612

i hope this doesn’t offend. it made me chuckle. sometimes i do wonder ‘why a man‘? i do sometimes wonder ‘why not a woman?’ i know that jewish tradition was patriarchal, still is at heart i guess and also jesus’ lineage was important culturally. so then, why this point in history? why not wait for a time when women might get a hearing and come as a lady?

agirl

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About jonbirch

animator, illustrator, character designer, graphic designer. music producer/recording musician. co-owner of PROOST. proost.co.uk
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79 Responses to 612

  1. rick says:

    ’cause god is male?

  2. Kamsin says:

    Hi! I’m a long time lurker and enjoy-er of your cartoons, this one finally made me feel the need to comment!
    So, yeah, very, very thought provoking! Maybe the day is still not here when a woman (or a “lady”, either would do the trick) would actually be heard…

  3. jonbirch says:

    kamsin… thank you. :-)
    rick… god is spirit. :-)

  4. rick says:

    jon – nice try, god is love, etc. :-)

  5. Laura says:

    “why not wait for a time when women might get a hearing and come as a lady”

    Cause we’d still be waiting for Her arrival!

  6. Rich H says:

    I asked this question of one of my seminary professors (a fairly accomplished theologian). His answer was to the effect that maybe because we men are in greater need of the good example. He laughed as he said it, but knowing him, there was a serious point behind it.

  7. Eric says:

    “maybe because we men are in greater need of the good example”

    That’s true. Certainly fathers are greatly in need of good examples, compared to mothers.

    And whatever people say about the Church being male-dominated (which may be true), there are 2 men to every 3 women in churches in Australia.

  8. John D says:

    Maybe to avoid a whole load of hassle with Pagan Fertility/God Mother stuff?

  9. James says:

    In the video our youth group made, Joseph says something like “wow it’s a baby girl” – Mary (whispering) “It’s a boy” Joseph “wow its a baby boy”.

    but more seriously 1 God doesn’t have a sex. I know people who disagree but yeah. 2 good question, maybe it would have been one step to far at the time. Would anyone at all have really listened to Jesus if he had been a she.

  10. dennis says:

    I like Lauras comment ‘Cause we’d still be waiting for Her arrival!’

    There was a time when I would be straight down the line and say I believe what is put in front of me is the truth, now I am not so sure.

    I don’t believe for one minute that God is ‘male’ but he is my Father, only my friends father is called Juliet.

    If we lived in a world that shared its equalness then I doubt we would be having this discussion, my guess is that Jesus was a boy because he had a beard!

    By the way Joe looks what Jon might look like with wrinklets, he he.

  11. runningsheep says:

    Maybe one part of God’s amazing salvation act was to break down some of the gender barriers, and so he came as a man then to speed that process up.
    If he’d waited to be able to come as a woman, we’d almost certainly still be waiting!

  12. soniamain says:

    My first thought was similar to Kamsin. I still don’t think we are in a time when a woman would be really listened to and respected- at least not by a lot in the church- but if there was no Jesus we would have no church- so now I am muddled! :0

  13. soniamain says:

    runningsheep great idea, but have the gender barriers been broken?, I’m not sure they have.

  14. Amy Watson says:

    I have found people’s reactions to ‘The Shack’ quite hard to cope with. The people I talk to seem to base their criticism of the book purely on the portrayal of God as a woman.
    Hmmm. Hard work.
    Thanks for this Jon – i found it encouraging

  15. becky says:

    I didn’t think the Shack was that well written but I loved the portrayal of God as an African American woman.

    Given women were considered property, I don’t know how a female could get any kind of a hearing back then let alone go into the synagogue.

    At least now if Jesus came back as a woman, she could go into a church and preach – now would she draw the Beatitude type crowds – doubtful.

  16. jimkastkeat says:

    My wife have asked the exact same question!

  17. Sophie says:

    I think Jesus was pretty out there when it came to his inclusion of women. So he probably did do quite a good job with that, but if He had been a She, arguably it would have been much harder to be heard. However, She probably would still have shaken up the world, as She would have been God in skin, and surely that’d make a difference at whatever point in time.

    Thing is though, we have to trust that God did what was best, and I for one am very glad that Jesus came and lived through life and death with the people God made on earth. Hooray for Christmas!

  18. zefi says:

    Sin came into the world through Adam, and through Adam it must leave.

    And that is also the reason why Jesus was without sin, and that is why the virginal conception was extremely important.

    Someone said on this blog before that he has no problem even if Jesus was brought into the world through the help of a human male. It’s not an issue of whether you have a problem with such thing or not. It just that if it’s so, IT JUST DOESN’T WORK.

