Monday, February 07, 2011

Tea Musings: God, Creation, and the Missing Third Gender

This time brought to you by a special blueberry/grapefruit Earl Grey blend called "Grandpa's Mix," bought as usual at Tehörnan in Umeå



I am absolutely not alone in this, I know, but I have to question, why is there an assumption that God inevitably and unquestionably has to be male? Apart from the references to God in the Bible as a male pronoun, where does the assumption come from?

The Bible is, after all, whether one believes in the message, the literal wording, or just the plain fact that the book exists, a manmade creation. Even the Bible says so. It is written by chosen people who are, in some way, conveying God's message to be spread to the people on Earth. It is easy for people to mix up pronouns. The debate around and the lack of a proper pronoun for the third gender tells us so.

In Genesis, we are told that God made us in his image. It says:
"Let us make man in our image... So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them."

God is the Creator. God is what some people assume created Earth and everything on it. But woman is also Creator. Woman, through her possession of a womb, carries the same ability as God; she can create life. She is what nourishes, carries and sustains a life for (optimally) nine months before that child leaves the safe haven of the womb to face the world. If God is Creator and woman is Creator, then why, if God made us the image of 'him', is God referred to as a 'he'? Would it not make more sense to think of the Creator as a woman, the way she was so beautifully depicted in pagan religions? If God were a man, why did 'he' create the Paradise as a brilliant metaphor for the womb where Adam and Eve were nurtured and loved for a time before they were borne into the world?

Granted, woman needs man to create a life. Or rather, woman needs man's magic seed to create a life, but without the male species it would not be possible to create life (although science is at this very moment challenging those assumptions). Both woman and man are needed to create life. Woman and man together are the Creator. If man cannot create without woman, and woman cannot create without man, why is the Creator referred to as a 'he'? Would it not make more sense to think of God as of both genders, or perhaps genderless?

If God is omnipotent, as God is said to be, and can do everything that man and woman and all people accomplish together, would this not make God both man and woman and neither at the same time?

Religion as an institution has long discriminated against women and LGBTQ people, and even though it is getting better in some countries, it is still not good. It is far from good. The discrimination against everything but the narrow definition of male that Christianity subscribes to has its roots in history and is as such a culturally rooted phenomenon. The supremacy of the male is recorded in the Bible, but the Bible also follows the assumption that God is male, even though there is no evidence but a personal pronoun to prove this. The Bible is also written by human hands, with human minds and so also was exposed to human limits and flaws.

Human minds are limited by the language we use. If the language is not broad enough, there will be no room for interpretation or accurate definitions. Instead we are confined to the language that is at hand at the time of recording any event in history. If we think of the world in terms of two genders, it will be two genders that are present in our historical recordings. If the world today only has one country that has gone so far as to adopt a third gender, the assumption is that the world was hardly thinking in those terms at the creation of the Bible.

If God is both male and female and at the same time neither, is this discrimination against everything but the narrowly defined male a mistake due to the non-existence of the third gender at the times the Bible was written?


7 comments:

  1. What can I say? My favourite image of God (thou shalt make an image) is Alanis Morissette in "Dogma".
    She is so incredibly... divine. Totaliter aliter.

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  2. Absolutely agreed! She's even got the Jesus hair! ;)

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  3. is this discrimination against everything but the narrowly defined male a mistake due to the non-existence of the third gender at the times the Bible was written?

    Actually, some of the neighboring Canaanite cultures *did* have a third gender of sorts, or at least, gender blenders--both men and women who would cross-dress for religious ceremonies. Some of the misogynistic laws expressed in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) are likely a reaction to this: such practices are forbidden not necessarily because they were seen as "immoral" originally but because it was a way of setting the Israelites apart. The same principle as kosher.

    I like to think of god as genderful. :o)

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  4. Thanks for your comment anonymous! That was really interesting to find out, and I had no idea! :)

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  5. "If man cannot create without woman, and woman cannot create without man, why is the Creator referred to as a 'he'? Would it not make more sense to think of God as of both genders, or perhaps genderless?"

    Great argument. I really enjoyed this. Thank you!

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