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Calling for the Lord in the Priesthood Part 2 

Tomoya adds to his discussion of gender and humanity this week. He presents a different approach to the ownership of the priesthood, suggesting that it needs to be stepped back from, and full ownership handed over to God rather than any humans of either gender. -Editor.

The Ripple Effects from before the Time of the Last Judgment

What the First Commandment addresses, namely the source from which truths ought to be thought of, has been one of the major pillars of inquiries in human philosophy. As a human philosophy, however, it ended up deciding that this source rested with us. Beginning with Descartes's cogito, which is our own immediate self-reflecting selfhood, we have come to see ourselves as a complete whole human based merely on our physical indivisibility, which is the smallest unit of our cogito. This idea was emphasized in the atheistic existentialism of Jean-Paul Sartre in the last century, wherein we were the owner of our own existence and the power of rationality, before being defined by anything else, including the Divine. In its insistence that we must keep the ownership of our own existence, this philosophy did not allow any room for us to ever start from the Divine. So it established itself diametrically against the First Commandment; the truths must not be thought of from any other source than our own cogito.

In this same philosophy, Simone de Beauvoir, soon found a theoretical framework that can be applied to our gender. Feminism, which at its core is this atheistic existentialism, insists that we are a complete whole human based merely on our physical indivisibility, before we are defined by anything else, this time, including our gender. We are human before we are our sex, and it also likewise insists that we keep the ownership of our existence as a human being first before we are our sex. It needed to start from and end in our cogito, too.

While Sartre's atheistic existentialism struggled along with the fate of Marxism that it ultimately looked toward, the essence of it that clothed itself within the form of feminism spread from France to the rest of Europe and North America.

Gender before Human in the Church

In a new church faith, we are not a complete whole human in our own immediate selfhood. We are our sex first before we are truly human. True humanity only comes about between a unique two of the opposite sex in a relationship called conjugial love. It never exists outside of this relationship.

Man can become the love which is an image or likeness of God only by a marriage of good and truth; for good and truth inmostly love one another, and ardently long to be united that they may be one; and for the reason that the Divine good and the Divine truth proceed from the Lord united, therefore they must be united in an angel of heaven and in a man of the church. This union is by no means possible except by the marriage of two minds into one, since, as has been said before, man was created to be the understanding of truth, and thus truth, and woman was created to be the affection of good, and thus good; therefore in them the conjunction of good and truth is possible.  (Apocalypse Explained 984 [2])

Just as every one of us is created for heaven, every one of us is created for one unique other. So both male and female while alone are quite rightly infirm and vulnerable, never a complete whole alone without this one unique other of the opposite sex. We are all, and always, second-class citizens within our own sex, whether male or female, while the first-class citizen is the conjugial love itself, namely, the Lord.

This is not a description of a result, but the cause, of the dignity and respect that we may receive, just as the good and truth as separate units are not the result, but the cause, of the salvation that we may receive. In other words, the infirmity and vulnerability are not signs of illness to be treated of but are signs of wellness to be protected, since they are what condition the conjugial relationship to materialize, sustain, and strengthen.

As we look to the Divine, this relationship then becomes the matrix of our true existence that allows us to become not only truly human as a pair, but also truly ourselves in our given sex as to our own immediate selfhood. And the more we deepen our acknowledgment in our heart that we are indeed incomplete in our own immediate selfhood, the more we are in this very matrix of our true existence.

With us the finites, there is no real human without and apart from our sex; we are not only born our sex but also to become even more so as we grow:

In the marriage of one man with one wife, between whom truly conjugial love exists, the wife becomes more and more a wife, the husband more and more a husband. (Conjugial Love 200)

In the church, therefore, an "individual" is to be redefined back to the meaning it had at the time of our creation, as the unique two of the opposite sex in one flesh, which are not divisible, just as how our physical body is only human with both the heart and the lungs joined together in one body. And in this reclaimed "individual," the dignity and respect as to our immediate selfhood comes from our potentiality for a true humanity with our one unique other, and not our actuality of it without our one unique other. In other words, our innate trust in our own power as an immediate selfhood does not have any place to thrive in. And most importantly, the conjugial love that consolidates the two as one becomes the only true entity deserving of the dignity and respect, which is the Lord.

