In 1888 response to Albert Mackey's Landmarks, Albert Pike wrote that Freemasonry's "true definition is that it is a system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols." Like defining beauty, Freemasonry can be seen, and interpreted in many ways limited only to the eyes of beholders. Some it can be a social or fraternal group, for others it can be a way of life. If we subscribed to the notion that this Craft is about social interaction then there is a merit in grouping the members according to gender. Specific or mixed does makes sense as long as nobody is forced to join a group, be it may specific or combination thereof. If men can form our own group then women should have all the rights to form their own. While “mixed company” has its merits and roadblocks, in my own myopic view, it will take time for the mainstream Freemasons to accept this format. We don’t have to look far to see the present issues the Fraternity is dealing with all-male Fraternity, let alone all-female Masonic Lodges.
Although, we are witnessing some progress or at least not outright refusal to acknowledge the existence of the regularity of all-female Freemasonry, it is amazing to be an eyewitness reactions of some Brethren who albeit their position, and stature within the Fraternity continue to defy the very same Tenets of the Craft. In our lecture, we are reminded that Justice is “that standard or boundary of right which enables us to render unto every man his just due, without distinction.” Without understanding justice how can we find Truth, which brings to the dilemma of the kind of Brotherly Love we practice if we are hoodwinked from the Truth?
Freemasonry does change. It was said to evolve from operative to speculative. Operative, from actual builders of magnificent edifices to memorialize human offerings to Deity to speculative---we are now erecting “temples not made by hands.” The Fraternity was also postulated to originate from all male warrior-monks---Templar nevertheless, in our contemporary times; defending ones faith is not a gender selective domain. The Degree of Master Mason was relatively “new” addition. The institution of Grand Lodge was also a change. Even the popular square and compass as Masonic emblem was a result of change. As to our Obligation, it seems strange to hold ourselves only to selected part because we abhorred a portion thereof. We all know that like all other corporeal part of the Craft, the Obligation which some of us hold so dearly is also but a symbol of the Freemasonry. Something not to be taken literally but to interpret and study it as one of the Mysteries/Lessons of the Craft.
If we see the Craft through Albert Pikes vision in 1888 that the ideal is about "building a temple not made by hands, but eternal in heaven," who in this world can claim that the notion of practicing morality and improving oneself through Freemasonry is only reserved for male gender? Who can rightfully claim that the slogan "making good men to a better man" only applies to human being classified as male? What can be used as a reference or justification that only man is allowed, "to improve himself in Masonry?"
Ms Laurel Bergren recently inquired what makes her gender be not worthy to learn the “secret” of subduing passion and improving oneself through Masonry. Is there any Justice and Truth that only male can practice the “system of morality veiled in allegories and illustrated by symbols?” Like Ms Bergren, I am waiting for someone to answer her question, “Are women any less deserving of God’s Grace?”
I commend the Brother from GLNY for a very nice exposition of the fallacy of self-induce masculine superiority complex. Having acknowledged the intrinsic advantage of women with “far greater extent than men of our species ever will have,” then in a round-about way the answer to Ms. Bergren question is obviously "No, women are not less deserving of God's Grace." Having that issue settled, we then can continue to discuss Bro/Doc Paul original article of "Why Masonry should remain a men’s club." As WB Ken noted, the crux of the dialogue is not about women joining male Masonic Lodges but facing the inquiry of why it seems strange to many Brethren to allow the opposite gender to practice a “system of morality veiled with allegories and illustrated by symbols?” To non-Masons especially to women who are reading this exchange of opinions, the hollowness of speaking about men’s task to protect and nurture that “God gift” to humanity is undeniably transparent. Anyone who views Freemasonry as a way of life will be hard pressed to defend this issue unless one would take a myopic view that Freemasonry is nothing but a “good old boy” network masquerading as fraternity.
Let us not kid ourselves that even with long years of the Craft existence, there are still members of the Craft who don’t recognize other duly made Masons because the colors of the skin, religious belief, jurisdiction territorial jealousy, and other petty excuses. Before we really start tooting our own horn, let us look deeply into our heart and ask the question---what are we really in search of? And maybe in the bowels of darkness buried deep within the crypt of cold calculating human emotion, we can find a flicker of light just enough to understand what the word “tolerance” really meant.