Saturday, March 22, 2008

All Male Persons are Masculine, But not all Masculine Persons are Males (Or, God is not Male, but He is Masculine)

The obvious counter to my previous post would be that while Jesus and Paul are biologically male, thus making it inappropriate to refer to them with gender-neutral pronouns, God is spiritual and thus transcends biological categories. I agree that God transcends biological categories. But to state that God is biologically asexual is not the same as stating that God is gender-neutral. The feminist has wrongly conflated sexuality and gender, and therefore concluded that since God is not biologically male (which is granted by all) he must therefore not be masculine.

But what is masculinity and femininity? Is it strictly biological? Or does gender transcend biology? C. S. Lewis helpfully argues that while the terms “male” and “female” refer to biology, “masculine” and “feminine” are relational terms and can only be understood as such; one is only masculine in relation to another. Thus masculinity as a concept equates to dominance and autonomy, while femininity equates to deference and dependence. In other words, the masculine person is masculine precisely because he occupies a position of greater autonomy and power in relation to another. In as much as we—mere creatures—occupy a position of dependence in relation to God, it is appropriate for us to view him and speak of him in masculine categories.

But is it correct to equate masculinity with power and autonomy? Indeed. The obvious appeal is to the natural world. With a few exceptions, the males of a given species are more physically dominant than the females. In many instances, particularly in mammals, the female of a species is in large measure dependent upon the male for protection, both from other species, and from males of the same species. This has been no less true for humans throughout much of our history. Nor should it be lost on us that this disparity of power between males and females is the way God designed it (and for good reason). So creation itself teaches us to equate masculinity/maleness with power and autonomy and our natural tendency to do so is perfectly understandable. (It is worth stating here, however, that creation does not teach us how to use power and autonomy--for that we look to Christ.)

It is not without consequence therefore, that God, when wishing to convey who he is in relation to his creation referrers to himself using primarily male language and imagery. God is neither male nor female. But he is masculine, and has taken pains to reveal himself as such.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Gee - I bet you're a guy - Didn't see Jesus running around exerting all this masculine power so I guess he must have have a feminine male