(Source: Luis T. Gutiérrez*, Mother Pelican Journal)
“There can be no renewal of our relationship with nature without a renewal of humanity itself.”
– Pope Francis, Laudato Si’ #118
This article is a summary, in indented list format, of the ongoing critique of Christian doctrines and their socially and ecologically disastrous conflation with the patriarchal culture that has prevailed since the inception of human history.
A renewal of our relationship with nature requires a bold cultural revolution:
- An integral ecology is humans living in harmony with the entire community of creation, with social and ecological justice.
- No single factor is sufficient for an integral ecology. Many factors are necessary, in many dimensions: cultural, social, economic, political, environmental, global, local, short-term, long-term.
- An integral ecology is contingent on integral human development based on the tripod of solidarity, subsidiarity, sustainability.
- All the above are based on the dignity of the human person and the intrinsic value of the entire community of creation for the common good.
A peaceful cultural revolution is impossible due to patriarchal conditioning:
- Gender shapes the world. Universally institutionalized patriarchal gender ideology has conditioned human behavior since the inception of human history.
- Patriarchal sexism makes all human relations dysfunctional, and induces all forms of dominion and violence. Patriarchal gender ideology is a defective anthropology that translates into a defective ecology, because dysfunctional human relations translate to dysfunctional relations between humans and the human habitat. For this reason, a peaceful cultural revolution for an integral ecology is practically impossible as long as patriarchal gender ideology prevails in human relations and human institutions.
- The demographic calamity of 7.8 billion embodied people currently inhabiting the planet is biophysically enabled by the power of fossil fuels, industrial agriculture, and medical advances, but is culturally driven by the ancient patriarchal mindset about the value of women consisting mostly of their uteruses, which translates into natural resources being valued only to the extent that they can be used by humans.
- The delusion of perpetual economic growth is driven in the same mindset. In modern times, the delusion has been reinforced by the enormous power of fossil fuels, but infinite economic growth in a finite planet is a mathematical impossibility.
- Techno-optimist delusions that prioritize efficiency at the expense of resilience are fostered by the same mindset. The maximum power principle is operative. There is no way in the world that any technology can neutralize the entropy law.
- Extreme social inequities are exacerbated by the same mindset, with nefarious consequences for human development and negative impacts on social cohesion and ecological integrity. Socially, and ecologically, violence engenders violence.
- Old and newly emerging forms of political authoritarianism are rooted in the same mindset of patriarchal dominion. Experience confirms that authoritarianism is manifested, with strong correlation, in both the social and religious dimensions.
- All the above obstacles are rooted in the patriarchal mindset of dominion by brute force. Reforming people from within is necessary, but not sufficient. It is practically impossible for people to reform from within in the midst of rigid social structures such as patriarchy. Institutional reforms are also necessary. Both inner renewal and institutional reforms are needed, either one alone is insufficient.
Can the impossible become possible? An integral ecology could emerge if, and only if, human civilization becomes integrally pro-life by transcending patriarchy in all dimensions of individual and social life, personally and institutionally:
In the secular world, it is time to explore bold initiatives:
- Integral human development must become the top priority of policies and practices, keeping in mind that “human development, if not engendered, is endangered.” Any remnants of toxic masculinity are incompatible with the common good, and must be fumigated out of all private and public institutions.
- Also for integral human development, and for an integral ecology, demographic sanity is essential. Encourage a sensible regulation of births. Natural family planning is ideal. Encourage judicious use of contraceptive methods by both men and women, consistent with human dignity and freedom of conscience. Discourage abortions. Encourage adoptions.
- For the social and ecological common good, it is necessary to balance efficiency and resilience in all business and government policies and practices. The tripod of profit, people, and planet, should replace the simplistic goal of short-term financial profit maximization. Adherence to quality management standards such as, for example, ISO-9000, ISO-14000, ISO-26000, and ISO-50000, must become the “new normal” way of doing business.
- Universal adoption of the principle of subsidiarity. Subsidiarity is crucial for planetary health and world peace, because pollution and violence transcend borders. Some form of global authority is needed, to be democratically elected by all nations and empowered to adjudicate global issues but strictly limited to issues that cannot be resolved locally.
