The Last Eve
It’s possible you’ve heard of Christ referred to as “The Last Adam”. Paul uses this in at least two areas, and Irenaeus helps flesh this out when he writes of the recapitulation of Christ in his work, On the Detection and Overthrow of the So-Called Gnosis.
“Wherefore also He passed through every stage of life, restoring to all communion with God” (AH, III. 180). Here, Irenaeus continues the symbol of Christ as the perfecter of Adam (humanity’s) collective downfall that Paul began to construct in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 15:45).
Christ is the one true human, having proven himself as truly perfected, conquering all spiritual disciplines and succeeding where Adam failed. Christ, then, recapitulates God’s good plan for all of humanity. He is the exclamation point at the end of the sentence of human history. He is God’s fulfillment of Eden. If you were to tell the story of one human, you would want to tell the story of Christ — mankind’s perfect summarization. He is the pinnacle to which the cathedral points our vision. Christ summed up all of the rungs of the ladder of divine ascent so that we could partake in the divine nature. Christ is, to put it in the Petersonesque vernacular, the potential of man and woman.
Jesus is the last Adam. In layman’s terms, he fixes all of our mistakes. But if we explore Irenaeus’ words more, we find he has some pretty compelling things to say about Jesus’ mother, too. And while Mary’s role in this life is to point us up the hierarchy to the Absolute, her importance (and Christianity’s historically careful attention to the power of the Feminine) should not be understated.
Let’s take a look at what Irenaeus has to say about the Blessed Mother:
- Just as Eve brought death to the human race [notice the feminine duty of bringing or bearing] “so also did Mary, having a man betrothed to her, and being nevertheless a virgin, by yielding obedience, become the cause of salvation, both to herself and the whole human race” (AH, III, 22.4).
- As Eve (one who was created from the virgin, untilled soil) brought sin into the world through her disobedience, Mary (a virgin) brought forth redemption into the world through her obedience.
- As Eve contributed to sin entering the world through her pursuit of divine knowledge, Mary brought divine knowledge into the world in order to reverse the effects of mankind’s sin (and thus, disunity) with God.
The importance with which Irenaeus speaks of Mary is vital, both in our ability of understanding her theological importance and in our understanding of the power of the Feminine. While modern culture pays verbal homage to the importance of the Feminine, a deeper look seems to say their actions aren’t in step with their pontification.
Popular in Western culture is a sort of incessant fear that we are devaluing the Feminine — I think this is completely correct. But we’re actually devaluing it to a far greater degree than those on the left would like to believe. Take, for instance, the plethora of powerful female protagonists in current Hollywood blockbusters like Star Wars, the most recent Ghostbusters (best movie ever), or Wonder Woman. These stories — in and of themselves not necessarily presenting grave errors — seem to present something of a problem when viewed from a 30,000 foot vantage point.
Take, for instance, Wonder Woman. Here, you have a strong Amazonian goddess defeating the Nazis. A powerful and inspirational image for young females around the world? Quite possibly. A strong image of the Feminine? Not so much.
The most recent Wonder Woman is a great example of Hollywood’s desire to equate the Feminine with the Masculine. Basically, it’s Superman in the form of a hot girl wearing tights. But before the rage grows strong in you, hear me out. The Masculine energy is that force that is conquering and assertive. It is strength. It is the kind that we see manifested in the UFC, in football, and in classic forms of warriors. This is by no means implying that there aren’t women who excel at the things I just listed, but it is to say that these fields have typically been dominated by men (and not because of some sort of patriarchal hierarchy). This is probably due to the fact that men are more aggressive and have denser bones and ligaments and more muscle mass. The Masculine is physically more imposing. It’s stronger, in a brute force sense.
But this doesn’t mean the Feminine is weak — not by any means. This is where the recapitulation of the Blessed Virgin Mary is so important. Mary showcases a true Feminine strength. She bore the divine Logos in her womb, and through her obedience to God she delivered divine reason into the world (the reversal of Eve). If not for the obedience of Mary, there would not have been an incarnation.
This is something important to keep in mind.
Mary is a powerful (and perhaps, the ultimate) symbol of the strength and utter importance of the Feminine. Feminine energy is intuitive, it is open to receiving, and it is the bearer of reason and wisdom. The Feminine helps deliver the Masculine to the world (think back to Eve bringing sin into the world and Mary bringing salvation). The Feminine helps deliver reason to the world. Reason is knowledge, and true knowledge is salvation.
Without Mary, there would not have been an incarnation.
What we’re in danger of in our Western culture is a true devaluing of the Feminine. The new wave of progressive feminism is really just an intense embodiment of the Masculine. It wants its female heroes to be men in the form of hot girls in tights. But what happens when we oversaturate ourselves with the Masculine?
Well, we lose our ability to carry reason into the world and to transfer our ideas to one another.
This is exactly what’s happening in today’s political system. There aren’t a lot of people reaching across the aisles. There’s a lot of closing off and hunkering down. My worry today is that we are losing the importance of both the Masculine and the Feminine. Men are told to temper their aggression in an attempt to fight “toxic-masculinity” and women are told that CEO is the true example of power.
But Mary the Mother of God seems to paint for us a picture that is a truly strong and beautiful image of the Feminine.
Mary, much like the story of Saint Christopher, is an important symbol pointing us to our duty to bear the divine Logos and embody Christ in all we do.