Tuesday, April 3, 2012

He or She? Why is God 'Male'?

Update, 5/6/2012:

Recently I have done more reading and more praying on this issue, and I have come to a new understanding; God is both male and female. Because God created all things in His image, including gender, God is both male and female, as both genders are images of God.  Furthermore, because male is no greater than female, and female is no greater than male, God is equally male and female. I believe in  English, the Christian God is referred to as male because the Old Testament Jews viewed Him as their King, and so addressed Him as 'Male'. The below theories are still entertaining. Interesting how so much thought can go into something, and yet you can still change your mind. I will continue to call God He, because He is my Father. I have not completely reconciled this. Guidance and ideas are much welcome.

Published 4/3/2012::

Recently, I began thinking more seriously about why god is 'He' rather than 'She', and if it really matters. Indeed, in my very first post I originally wrote He/She everywhere I called God He. My husband quickly sat me down to talk to me, to tell me that God indeed refers to himself as He, therefore he is not a she but a he. OK, I was intimidated and believed that God is "He", but I was not entirely convinced on his logic. Faith I told myself, have faith. SO I quickly changed all my posts to 'He' and erased any evidence of the S/He's, so as not to be embarrassed in front of all of my loyal die-hard christian  readers (there are so many..) and of course, my husband. Then I prayed for understanding.

Now I am convinced, God is 'He'. The following are some of my realizations.  Warning, it gets philosophical. My reasoning may not be sound, but it has convinced me.

In a nutshell, I believe God is 'He' because

1. The bible says so, he is Father.
2. Gender is different than sex, I do not believe God has a sex, but I do believe his gender traits are male, not female, thus he is He. (I will address the creation aspect, the "mother nature'' nature of God as I talk about this).
3. Out of male, came female. The rib of Adam can be metaphorically seen as the X Chromosome (this kind of has to do with point 2, and is by far the most philosophical part of my discussion as well as the biggest stretch).

1. The bible says so, he is Father.

So first, God is male because the Bible says so. He describes himself as male and tells us to call him Abba, Father. Fathers are male, so God is male. Simple enough.

Unfortunately, I am not always convinced by things in this way (a huge shortcoming of my faith by the way), so I also looked to some other arguments.

2. Gender is different than sex, I do not believe God has a sex, but I do believe his gender traits are male, not female, thus he is He.

I do not believe God is male by sex, but by gender. I believe sex is most likely designed for reproduction, and God has no need for sex because he creates simply by speaking. So I don't think god is male in that he has male genitalia. But, I do think he is male by gender. What do I mean? Well, I recently read Perelandra, by C.S. Lewis, in this book he explains gender as follows;

"Our ancestors did not make mountains masculine because they projected male characteristics onto them. The process is the reverse. Gender is a reality, a more fundamental reality, than sex. Sex is, in fact, merely the adaptation to organic life of a fundamental polarity which divides all created beings. Female sex is simply one of the things that have female gender; there are many others. Masculine and feminine meet us on planes of reality where male and female would simply be meaningless. Masculine is not attenuated male, nor feminine attenuated female. On the contrary, the male and female of organic creatures are rather faint and blurred reflections of masculine and feminine." <C.S. Lewis, Perelandra, (New York: MacMillan 1965),  200.>.

In this explanation, the male and female sex characteristics are an expression or "reflection" of male and female gender. Socrates explained similar phenomenon in his theory of forms, which I won't go into here. Gender is greater than sex, it’s the traits of male-ness or female-ness.

In my understanding, one of the most  female traits include nourishing. Two traits that are male include providing and protecting. WOAH woah wait a minute, gender role bias!! Yes, yes but I am not saying men or women need to act masculine or feminine, just that these are traits of the gender which surpass sex. Don't get the two confused.

Why are mountains male? They protect. Why is the earth female? It nourishes.

God provides (both creation and the mechanisms for creation to continue) and protects his creation. His creation (mother nature) nourishes that which he provides for.  Male protects, female nourishes. I will continue below.

3. Out of male, came female. The rib of Adam can be metaphorically seen as the X Chromosome

I started thinking about sex, the fun kind, how the male provides the sperm, which then connects to the egg and then life begins. A woman does not create life. The woman nourishes the life created in her womb until it is birthed into a newborn baby. It is the uniting of male and female, with the miracle of God's breath, that creates life. After birth, a woman continues to nourish the life by breast-feeding. This process, I believe, is one of the ultimate expressions of gender. The male provides the catalyst for life, the female nourishes it. In the same way, God created the world. He was the catalyst for life, the provider. Mother nature (the earth which God created) is what nourishes the life, by the will of God. Since god (male) created life and mother nature, male must have come before female, or out of male must have come female. Can this be argued? I think so.

