Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏹️

The Whore of Babylon riding the Seven-Headed Beast, woodcut by Tobias Stimmer, published in 'Novum Testamentum', Theodosius Rihel, Germany, 1576. Design for lino cut—coming soon

And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: And upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon The Great, The Mother Of Harlots And Abominations Of The Earth.
Revelation 17:4-5

Historically, throughout the ages, and still today, men are baffled by and terrified of women. Because of this confusion and fear the males of our species resort to base, binary thinking, and have only two ways of seeing women: virgin or whore. No surprise then that Babylon, the most hated and feared regime of the time is frequently, and very graphically described as a whore, ...with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.1 In other words, not only is Babylon itself the most despised of human creatures, but it lures others into its sin. Whole kingdoms are corrupted by the abominations and filthiness of her fornication.

The counterpoint to the whore of Babylon is of course the virgin mother of Christ, the other side of the binary equation: woman on a pedestal, pure, unadulterated (unpenetrated), venerable, saintly. The problem is that both these female archetypes—the virgin and the whore—are inhuman. Neither are real, both are idols, and with neither can man have any kind of relationship. If there is a perfect example of separation from God this is surely it.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.2

How does man3 have a relationship with God if half of that God is denied, cast into stereotype and dismissed? Genesis tells us clearly that God is both masculine and feminine, and humans were created in that image. Both aspects are thus essential, both deeply nuanced, two integrated parts of a complex whole. To cast women into such coarse, crude roles as virgin/whore we do God and creation a great disservice. Until mankind learns to have real, full, deep relationships with womenkind, stop seeing women as objects to venerate or despise, to adore or to hurt, but only to love as equals we, as God's people, cannot even respect the first commandment, Thou shalt have no other gods before me,4 nor move past it to begin to foster a meaningful relationship with our God, rooted in the rest of the commandments. Sexism is the mud we are stuck in, and Babylon still exists. We built it and we maintain it. It continues to be our prison.

1 Revelation 17:2
2 Genesis 1.27. This verse is reflected on in the earlier post, Equality
3 Although I mean specifically the male of the species, those that dominated the governance, art, theology and literature of the time, it is also true that the majority of women are trapped in this patriarchal thinking too, living it out as surely as do men. It takes an exceptional woman (or man for that matter) to confront this destructive pattern and move towards change. This is the focus of the true feminist movement: a new way of being, not simply getting women to be treated like men—that's the Animal Farm approach to change.
4 Exodus 20:3