Tuesday, May 12, 2020

What makes some women glorious?

but woman is the glory of man (1 Cor 11:7).

1. In this post I'm not exegeting 1 Cor 11:7. I'm just using that verse as a launchpad to offer my personal interpretation of what makes some women glorious. Men think a lot about women, and there are many different ways to appreciate women. In a secular culture that degrades womanhood, as well as some religious cultures (e.g. Islam), I think it's useful to unpack the notion. 

2. Some women are iconic. They project a feminine ideal even though they aren't virtuous women. 

3. The cliche example of a feminine ideal is a visually beautiful woman. An optimal example of the female form. 

It's interesting that Paul uses hair to illustrate the glory of women (1 Cor 11:15). He uses an aesthetic criterion rather than a spiritual criterion. That's because he trades on alternating literal and figurative connotations of headship, but it's still striking that he doesn't focus on sanctity to illustrate the glory of women, even though he undoubtedly rates that higher than hair. 

4. Another example of feminine beauty is a vocal beauty. A woman with a beautiful singing voice. Men and boys can also have great singing voices, but a fine female voice has a an unmistakably feminine timbre. So that's another uniquely feminine ideal. 

5. Some women are gifted writers. They write with eloquence and psychological insight. And they write with a uniquely feminine sensibility. 

This may also be true of female directors. I haven't done a systematic comparison. And this may also be true of some female musicians (e.g. Alicia de Larrocha).

6. Some women embody natural character virtues that make them good wives and mothers. 

7. Some women embody moral heroism. Ironically, it's possible for a woman to be morally heroic even though she's not a virtuous woman. Marlene Dietrich is a case in point. She turned down Hitler's offer to be the queen of the Nazi cinema. She sided with the Allies. And she entertained the troops on the frontlines, at risk of being killed or–even worse–captured alive. Imagine what the Nazis would have done to her if they caught up with her!

Yet she wasn't a good woman. She was a quintessentially decadent woman.

8. Some women embody spiritual virtues. They are saintly. Holy. Far advanced in sanctification.

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