Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The Soteriological Significance of Christ's Masculinity

or 'Where Angels Fear to Tread...'
A while ago, (over at the Shrine of the Holy Whapping) I commented as follows to the suggestion that the phrase 'the soteriological significance of the Christ's masculinity' was meaningless.
Talk about a delicate area! I think that one can talk about "the soteriological significance of the Christ's masculinity".
Obviously, salvation is wrought by the Word taking Human nature, but one could argue that viewing Christ as the New Adam makes His masculinity of sotierological significance.
That's just one example of what "the soteriological significance of the Christ's masculinity" might be.

I'm therefore interested to note (biretta-doff to Don Jim Tucker of Dappled Things) this from Camassia:
A couple of researchers who studied married couples noticed that men and women tended to have somewhat different ideas about how to show your love for someone: men lean toward "instrumental help" (doing things for people, in other words), while women tend toward "verbal self-disclosure" (talking about intimate matters). The authors argued that society in general thinks of love more in the "female" terms of emotive intimacy, which means women are regarded as being better at love, which has negative consequences for both sexes.
Now, I'm sure sociologists and psychologists and whatnot can argue about whether this is an innate difference between the sexes or not, but another thing that strikes me about the two forms of love is this: only one of them can really be scaled up successfully. That is, emotional intimacy is necessarily limited to a close group, while instrumental help can be raised to a mass level. That is probably why the love that Jesus talked about most of the time was of the "male" variety -- his famous love-your-neighbor example of the Good Samaritan, for instance.
So it seems likely to me that the feminization of love happened along with the privatization of love that I described before, where love belongs to the family but social Darwinism reigns outside it. Historically there was a tendency to err the other way -- to understand intimate relations like marriage entirely instrumentally, in terms of reproduction and what it gains the family or tribe, and ignore people's emotions. So while I've been speaking in broad strokes here in critiquing society's attitudes toward love, I do think a balance is necessary.
This poses the question as to whether the work of Redemption might be understood as falling under that description of 'instrumental help'. Does this shed light on why the 2nd Person of the Trinity became incarnate as a man rather than a woman? Is this a stronger type of 'soteriological significance of Christ's masculinity'?

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