I realized tonight that I don’t believe that God has a gender. It’s not really a new thought to me, but it is a new conviction.
I was texting a friend tonight, talking about God, and I said I realized that God was everywhere, and when I started describing the personhood of God, I didn’t feel I could talk about HIM with conviction using a male persona.
That’s progress I think.
I feel that it’s progress anyway. Why should God be a man? If God were for justice, it would be hard, as a man to see the injustice that is inherant in the “system”. As a man, I can see it clearly.
The “System” is complicated.
The “system” that God could be a part of is a complicated one. It’s filled with tons of errant people spouting what GOD wants and what HE wills and HIS character etc, which always seems to justify men who do what they want and get what they want. Often, the Evangelical Christian version of God is able to be highly sexist because of the person of Jesus. Jesus being a man, a son, and an heir…
What about women though?
Jesus did validate women and tried to lift them up, but he never could have known what change would come in the future. Or, maybe he did, and maybe that’s the whole point.
IF Jesus was God’s son…
And God were good.
And God loved humankind.
And God didn’t have a gender at all.
How would GOD convince mankind that women are being subjugated?
Jesus is pretty much the best bet. A woman would be laughed at. She’d be a pariah, and she’d be stoned.
But Jesus could do it. Jesus may very well have been the Son of God…whatever that means. But God wasn’t necessarily a man.
Though Jesus does talk about how, “your father in heaven” wants good things for you and is a better father than we ever could imagine here on earth. He actually says “Even the wicked give gifts to their children, how much more so would your father in heaven give to you?”.
So…maybe Jesus believed God was a father…or maybe Jesus knew that’s what they would hear. — If he preached “Mother Earth”…he’d be stoned pretty quick right?
And that’s what’s so interesting about Jesus.
Jesus had to strategically operate inside of his parameters…until the time came that they killed him.
I believe in Jesus more than anything in the world. I believe in Jesus. But I don’t think Jesus was supernatural. I think Jesus spoke the inspiration that the world needed…and still needs.
Like Ann Frank.
Like Dietrich Bonhoffer.
Like Joan of Arc
Like all martyrs. He died because he had a truth. He died because he knew the truth.
And I think that’s true. They all died for truth.
But death for a truth doesn’t make it an absolute truth.
It makes it your truth.
The one you believe in most. And that’s a lesson every missionary needs to learn.
If I believe in truth. The truth I believe in is always worth dying for. What is difficult is when we don’t know.
Is what I believe in worth ME dying for? Yes. Is it worth someone else dying for? That’s a good question.
"She's been estranged for seven years".
A North Cypriot local was telling us about a young woman who had come out as Christian to her Muslim family. She ended up having to flee after telling them she was a Christian.
It wasn’t well received. They tried to kill her. Quite literally.
"The thing missionaries need to understand is that for these girls, leaving islam can be a death sentence."
I sat, dumbfounded for a moment. Considering the fact that a faith that Christianity was so flippant in my country that we might go to another church based on the music on Sunday morning, or the parking or convenience of its location. And here, it could get them killed. It made me question everything.
So do I believe of no? Would I be willing to put others in harm’s way for this version of Christianity?
Coming back from that trip I wasn’t really the same. I didn’t see things the same, I didn’t feel the same. I felt like I was a fool. I still have some of the journal entries and it makes me sick to read them. I was so doe eyed and seeing “God in everything”. Not that there’s a problem with that…but…
I went there, thinking we were going to bring salvation to these people in the form of Christianity, and found that they were the brave ones. They were the ones with the truth we were looking for. They had a strength we didn’t know. An understanding of life we couldn’t imagine. They were marooned on a land mass they really couldn’t leave. Like growing up in a small town that you could never get out of. The tenuous relations with Turkey made getting a Visa difficult, and getting out a very expensive endeavor that most of them could never afford. The cypriots were trapped on an island
And I felt like a fool. An arrogant fool.
That was the beginning, I think.
The beginning of my deconstruction. But I didn’t call it that at the time. I felt ,”The LORD was moving us to another church”, as I would tell people. I was pretty fed up with that specific church based on how little they cared for the people who put their lives on hold to go investigate on behalf of the church, so it wasn’t hard to say goodbye. But I had lost a lot of faith in the church in the west.
Grace had a different outlook on faith. It was the people that drew us in to begin with. Old friends of friends were so excited to see us and were super welcoming to bring us into the fold. We were pregnant, so as soon as we arrived almost they put us on the food drive and the day after we brought Hannah home, they started bringing meals to us. It was a refreshing place to be. People were so much more real than at previous churches. People drank beer, the church hosted a poker night, and people in the church were actively forming new meet-ups for people who didn’t do the standard stuff. There was a D&D group there for awhile. We had our own church Crossfit actually. We called it Men’s fitness, but it was only once a week.
