No decent person wants to be a male chauvinist. Among the cries for justice in the post-modern era there is a cry against patriarchy in the face of authority structures that have kept women bound up from living their full potential. Who would want to be a part of a belief system, let alone and organized system, that oppresses women?
This conundrum increased for me in 2010-2012 when I was dealing with two identities: one working on an undergrad in social work and identifying myself as a born-again Christian who took the Bible as the word of God.
A prevalent theory I was exposed to was Critical Theory. The emphasis was on the social implications that is imposed on those who are disenfranchised whether intentionally or not and how that can create hardship. In this way of looking at things there is a pseudo- holy trinity of race, class and gender.
In focussing on gender as a point of oppression from the privileged, the gender implications gave me a challenge as a Christian. As a Christian I would use the terms The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. At first glance the first two were easily seen as male and enough of a close look shows the Holy Spirit as male too. Furthermore, the New Testament indicates that only men are of authority in the carrying on the Christian faith. I asked sometimes if God was a chauvinist or if he allowed early representatives to be ones. If the answer is yes to either, is there not a clear contradiction for my then growing two identities? And if I could say no to both, am I being intellectually honest in light of what I had been informed by?
In 2012 I began an investigation into The Catholic Church. Early on I used the non-scientific method of looking at Youtube videos of debates between Catholic and Protestant apologetics. Among the subjects were the doctrines about the Virgin Mary. See the link here https://youtu.be/Xs7QaHFvtvY
I went into looking at the debate with an open but intrigued mind. If half of what I had been starting to hear on Catholic radio about Mary was true then there could be a very feminine touch to Christianity as interpreted by the Catholic Church. However, the Protestant apologist made it seem like Mary is made into a goddess and easy made into a distraction from devotion to Jesus. Either Jesus or Mary with the implied choice by Mr. White. By being swayed by this argument I took a step back to look at other dogmas first.
But further research eventually reassured me. I read Hail, Holy Queen by Dr. Scott Han and much later Behold, Your Mother by Tim Staples. Looking at their scholarship and adding my own (albeit an amateur) I came to the conclusion that the dogmas about Mary are everything that the Catholic Church says they are. To see what I have written on a few of them, see the following.
But beyond seeing Marian dogmas in a theological point of view is how this effects my relationship to Jesus. First, asking Mary for intercession, looking at her example and seeing her as a queen is all based on the merits of Jesus. In one sense she is like any other servant of Jesus in that she the good she is and does is in light of Jesus. In fact, in using light of the son as a an analogy I would say that just as the moon only reflects and does not take from the sun, neither does Mary take away from Jesus. True Catholic Mariology is only going to point to Jesus.
Let all the children of the Catholic Church, who are so very dear to us, hear these words of ours. With a still more ardent zeal for piety, religion and love, let them continue to venerate, invoke and pray to the most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, conceived without original sin. Let them fly with utter confidence to this most sweet Mother of mercy and grace in all dangers, difficulties, needs, doubts and fears. Under her guidance, under her patronage, under her kindness and protection, nothing is to be feared; nothing is hopeless. Because, while bearing toward us a truly motherly affection and having in her care the work of our salvation, she is solicitous about the whole human race. And since she has been appointed by God to be the Queen of heaven and earth, and is exalted above all the choirs of angels and saints, and even stands at the right hand of her only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, she presents our petitions in a most efficacious manner. What she asks, she obtains. Her pleas can never be unheard. (Pope Pius IX Ineffabilis Deus 1854).
She is given a place of high honor as the theotokos, the God-bearer, according to the Council of Ephesus in 431. Those who stood in that day against that title and called her the Chrisotokos, the Christ-bearer, were only seeing her as giving birth to Jesus in her human nature. The latter proponents were called Arians and they did not see Jesus as an eternal being. They were heretics.
The gift of God to the world through the Catholic Church is the grace of Jesus Christ who is 100% God and 100% man. But this gift has been historically understood in developed articulation of a Sacred Tradition truth to be through Mary. She is the gebirah, the Great Lady, as the mother of the kings in the line of David were called.
Lastly, she stands as an example of devotion to God in her purity for the individual and the Church to ponder for eschatological (end times theology) purposes. She being full of grace kept her virginity to God alone as a standard for the pure and spotless Bride that Jesus will come back for.
And so with much of this informing my conscience, I went forward in my investigation into the Catholic Church. Not the only stumbling block for me on the way by any means but a crucial one. The marian dogmas reinforced to me a Holy God with a holistic gospel through a holy church to a whole world.