  19. zefi says:

    Ugh. My grammar still sucks.

    But oh, I’m sure you understand what I’m trying to say… Or rather, I hope so.

  20. She’d have been locked in the house – girls are delicate little flowers you know. Homelessness and traipsing around the country are hardly practical for a lassie.

    Imagine if the paparazzi had caught the saviour of the world peeing behind a bush or something?
    :)

    And I feel as a girl I can say this: if Jesus had been a girl, would she have had PMT? Can you imagine that (then again, thinking of his hissy fit about the market in the temple maybe he did have PMT…)

  21. Miriworm says:

    As god is male is it possible he made a mistake? ;-)

  22. Iaincotton says:

    Amy, 1 of the few things I did like about the Shack was that God was an African American woman,I thought that worked really well :)- other bits I had issues with!

  23. soniamain says:

    DOH, signed in previously as my husband- sorry above is meant to be form me!

  24. jonbirch says:

    zefi… your grammar gets better all the time mate. :-)

  25. subo says:

    I like the wiggly worm hair

  26. subo says:

    Sonia, I’m dying to know which ‘bits’

  27. Pingback: Frohes Niederkunftsfest « Die Wahrheit ist untödlich.

  28. Amy Watson says:

    Do you think we sometimes put ‘masculinity’ onto Jesus? Did he really portray any kind of characteristic that is exclusively male? Is it mainly the cultural acceptance and things that highlighted what gender he was?

    Re: the shack – I am happy to hear other people’s opinions on it. Someone once told me that God being a woman proved how theologically unsound the book was. Are we really that bad that the idea of God portrayed as one of us is discredited immediately?

  29. kimmy says:

    I wasn’t aware that God had a gender. :-)

  30. Kim says:

    I find this raises some quite painful issues.

    Really, are we still at this point arguing about whether God is male or female, in a way that is intended to put down women back into our place? It’s so disheartening!

    I was recently told by someone on the leadership of my church that I couldn’t stand for election as an elder as his wife didn’t believe women could be leaders! Aaarrgghh.

    I think Jesus showed he valued women, as he showed he ascribed value to other less valued groups. God values humans, and thats why Jesus came and lived as one.

  31. ED... says:

    It’s a good set of questions to ask, Jon.

    Another good question is “why did God make men and women different?” After all, he could have plumped for an asexual way to reproduce. I wonder if it’s because God was teaching men how to be men? The bible’s word for male is about “remembering”. I suspect that that’s what a man is to do: remember what God is like, and move.

    Perhaps it’s also as a picture of how men are to love their wives, as Christ loved the church.

    Another possibility is that God designed women for another purpose – to receive the good things of God. The word used for female in Genesis is about “being opened to receive”.

  32. Kim says:

    I think its better to ask God, as individuals, ‘what have you made me for?’.

    That allows scope for an answer from God which takes into account how he made us individually, and isn’t contrained by constructs of society, or the culture of individual churches.

    He sometimes gives answers which others don’t think are permissable or acceptable. But God isn’t bound by history, misogyny, insecurity, tradition etc.

  33. subo says:

    - as his wife didn’t believe women could be leaders, oh!, Kim thats bad

  34. ED... says:

    @ 32 – Kim

    What if God has made us for things that we are to do within society, culture, and church?

    Won’t the individual answer sometimes be the collective answer?

    The fact that there are many of us as two sorts is a clue that God has already revealed something to us about his plan.

  35. Robb says:

    Aren’t we missing the point. So many people are saying things like “we’d still be waiting”, “she still wouldn’t get a fair hearing” etc etc…

    Jesus didn’t come to rubber stamp a perfect world. If you are not sick you don’t need a doctor.

    Now I’m off to cook a sunday roast for my high powered well qualified harley riding wife.
    :P

  36. Robb says:

    Random wanderings of an uncontrolled mind…..

    Mary is genetically XX. Does that mean that the holy spirit is XY?
    :lol:

    I can hear the groans… That joke will crack them up in heaven!!
    :P

  37. Kim says:

    Thanks Robb!

  38. zefi says:

    The kind of conversation that would only happen in the western world. Or among westernized minds.
    :P

  39. zefi says:

    I was recently told by someone on the leadership of my church that I couldn’t stand for election as an elder as his wife didn’t believe women could be leaders! Aaarrgghh.

    Forgive me my lack of knowledge (and of church politics), but is it that in the part of the world where you’re from, one can only serve God if one is ordained or have official leader status?

    I personally prefer to be follower (whatever that means), because it gives me many opportunities to stand up and say, “you sure you’re getting it right, boss?”

