I have been pondering seriously the idea of what we “SEE” in our mind’s eye when we think of God and/or Jesus. Do we connect God to being MALE, masculine, man? The New Testament offers almost no physical descriptions and the earliest surviving portraits of Jesus date from about two centuries after his lifetime.
Why do we picture God or Jesus as male? Should we, necessarily? Is it helpful or not? Is it important to God to be thought of as Male?
I want to create a photograph series representing an androgynous: (neither totally male nor female) God/Jesus, but beautiful, long-suffering, kind, generous, strong Jesus that all can relate to.
Why? Because for me and many people, male and female alike, it is destructive and even painful to think of God as male, masculine, or a man. I know Jesus came to earth in the physical body of a male, but there is very little in scripture that talks about his gender or sexual identity (it is actually very benign topic in scripture).
And the way I think of it, Jesus does not fit cleanly into typical masculine and feminine gender roles. Jesus was counter-cultural. He was a man, but then what? … If I am to be able to identify fully with God, who to me drew on both traditionally masculine and feminine emotions and behaviours, ways of thinking, approaches to life, I see that being as “between” woman and man, or if you will genderless.
If males are created in the image of God, then God has male attributes or traditional masculinity; and if females are created in the image of God, then God has female attributes and femininity. But we are uncomfortable with that in traditional Christianity.
God’s personality has attributes of maleness and femaleness. Males and females, created in the image of God, have God-given attributes of maleness and femaleness.
Androgyny is simply the unity of ‘man’ and ‘woman’, ‘male’ and ‘female.’
This changes the typical and peculiar valuing of woman or women and forces one to challenge thinking that assumes that Males have a higher position with God than Females. That man is the starting-point and woman the derivative. To me, an androgynous God is a correction to this one-sided thinking.
Where I have been reading:
“A better position of woman in Christianity (at least on the ideological level), or offering a Christian contribution towards a greater equilibrium between man and woman in our culture, will only be possible through a much more fundamental change of Christianity than is usually contemplated. A number of androcentric presuppositions, i.e. presuppositions which have the man as starting-point, or make him so, are present in Christian thinking; and it is precisely these unconscious presuppositions which accustom the legitimation by Christian thinking of one-sidedly patriarchal relations. Of course the spiritual movements, mentioned above, are present to give indications of the direction in which important aspects of deep transformations could be sought and achieved.” 1
This is not to say the person of Jesus was not a man, but was God, is God MALE. And is that important? How you or I “see” God need not be set in stone, need not be declared definitively, need not be harmful as it is now.
I want to blow people’s perceptions and stereotypes of God/Jesus, but I am not sure Blackhawk is ready for that … It is important to me. And I will pursue this project.
I am not certain that the person I have in mind would be willing to model. But I’d like to find out.
1 Boudewijn Koole, Man en vrouw zijn een: De androgynie in het Christendom, in het bijzonder bij Jacob Boehme (English title: Man and woman are one: Androgyny in Christianity, particularly in the works of Jacob Boehme), Utrecht 1986, with `Summary in English’, [with extensive Notes, Bibliographies, as well as Indexes on I. Subjects and names II. Citations of Boehme III. Citations of the Bible IV. Authors]; 341 pp.; = diss. Utrecht 1986; ISBN 9061940869 [This publication had been made possible by the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica in Amsterdam]