Influence of Divine Images on Patriarchal Leadership in the Church
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Patriarchal hierarchies hold a long history dating back to the earliest of biblical texts as the authors and biblical figures were influenced by the cultures around them. The foundations of Judaism and Christianity built on these oppressive ideals granted men the favor of power and control. Therefore, when describing the Deity who possesses omnipresent capabilities and reigns over all of creation, the images used typically were masculine ones. Furthermore, as the leadership for structures and institutions of Christianity have been developed, they continue to mirror the male God described. A broad view of leadership from Judaic rabbis to Catholic popes to evangelical pastors reveals that a large majority of those in positions of authority are male. My research focused on the central idea as articulated by Mary Daly that “if God is male, then male is God.” To expand on this idea, I reflected on questions about the origin of patriarchy in Christianity, and whether there are facets of the images unexplained due to language barriers as well as questions about how this has manifested into the religion of modern Western Christianity. Through the use of several pieces of literature researching similar questions, I discovered that without deconstructing colonized, Western Christianity, white men will continue to be the face of Christianity and will further pursue uplifting masculine divine images as a means of propagating that men are ordained to be leaders. The circulation of patriarchal theology continues to keep women out of leadership, which does not allow them to have a voice to seek change. Though modifications need to be made on the individual level about attitudes regarding women in leadership, the issue contains systemic roots.