    Happy sigh. Being a PITA is addictive. :D

    And I’m male by the way. Though I suspect I have hormonal disorder.

  40. Jen says:

    There seems to be some confusion between sex and gender. Your sex is to do with your biology – whether you are male, female or intersex, the small percentage of people who are born not obviously male or female. God is not male as God doesn’t have a physical body.

    Gender refers to the social relations of sexed bodies – how we relate to each other as men and women. Gender is a cultural construction; characteristics that are seen to be masculine or feminine differ around the world and within cultures. It’s more accurate to talk about masculinities and femininities because there is as much diversity found among men and among women as there is between men and women, even within a national culture, let alone across the many people groups in the world. Some people, particularly some Christians, argue that gender is essential – that there’s a ‘true masculine’ or ‘true feminine’ that we all ought to be like but that is difficult to produce real evidence for beyond the myth of that pernicious mars and venus malarkey.

  41. Robb says:

    Kim – “Thanks Robb!”

    Sorry, I hate the internet sometimes. I can’t tell whether I did something very right or something very wrong because there is no tone of voice…

    If I did right, yay. If I did wrong, :(

    I think what I am trying to get at is that Jesus didn’t come and say “you’re all getting it right, well done. I’m off now and I’ll be back when you’ve all had a jolly nice time being perfect”. He came to save us from ourselves. If he hung around waiting for us to fix it all, like people keep saying “we’d still be waiting”. That is the beauty of the grace that he offered when he entered the world as an ickle baby 2000 and odd years ago. He came to bare himself for us all that he may help us to become much more than we were and strive to become much more than we ever could be.

    Could Jesus have been a woman. Yes. Does it matter? Well it is a question. It is a pretty 50/50 shot either way, in most cases, you can’t have both. So as I say, it is a question. It’s not necessarily a good question but it is a question.

    A more interesting question would be “If he were a woman would it have been significant?”. I would assume that the way this thread is going the overwhelming answer would be “no”. If it isn’t significant that he was a man it wouldn’t be significant that he was a woman.

    Why do we get bogged down with the word man? I guess it is because it has been until recent times used in the english language to mean “human”. Now we get stuck because it means “male” with an undercurrent of “human”.

    Jesus came down to earth and was fully God and fully man…..

    Jesus came down to earth and was fully God and fully human…..

    BTW Kim – Sorry about your experiences of church. I’d give them a piece of my mind. Actually, I have given people like that a piece of my mind on several occasions. I’m running out at this rate. Fortunately places like that are getting scarcer and scarcer. Unfortunately the ones that still exist are digging the trenches and making many people unhappy!

  42. Robb says:

    Jen – I crossposted with you. Very true!!

  43. Kim says:

    Robb – I’m sorry, I was genuinely saying thanks, for your awful joke, and your anecdote about cooking lunch for your intelligent wife – both made me smile, which I really needed!

  44. jonbirch says:

    too right jen… yup robb. :-)

  45. ED... says:

    @40 So, Jen – in your view is it possible for a man to have a female gender, or for a woman to have a masculine gender?

    Do you believe that God didn’t have a ‘true masculine’ or ‘true feminine’ in mind?

  46. JF says:

    Jesus was a man. The religion of Christianity has grown up around the life and teachings of this man.

    If Mary & Joseph’s child had been female, she wouldn’t have been able to become the significant person Jesus became. She would more likely have been locked up or stoned for some of the utterances ascribed to Jesus. People just wouldn’t have followed a woman in the same way. So there wouldn’t have been any Christianity.

    So you could say Christianity exists because Jesus was male.

  47. sarah says:

    It’s important that Jesus was a man because Adam was a man.

    Sas

  48. Robb says:

    Thats OK then – I’ll just grow a thicker skin :D

    JF – what you say is true about the sociology of the new testament society. However, other than the brokeness of the society he was dealing with it wouldn’t make much theological difference if he was male or female. He was male for a reason, but not an important one out of that context.

    The logos/knowledge/wisdom, the word that was with God and the word that was God – the word that dwelt among us – is often referred to in the hebrew bible as female.

  49. Kim says:

    I don’t know if you could say Christianity exists because Jesus was male – that seems a conclusion that is more than the sum of the parts. Jesus didn’t come to found a religion. It was something much more important than that surely?

    Robb – please keep being who you are!

  50. jonbirch says:

    if jesus had come to found a religion i’d simply have no time for him kim.

