08 April 2010

Lewis: Cultivation, not Castration, of Masculinity

C. S. Lewis has a fascinating little essay in God in the Dock called 'Priestesses in the Church.' In it he's addressing a 1950s Anglican/Episcopal issue, but the relevance to today's church scene is striking. Lewis argues that the office of priest should be open to men only. At one point (p. 238-39) he says:

It is painful, being a man, to have to assert the privilege, or the burden, which Christianity places upon my own sex. I am crushingly aware how inadequate most of us are . . . to fill the place prepared for us. But it is an old saying in the army that you salute the uniform not the wearer. . . .

We men often make very bad priests. That is because we are insufficiently masculine. It is no cure to call in those who are not masculine at all. A given man may make a very bad husband; you cannot mend matters by trying to reverse the roles. He may make a bad male partner in a dance. The cure for that is that men should more diligently attend dancing classes; not that the ballroom should henceforward ignore distinctions of sex and treat all dancers as neuter.

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