A very non-stereotypical Catholic woman and I recently had a minor disagreement on Bernard of Clairvaux’s concept of Bridal Mysticism: the idea that the soul is inherently female because it accepts the “bridegroom” of Christ as a bride.
I bring this up because Podle’s “The Church Impotent” addressed this as an issue that helped drive men from the churches. This all prompted me to look into my own soul and how I viewed myself in relation to the almighty… and I found the following: father-son, master-servant, king-vassal, leader(chieftain)-warrior. Nowhere was was there even the possibility of bridegroom-bride and I was internally repulsed by that particular type of intimacy in this matter. Perhaps this speaks to a defect in myself, perhaps this demonstrates the inadequacy of the Bridal Mysticism view. I am inclined to believe the latter (as full of defects as I know I am).
My opinion is that viewing yourself as the bride in a “wedding” to Christ can be a very healthy view, provided that is how God intends you to serve him. However, casting as THE blanket path for all souls to follow does not sit right with me. Look back at the “relationships” I listed in my own case, for instance. How many of them are probably particular to myself? How many of them do you think apply to you? To me, how we view ourselves in relation to Christ is a devotion and a necessary one; but it will differ from person to person. Forcing one particular devotion on the whole of the faithful would be ill-advised. As such, I do not demand that men accept my view and I respect those men who find comfort in St. Bernard’s viewpoint as different as it is from my own.
I have always seen myself as a child or, more specifically, a son of Christ in a sense with THE CHURCH being His bride and my mother. The thought of me suddenly rewriting that and view Christ in such an intimate, effete, or even erotic manner is personally stomach-churning. Christ is like my father, my role model if you will. It is my goal as a man to BECOME Christ to the furthest extent I am able. This is just incompatible with Him also being my bridegroom.
As a side note, I do not buy into the idea that the female is necessarily submissive and the male necessarily dominant (I know plenty of cases that contradict both). Regardless of Bridal Mysticism’s correctness or incorrectness, that has no bearing on whether the soul as a whole is masculine or feminine. I believe the soul – being angelic – is beyond gender as the concept is entirely alien to our angelic nature. It goes beyond “angels have no gender”; having gender to an angel is like growing pollen to an animal. We, as humans, are a fusion of the angelic and the animal just as Christ is a fusion of God and human. The concept of gender is from our animal nature and thus must either be entwined with our angelic nature (meaning that our soul’s gender is that of our body’s), or be apart from it (which means our soul has no gender).
Readers, please feel free to add your own thoughts on the matter. Am I alone in my line of thinking?