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The Sacred Feminine

Not What You Might Believe
by James Garlow, Ph.D. , Senior Pastor of Skyline Wesleyan Church in La Mesa, California and by Peter Jones, Ph. D. , Executive Director, Christian Witness in a Pagan Planet

The Sacred Feminine is spoken of much in Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. The concept of a sacred feminine is that there was a matriarchal culture in early religions and supposedly the Christian church under Constantine attempted to crush it.

  • Is it true that the church hunted down and killed more than five million women over three centuries as part of a brutal "reeducation"?
  • Is it true that the church, even today, seeks to demonize and repress women?
  • Is it true that Jesus was the original feminist?

Brown makes some sweeping accusations about how the church (or persons representing the church) denigrates women, treating them as accomplices of Satan. Then he creates a gender-fueled conspiracy and manipulates reality in order to demonstrate that pagan female cultures were much better than our own Judeo-Christian cultures today. In doing so, Brown conveniently ignores the biblical view of women.

Sacred Feminine - Christianity elevated women

The Advent of Christianity radically transformed the fate of women. Even ancient Roman pagan scholars agree that it was a turning point for the freedom and dignity of women.2

Wherever Christianity has been introduced, it has lifted up women, not just in antiquity but even in modern times. Sex-selection infanticide was common in 1880 in pagan China before the influence of Christian missionaries. Girl babies were disposed of as a liability. In the last two centuries, because of Christian influences, the treatment of women worldwide has improved immensely. It was the influence of Christians that helped abolish China's practice of binding women's feet in order to create the diminutive effect that men found attractive. This dangerous practice had led to gangrene infection, needless amputation, and sometimes death.

The Sacred Feminine as practiced in India

In India, the practice of suttee was ended by the influence of Christianity. A good Hindu wife was expected to follow her husband in death on the funeral pyre, even if she was young with her whole life ahead of her. "Child widows" were also a part of the pagan goddess-worshipping Hindu culture. These girls were raised to be temple prostitutes. Amy Carmichael, a Christian, fought to put an end to this practice by rescuing girls from it.

Contrary to The Da Vinci Code, Christianity is not anti-woman. In truth, women in the ancient pagan world were not viewed or treated as Langdon would have Sophie believe.

The Sacred Feminine - not part of Gnostic teaching

The irony of The Da Vinci Code is it claims that the Gnostics were the guardians of the heritage of the sacred feminine.3> For many of his women readers this may be one of the most appealing aspects of Brown's book. Yet again this is an amazing picture of Gnosticism. In fact, though Gnosticism did describe feminine elements in the divine realm, it was overwhelmingly hostile to women. For example, where the Apostle Paul singles out the first man, Adam, for blame when he speaks of the fall of the world into sin (Romans 5:12-21), many of the Gnostics blame the feminine spiritual being Sophia. She was the one who could not control her desire and who disrupted the cosmos, as a result producing what the Gnostics think of as our evil material world. But the portrayal of the feminine in Gnosticism gets worse than this.

Let me quote how the Jesus depicted in the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas speaks of Mary Magdalene at the climax of the Gospel:

Simon Peter said to them, 'Let Mary leave us, for women are not worthy of life.' Jesus said, 'I myself shall lead her in order to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every woman who will make herself male will enter the kingdom of heaven.' (Saying 114; The Nag Hammadi Library, p. 138)

Feminists indeed!

• This section excerpted from:
Garlow, James L. and Peter Jones Cracking Da Vinci's Code
© 2004 Cook Communications, Colorado Springs, CO pp.59,63
2 Alvin J. Schmidt, Under the Influence (Grand Rapids, MI Zondervan 2001) p.98
# This section excerpted from:
Williams, Garry The Da Vinci Code - From Dan Brown's Fiction to Mary Magdalene's Faith
© 2006 Christian Focus Publications, Ross-shire,Scotland pp.25-26

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  based on Dan Brown's novel The Da Vinci Code