Androgyny of the Virtues

When the Bible says we were created “in the image of God, male and female created He them” (Genesis 1:26), the implication is that the Divine is at once masculine and feminine, and that our participation in God (2 Peter 1:4) thus entails the realization of a perfect harmony within ourselves between the two sexes.

(Of course, God is at the same time neither masculine nor feminine, but this complementary truth is less immediately pertinent to the question you pose.)

Setting aside the “alchemical” or “androgynous” implications of this harmony for fully deified men and women, it’s easy enough to see what’s at stake when it comes to practicing the virtues. I was just reading this morning an unpublished text of Schuon’s in which he notes that the virtue of dispassion pertains to “militant virility” whereas the virtue of compassion pertains to “liberating femininity”. It obviously doesn’t follow, however, that either of us is excused from practicing the complementary virtue. Though I’m a man, I must cultivate compassion no less than dispassion, and though you’re a woman you must cultivate dispassion no less than compassion.

These are but baby steps, of course, and yet they’re an essential first movement toward the mode of theosis hinted at in the Genesis text.

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