This of course challenges the idea of "human rights" which is one of the fundamental common sense of the modern world. All rights indicate the ownership of powers. In a new church faith, we are never the owner of what makes us truly human, so our own immediate selfhood must not be the one deserving the dignity and respect associated with what makes us truly human. Instead, all the dignity and respect rest with the conjugial love, which is the Lord, who is also the First Commandment. He is the only one with all the human rights, as He is indeed the Divine Human, while we are like the husbandmen of this vineyard, who work for Him to protect and cultivate it. When human rights have been violated, therefore, we have first and foremost sinned against the Lord who owns it.

In the church, the one-ness of existence where an ownership resides are supposed to shift from our immediate self-reflecting selfhood, which would be countable many, to the Lord who is uncountable and truly one. It is not the people, but the Lord, who has the rights and powers. He is the only true existence or the ownership, the only true Human.

Human before Gender in the World

So if we start from an idea that we are all completely human in our own sex alone without the need for the one unique other, the scene is almost all set for the opposite effects; our immediate selfhood regardless of our gender holds on to all the rights and powers, and claims to be the only true existence on our own. It is the very premise behind sexism by men and also the goal sought after by feminism.

In a human philosophy, since we have dismissed the First Commandment, we have nowhere to start from except our own immediate selfhood with our bodily senses. The more we are in this selfhood in how we define our own being, the more we consider ourselves true and authentic to our existence. Our immediate selfhood and our bodily senses are where we find our "freedom," and it is from and for this freedom that the rest of our values in life are interpreted. From this perspective, we condemn the infirm and vulnerable state of our being alone in our own sex. Perhaps similar to how Adam and Eve were compelled to despise and cover the obviousness of their sexes by fig leaves, the infirm and vulnerable state of our being alone in our own sex is deemed something to be denied or shaken off because it interferes with the freedom of our own immediate selfhood. Moreover the conjugial love and its effects of having children and raising them are essentially looked down upon for the same reason. Despite its name, feminism despises the gender itself, not only masculinity, but also femininity; it simply seeks to be human all on its own apart from our gender and apart from the one unique other. Our gender and the one unique other are no longer the foundation of our true humanity, but our capacity for not being affected by them becomes positive proof of one's autonomy in our mind. Subsequently, in this framework, adultery and promiscuity no longer harm our humanity; they rather become our rights to exercise the freedom that is considered already attained within our immediate selfhood.

As faith only doctrine placed faith as the primary over charity, human philosophy places humanity the primary over gender. The effect is the same for both; faith and charity as well as male and female are disconnected from each other and considered as two autonomous entities. The simple flip of causality in our dignity and respect is enough to deliver more subtle and effective ways to prevent conjugial love from taking form, as it plucks conjugial love at its potentiality before its actuality.

This immediate selfhood, however, is not new or progressive by itself. It has most likely been around since the time the serpent spoke to us in the beginning of our human history. And in the absence of the First Commandment, this immediate selfhood seems to behave like the serpent that is biting its own tail. Confirming in this immediate selfhood was the error that swiftly and primarily infected masculinity ever since the fall of the Most Ancient Church. It resulted in various forms of blatant dominance and abuse over femininity. Femininity then picked up what masculinity left them with - the violence and cruelty that suffered - and utilized it to give more sustainable manifestations that carry, deliver, and nurture the exact same erroneous belief that masculinity had harboured first. In appearance, the sexism by men and feminism appear bitterly against one another, but they are merely the opposite sides of the same coin, where the falsity in trust in power of our own immediate selfhood is cherished and pursued. Left to ourselves as we dismiss the First Commandment, we seem to end up going nowhere except solidifying the error we have allowed to germinate at the dismissal thereof.

