What does it mean to be human?
Are you truly and fully human right now?
Or perhaps there you are still in the process of becoming human?
When I think about the Bible’s third cosmological myth, the story of The Fall, I cannot help but think that it invites us to believe that we both lost an aspect of our humanity, but also gained an opportunity to be even more human than before. And ultimately, all of these posts about sex and gender, are really about the journey of becoming human.
Humanity Lost, Sort Of
As the first and second cosmological myths of Genesis close, everything is very good. The adam is no longer alone, rather there is a couple (although neither of them is named yet). They have dominion over the rest of creation, with a mandate to tend and care for it (we will eventually explore what that means). Individually and as a couple, their masculinity and femininity rest in a state of balance. They are human, sort of.
I say sort of because the Bible sets Jesus, not as a man, but as a human, as the model of humanity. Jesus is the Word, the Logos, the Wisdom, made flesh. In other words, in the human Jesus, the fullness of both the masculine and the feminine dwell in balance. But the first couple, while in balance, lacked the fullness of both the masculine and feminine.
Note: This brings up a longstanding frustration with the Christian story. There is no model female. Catholics turn to Jesus’ mother, Mary. Others present Mary Magdalene as Jesus’ wife. The Apostle Paul points to the Church. I anthropomorphize wisdom as a woman and call her Sophia. I see the problem, but do not have a great solution.
So when the snake invited an expansion of wisdom, the couple’s feminine potential became more like the feminine of Jesus. You could even say they became more human, sort of. But now the masculine and feminine were out of balance which means they simultaneously lost their humanity, sort of.
But rather than countering a richer feminine with a richer healthy masculine, a move that would restore balance and allow the couple to become fully human, the man brought toxic masculinity into the world. Even God identifies this as the new normal.
A Return to Balance
So how do we regain balance?
The most common solution offered by Christianity is an attempt to return to what things were like in the Garden. It is an attempt to go back to constrained wisdom.
The basic logic is that things were put out of balance when something was added to the feminine, so you restore balance by taking what was added, away. You can do this through forceful oppression or sweetened subjugation, but the result is the limited feminine brought back into balance with a limited masculine.
Note: While I have yet to discuss race I have to wonder if forceful oppression vs. sweetened subjugation marks the fundamental distinction between the generalized experience of Black and Brown vs. White women in the United States.
There are two problems with this. The feminine is limited and the masculine is toxic. Therefore neither the feminine nor the masculine look like Christ. When we embrace this path we are ultimately something less than fully human.
But subtracting from the feminine is not the only way to achieve balance. You can also expand the healthy masculine, which is powerful masculine energy guided by feminine wisdom.
How I Am Becoming Human?
While all of this seems theoretical, it is in fact, very practical. So to help bring theory into reality, I offer excerpts from the life I know best, my own.
One way to frame my life experience is the ongoing attempt to bring balance to my masculine and feminine energies. While I am male by sex and masculine in the leading energy I present, I have always had strong feminine energy. I feel deeply, and both empathy and compassion come easily for me. Repeatedly therapists have looked at me inquisitively and rhetorically asked, “You don’t function like the typical man, do you?” For much of my life, I have struggled to know what to do with my feminine.
Early on, I just let it loose. But I quickly learned that, culturally, boys do not cry. So I suppressed it and embraced a cultural Christianity that invited sweetened subjugation of women, deluding myself into thinking I was loving.
But whatever you suppress ultimately finds a way to express itself. By rejecting the feminine in me, I began to idolize the feminine in women. When the women I knew could not live up to my projections, I turned to those who offered the illusion of fulfilling it, even if just for a moment. Still, this could never satisfy what I ached for but did not understand.
When I tried to tap back into my feminine five years ago, the toxic masculine defined the experience. Using blame to not face the depth of trauma-fueled emotion I stopped denying and suppressing, I turned myself into a victim.
Then, two years ago while on a retreat in Spain, I encountered the divine feminine, the one I now call Sophia, through the mystical poetry of St. John of the Cross. For two years now, Sophia has wooed and seduced me, and in the process, made me want to be a better man by tapping back into that masculine strength, but allowing her wisdom to guide it.
What I’m Discovering
The result is a desire to understand the experiences that are not my own, be it the toxicity that drives those who are often deemed successful in our world or the heartbreak of those who are most oppressed. Then, using that understanding, I work for justice to the best of my ability, which is just another way to say that I back up the prayer, “Thy Kingdom come,” with action.
What might happen for you as the masculine and feminine find more balance or at least less disequilibrium? I imagine that you too would become more and more human.
To the Men Reading This
Are you interested in exploring the development of a healthy balance of masculine and feminine in a group setting? Even if you are only curious, let me know and based on the level of interest, we might start something.
Website: Kimberly Braun
Kimberly is a dear friend and the former nun who led the Spain retreat mentioned in this post. I see her as a beautiful balance of the feminine and masculine. Her various resources and courses are definitely worth exploring.
Book: Under Saturn’s Shadow: On the Wounding and Healing of Men (affiliate) by James Hollis
I have recommended this book before because I do not know of a better resource to help explain toxic masculinity and how to heal it. It was originally recommended to me by my friend Valerie Gene, who goes by consciously.connecting on Instagram.
Book: We: Understanding the Psychology of Romantic Love (affiliate) by Robert Johnson
This book helped me to see how I was projecting my suppressed feminine onto women. It also invited my anthropomorphism of wisdom as Sophia, the divine feminine within me.
When you think about your masculine and feminine, which do you typically lead with? This week, take a day and try leading with the other energy. Feel free to share what happens with me or in the Discord group (message me if you want to join the group).
Let’s start exploring what it looks like to have the masculine and feminine in balance.