Monthly Archives: December 2020

Why is God male?

The Mayor of my town posted this cartoon today and drew a quick, negative reaction from readers who wonder: why NOT have a female Son of God? I thought it was cute, but apparently my thinking on men/women, fathers/mothers is not the “norm;” or as the editor who rejected it noted, “I’m not sure people are ready for this, Rita.”

Over the years I did a lot of reading on the male/female dynamic in society and I never cease to be fascinated by it.

I devoured books and essays on Christianity, Goddess worship, monotheism and polytheism, struggling to grasp what seemed essential to know.

During the debate in the run-up to the legalization of same sex marriage, we were told by some that the bond between a man and a woman is the most ancient and pervasive link that exists between two human beings: marriage pre-dates all forms of government, and therefore government has no right to alter or amend the definition of marriage.

I received this plaster cast of Donatello’s “Madonna and Child” as a gift 30 years ago, and have treasured it always as it depicts, I believe, the most enduring of all human relationships: Mother and Child.

I balked at this concept: the bond between one man and one woman is the oldest link in history? Really? Because for much of history – and to the current day – the link between men and women seems to be often tenuous.

Most cultures make lots of room for relationships between men and women that are strictly limited to one or a few sexual encounters. Courtesans in ancient Greece, Rome or China; barbarians raping and pillaging. The right of the first night. Rape slaves in modern day Syria or Iraq. Young adults dating in a hook-up culture. Bootie calls. Baby daddies.

In addition to such situations in which men disappear by choice, men also work in the most dangerous jobs (including war) facing injury, illness and early death. Lots of men just leave and are never seen again.

That’s why I believe it is safe to say that in all of the bonds formed since the dawn of time – husband/wife; father/child; siblings; or mother/child, the one that has actually stood the test of time is the bond between mother and child.

A man can father a child, and then disappear; so long as the baby has a functional mother, the child has a decent shot at surviving to adulthood.

Should a mother leave a child, that child is much more likely to die. Either of starvation, back when breastmilk was all the baby food there was, or of neglect, in the current day.

Historically, babies who lost their mothers died. Humankind is vastly more likely to be made up of people who can, and have, survived the loss of a father; and much less likely to be made up of those that have experienced the loss of a mother.

Is this why God is male in monotheistic religions?

If a culture is going to suggest a deity that fills the spiritual and psychological gap left by a dead or missing father, that culture doesn’t need another woman. The women are already right there, where you can see them and touch them and be cared for by them.

How comforting, then, to be taught that your father is always with you too, always watching over you, keeping you safe, providing everything you need. Even when he is invisible, a belief rather than a being.

It worked in Judiasm[1], Christianity[2] and Islam[3]. One of the most telling and important tenets of all three faiths was that men were called upon to care for widows and orphans – essentially substituting organized human action and generosity for the protection of a living earthly father. This was no small thing: it was the beginning of civilized society.

Am I implying fathers are not important? No. I am saying exactly the opposite: that fathers are so important, entire cultures developed intellectual systems to allow communities to cope with the loss of them. We did not need to do this for women.

I believe this is why God is male. Because we need Him to be.

-30-

 

 

 

[1] “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.”—Psalm 68.5

[2][2] “Pure and undefiled religionbefore our God and Father is this: to care for orphansand widows in their distress, and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27

[3]  And They Feed, For The Love Of Allah, The Indigent, The Orphan, And The Captives, Saying: We Feed You For Allah’s Sake: No Reward Do We Seek From You Nor Thanks.

(Surah  76:  Ayah  8-9)