by Teresa Roberts
When I was growing up in a religious cult, I never thought for one moment to question whether god was a man. After all, in our house, my father reigned supreme as his god had intended all males to do. My mom, however, was a rather stubborn woman according to him. It was often necessary for him to subdue her. She didn’t always comply to his wishes and that caused a great deal of religious tension in the household in addition to all the other angst and terror that a holy god brings to a family controlled by an iron fist.
Once, my mom became so angry that she bit my dad’s nose. They were having one of their rows over scripture and how much in submission a woman needed to be in order to please her husband, I mean god. My dad was a bit of a philanderer, but he blamed that on my mom, too. After all, if she’d only been a better wife, more compliant and supportive to him as head of house, he might not have been driven to seek solace and companionship elsewhere. The nose biting left him with teeth marks to which he applied red mercurochrome for days, a constant reminder of how violent their argument had been. Eventually, long after I’d left home to find my place in the civilian world, my mom also left the church.
For the rest of their lives, my parents worshipped two different gods.
Out of respect to my dad, she rarely attended a service elsewhere while my dad remained in his position as pastor to his own flock without my mom to assist him. Eventually, my grandma came to live with my mom and dad. She was a devout woman of god but a different god altogether than either one my parents served. She’d actually been drawn to the Pentecostal religion years ago and supposedly talked in tongues now and again. She lived with my parents for over a decade. All three of them deeply religious but unable to fellowship with one another. Each sanctimoniously serving a different god, but here’s the catch. All three gods were men.
You got it! God, no matter which god, is always a man.
Of course, all gods are fictitious characters concocted by human imagination. There are almost as many descriptions of gods as there are humans to create them. Some gods are loving and interested in human activity. They never malign our endeavors but instead are there to assist us, a lot of support with few demands. This god tends to focus on love rather than punishment. He’s like a personal assistant to the stars while each human calling upon him for support is playing a leading role in their own stage production of This is My Life. From getting the next job to finding a mate to buying the perfect home, the god that these believers call upon when they need something — anything — is a thoroughly likable chap. Could he be a woman? Nope! This god is a man, an enlightened male perhaps but a man nonetheless.
Now the god that I grew up with was a vengeful god not a Snowflake god at all.
You’d better watch your step with this guy, because if you slip up, if you let him down, you could end up in a burning lake of fire for eternity. All gods are voyeurs but this god was particularly nasty in that department, He monitored your thoughts as well as your actions while personal desires were always suspect. Your imperfections were constantly being analyzed and thrown in your face. No matter how hard you tried, you were told that you were basically unworthy and that without god to do practically everything for you, you’d most certainly fail. For all intents and purposes this particular god could fit the stereotypical description of a petty female a few days before her time of the month, but no … she’s still a he.
The warrior god of the Old Testament most certainly is a man.
There is no way that women could slay thousands with the jawbone of an ass. That kind of valor, strength and ability to meet danger without blinking has clearly been assigned to men even in secular literature. So although women may have slunk around in the dark corners of history doing brave things to save humanity, they will continue to remain anonymous and god will always be the male super hero.
What about the god that begat a son with a woman?
This next bit can get a tad confusing. This god, we are told, had a son by a human woman, but the son and the father were really one and the same. And, as if that’s not tricky enough, there was a ghost that rounded out the godhead. Yep! the one true god is actually two parts male, one part ghost but zero part female.
It seems that it was better to have a ghost occupying the third head of power rather than a woman.
The good people who stick with this confusing story would no doubt argue that there is no way that god could be a woman because only a he is capable of planting a seed, his holy seed no less, in a virgin. Being a virgin was apparently highly prized otherwise how could this god be sure the baby was really his. What if the baby wasn’t his? Why the boy could grow up to be an imposter. What a ghastly outcome. This god never thought for one moment, however, that he’d be better off sacrificing a daughter to save the world. Saviors apparently must be male, too. I’m sorry if this last god is confusing. It was almost impossible to write such a fantastical story without becoming confused myself. Suffice it to say, the god of three entities, well, all three of them are the same MAN.
Surprise, surprise, surprise.
Some of my readers by now may have gotten a chuckle out of the above descriptions. I freely admit that the wannabe standup comic in me enjoyed writing them. The point, however, to this comic exercise was to cleverly bring to the reader’s attention the fact that believers in the Christian sphere of mythical gods and ghosts have rarely if ever created a female god. The belief that god is a guy is a foregone conclusion within Christian culture. To consider otherwise is barely worthy of debate.
Does it matter? Does anyone even care?
It seems to matter very little to neither liberal, conservative nor radical Christians that an entire belief system is based on the premise that the universe is run by a man. Even most women accept this as, uh, um, you know, the gospel. Culturally, it has given credence to male privilege based on superiority.
This particular ideology has made men the head of house, head of country and head of companies for a long time.
Positions of power and thus more opportunity, wealth and autonomy have been automatically given to males. We still haven’t had a female president in this country. It looks like I’m probably going to go to my grave without seeing that happen.
I don’t believe in any of the gods and for lots of reasons other than the glaring fact that someone, somewhere decided to make god a man.
Choosing to not believe, however, isn’t enough to protect me, my daughter and granddaughter from old, outdated harmful ideas. Religious indoctrination is so enmeshed in our cultural psyches that whether you’re a believer or not, these insidious myths continue to influence equality in a social world that could be evolving at a much faster pace. Most people most of the time don’t even realize that our culture clings to ideas that prevent progress.
Furthermore, liberal Christians in their persistence to hang on to the Bible as a basis for their faith are contributing to the very thing that they say they want to change in society — inequality.
More and more, they must apologize for the old ideas in the Bible, a book that they consider to be a source of wisdom at the very least and the word of a god at best. Secular society has moved well beyond the wisdom of the Bible. Our daughters want to take their rightful place in the world as autonomous, free-thinking and opportunity-seeking human beings.
Is god a man? Of course, he is.
He’s the epitome of self-centered manhood, but I contend not a good example for my son to emulate. There are much better men in the real world than gods have ever been.
Teresa Roberts, author of Have We Been Screwed? Trading Freedom for Fairy Tales.
June 9, 2018
This essay first appeared in Debunking Christianity blog by John Loftus and has been reprinted here at the request of the author.