This past weekend, I was back in Ohio attending a wedding. It was the most traditional ceremony I had been to. The first wedding I attened, my cousin’s, had Christian themes but did not make religion the focus. My own wedding, while fairly traditional in the Jewish sense, incorporated a few non-Jewish elements, largely for the benefit of my non-Jewish family. But my friend’s wedding was straight-up Protestant Christian, very traditional. I was a little surprised, given that both members of the couple are very liberal, and when at home in Virginia, they attend a very liberal church (not Unitarian; it’s definitely straigh-up Christian, but still really liberal). But I suppose the traditional aspects were meaningful to them. And anyway, it gave me a lot to think about.
First, I realized that, even if I believed in a god, and I believed that all the Jesus mythology was real, I don’t think I could ever be a member of an organized religion because there is so much I disagree with on a philosophical level. Throughout the ceremony, there were prayers and hymns that emphasized the idea of two people becoming one. That just does not sit right with me. I am an individual; my partner is an individual. He does not “complete” me, nor I him. We are not one unit because we are married; we are two different people forming a partnership and working together to make ourselves and each other happy. We don’t amalgamate into one person, not even “spiritually.” We’re independent; we just happen to love each other, trust each other, live together, and share resources. It’s like having a roommate, but better.
The other thing that I have been pondering is the idea that a god has a gender. In this ceremony, the minister emphasized over and over that the Christian god is masculine. When I attended synagogue with my partner, the Jewish god was considered masculine. I’m pretty sure Allah is considered masculine. So basically, in all of the monotheistic religions I know of, the god is a man. But the idea of god as a man does not make sense to me for the following reasons:
- I think that, if a god existed, that god should be genderless. I don’t have any really logical reason for thinking so. It just seems to me that a deity would transcend gender. When I think about this, I think about a bumper sticker I’ve seen around that says: “God is too big to fit into one religion” (or something along those lines). As an extension of that, I would think that a god would be too big to fit into narrow conventions and ideas about sex and gender. Isn’t a god supposed to be able to “transcend” base mortal desires and death? Shouldn’t that god then be able to transcend the constraints that gender places on all members of society, male and female? If we recognize that gender is socially constructed, but believe that a god is natural (and not the product of human imagination), then why does that god have to be bound to base, man-made concepts of behavior and identity?
- If, for some reason, a god exists and that got MUST have a sex/gender, doesn’t it make more sense that that god should be female. Deities tend to be responsible for the creation of the universe, earth, and humankind, right? Well . . . in nature, it’s the female of the species that creates life. So why wouldn’t the deity who created life also be female? I suppose the argument could be made that, at least in the monotheistic religions, the god does not produce the world sexually, so therefore the god does not necessarily have to be female. But, at least on earth, things that produce asexually (amoebas, bacteria, cells, etc.) do not have gender; they do not have genitalia. So therefore if a god produced the world asexually, doesn’t that further the case for deities being genderless?
Crossposted at This is What a Feminist Blogs Like