The trouble is, they always tried to cram a devotional time in there.
Maybe I’m weird, but I can’t help but feel like there’s a light somewhere that’s shining on me when its devotional time. Everybody knows I haven’t done mine.
I’m not good at prayer.
I’m not good at reading the bible regularly.
I never have been.
But I was a bible drill-er.
Ever heard of bible drills?
The photo above is not of me, but it could have been…just go back a couple decades.
I was a champion bible driller. Some denominations call them “Sword Drills” but I did this. I can still recite all the books of the bible in order. I can, within a few seconds locate any book of the bible, even still. To this day I know the approximate finger width of the first 12 or so books of the Bible. This is some strange muscle memory I have.
I have a big trophy to prove it.
Then I went on to bible college after high school. I did pretty well in those classes, I learned about the historical context of various bible passages, had entire classes on the old testament and the new testament. Even our history classes reflected what biblical era we might be in. Our biology courses were taught from a Christian perspective…the mental gymnastics required to teach biology without giving science the room it needs is unbelievable. But I digress.
It’s safe to say that I know the bible pretty well. So why would I need to feel bad about my relationship to God?
Probably because I do know the Bible so well.
There are a lot of places where God is mad. He is kinda crazy at moments and is often highly punitive, fickle with his people, and generally speaking, quite harsh.
There’s a passage in the old testament — in one of long boring books — where the people are grumbling against God, complaining, and he opens the earth and swallows them whole. Then looks at the others and is like, “anybody else have anything to say?” Seems like the way a mob boss would keep his people in line right?
But let’s back away from that for a minute. I’m realizing I have a pretty big ship to turn in my ramblings.
The biblical story is one of a group of people telling their unique perspective of “god at work” in their lives …which turned into generations…and they passed the book down…and kept written history etc.
But that doesn’t mean you are understanding what’s going on outside. It means you’re writing down that “God shook the walls in the house”, when really there’s an earthquake.
The age of something doesn’t make it the truth, it makes it one person’s truth, which I believe it is.
But I don’t believe it’s everyone’s truth, and I don’t believe everything Jesus ever said was meant to be heard literally to every group of people.
Which brings me back to God’s gender.
What if all the stuff in the bible about prophets was true? Like, what if God sent prophets to speak to us?
And what if Jesus WAS a prophet? And the people killed him, like the did with the prophets.
And the other prophets were also killed.
Like Joan of Arc.
I don’t believe God has a gender. If they do, I don’t believe I would feel good about them being a man.
I don’t think I could believe in the inherent goodness of God if HE were a MAN.
If God was a man, then he is complicit in the injustice against women. He has put men in power, endorsed a sexist and overly oppressive mechanism for generations; millennia even. I can’t believe that.
I can’t believe that the God of the old testament is the loving rescuing God that Jesus was teaching about. I think Jesus’ version of God was something different…and really couldn’t be tied to those stories at all. I think Jesus may have been a prophet, and he was killed because of it. And the world kept turning and the seeds he planted grew and grew over generations until people started to recognize that we can’t treat each other in these ways.
Jesus upset the apple cart. Which means, you have to look at Jesus…not what came before, or even after. Afterwards they knew something was different…even when they sat with Jesus as he scandalously validated women for being humans and having value. He welcomed children, who were to be seen and not heard.
He sat with sinners, and forgave everyone. Except the judgmental ones. Those he had no patience for.
So – is God a women or a man? I don’t think it’s either, I don’t even know that there is a “person” up there…rather an energy force most likely (who knows?).
But I know that the idea that God is a man allows for sexist ideas to be given a lot more credibility than they should be allowed to have.
Women are our superheroes. Between men and women, it’s always been Women who are tougher, more resilient, more capable to soldier on. In the pioneer times, they raised babies on the brutal plains, the Mother Mary gave birth in a freaking shed for goodness sakes.
The Jesus story is one of redemption for all of mankind, but told by a culture so inundated by dogma that it’s almost inescapable from the context. Even the retellers of the story can’t separate their own blatant sexism, ethnocentrism, and systemic racism from the message they’re charged with carrying on.
Maybe I sound cynical. I probably do.
But I am cynical, and I think that’s how we should approach systems that have let people get away with some bad stuff. To look at the catholic system and not appraise its abuses wouldn’t be a responsible approach, nor should it be for protestants, or even muslims or buddhists or any other religion.
Jesus demanded a truth telling. He required people to look inside and speak the truth to themselves, and truth to power.
He did that. And they killed him for it. That’s what should live on, not more of the same religious system. The spirit of Jesus lives on, whether it be literal or figurative, that spirit should demand change, introspection, and redemption. It’s up to us to join him in redeeming our our messed up world, and the systems that keep people living in hell.