    “the logos/knowledge/wisdom, the word that was with God and the word that was God – the word that dwelt among us – is often referred to in the hebrew bible as female.” fascinating robb.

    ed… what do you mean by ‘true’? is there a blueprint for exactness of sexuality or gender roles?

    jf… “she would more likely have been locked up or stoned for some of the utterances ascribed to Jesus.” or crucified? (no sarcasm intended)

    and yes jen. you are of course right. god is neither male nor female. which reminds me of that terrible infant school joke… why didn’t god go to the ball?.. because he had no’body’ to go with. sorry. :-)

  51. ED... says:

    @ 50: Jon – I’m not sure what I mean by “true” in this context. (I am, of course, quoting Jen, so the question should really be asked of her!)

    I am equally sure that whatever God has to say about gender identity – true masculinity and true femininity – is the gold standard of truth by which my appreciation of it will be judged.

    In essence, I’m certainly not sure that I have within me what it takes to be masculine, a manly man, as God intends for me to be: a man who remembers what God is like and moves in the world accordingly, but I’m equally certain that grace can take care of that, with Christ measuring up for my manifold deficiencies.

    I suppose that the most clear thing the bible has to say about manliness is in David’s instructions to Solomon.

    When David’s time to die drew near, he commanded Solomon his son, saying, “I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, and show yourself a man, and keep the charge of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn, that the Lord may establish his word that he spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your sons pay close attention to their way, to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’

  52. Carole says:

    Sorry guys – I appear to have done a Linus again! ;) Fascinating conversation, as always. Really miffed that Jen showed up ;) as my comments were going to refer to her talk at Greenbelt this year…and I have no original thoughts of my own! I do think that we ascribe far too many stereotypes to men and women ie all men are physically strong, hunter-gatherers with a occasional tendency to aggression and women are all soft, fluffy, warm, all-giving, intuitive…nah, not in my world, I’m afraid, though probably I am as guilty as anyone of reinforcing those stereotypes from time to time. As for God, I find the model of a father figure useful but I know that is far from adequate…I just find it helpful to have something in the realm of my own experience to hang the vastness of the concept of God on.

  53. jonbirch says:

    ed… haha!… jen says that others argue that way… so, i guess we’ll never know unless someone who is clear and certain about what each gender should look like makes a comment. although i’m fairly sure i’d disagree with their point, whatever it was. :-)

    carole… as metaphors, i find the images of god as a father and as a mother helpful. i’ve known people to find them profoundly unhelpful – those whose bad parents have left them scarred. so, in the final analysis i’d probably say, god is neither my father nor my mother, but they are metaphors that i sometimes feel helped by… metaphors that were made in the first place to give me a sense of belonging, nurture and being cared for and about by the eternal, unknowable, intangible, creative force and energy which is god. (btw… i’m not saying those things are god, i’m just working in the tradition of using completely inadequate metaphors!). :-)

  54. James says:

    God as father is something we picked up on in our youth group. One or two of our members haven’t really had the best experiences of having a father and so this way of thought is not necessarily helpful to everyone.

  55. kaybee says:

    Well, Jon, you sure do stir things up!!

    My thoughts: if Jesus had come as a woman, she could never have liberated women as Jesus did. In His relationships with women, He was an amazing example. He elevated women with a new esteem, appreciation, and respect. Think of the woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, the woman with the issue of blood, the woman who virtually described herself as a ‘dog under the table willing to eat the children’s crumbs.’ All of them were despised, in their situations, by the society around them. A woman Saviour would probably have been accused of having an ulterior motive in treating them the way Jesus did. Isn’t that what we just love about Him — that He didn’t fit the status quo?

    When you think about it, He didn’t even have to come as a baby — but because He did, He also elevated womanhood by choosing Mary….a woman whom the angel called highly favored and blessed…to carry Him to birth and be His mother.

    And by the way, knowing the kind of status women had in those days, can you imagine the 12 disciples sitting at the feet of a woman?

  56. Sas says:

    I love every one of these answers!

  57. becky says:

    What’s bizarre is given how Jesus came to liberate us and show we are all equal in the eyes of God how little has changed in the past 200 + years.

    re: the Shack – I met the folks who helped the original writer put the story to paper. He intended this as a gift to his kids to explain his thoughts about God. In doing so, he hit on some themes that resonated with a lot of folks, hence the amazing sales stats. He doesn’t have a lot of professional training as a writer and in places, it shows – that’s why I didn’t finish the book. I wanted a more tightly crafted story. But I love the spirit that drove him to tell his story and find it very inspiring.

