Exploring masculinity: A theological framework


Chandler, Paul William. (2014). Exploring masculinity: A theological framework [Thesis]. https://doi.org/10.4226/66/5a9cc48bb0bb8
AuthorsChandler, Paul William
Qualification nameDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Male or female, the human person provokes a continuing stream of questions and reflection. This investigation concentrates on the theological significance of the male person. It takes into account the historical and cultural setting as well as considers the fields of sociology, psychology, and anthropology. The theology of the human person is not a new field of endeavour but rather one that has certainly emerged with some urgency alongside the development of existential and phenomenological philosophies in the twentieth century. A theology of the male human person, and thus of masculinity, is a more specific and emerging field. The aim of this thesis is to contribute to the specific discussion of masculinity within the wider conversation of theological anthropology. Contributing to the relevance of this task is the acknowledgment that it is possible that an understanding of the human person can be obscured among the trends and mores of the current cultural and secular context. The notion of the human person has become malleable, flexible and is in need of clarification. The aim of this thesis is to offer a Christian theological perspective towards a clearer, deeper, as well as a contemporary understanding of the male human person. This investigation proceeds by constructing a framework that uses key theological concepts and indicators so as to highlight the theological character of human masculinity. Such a theological framework permits masculinity’s theological quality to emerge clearly and critically. Just as a theology of femininity has emerged within the general field of theology, it is hoped that this research and its framework will make possible a more detailed theological development of masculinity. The thesis unfolds by first reviewing a body of literature in the area of masculinity, under various themes and groupings. Critical use is then made of Lonergan’s four “functions of meaning”, providing four perspectives on the topic of investigation. Firstly, the cognitive perspective outlines what the disciplines of sociology and psychology articulate about masculinity. Rather more space is spent on sociology because it is a wide area in which sexual identity and gender feature prominently. Sociology is divided into its descriptive, analytic and comparative approaches. Secondly, the constitutive perspective on masculinity is described both within culture and the church. It is the more popular literature on masculinity, and most particularly the mythopoetics, that figure prominently in this cultural perspective. Significant ways of being masculine in the church are examined as well. The relative absence of men in the Christian church is also analysed. The effective perspective on masculinity provides the third function of meaning and outlines three contemporary and successful organisations within the Catholic Church that cater for men, and most particularly for their faith and connection with the church. These three perspectives on masculinity then allow the communicative perspective to be considered. This admits a deeper analysis of the identity of the human person, which, in turn, allows an exposition of a theology of the human person. Finally, a theology of the human person is made explicit in reference to the masculine. In doing this, the thesis enumerates seven components of a sustainable framework for understanding a theology of masculinity. This work argues that it is possible to speak both of a theology of masculinity and also to describe masculinity theologically. There are qualities and characteristics of the male human person that are theological per se and there are possibilities and potentials for masculinity that are theological. Then, there are ways of approaching masculinity that are theological as well as significant contributions that theology makes to an understanding of masculinity in accord with the framework that the thesis constructs. The framework that emerges from this thesis makes more explicit what is implicit in masculinity when viewed through a theological lens. I propose that each component of the structure can be pursued fruitfully towards a more detailed and fuller theology of masculinity. This is one contribution to an ongoing critical re-examination of masculinity today.

PublisherAustralian Catholic University
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.4226/66/5a9cc48bb0bb8
Research GroupSchool of Theology
Final version
Publication dates19 Dec 2014
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