Both de Beauvoir and Sartre were proponents of this human philosophy and at the same time opponents of anything that transcended our own selfhood, such as religion. Their opposition would not be possible if the idea of being human before our gender was all thought of from the Lord, in accord with the First Commandment. It is evident that, despite how righteous the common sense of the modern world appears to be, whatever it claims to offer is manmade and can only lead us to our immediate selfhood. Our true humanity is presumed achievable without the real need for our one unique other and without the conjugial love, which is the Lord, who brings two together to be one. Instead of all of us seeing one and only infinite Sun from which we receive all that makes us truly human, we allow countless many finite stars to emerge within us, who are now suns in their own rights. The humanity with us thus degrades from the infinite that belongs to the Lord to the finites that belong to human beings. This degradation of our humanity from the infinite uncountable value to the finite countable values seems to allow the idea of equality – an equation - to emerge for the first time. It seems to fuel and solidify these finite stars of ours, but what it eventually seeks to achieve is to further destroy things properly spiritual with us.


By itself, the idea of equality is also a falsity. It is a civil idea at most, which merely describes how we defined and arranged our powers amongst ourselves; the understanding that we own our powers has already been built into this very word. Its convincing and persistent characteristics seem to come from the association often made to how the Divine affects us universally. The falsity in this association is again a manipulation of the causality. The reason that the Divine affects us universally has nothing to do with power we claim to own; He affects us all universally because He is Love Itself.

When something is truly by "Itself", it does not require others to provide a condition for Itself to be Itself. As Love Itself, the Lord does not require the recipients of His Love to provide a reason for Him to be Love. (Likewise, as Truth Itself, the Word does not require other truths - political, social, cultural, archeological, scientific, etc. - to provide a reason for It to be the Divine Truth, which is the basis for the First Commandment.) This is the true unconditional love and is not a kind of love that we are familiar with or capable of. Our own love is always conditional, even with our storge - parental love toward children - which is said to be the love we have the closest to the Divine Love. If we take away the characteristics of what make our children who they are, such as the physical appearance, the behaviour patterns, and the personalities, even before they are reduced to complete strangers to us, we can easily begin to observe a change within our own storge toward them. The recipients of our love indeed affect the love we have for them, making our love susceptible to changes. In other words, our love is finite, because it requires the recipients of its love to provide reasons for our love to be love.

Being Love Itself, the Lord loves us all regardless of who we are and what we do, whether we are angels in the highest heaven or satans in the lowest hell. The Lord is fully active without anything about Him being reactive, as best elaborated by the sun and the planets. The sun does not adjust and accommodate its own heat and light in reaction to the planet's various attributes; it emanates its heat and light universally to all directions regardless of what the planets are and what they do. The Lord similarly pursues us all with the same indiscriminate constant force, not because of any reasons that we can provide for Him to so reach out to us, but solely because of His being Love Itself (and as He never acts in reaction to our various attributes, it is never the Lord but always we who condemn ourselves through the attributes we have obtained for ourselves). Since this is how the Lord operates in His essence - the Divine Love - and everything that makes us truly human comes from it, it is the Lord who owns both the humanity in us and the way He affects us, from the beginning to the end. It is the true Proprium, and it is the First Commandment.

Since what reigns universally in the atheistic humanism is the trust in the power that we can claim an ownership of, just as this humanism manipulated the causality of the humanity and gender, it also manipulates the causality in the way the Lord affects us. The result is the idea of "equality," wherein the reason of the universality of the Divine has shifted from the attributes of the Divine to the attributes of us the finites.

Once we own the reason for the universality of the Divine, we become powerful because we feel we now have the endorsement from the Lord that we are something on our own as well. Coupled with the idea of our complete whole human in our immediate selfhood, this formulation of two fallacies produces the effect upon which male and female are perpetually put at a contest for their powers as if we were on a balance scale. Once it starts to seesaw, it becomes a framework that grips our thoughts and confronts us with "what is the answer?"