  58. Aubrey says:

    Weird, I was just thinking about this today. In church somebody said something about how God came to earth “in the lowest and weakest form… a baby boy.” And I was like wait… isn’t the lowest and weakest form a baby girl? Maybe not so much now, but definitely in the culture of Jesus’ time. It is enough of a paradox for us to worship a crazy homeless dude, but it seems to me like it would be even more poetic if our messiah was a female! I guess it’s a good thing I don’t make these kinds of decisions…

  59. cheryl says:

    maybe God had tried with a female messiah and nobody recognised her…

  60. zefi says:

    This thought came to me before I slept. Or while I was sleeping. Or after I woke up. Never mind, I don’t remember.

    Anyway, I was thinking if God came to earth in the form of a woman, and died on the cross for the sin of mankind, I suspect there would be many women (and men, maybe) who would be shouting, “It’s a Man who brought sin into the world, and a Woman had to die for it? Why must a Woman suffer for the mistake of a Man!?? Adam blamed Eve for causing him to sin, and they blamed Eve till she died on the cross! Stupid patriarchal, misogynic religion!

    Yeah, something like that.

  61. Linus says:

    Haha thanks Carole – you just made my day =]

    Zefi i’m missing something here – didn’t both Adam and Eve sin in the Genesis story?

  62. zefi says:

    Zefi i’m missing something here – didn’t both Adam and Eve sin in the Genesis story?

    Sin is (well, generally)defined as breaking God’s commandment. Or something like that. Or so I think. Re-read your Genesis. The keyword is “command.”

  63. Jen says:

    re 45 – Ed. Yes, some people are transgender – they feel that their gender identity is different to their physical sex. So some people will choose to live as the opposite gender or end up having surgery to change their bodies.

    But some men may have lots of qualities and characteristics that are most usually associated with women in his culture, and yet still be male and feel masculine. Same for women…

    I’m not sure what constitutes manliness in the quote you give at 51. Surely a woman can wholeheartedly follow God and set an example to her children to do likewise, which is what David seems to be saying to Solomon.

    I think the problem with trying to define ‘true masculinity’ is that whatever you come up with, you’ll find examples of women who live out those characteristics – and vice versa.

  64. jonbirch says:

    haha! the pope often disagrees with me too jen! :-)

    kaybee… stunning comment. really stunning. :-)

    cheryl… interesting and cheeky little thought there. :-)

    becky… seen the one on ‘a brief history of the virgin mary’s breasts.’ short but interesting. :-)

  65. doctor ruth says:

    One little thought – the saviour had to be Jewish – and even today, I believe (although am happy to be corrected!) that in the majority of places, women are not allowed to be rabbis – so even now, a female jewish messiah would not be heard in the way Jesus was heard.

  66. jonbirch says:

    indeed so dr ruth.

  67. Childish says:

    I remember learning about the genetics of male and female genders in the early years of secondary school. When we first found out about the male being XY and the female being XX, thus the male being the one to bestow the sex on the baby I had this feeling of elation. Mary, on her own could only have had a baby girl, but God must have given the Y chromosome. If she’d had some random self fertilization/some kind of natural cloning, her baby would have been a girl. I thought – ‘explain that away scientifically – how could this lady have produced a fertilised male egg on her own?’ It’s a very 13year old thought, but some of the amazement is still with me many years later.

  68. Robb says:

    Dr Rufus – it would not make a lot of sense to be incarnated in a tribe in the Amazon rain forest that has has no contact with anyone else on earth until colonialism……

  69. Lewis says:

    To be fair, males are better equipped. I don’t blame him.

  70. Robb says:

    Lewis – dunno. Most men are happy to look in the other halfs tool box and be envious.

  71. Pingback: xmas! « edinburgh stories

  72. Don’t have time to read all the comments. so if I am repeating someone… sorry.

    Because it needed to be a man to undo what a man did?

  73. richcasto says:

    One theory is that Jesus was androgynous: “The Scriptures tell us that Jesus was conceived by and born of a virgin mother, thereby informing us biologically that the sex of the embryo was female. But the Bible also tells us that Jesus was born a phenotypic male. Because of this seeming contradiction, a Christian is likely to be confronted by a dilemma: the difficulty in understanding how Jesus, a female embryo at conception, could have been born a male child developed from that same female embryo….Through the natural process of sex reversal Jesus became male, not instead of female but as well as female, assuming the phenotype of a man while retaining the chromosomal badge of a woman.” – http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/1983/JASA9-83Kessel.html

  74. Robb says:

    Wow. That’s crazy :lol:

  75. G says:

    But she did come back as a female…
    I believe it was Joan of Arc :)

  76. rozzie says:

    if jesus had been female, he wouldn’t have been perfect! and he/she knows that perfection (or at least the semblance of it)is overrated ;)

    “for i did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance”

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