- Everything financial, including the monetary system, must be fairly regulated for the common good. Consideration just be given to financial transaction/speculation taxes, shift from income and property taxes to land/resource value taxes, and transferring subsidies from fossil fuels to renewable energy.
- The increasingly extreme inequity between the very rich and the very poor, and between the very rich nations and the very poor nations, is a ticking bomb. Some form of Universal Basic Income must be considered, tested, and implemented to eradicate misery. Universal Basic Services (UBS), such as universal health care, are also necessary for humanity to become integrally pro-life.
- In all human institutions, encourage conscious evolution from artificial patriarchy to natural relationality. Given the complex interconnections of local, national, and global systems, it is hopeless to try to formulate any cogent set of interventions that will do the job, as any intervention will have so many rippling effects that it is impossible to plan for them. Something deeper may also be required, at a more existential level; altruism, within human beings and in the cultures created by human beings, must evolve to a higher level.
In the religious world, it is time to face honest questions:
- Are we ready to confront the nefarious gender and sexual politics of contemporary patriarchal ethnonationalist authoritarianism? Not in the religious world, because religious people cannot possibly be persuaded to let go of the patriarchal mindset of exclusion and dominion as long as religious institutions remain patriarchal.
- “Original sin” is the root cause of the patriarchal culture. See Genesis 3:16. Religious traditions, doctrines, and practices are vitiated by patriarchy. Even religious language is patriarchal: “Father, Son, Holy Spirit,” instead of Father, Mother, Child; Creator, Redeemer, Bonder; Brother, Sister, Communion.
- The incarnation is the beginning of the end of patriarchy, but most religious institutions remain rigidly patriarchal. See Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, which is the culmination of millennia of religious patriarchy.
- The Theology of the Body makes it clear that human flesh, the human body (not sex, not gender identity, not race, not ethnicity, not anything else!) is the locus theologicum for the common humanity of men and women, created in relational complementarity and consubstantial unity. Unity in diversity: One human nature, one common flesh, one common home.
- It is paradoxical that patriarchal exclusivism and the Golden Rule continue to coexist in religious institutions.
- Is there a path of transformation from patriarchal ecology to integral ecology? The political power of sacred texts is well known, and such power has been used and abused for millennia. Historical evidence points to patriarchal ideology, including religious patriarchy, as the main driver of religious violence and all manner of social and ecological injustice. When political ecology and industrial ecology are influenced and empowered by religious patriarchy, social and ecological atrocities are bound to happen: wars, racism, sexism, debt slavery, pandemics induced by humans overshooting the human habitat. How can we stop this global insanity?
- The time has come to liberate religious doctrines from patriarchal gender ideology (the sex/gender binary, male headship, the “women are defective males” of Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas, etc.). Refer to recent scholarship, such as Andrew Bartlett’s Men and Women in Christ. “The process of making corrections to translations, which started when contemporary translators became more aware of the distorting impact of patriarchal assumptions, needs to continue if the Bible is to be correctly understood.” (page 394)
- The nuptial dimension of human ecology must be rescued from the patriarchal lens. The nuptial insanity of male headship in human ecology makes ecological conversion practically impossible.
- Canon 1024 of the Catholic Code of Canon Law succinctly states: “A baptized male alone receives sacred ordination validly.” This is where the rubber meets the road. Isn’t this institutionalized sexism, a prescription for the systematic abortion of female vocations to ordained ministry? Isn’t it time to rescind the gagging order?
- How much longer are we going to keep believing the falsehoods of patriarchal gender ideology? We need cultural evolution beyond patriarchal gender ideology.
- In the Catholic and Orthodox churches, the exclusively male priesthood is overtly sexist, culturally artificial, and utterly unnatural. How much longer are we going to keep aborting female vocations to the ministerial priesthood?
In both secular and religious institutions, the renewal of humanity must include both inner personal renewal and structural reform; else, we are in for a long and painful disintegration of human civilization.
Exclusivist structures are obsolete; going forward, we need maximum inclusion consistent with personal capabilities at all levels of authority and responsibility.
Now that racism and nationalism are ideologically bankrupt, gender equality is the next step in the historical process of human development; and reforming patriarchal religious institutions is crucial, especially in the sacramental churches.
If the Virgin Mary is the Mother of the Eucharist, then women should be ordained to consecrate the body and blood of Christ for a more abundant life (integral human development) and better care of our common home (integral ecology).