The idea of equality, however, is not just an effect of these fallacies, but also an embodiment of perpetual failures. Our intentions - our loves - do not believe in it. All loves seek an inequality instead. If love is toward others, the more we love, the more we give and not hold back, until letting others have all and ourselves none. If love is toward self, the more we love, the more we take and demand, until letting ourselves have all and others none. As a result, equality means a compromise to both of these loves. This means that, despite its uniform appearance, there are two kinds of equalities around us, similar to how there are two possibilities in a set of two repelling poles. One is that of the former where we give mutually without holding back, and we compromise by taking back a half of what we offered, and the other is that of the latter where we take mutually and demand more, and we compromise by giving back a half of what we took. The idea of equality is not a self-evident spiritual truth by itself; it is merely a result of two like intentions of either selflessness or self-centeredness. And what is far more compromising about this idea in the church is that it is incapable of describing anything that is properly spiritual.

Things properly spiritual are not defined by time and space, but the idea of equality is very much defined by these finite attributes. It is an equation; it can handle only finite values. As a result, when we embrace this idea and start to interpret everything from it, it demands we see things in a heavily material manner: whatever things we are trying to give or take, it must be divisible and we must be able to own it. In other words, we would commit an offence if we applied this idea to things that cannot ever be divided nor owned, which is all that is properly spiritual. The absurdity of this materialistic view is shown in how the woman who was not the mother responded in this passage:

And the other woman said, Nay; but the living is my son, and the dead is thy son. And this said, No; but the dead is thy son, and the living is my son. Thus they spake before the king. Then said the king, The one saith, This is my son that liveth, and thy son is the dead: and the other saith, Nay; but thy son is the dead, and my son is the living. And the king said, Bring me a sword. And they brought a sword before the king. And the king said, Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other. Then spake the woman whose the living child was unto the king, for her bowels yearned upon her son, and she said, O my lord, give her the living child, and in no wise slay it. But the other said, Let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it. Then the king answered and said, Give her the living child, and in no wise slay it: she is the mother thereof. (1 Kings 3:22-27)

In the context of the call for women in the priesthood, the thing we are trying to "give" or "take" is the priesthood as well as humanity to which dignity and respect are attributed. When we start from the idea of equality as a reason for the call for women (or anyone) in the priesthood, we incur the same absurdity, as we have already deemed these things as something that can be divided and owned amongst us.

As we allow ourselves to see male and female as separate autonomous entities and ascribe the causality of Divine Love to ourselves, the idea of equality takes it further and converts everything on its path by division and possession until there is nothing properly spiritual about the humanity with us. It is one thing to use the idea of equality to treat others as you would like to be treated, with respect to things properly natural which can be divided and owned without harm; it is quite another to seek and confirm ourselves in this idea so that we can enhance our power, with respect to things properly spiritual which must not be divided nor owned. In the church, equality should be no more than a mere result of our mutually offering something properly natural at most. We cannot employ it as an instrument for our acquiring something properly spiritual without destroying this very thing being acquired.


It seems that out faith in any sincere religion boils down to how we understand and fight around the ownership. The ownership, I believe, is really the key word, and it is what both the First Commandment and atheistic humanism address directly, albeit in opposing directions. One who owns is ultimately the one who leads. It is easy to say in the church that we are led by the Lord, but when we still hold onto a sense of ownership of our life, our intelligence, our wisdom, or even our uses and charity in the church, looking for chances to enhance more of them, we are simply led by ourselves in actuality. And when we claim an ownership of anything properly spiritual, such as our humanity, we end up destroying it.

The way we come to claim ownership of these things is by ascribing the power - values or "treasures" - to things that appear to belong to us. The act of ascribing is perhaps the inclination we are born into since the serpent spoke to us. We start from ascribing this very life to ourselves, and as we grow up, we continue to ascribe more including our knowledge and intelligence, abilities, material wealth, gender, social status, physical appearances, personalities, even the faith we declare, the acts of charity we have performed, and the churches we are a member of. We believe and confirm ourselves in the appearance that we own these things. When we attempt to worship and serve the Divine in this framework, these things we have now claimed ownership of become the sources from which we presume we can offer something to the Divine. We then imagine that the Divine is in want for it.

