Wonder Woman and the Church

Wonder Woman and the Church

Does the church leave out women in positions of authority?

In the early days of the Church, women could serve as deacons, taking great responsibility over liturgy and sacraments. While the Catholic Church has ruled out priestly ordination for women, it has not definitively spoken about the diaconate. I was reminded of this after watching Wonder Woman, which may seem odd at first, but allow me to preach a little.

Catholics refer to the Church as the bride and Jesus the bridegroom. The Church takes on a feminine identity even though it encompasses both genders. Jesus’ infamous line from Matthew’s Gospel speaks to the theme of Wonder Woman when he says, “From the time of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffers violence and the violent are taking it by force” (MT 11:12). Jesus goes through his passion, death, resurrection, and ascension leaving behind his bride to wait for his return within this realm of violence. Therefore, there is an immensely unique strategy planned out by God in regards to the feminine role in subsiding the wars of men.

The StoryCap
There are these Wonder Women, known as the Amazons, who were created by Zeus to influence men’s hearts with love and restore peace to the earth. Zeus’ daughter is hidden among the Amazons after the fall of Ares, the God of War, to be trained by the best warriors in preparation for his inevitable return.

The Amazons live on a beautiful island called Themyscira, a paradise resembling the Garden of Eden, that is enchanted from being visible to the eyes of men inside of a physical bubble, just like Wakanda in Black Panther. The Amazon women train everyday equipping themselves with he skills they need to fight a God, but are too far from the modern world to know what has been going on in terms of modernity. The world is corrupted and war enters their domain by chance.

The Nazi’s chase an American pilot into this invisible Themyscira wreaking havoc on all the Amazons. When the great warrior Antiope (Robyn Wright) is slain it forces Diana Prince (Wonder Woman played by the stellar Gal Gadot) to step out of the garden and into the world of men. Led by Captain Steve Trevor (Chris Pines) Diana enters the war to end all wars believing that Ares is behind it all.

The Protoevangelium
When the serpent brings death into the garden of Eden, it is a woman who is promised to deliver a savior. “I will bring enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and hers” (GEN 3:15). Catholics see that woman as the Virgin Mary, the Church. In Wonder Woman she is embodied by Diana Prince. Her name alone describes both the masculine and feminine role in salvation. She is a woman who is also a Prince. She is a bridge to a greater understanding for all mankind. Within her is the raw power, anger, and frustration of the world of men and also a breathtaking compassion for love.

Justice, Truth, and Love
The Church seeks out justice, truth, and love, the three things that define Wonder Woman. Justice is no longer seen as an eye for an eye, but as someone who gives their coat to one who asks for the shirt off your back. We see Diana display this kind of justice, a defying of the norms, when she goes to the front of the lines, providing hope to the fearful infantry stuck in the bunkers. The church fights, especially when called to nurse and shield the broken.

The church seeks truth! It doesn’t come as a surprise that one of Wonder Woman’s weapons is a lasso of truth. Women have a natural gift of bringing the truth out of men, which inspired the slogan “behind every great man is a great woman.” 

The Church is love. When Jesus poured out his blood on the cross for the sake of love, he was not the only one suffering. There in front of him was his mother, the embodiment of the Church, having her “heart pierced with a sword” in emotional trauma for the love of her spiritual offspring, humanity. In the film, Wonder Woman is given a choice to bring back peace the way it was before mankind’s destructive nature, but her love for them inspires her to fight Ares in an epic battle.

The symbol of self-sacrifice in the film is when Steve takes down a carrier plane with weapons on it to end the spread of violence brought by the war. Before he gets on the plane he hands Diana his watch, the gift of time. He knows his sacrifice will not end the war, but be a definitive turning point. He relies on his bride to continue fighting until the end revealing that only when love is sacrificed does it fulfill it’s identity.

We see this in Christ on the cross as he hands his mother over to John, a symbol that the Church has been gifted to humanity and open to everyone if they’ll have her. Christ’s sacrifice didn’t end violence in the world, but it was a definitive turning point in the battle for reintegration with God.
Wonder Woman says something about the male and female role in salvation. The man sacrifices his life, the female fights the battles in preparation for their union. The sacrifice paved the way, opened the door to the impossible, while the church fights against injustice and for the human experience.

I don’t think this was the film’s intention, connecting Wonder Woman to Mother Church, but it reminds me of these roles and how complementary men and women have been made, how one sided we make Church authority, and how amazing women really are in this battle.
The Church needs women, especially in places of authority. While absolute power corrupts absolutely, there needs a feminine balance that pushes men back into love and peace.
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