I have an observation to make about the complementary role of the sexes which will be controversial nowadays but which I suspect most people know in their hearts to be true. Which is probably why it is so often resisted in this most irreligious of ages, irreligion being a manifestation of egotistic rebellion against truth.
In every pair of complements there is always one that is more fundamental than the other. One of which the other is the opposite in the duality of expressed reality; expressed reality necessarily being dualistic or nothing could be expressed in the first place. In the male/female pair this is the male. This statement is reinforced by the fact that God or spirit is almost always considered male (all souls are female or passive/receptive to God) and Nature or matter (mater) always seen as female. Those few metaphysical systems in which the Great Goddess is seen as absolute are clearly distortions of reality in that she is the Terrible Mother who may relate to her children with a fierce passion but she also devours them. There is no sense in these systems of the fundamental reality of the Good, the Beautiful and the True and that's because not only is the transcendent Father and Creator denied, reduced at best to a sort of emasculated consort or son, but even the true spiritual feminine is distorted, largely replaced with a semi-monster who must be propitiated with death and sacrifice. The Great Goddess is merely Nature writ large with all of the amorality of Nature seen purely as Nature. She is Matter translated to the status of Spirit but retaining her material/natural characteristics and hence she is a deformed version of ultimate reality, understandable only in the light of a primitive and debased religion which projected Nature onto the spiritual world because it was unable to comprehend the proper reality and transcendence of spirit.
In Indian philosophy the foundational masculine and feminine principles are described as purusha and prakriti and have a similar relationship to that of spirit and matter. Most other religions also relate the Father to Sky/heaven and the Mother to Earth/nature and a complementary but hierarchical relationship is either stated or implied. And it is interesting to note that in the Garden of Eden Eve was created as a companion to Adam not vice versa. This can be seen as expressing in real terms how, on an abstract level, positive and negative always exist together but negative exists as the balancing opposite to positive which is primary in that positive has to be conceived before negative can be, even if the coming into being of the two is instantaneous. The two of them must always exist together but still there is this primacy to one of them. It's the same with light and dark. For original light does not arise in darkness since there might be said to be no darkness until light is there to reveal it. Thus with the arising of light darkness comes too. I am not giving this as a literal parallel of the masculine/feminine duality but simply an example of how one half of a pair of complements will precede the other even when they both come about together.
Obviously what I say here can be (and will be by those who want to do so) dismissed as a rationalisation of the desire of men to dominate or have power over women but I think an objective view will see that it is far more fundamental than that. I don't dispute that this desire may well exist (as may its opposite) but it is better seen as a consequence of the fallen nature of both men and women and so a corruption of what I am talking about here rather than the reason for it. We should reject the corruption by all means but not the reality of which it is a corruption.
So my statement here will be controversial today when to dispute egalitarianism in any form is the major sin. It is also open to misinterpretation and misuse so I should add that it does not mean that man is intrinsically superior to woman. They are meant to be, after all, complementary equals. Furthermore, in the context of any two individuals, a woman may just as well be superior to a man as a man may be to a woman. Moreover, precisely because they are complementary, there are going to be situations where the feminine rightly dominates the masculine. But abstractly considered and on the whole, man is, or should be, the first among equals in the context of the two just as is the case with spirit and matter. And this is reflected, in an obvious physical sense, by the fact that man is on average slightly taller than woman. An apparently trivial, even silly, point that nevertheless does echo a more fundamental truth because the same patterns prevail throughout nature. Besides which nothing is meaningless in a universe created by God. Even the fact that we say man and woman, husband and wife, has a reason grounded in truth. The two are a complementary pair and go together, each balancing, rounding out, completing and fulfilling the other, but one comes first in the context of the pair. Not first in terms of seniority but primary in terms of the order of being and how being is manifested.
It is obvious how this relationship of slightly imbalanced balance in which hierarchy and equality both exist at the same time causes confusion and can be corrupted. It certainly has been in the past which is the reason for the sorry state of affairs today. And that is why it has to be seen in the overall reality of the light of God. If both men and women walk in that light, truly so rather than in name only, there is no danger of distorting a natural but delicately poised reality. If they do not then human egos enter in and that is always a corrupting factor.
To illustrate what I mean by this think of the masculine and feminine principles as expanding and contracting forces. If the expanding (or differentiating) force is too powerful things will tear apart but if the contracting (or unifying) force dominates then they will be crushed, eventually breaking down and leading to a situation of complete stasis. However if the expanding force is stronger than the contracting by the right, not too large, amount, there will be a balanced state of growth. The law of the manifested universe is growth. It is the masculine principle that drives this but for growth to be stable this must be counterbalanced by the feminine principle with its nurturing and protective quantities. If these gain the upper hand, however, then growth will stall and eventually rewind. That is why matriarchal societies continue in the same way for centuries without any real development, eventually stagnating.
This instinctively known fact does not mean man should rule or dominate woman in the way it has been misconceived to imply in the past. It is meant to be a loving complementarity with each side supplying what the other lacks and each taking the lead in different, appropriate, situations - even if it is incumbent on both sexes to develop qualities associated with the other and express them in the context of their own being. But it does mean that overall the male is the lead principle and that should be recognised if a loving and respectful harmony is to be maintained. At the same time, something like the old attitudes of chivalry and noblesse oblige should prevail because these guard against abuse and the turning of a good rule into a tyranny.
Everything depends on getting your metaphysics right. The modern world view is based on a materialistic understanding of the world. Therefore it is built on a false foundation and its ideas are based on unreality. Traditional societies had a more natural understanding, often unsophisticated but instinctively correct. They understood that the male/female duality was in some sense a reflection of the duality of Creator and Creation, God and Nature, Heaven and Earth and this meant something more than a crude equality.
Lest anyone think this is somehow devaluing women let me state my belief that it actually validates the feminine half of mankind far more than feminism, the modern dogma on this question, does for that seeks to deny woman her true worth and turn her into an imitation man.
I don't wish this post to be taken as saying that man is innately superior to woman because that would be a misunderstanding of its premise. I said this earlier but it's worth repeating. The idea is that, ontologically speaking and in terms of basic root reality and on the level of the archetypes (which, of course, should be reflected on all lower levels), one comes before the other even though, as a complementary pairing, the two always exist together. And in expressed reality you would have the King and Queen (in that order) on the horizontal plane but you would also have the Queen and her courtiers when relationships are vertically considered. This is the ideal to which we should conform if we wish to be true to how things are.
I've written more on this subject here.
God as Father and Mother
Such a fantastic post and so clearly laid out. Helped to crystallise for me what were only nebulous thoughts on the subject.
It is is disheartening, and a bit saddening, amongst such great elevated exposition, that you need to continually explain that you don't mean that you're "x" or "y", or that your against "a" and "b". It's a worry if that's necessary here of all places.
Thanks Ben for your kind comment. I take your point about the explanations. Unfortunately these days you have to anticipate being accused of saying what you haven't said when people try to put what you are saying into the framework of how they are thinking.
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