I was steeped in the Christian religion as a child, much like how water absorbs the strength of the tea bag as it rests in the cup, unaware of its influence.
As a child of six, I remember walking out of church one day and looking up at my mother and asking her this question: “Mama, there is the father, the son and the ghost — but where is the girl part?” There was, of course, no answer to that profoundly simple question, but as I grew up attending Sunday School, learning about women in the Bible, I did not want to be like any of them. I didn’t want to be a house cleaner like Martha, a virgin like Mary, or a prostitute like Mary Magdalene. I knew something was wrong with this picture. I secretly held out hope for us girls.
When I was 10, my mother announced to me that National Geographic magazine had just published the discovery of new books of the Bible. I was elated and just knew that the preacher in his sermon on Sunday would tell us there were books of the Bible with a girl’s name on them. But on the next Sunday at church, there was no mention of any new books in the Bible. I guess no one but me was interested in my cause.
Knowing there was a Father up there watching over me gave me comfort as a child; however, as I grew into adulthood, I could no longer believe in the fairy tale of a big man sitting up in the sky running my life. So I drifted away from the religion I was born into and searched in other places for something that would satisfy my longing for inner peace.
Years later, I was walking through a bookstore and Karen King’s book, The Gospel of Mary of Magdala, jumped out at me. A gospel named after a girl? Mary Magdalene, it seems, was not a prostitute, but one of the disciples and some 1500 years later was added to the list of disciples by the Catholic Church. King, in her translation of this gospel, declared she was not just a disciple but one favored with visions and insight that far surpassed Peter and the other male disciples. She was advanced in spiritual nature and declared as “the woman who knew the All.”
Finally, a girl with some power.
Mary Magdalene: From Prostitute to Apostle
“The Gospel of Mary” is the only existing early Christian gospel written in the name of a woman. King, Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Harvard University, presents a radical interpretation of Jesus’s teaching as a path to inner spiritual knowledge, presenting him as an example rather than an exception of divinity. She exposes the belief that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute for what it is — a piece of theological fiction.
It is highly probable Mary Magdalene was a well-educated, wealthy patron and powerful high priestess. Upon hearing Jesus speak, she believed in his message so much that she may have helped finance his mission. Mary was very likely Jesus’s patron. Because she was the first witness to the Resurrection, she was considered by the apostle John as the founder of Christianity and the voice of Jesus’s teachings.
So there was a woman who co-authored Jesus’s message and financed its marketing? A woman was a leader all along in the religion I had given up on.
It seems Jesus and Mary Magdalene were equal partners in the development of Christianity. If their message could have been preserved, what would they tell us about the battle of the sexes?
The Master Story Rewritten
Jesus and Mary Magdalene’s relationship symbolizes the perfect balance between the masculine and feminine energies. Upon researching her life, Mary Magdalene came to life for me as a role model for myself as a woman and for learning the power in balancing the energies of the masculine and the feminine. Together they were exponentially more powerful than by themselves-explaining why Jesus is one of the most acknowledged spiritual powers today. In those days, Mary must have felt it was okay to be in the background if it meant getting the message out to more people. Yet she had to remain the powerful businesswoman to create such a powerful background for his message.
But the deeper message they brought to us as a couple is that an even greater energy can be found inside us when we balance masculine and feminine sides of ourselves. Jung told us that each of us has both masculine and feminine components of the psyche. The divine feminine and the sacred masculine are inside all of us waiting to be released.
Mother Nature reminds us of the primal importance of a balance in male and female energy. Just as the balance of the left hemisphere with the right hemisphere provides us with the most coherent minds, the balance of any two opposites creates more energy than any single side could produce.
The Beauty of Balance
How can we help balance the sexual energy in our world?
- Change the limiting beliefs we were taught about God being a man. The Bible is one of the main sources for limiting us as women. We can read the stories to our sons and daughters explaining that times were different back then and discuss these stories with our children using more metaphysical interpretations.
- We can open our hearts and minds as women accepting that we can be decisive and action-oriented while still expressing the authenticity of our emotions. We don’t have to be like a man to rise to power. We can be ourselves.
- A man can be emotional and vulnerable and express his needs without losing his masculine strength. Both men and women can open their hearts and still demonstrate strength and power.
- Most importantly, rather than thinking of God as either male or female, we could dare to think of God in a totally different way, as a divine presence in each of us more than a man or a woman outside of us.
A new view of God could balance our brains, and men and women would finally be freed to work together in egalitarian partnerships.
Some Messages Are Eternal
A non-gendered God who lives within us? The rewriting of history to include the equal partnership of Mary Magdalene and Jesus calls us forward to take our places as equals, changing our beliefs about what we can do and be in this world.
To that little girl of six who dared to question if girls were important in God’s eyes, I would say: Boys and girls have equal importance in this world. Believe you are equal to a boy and you will be.
Our freedom, as men and women, lies in our willingness to accept that God is not a man sitting up in the sky running our lives but an inner presence in all our hearts and minds waiting to be acknowledged and developed.
We now know that the divine is a voice deep within us urging both men and women to fulfill their destiny.