It’s kind of like the chicken or the egg question. But, the Bible teaches that out of Adam, came Eve. God took one of Adam’s ribs, and with his breath created Eve. Then my brain got all biological on me, could science, indeed evolution even, support this? I think so.

Warning, this is purely theoretical and mostly metaphorical, and way way over simplified. But think about male and female sex, represented in genetics as two X chromosomes (XX female), or an X and a Y chromosome (XY male). Female gametes (egg) are always (in normal conditions) filled with one X chromosome, male gametes (sperm) can contain one X or one Y chromosome. The combination of the female X with either an  X sperm or Y sperm, determines the sex of the offspring (XX female, XY male). This is why males are 'credited' with 'determining' the sex of babies (obviously they don't choose the sex consciously though).  So which came first, male or female? 

I started thinking that maybe the X chromosome was the metaphorical equivilant of Adams rib. I think because male has X and Y, it had to come first. It’s as if an X from XY was permanently ‘donated’ to create female. You see, you can get X from male (XY), but you cannot get Y from female (XY), female XX has no Y. So, therefore, XY had to come first, because otherwise there is no other way to get Y. If XX came first, XY would not be possible, but XX is possible from XY. I know this is confusing, and a big stretch. But think about it. Where did Y come from if female existed first? ((NOTE::In no way am I suggesting that a male X and another male X would create a woman, this is preposterous. Obviously, much more than just an x and a y chromosome is needed to truly create life. Indeed, God need not only the rib, but also to provide the breath and design of woman. He took the rib (or maybe the X chromosome) from Adam (male) and 'breathed' life into it to create female.)))

Yes, God took the 'rib' of Adam (male), breathed life into it and created Eve (female). Maybe the rib is the X chromosome. Maybe god took the X chromosome from male, Adam, and breathed life into it to create female (XX) Eve.

In this way, I see some vague glimmer of some possible theory (albeit very overly-simplified in it’s current form) of a biological explanation of the gender of God. I think that it shows that it’s possible to get the female sex from male ‘parts’ (XY), but not male parts from ‘female parts’ (XX). If sex is a reflection of gender, then the mechanism of female sex being derived from the male sex migh represent a possibility for female gender to be an extension of male gender. If female is more likely to be derived from male, rather than male from female, if female came out of male, and if everything came from God, then I think it follows that God is more male, or rather male-ness is more like God in that it existed first.

However, this doesn’t mean that men are more God-like than women, that would be getting sex mixed up with gender. They are simply reflections of one another, and this is simply a fool’s theory. But maybe the rib is symbolic of the X chromosome. Man, created in God’s image, is therefore a reflection of God, just like sex is a reflection of gender. It could be possible that something like this exists or did exist. Indeed, think of how God provides and protects the Hebrews in the Old Testament. Think of how God is provider, Abba Father, and how his creation, an extension of himself – mother earth – nourishes the life that God provides for and protects.  Like a biological father, God gives life and protects His children, and Mother Nature nourishes the life – providing the conditions and nutrients to Gods children, much like a pregnant and nursing mother does for her own offspring. Indeed, a mother does not ‘create’ life, God creates life. A mother simply provides a safe environment (a womb) and nutrition for the life to grow.  A father provides the seed, which starts life growing. He then is responsible for protecting that life as it grows. Much like God. Mother earth would have no life to provide for, if Father God did not breathe life, and design the mechanisms for life to continue. They are all extensions of himself, designed by Him, for life. Much like Eve was created out of Adam, so was the world and universe created out of God. Think of Adam as the human representation of the epitome of male-ness, and eve of female-ness. Indeed, they are two separate creations, but from the same origin. Something like Yin-Yang, from Yin comes Yang, from Yang comes Yin. Two separate, but both one. Female from Male, different but both female and male are Adam, both are created by God. If the rib of Adam was used to create Eve, if the X chromosome was used to create female, everything female then must have ultimately have it's origin in Male, and Male it's origin in God; the same way Eve has her origin in Adam, and Adam in God. Mother nature and the entire universe, can be thought of as the 'Eve' of God. 

Food for thought.

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