Feb 28, 2020

Is My Gender Imposed On Me By Culture Or Biology, Or Am I Free To Create It On My Own

Dr. Jennifer Miller is in the country to carry out research for a book on the theology of masculinity and femininity that focuses on developing the "masculine genius" and "feminine genius" in Scripture and in the context of the virtues.

The Strathmore Institute for Family Studies and Ethics, and Strathmore Law School(SLS) held a public lecture, on February 20, 2020, on the Theology of Masculinity and Femininity given by Dr. Jennifer Miller, a professor of moral theology at the Notre Dame Seminary Graduate School of Theology in New Orleans, Louisiana. She also teaches Catholic Feminism at Tulane Catholic in New Orleans and a course on Gender Identity at the Aquinas Institute in Lafayette, Louisiana.

Research on theology of masculinity and femininity

Dr. Miller is in the country to carry out research for a book on the theology of masculinity and femininity that focuses on developing the “masculine genius” and “feminine genius” in Scripture and in the context of the virtues. Her research focuses on cultivating a more scripturally focused methodology of morals and the theological foundation of Catholic social doctrines. She is currently engaging her pontifical degrees and international colleagues to elaborate the “theology of masculinity and femininity” called for by St. John Paul II, with interviews on femininity and masculinity involving scholars in 14 different cultures (countries).  Kenya is her 7th  culture after having been to Uganda.

The lecture was attended by students from the School of Humanities and Social Sciences taking the Gender, Peace and Conflict Studies unit and Law School students in the Gender and the Law class. The audience discussed such questions as: What does it mean to be a man? What does it mean to be a woman? Is my gender imposed on me by culture or biology, or am I free to create it on my own? The lecture elaborated on gender, and gave answers based on scripture and culture, to the questions of the women and men of our time.

 Man as Bridegroom, Woman as Bride 

In the midst of a culture struggling to understand the identity inherent to the human person, Dr. Miller described Man as the Bridegroom, Woman as the Bride, and how Sacred Scripture helps us understand their complementary roles, taking into account the particular gifts and talents of each man and woman.  Answering a question on how mothers can show their daughters the beauty of femininity and how fathers can help their sons embrace masculinity, she said, “This can be done by spending time with them. We should stop counting the cost of time and instead “waste” it on our children.” She continued to say that men and women are equal but each contribute different gifts. “Only when there is another who is different from us can we begin to understand ourselves.”

Dr. Miller believes that we need an awareness of the cultural, ethnic, and social diversity of the universal Church in order to better understand human sexuality and gender identity. The deepest longing of people today is to understand who they are before God. During the lecture, she said that Institutes need to be committed to investigating more widely the anthropological concepts rooted in developing various cultures.  In return it will give a special focus to the “elaboration of gender realism, based on Scripture and culture”.

Dr. Jennifer E. Miller earned her BA in theology from the Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2002.  Thereafter she travelled to Rome to further her studies and earned an STB (Latin: Sacrae Theologiae Baccalaureus) a graduate-level academic degree in theology at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in 2007 and STL (Latin: sacrae theologiae licentiatus) in moral theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in 2009.