It’s All About Equality

n52jpuINote: this is the third post in a series exploring a trinitarian understanding of the relationship between the genders (yep, you read that right!). The introductory post is here and the second post is here.

To be a Dixon is to be into NASCAR.

At least that’s true in my immediate family, where every year Daytona Sunday was a holiday around our house. We grew up going to races. We knew all the drivers (my favorite was Bobby Allison, thank you very much). And, after church, heaven help you if you somehow revealed the results before Dad had a chance to watch the race from green flag to checkered.

Because of this, I watched with interest yesterday as Danica Patrick took her shot at the Daytona 500. And, no doubt, she did great. First woman to sit on the pole of any NASCAR race, much less the so-called “Great American Race.” First woman to lead a lap at Daytona (and first woman ever to lead a green flag lap in any top-division NASCAR race). And, to top it off, highest finish (8th) for a woman at the Daytona 500.

So yesterday was historic for sure. But while I think what Danica is accomplishing is terrific, it’s not without it’s problems. First there’s the marketing of Danica. I like my girls watching her race, but I don’t like having to change the channel when her GoDaddy commercials come on. Could it be that she’s undermining her talent by how she’s choosing to craft her public image?

And then there’s the reality that as important as Danica’s arrival in NASCAR”s top division is, the sport of auto-racing is nowhere near gender equal. After all, she’s just one women among a full race field of men. Make no mistake about it, when it comes to gender equality, NASCAR has many more laps to go.

In NASCAR, privilege reigns.

Equality is something that’s fundamental to the Trinity. That is, God the Creator, Jesus the Redeemer and the Holy Spirit participate in a community that is intrinsically equal. Put another way, there is no hierarchy in the Trinity. Consider this quote, from 17th century Puritan theologian Thomas Watson:

“If there be one God subsisting in three persons, then let us give equal reverence to all the persons in the Trinity. There is not more or less in the Trinity; the Father is not more God than the Son and Holy Ghost. There is an order in the Godhead, but no degrees; one person has not a majority or super eminence above another, therefore we must give equal worship to all the persons.”

Equality. It’s what the Trinity is about. And of course this trinitarian mark of equality has significant social implications. After all, human relationships are modeled after the Trinity’s.

In particular, a trinitarian theological understanding mandates that the relationship between the genders be marked by equality.

In other words, there is no room for privilege when it comes to the genders.

I’ll leave you today with this loaded quote from theologian Kevin Giles, from this article entitled The Doctrine of the Trinity and Subordination:

“Because virtually all theologians agree that the doctrine of the Trinity should inform human relationships correctly, enunciating the historically developed doctrine of the Trinity is of great practical consequence. If in the Trinity all have the same authority, “none are before or after,” all are “co-equal” (the Athanasian Creed), then the doctrine of the Trinity calls into question all forms of human domination. It reminds us that totalitarian regimes that ride roughshod over people or hierarchical ordering that presupposes that some are born to rule and others to obey cannot and never will reflect the divine ideal seen in the Trinity. And to be quite specific, rather than supporting the permanent subordination of women in the church and the home, the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity suggests exactly the opposite.”

What about you? How does this trinitarian understanding of equality between the genders challenge your paradigm?

2 responses to “It’s All About Equality”

  1. Christopher Brannan says :

    Hi Rob, enjoying this series. I think it is quite useful, if not also profound and therefore a bit beyond our reach, to “look” to the Trinity as a model for human relations, included those between men and women. You are certainly right in pointing out that the substantial equality of the Three Persons is a great analogy for the equality of human persons, of either sex.

    But I wonder how you would see the *differences* among the persons as also relevant; for to be *equal* in nature and dignity, for the Divine persons, does not mean to be the *same* in personal role and distinction. For example, to “be Father”, eternally, has everything to do with “begetting” the Son; to be “Son” means to “be begotten” of the Father; and to be the Holy Spirit means to be “breathed” from the Father through the Son (or from the Father and the Son), as both Scripture and the early patristic dicussions about this have taught.

    As distinct persons, then, they “do” different “things”. Well, that’s a *very* poor way to put it, I admit, because they *are* One Being, in one eternal act of Love, but they are distinct in their respective, and truly defining “roles” they “play” in the One act of “Being God”–while truly being One Divine Being and (each) equally and fully God. In otherwords, the Trinity is not “all about”, i.e., simply and only about, *equality*, but also about personal *differentiation* within that Oneness; otherwise, there is no Trinity, we’re back to a Unitarian god.

    So, if we can use the Trinity as a model and analogy for human relations, including “cross-gender” relations (and I heartily agree with you that we can), how can we learn from it (i.e, from the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), about *both* equality *and* real differentiation, which in the Christian faith, are *both* very foundation of all Being, of all Reality? Interested to hear your thoughts on that…

    • rdixon1365 says :

      Hi Chris! Thanks so much for the insightful comment/question. I am wrestling with what you are asking about and am intending to offer some thoughts as soon as I get them formed and (hopefully) wise. So stay tuned! Are you in Clovis these days? Meet up sometime? I’d love it.

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