A Bumbling, Stumbling Attempt at a Theology of Gender.

Lots of smart people have said lots of smart things about the ways in which our views of ourselves mirror our views on God.  I am thinking, today, about gender.

My own developing views about God’s gender are not that different from my view of gender in people.  I think I am not alone in this.  And also, I am still figuring it all out.  As I try to explain where I am at, and where I am headed, I am sure I am going to say things in a way that might be offensive or incorrect.  I hope that you, reader, can chalk this up to ignorance on my part, and not malice.  I would very much appreciate corrections, suggestions, and counterpoints in the comments below.

The most literalistic readings of scripture within Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, are that God is male.  So is the first person he makes.  Femaleness comes next.  It is the single alternative to maleness, a revision on that basic theme.

This parallels the world view I grew up in about gender in general.  Maleness is better.  Femaleness is the alternative.  I am trying to stay away from using the words ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ because it seems like part of the whole idea was that our physical bodies always mirrored how we identified within.

And this was one of the first ironies I noticed in this whole affair, as I tried to work it out for myself.  The Christian world normally wanted to proclaim the existence of a soul, and the idea that there is more than just materialistic existence.  The non-Christian/secular world was generally more reductionistic-materialistic.  Yet suddenly, the Christians were saying, “No, the physical aspects of the body is all that there is.  If you have a penis you are fully and totally male.  If you have a vagina you are female.  All the way through.”  Meanwhile, the secular world was proclaiming that their is this non-material part of us, that might identify in a way that is not consistent with our biology.

This irony was only the first thing for me.  I think what happened next was the recognition that I and so many others had, as we began to recognize that literalistic understandings fall apart pretty quickly.  God, is of course, not physically male.  God is not embodied.

People can try and suggest that it is not about the physical.  They can try and suggest that there are differences in personality between men and women.  But here we return to the irony listed above.  Because now, the question to be answered becomes, “Well, what happens when that personality doesn’t match up with the biology of a person?”

Just as the first thoughts might seem pretty simple, “God is male.”  The first pages of the bible seem pretty straight forward to.  Because at first, as suggested above, God seems to make Adam first, in his image, and then Eve from Adam’s rib.  But a couple pages in, there is a director’s cut on the creation account.  And it seems that both Adam and Eve are made in God’s image.   God, it seems, has a feminine side.

Countless images in the bible build this case, comparing the creator to all manner of feminine images.  And this only stands to reason.  He is able to be everything good, all at once.   It seems like most people, most of the time, want to find themselves somewhere along the spectrum between 100% masculine and 100% feminine.  Some people move to different places over time.   But maybe this is the fundamental difference between God and humans.  God is everywhere on that spectrum at once.  Us little people, we, at any given time, are only occupying one little spot.



Ludwig and Jacob, at the Wreckage of the Tower of Babble

“My propositions are elucidatory in this way: he who understands me finally recognizes them as senseless, when he has climbed out through them, on them, over them. (He must so to speak throw away the ladder, after he has climbed up on it.)”

-Ludwig Wittgenstien


The hubris, of course, was aimed  upward,

And therefore was an easy thing to pull out of their tower and into His grasp.

Those great calloused sculptor-hands reshaped it into something new.


Ambition had been the organizing principle and the support structure of that project

Cracks spiderwebbed through the bricks.

Mortar, which held the promise of changing everything, dried

And released the blocks from its embrace.


There was a terrible, timeless time of silence.

A gentle swaying in a soft breeze, at first.

But the tower never returned to its baseline.

The noise came, then.  It was all noise, then.


Broken dreams and shattered bricks littered the ground.

They looked at each other with haunted eyes.

Unable to string together words of comfort,

They resorted to pantomime which was unequal to the task.


They left then,

In ones and twos and flocks.

They left then,

On foot and horse back and wagon.


It took a day and a second and a week.

The length of time it takes

To relive a life,

Flashing before the eyes.


Only two remained

In the wreckage of the tower of babylon.

Only two remained:

Ludwig, one was named.  Jacob, the other was named.


God looked down on them.

The hubris had grown warm in his hands.

The hubris had grown new in his hands.


Ludwig and Jacob built a ladder.

Each man built his own ladder.

Each man, worked together on the same ladder.

That ladder was a wave and a particle.


It stretched itself up, and up, and up to heaven itself.

But it had come with an invitation.

The angels began to run up and down.

Ludwig began to climb around them, and planned to kick it down when he reached the first cloud.


Wittgenstien’s Ladder

“My propositions are elucidatory in this way: he who understands me finally recognizes them as senseless, when he has climbed out through them, on them, over them. (He must so to speak throw away the ladder, after he has climbed up on it.)”

-Ludwig Wittgenstien


The long chambers of the particle accelator lay fallow.  

The rest of them had gone home.  

She turned off her computer.

The lights.  And locked the door behind her.


There were no more papers hiding

in the endless strings of data.

No peers to review it.

It was finished.


It had been a good life,

Given to science.

But now it was time for her to write a symphony

That was how she told the world all the things she had finally learned.



This rib cage

pushing outward with the inhalation.

There is this vista within.


In my beating heart.

In that fist-sized pound of muscle.

There is a wide open field.


There is a wide open field!

See that figure, there.  Not in the center.

The grasses all dance at his knee caps.


The clouds roll by slowly so far above him.

In this vista within me.

Where my rib cage opens wide and closes narrow, like a bellows.


Zoom in on the man in the field within me.

Close in on the center of his chest.

Pass through the fabric of his shirt.


Slide within his chest.

He breathes too.

Find that vista within him.


There is a field

There, too.

I stand in that place.

And also

And this flesh yielded

To the thorns,

And the nails.


I was

Stripped naked of pretense

and protection.


Hanging there before them.

With Christ

and yet on the thief’s cross beneath him.


And also,

meditating in my chair

on Christmas Eve morning.


I was so close

to being scourged by that pain.

My pain.  And yet it was held separate from me.


The ground reached up and wanted to pull me down.

It tore the flesh where the nails pierced me.

I am broken.


A song rose up and surrounded me.

A song.

Covered me.  Entered me through the holes in my hands.


And then it was gone.

And I was

I was more alone than ever before.


This, this is the way of things!

Three days dead and also forever.

And next, (There was a next!)


I was the song.




I have long loved the curves and swerves of your body.

As these years pass this is lessened only comparatively

as I find something which surpasses and runs deeper.

That is a fine reason to love.


But this  is what grows:

This love of your physicality

not so much as end unto itself

but because it is the location of you.


The ground that was scooped up and breathed into

was sacred before He breathed into it.

And it was made sacred as he breathed into it.

It is where you are.


Your body is the hole punctured through

the very stuff of space and time, (this dying world.)

It is how the light shines through

From somewhere else, magnificent.


They say that God entered the world.

And so did I.

And so did you.

This is a thing worthy of celebration!