The other day my fifth-grader and I were discussing the overwrought testimony of a particular Supreme Court nominee. We agreed that his inability to remain calm and answer the actual questions he was asked demonstrated that he wasn’t cut out for the position. That’s not a judgment about his background, private behavior, or intellect, but about the extreme emotion and entitlement he displayed under pressure.
How we behave under pressure betrays our true beliefs, our settled character.
Then my child observed that men’s anger and self-justification isn’t seen as emotion, but women’s is. As are tears, sorrow, compassion…
The conversation moved to the differences between sex (a biological construct) and gender (a psychosocial idea) and why biological men can be seen as feminine and women as masculine.
Which led me to the Bible and my kid to her homeroom.
The God of contemporary evangelicalism looks a lot like a caricature of YHWH (God as portrayed in their Old Testament). The God of contemporary evangelicalism is petty. Self-defensive. Angry.
That God is a conspiracy theorist: He is in pitched battle with an unseen enemy who has secret control over everybody.
That God is misunderstood: He must be defended and promoted at every turn. That God’s brutality and viciousness is righteous: He is merely responding to the betrayal and lies of His lessers.
The God of contemporary evangelicalism is, clearly, masculine.
And that God looks a whole lot like a certain Supreme Court nominee.
I’ve heard that in the garden of Gethsemane and on the cross, when Jesus cries out, he wasn’t really expressing weakness, but was instead fighting with the devil. As if wishing there were another way, or feeling loss and pain during your execution, was beneath his dignity as God.
That only makes sense if your God is uber-masculine, as in Mel Gibson’s The Passion Of The Christ, with ripped-abs Jesus.
Jesus in the Bible cries. Grieves. Mourns. Heals. Loves.
Jesus may have had a penis, but Jesus was feminine, according to the psychosocial constructs of gender to which we tend to adhere.
Come to think of it, that may be why you get a lot more quotes from the apostle Paul in evangelical churches than you do from Jesus. Paul was educated, a Roman citizen, of noble birth. He started out as a zealous murderer, and became a zealot-for-Jesus who rejoiced in his suffering.
So when contemporary evangelicals support men like the nominee, or seem to look past unhinged masculine responses, remember that that is what God looks like to them.
And why we’re hearing so little from the holy One who cried out from the cross and believed women.