Sunday, August 21, 2016

What is God’s gender?

Sunday Musings

God of Christianity
Source: Here
In a recent article in the New York Times, a Jewish rabbi raised the question whether God is transgender.  He points out that in the Hebrew Bible, when read in its original language, gender is not always precisely demarcated.  For example, Eve is referred to as “he” in one place, Adam as “them” and Rebecca as a “young man.”  “These aren’t typos,” the rabbi asserts and explains that “In the ancient world, well-expressed gender fluidity was the mark of a civilized person. Such a person was considered more ‘godlike’.”

Why wouldn’t a god have the maternal tenderness of a woman, for example?  Why should any god be deprived of the good qualities that women possess?  Why should a god necessarily be a man?

Of course, there are many ancient religions including India’s Hinduism which have both gods and goddesses.  But in the world’s dominant monotheistic religions, God is necessarily a man.  Why? 

The answer is fairly simple.  These are patriarchal religions made by men who thought that women were inferior, more fallible, or potentially dangerous to the man’s sexual morality.  There are or could be many other reasons too.  The very first sin (“original sin”? – James Joyce asked the question what was so original about it in his classical novel, Ulysses) was committed by the woman, Eve. 

The simple truth is that all the three dominant monotheistic religions – Christianity, Islam and Judaism – have always circumscribed the role and position of women in the society.  It is only natural that their God is male. 

But why should God have any gender at all?  That’s what the rabbi’s NYT article made me think.  Why should god be male or female or even neutral gender?  Sex is meant for reproduction.  (Let us leave aside the secondary and other uses of sex for the time being.)  The God of all the three dominant monotheistic religions is a chronic bachelor.  Sexuality is seen as something vulgar if not evil by all the three religions.  It is then a logical necessity for their God to be above sex.  What will an asexual being do with gender?



Indian Bloggers

8 comments:

  1. This and another question on who created god have always intrigued me. The answers to both are evident, the story telling side of human beings.

    But if ever God's existence is proved (but how can you prove the evidence of absence?), it would definitely be a mathematician :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Gender? Even existence of god is questionable but if there is a god he/she must be gender-less

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The whole notion is interesting, isn't it?

      Delete
  3. God has to be in some recognizable form for humans to comprehend....and they can hardly think beyond gender....in fact this homophobic world will scorn at the idea of God being a transgender unless there is some political leverage attached to it....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. God is like a human being because we created him in our own image. God is male because it is men who created him. He would have been a She if it was a matriarchal system. God would be transgender if transgenders created him. And, as Pranju said above, God would be some mathematical abstract if intellectuals created him. Finally, you are right: it's all about who wields power.

      Delete
  4. Man personified the concept of "god" for his own understanding and of the masses. Interestingly, the Shaivaites look at Divinity as the union of male and female, having both genders and meaningful as the union of both sexes (powers)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That too is a god created in the image of man and hence has to manmade.

      Delete

Utmost Happiness

Book Review The world today resembles the macabre settings in the gothic novels: horror, death and a little romance. Unlike in...