Ministerial Priesthood Men Only Representatives

Balthasar's argument follows the gendered Trinity right into the genitalia of human beings, although, as Schindler notes, "the primitive source of 'gender' at least in the theology of Balthasar is 'ontological' before it is physiological, even if it is through physiology that we first discover gender differences" (Schindler 1996: 259). Balthasar's objection to women priests is clear: "However the One who comes forth from the Father is designated, as a human being he must be a man if his mission is to represent the Origin, the Father, in the world" (Balthasar 1988-98: III, 284; emphasis added). Now this logic should be void given Balthasar's use of analogy, for as Schindler, his close and faithful interpreter, writes: "The 'transcendent' meaning of (supra) 'gender' in God . . . cannot be remotely approximated among human beings" (Schindler 1996: 258). But given the earlier slippage in the immanent order of the Trinity, prioritizing the male, it now inevitably resurfaces in a stark assertion: only a male body can represent Christ, because only the male Christ can represent the Father, who, in his mission of originless begetting, is supramasculine. And once more, the Father's eternal suprafemininity disappears, as do women from the symbolic altar on earth, and with them the possibility of a different herstory. The movie is frozen, against its divinely intended motion.

Now it is important to understand why some - like Balthasar - do not see the exclusion of women as a problem. For them, this exclusion derives from the very nature of God's inner reality and therefore must be good. For Balthasar, his theology safeguards "equality" between the sexes, because this equality is not based on equal rights but on sexual difference. Hence, he points out that the priestly mission of representation is strictly connected with "roles," and not with power over others, and ecclesial office is just one role of service among the many required to make up the body of Christ's church. For Balthasar, women do not have the "right" to be priests, just as men do not have the "right" to bear children. And after all, this male role is dependent on the female: on the Marian fiat. The priest must be baptized into the Marian church before he can undertake the priestly role - and it is exercised within the feminine body. Balthasar writes: "What Peter will receive as 'infallibility' for his office of governing will be a partial share in the total flawlessness of the feminine, Marian Church" (Balthasar 1995a: 167).

Thus for Balthasar, the doctrine of the Trinity rules out women priests, for otherwise God's self-revelation would be perverted. Throughout this chapter I have labored to suggest that the opposite is in fact the case and that Balthasar's Trinity is not queer enough: it is not as relentlessly analogical as it set out to be. It fails to transform Aristotle's categories thoroughly enough; it fails to think gender in terms of its complex biblical construction. But Balthasar's theology is still immensely fruitful, and it is because of this that I have looked at his Trinity in such detail. We have nowhere else but the existing tradition from which to work. If Balthasar had followed his concern with the maior dissimilitudo, then his account of the trinitarian love - which so radically includes receptivity, letting be and activity (in contrast to so much of the metaphysical tradition) - would be capable of symbolizing homosexual as well as heterosexual love.12 And if Balthasar had questioned the Aristotelian identification of the male with activity/generation, and not written this into the Godhead, we might have been shown how the Trinity is capable of leading us to envisage a society without patriarchy, without the driving of holes into the bellies of women, and without their eradication from the symbolic order. Instead we might have had a divine symbolic which allowed for a richer hermeneutics of the Bible and for women to be included within the ministerial priesthood. And had Balthasar traced the female morphology in the Bible with more trinitarian openness, Mary's active "yes" to God might be seen to stand equally and differently alongside her passivity and receptivity, and she to stand equally and differently alongside her Son, as the world's co-redeemer. Balthasar has already helped us to see that the many ways of being holy within the church enlarge and enrich the body of Christ, who in the Bible is not only bride, but also inorganic rock, organic and bountiful vine, male and female, not primarily feminine or secondarily masculine. The Bible generates a much more varied and far richer cultural constructivism, even while it bears the marks of patriarchy. To queer Balthasar's already queer Trinity is to begin to glimpse what human "liberation" looks like in the love of God, even if we now see only through a mirror darkly (1 Corinthians 13.12).

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