The possibilities of how God will resolve the tendency of male human beings to resist surrendering to Divine Authority while preferring to assert their own ego’s impotent but prideful authority are numerous, perhaps infinite. So, if you don’t like the ideas I offer here, please don’t fret. Make up your own alternative solution. If you use your imagination to listen intently to the Spirit that is always sharing wisdom and truth about love within your heart, you’ll find your own story to tell of how God will with men indwell.
My idea is based on looking at things oddly. For example, most people have interpreted the fact that Jesus came into the world as a male as indicating that God favors men over women. Many interpretations of sacred teachings from many paths of faith have indulged in this same kind of error to justify male dominance of human societies (and, not surprisingly, to justify reserving to men the role of interpreting sacred scriptures as extra protection against loss of male privileges). I interpret the fact of Jesus’ human maleness differently. I see in that fact a God who tackles the most challenging, stubborn problems head on and does not avoid them. I see a God who seeks to lift the whole of the human race out of our attachment not to sin but to suffering by converting traditionally aggressive members of the race into superlative healers of all forms of harm. We’ve been suffering escalating pain for so many millennia that we are psychologically bonded to suffering as if it is part of our identity. Unless we’re presented with a clear alternative we cannot even imagine living without suffering. The best we can imagine is avoiding as much suffering personally as we can avoid while shifting suffering onto other people’s plates and off of ours. We cannot imagine an end to suffering for everyone.
Yet, God can imagine it. In fact, God wills an end to suffering for everyone and has set a plan in motion to bring that end into reality here on Earth. We might call it God’s totally (that is, free) Affordable Care Act or Universal Healthcare policy. God’s plan involves sharing God’s immunity to harm and suffering with us, all of us. To set the Divine Plan in motion, he introduced an example of a starkly clarifying alternative into the human experience that stands in complete contrast to the human race’s normal experience. That contrast is Jesus, not a contrast because he’s God while we are not but a contrast because he’s totally one with the human race while refusing to be a clone or copy of stereotypical maleness as defined by any human culture. Witness, for example, that unlike men in most cultures, Jesus did not try to prove his masculinity by fathering children or prove his superiority by running roughshod over others. Instead he showed that we are all God’s children and demonstrated what that looks like. He exercised his power not to show himself off as superior but to show us all upward to God as our unconditionally loving Superior Parent.
Normally, male humans are more likely to inflict physical pain and suffering on others than women are. Because men are, on average, larger bodied than women, they tend to cause more pain, sometimes out of awkwardness towards smaller bodied humans such as women, children and smaller bodied men and sometimes quite intentionally to try to demonstrate external superiority while internally (in their secret heart of hearts) feeling quite the opposite in their undisclosed feelings of inferiority. Jesus confronted male stereotypes of social superiority by showing what true superiority on divine terms looks and acts like and teaching that all men as well as women and children have equal opportunity to access the same Diving Power. God is an equal opportunity deployer of Divine Power, so Jesus says.
In human cultures, women are more likely to be involved in comforting the “little ones” and those who suffer and trying to relieve pain and suffering if they can. Most human cultures distinguish masculinity and femininity based on factors like softness, gentleness, compassion and cooperation. In most cultures women are permitted to be softer, gentler and more compassionate and cooperative than men. Social training reinforced by rewards of social approval for successfully conforming to stereotypes shapes men into inflictors of pain because socially aggressive males are rated as more manly than less socially aggressive ones. Most societies reserve derogatory names like “wimp,” “sissy” and “coward” for those boys and men who are reluctant to engage in aggressive behaviors and shy away from inflicting or experiencing pain. To be a “real man” means to inflict and endure pain without flinching – and without crying.
To counteract this social prejudice in favor of casting men as sources of pain and suffering, God decided that the expression God would use to exemplify Divine Love and Grace in human form had to be a male. God chose the least likely candidate through whom to express Divine Grace and Mercy – a man. Had God chosen a woman to reveal Divine Qualities and Power, the human race would not have been so shocked. It had to be a man through whom God manifested the Divine as a Supremely Gentle Nurturer and Healer. So, in the man Jesus, God man-infected the human body to start the ball rolling. God infected Jesus with the power to not only “do no harm” but also to heal all harm that had already occurred. In doing so, God challenged the human race to think differently at the core of our assumptions and social constructs about issues like gender identity and stereotypes of masculinity and femininity. He emphasized the absurdity of casting God as a stereotypical male figure as if God has a human body. (Given God’s lack of a body with sexual traits, God’s qualities are more likely to be associated with androgyny than with either extreme of masculinity or femininity.)
Since being confronted by the Jesus model of manhood, men have variously faced and/or avoided the challenge of being like Jesus in all of his qualities and letting go of all socially reinforced but nevertheless incompatible ideas about what it means to be a man. That challenge goes right to the heart of social assumptions that are rooted in the greater size and physical strength of the average man’s body in comparison to women’s bodies and in the fact of penetration by men to accomplish the act of sexual reproduction. Women by physical nature and reproductive function are defined by their bodies as softer, smaller and more receptive of penetration than a source of penetration. When men identify with their bodies’ traits and functions, they are led away from identifying with the process of submitting or surrendering their lives to God in service according to God’s will. Yet, the opportunity of men to serve God awaits in our allowing God to be in charge and allowing God to plant seeds of inspiration to gestate and come into fullness of time through male lives. Images like being the Bride of Christ simply offend the socially reinforced standards for being a “real man.”
The ego, not exclusively a male tradition but prevalent throughout the human race, can be seen as a set of defenses against the truth of God’s plan to call us back home as Divine Children. In 12-step programs, it is said that EGO stands for “edging God out.” Jesus demonstrated how to allow God to edge back into our lives by opening our hearts and minds to the transforming power of the Spirit of Truth and Love that Jesus promised would be ever present with us to guide and comfort us. Often this Spirit is cast as feminine in nature. Imagine how contrary to a male’s upbringing it may be to allow a feminine power to be in charge and to enter into the depth of his being to create new life! I believe that such a total reversal of male functions is a major obstacle for men in our quest for experiences of God. We simply desire to be in charge and have a hard time admitting that God already is in charge. Let us ponder in our hearts the reality of the Spirit’s abiding presence there and keep things simple by accepting as truth what is already true.
As I said at the beginning, if you don’t like my ideas, please feel free to contemplate at length to come up with ones of your own. It’s worth our weight in gold to come forth as gold after suffering as Job suffered.
© Art Nicol 2015