At the very point when we have claimed ownership of power, however, we falsify the primary truth about how the Divine affects us universally: that the Divine does not require the recipients of His Love to provide a reason for Him to be Love. Offering the power that we think we own to the Lord does not change how the Divine affects us, but it does change our own perceptions about the Divine and ourselves. The Divine that we think we are serving at that point is already not the real Divine. He has been distorted in our minds into a finite being who would require something of power from us to be himself. In other words, the Divine has been reduced to one of the countable many gods:

This is why those who are in hell do not acknowledge God, but acknowledge as gods those who  surpass  others  in  power; thus they acknowledge lower and higher, or lesser and greater gods, according to the extent of their power.  (True Christian Religion 45)

The more we pursue to own the power on our own, the more the Divine in our view is reduced into a being finite, limited, and conditional, who would require reasons from us for him to love us. We thus let sacrifices and traditions overtake the way we perceive and interpret the spiritual truths.

When sacrifices and traditions become essential in religion, they serve as a means for us to become the owners of power apart from and with respect to the Divine. They may be sincerely meant as a vehicle of worship of the Divine at first, but in the course of time, the balance of power we supposedly own and could offer to the Divine and the power that the Divine is supposedly in want of may shift and tip, making us more righteous than the Divine we perceive. Having become higher and greater than the Divine we worship who is now lower and lesser, we falsely accuse the Divine for the apparent lack of virtues, even though this perception was something we have caused by the very process of our empowerment. In the end, we find ourselves wholly independent and righteous in our power on our own, dismissing the Divine from our life all together. The power that we think we own and can offer as a sacrifice to the Divine appears as "merit" at first, and this merit eventually grows into atheism at the expense of the Divine, particularly, atheistic humanism, which is proud of its own righteousness.

The First Commandment is a declaration about this one and only ownership. The Lord owns, so He leads. And for that to ever happen, we must relinquish the ownership of all things we deem powerful that we have assumed thus far in our ignorance, acknowledging that we are indeed nothing on our own. We can then finally stop leading our life and allow the Lord to lead it for us. The genuine selflessness and the unlimited forgiveness toward others would not be possible in any other way. The "other gods" in the First Commandment which we are commanded not to have are in the end the very "thou" He speaks to.

What this means for us as a church is that when we feel we need to be doing something more than what is simply in the Decalogue for us to be in the right place as a church, for example, putting together our strategies and plans for our church growth, we must be on our guard against ourselves. As the Decalogue is the Lord Himself, It is complete on Its own, yet we exhibit our distrust in the effects of the Decalogue for us to be in the right place as a church, by our urge to add something more to it, and perhaps later on, even subtract something from it to keep up with the progressive ideas of the modern world in the name of our church growth. Our urge to be doing something more in the church is an indication of our longing for ownerships under the clothing of serving our church, adding "sacrifices" and "traditions" to the Lord. It seems to me that this longing is manifested by the call for women in the priesthood, perhaps exemplifying the background from which these calls originate.

It is not any of us who should be visible and doing more in the church; it is the Lord who should be the only visible existence in the church as He is indeed in the heavens. Our real strategies and plans for the church should be toward achieving the visibility of the Lord, to increase Him as high as we can, by decreasing ourselves as low as we can. I'm sure we'll find that the strategies and the plans for that have already been put together and promulgated by the Lord Himself in the perfect and complete form in the Word, leaving nothing for us to add to or subtract from.

The Call for the Lord in the Priesthood

The priesthood is the one occupation on earth which solely and fully belongs to the Lord. None of us owns or has the right to own any part of it in a way we could ever derive power therefrom and ascribe it to ourselves to raise us up, regardless of whether it is for superiority or equality. As He is the One who owns the priesthood, it is the Lord who calls us, not we who call ourselves from our own needs and self-evaluation about our skills and abilities. People who are called have the distinct sense that the call is the Lord's, not theirs. We do not and are not supposed to have the freedom to serve in the priesthood; it is of the Lord only and must always remain so in our mind.

