an essentialist understanding of women and men, is problematic from the perspective of feminist theology. Some might argue that it should therefore be discarded, but I think that it is of ancient enough tradition and beautiful enough associations to be worth preserving and re-imagining.
In an earlier discussion, Audrey suggested that “the mystical tradition . . . is the only valid lens through which to view this image.” But the primary grounding I have for this image is the liturgical lens: the triple plunging of the pillar Easter candle into the baptismal font, the utero ecclesiae (womb of the church), during Easter Vigil, the “night truly blessed… when heaven is wedded to earth, and we are reconciled with God.”
The church- indeed all creation- each of us- must assume a feminine stance in relation to the Holy Mystery- a total and absolute ‘fiat’.
I don’t find this a helpful reading of the symbol, if “feminine stance” is meant to imply receptivity and submission, which is how I usually see it read….
Read the rest over at Gaudete Theology.