It is indeed convenient to project an interpretation that the men currently own the priesthood in the church. In fact, the call for women in the priesthood is dependent on that men indeed claim ownership of the priesthood, as it is the only way the case can be made in their favour, which is that women can also join them in the ownership of the priesthood. This is perhaps why the implication that the clergy owns or monopolizes the priesthood prevails. But this seems to be more a projection of what is sought after in the call for women in the priesthood.

The truth is that men do not (and should not) even own the priesthood either. There is no point to argue for women in contrast to men. For us to claim ownership of the priesthood, we have to first push aside the First Commandment, and it seems that we are constantly driven to do so by at least these two fallacies of atheistic humanism through which we view males and females as separate autonomous entities each with ownership of their own powers that are supposedly endorsed by the Divine. The priesthood becomes a throne where males and females compete for the equal share to sit on it as a king. And if this endeavour is allowed to materialize, the result would be that the priesthood would become a vessel for the human power, instead of the Lord’s. The history of the churches has already demonstrated that human beings are quite capable of taking over what properly belongs to the Lord. We no longer need to keep repeating this.

If we were called to the priesthood yet found ourselves offended by the existing clergy because we were turned down for ordination, then it seems to me that it is perhaps proof that our being turned down was the right thing to happen. The very offense we feel indicates that we have already claimed ownership of the calling to the priesthood. We are only offended as to what we have claimed ownership of.

If our peace is not disturbed by being turned down for ordination, yet it is the Lord's will that we still be ordained in this church, we would be given the wisdom that would uplift the understanding of truths in the church, which will effect such an ordination. Furthermore, as we acknowledge that the Lord has also called the existing clergy and that they cannot serve the Lord other than with truths they are allowed to see in accord with their freedom, we will likely be the one who will bear such wisdom. One thing that we can be certain of is that we will not find in this wisdom, which is from the Lord, any hint of rights and empowerments with regard to ourselves. The Lord would not contradict the first thing He says, which reigns universally to all things of our faith.

In any scenario, we should be able to find peace so long as we truly acknowledge that the Lord is the only one who owns the priesthood and calls us to it. And I believe the congregation can find peace in the same way for ourselves.

As for us, the congregation, we should stop expecting that our priests serve us. We should instead expect that our priests serve the Lord only, because the priesthood is the Lord's. And we also know that the way the priests serve the Lord is not by empowering themselves through the priesthood, but by disempowering their own personhood with respect to the Lord, so that they are reduced to nothing on their own. It is in this nothing on their own that the Lord manifests as Something on His Own and leads the church Himself. Needless to say, this process of disempowering our own personhood with respect to the Lord is not any different from what all of us, the congregation, are to go through in our effort to truly live the precepts of the Decalogue. As a result, we ascribe neither merit nor blame to the clergy for their service to the priesthood they were called to, but we deem them as our very brothers and neighbours in the same pursuit and process of our own disempowerment with respect to the Lord.

Then we would perhaps also cease to see them as the ones in charge of the growth of the church, but see the Lord as the only one who is truly in charge of the growth of the church. If we still somehow find ourselves worried that we do not have enough priests to meet our spiritual needs or that our church is headed in the wrong direction or falling apart, we would take it up not to the clergy but to the Lord and hold Him responsible for these issues, since He now owns the leadership of the church, and only He can call someone to the priesthood. If, instead, we realize that He actually has not been in charge of the office all that much to be held responsible for anything, then we can perhaps hold ourselves responsible for that first and allow Him to be in charge of the priesthood in the church, by making sure that we always start with the dignity and respect for the First Commandment. Once the Lord is thus properly in His own priesthood in our hearts, our care for the morrow of the church will dissipate because we no longer see ourselves - human beings - in it. We will at last find only the Lord along with the peace He immediately brings, which is that we are perfectly and eternally in good hands.

Tomoya Okubo

Tomoya started reading the Writings when he was studying religion and philosophy in Tokyo. He grew up in Japan and now lives in Canada with his wife and three children. They attend the Olivet New Church in Toronto.