Toward an Inclusive Incarnation: Easter and Male Divinity

A ViewPoint by Dr. Christy Sim

Mother Nature Illustration by ArborelzaEaster is a time that brings me torment and pain.

During this season, I become all too aware, deep within my being, that what I believe doesn’t match up with the societal conventions playing out around me. I feel pushed aside and ignored.

Easter weekend is a time when most Christians are focused exclusively on a male divine being. And as I watch what is going on around me, I feel so alone in insisting we need to believe in divinity who is not just like a woman (eagle mother, woman in labor, etc.) but who is female, transgender, gender fluid, gender queer, and male as well.

I’m talking about needing an ontological and biological incarnation of the feminine and more; a divine who is all of us. Who is not an analogy (like a woman) but who is all of us, all genders. Even on Easter weekend, I insist on knowing God is not just like every woman, transgender, or gender queer person on the planet. I insist God is us.

Easter, as it is commonly understood, is a celebration Jesus’ exemplary actions, his crucifixion and resurrection. Jesus, the male incarnation of God, gets put above every non-male person. No matter how much I want to just fall in with tradition, no matter how much I want to be “normal,” I can find no rest for my heart in thinking I am a completely different biological and ontological being than was God’s incarnation.

I think Jesus was awesome. Amazing, even. But I find it hard to focus on his actions and life because our religious society has over-validated the fact that a man was God, and God was a man. To most people, it is inconceivable that a woman could be God incarnate, that an intersex person could be God incarnate, that a trans person or a differently gendered person could be God incarnate. There is only one conceivable reality for most people: God incarnate was male. Only that one person. Only that one time.

And that’s why Easter is painful for me. I am constantly reminded how few people believe someone like me, like the rest of us, could be a biological body of the Christian God.

During the Easter season, because I feel overwhelmed by the glorification of God in a male (only) body, I feel pushed out of the tradition and history I was born into, the tradition that I once gave my life to entirely.

I’m not comforted by people pointing to images of how God is like a woman in labor. No. I want to hear how God is Herself in labor. God is not like me in labor, God is me in labor.

This is what men hear when people say Jesus, a male, is God. I want that for all of us.

Easter, it seems, isn’t the time most people want to entertain hard questions about Jesus, God, and gender. And in raising these questions, I risk being written off as a wacko feminist who knows nothing of God and questions the wrong things at the wrong time.

Yet this is the time I feel these profound questions of being tearing at me.

While many things are more permissible for deconstruction these days (from evolution to an authoritarian image of the divine), God, Jesus, and gender still feels decidedly off limits. Don’t question what it means that a man saved us from sin; don’t question what it means that it was a man who died for humanity; and don’t question why it is a man who promises to raise us all in the same way.

No. There’s no space for me in traditional Easter. There’s no space for lots of us in traditional Easter.

And so this weekend, I grieve. I cry out. I lament.

But from my grief and lamentations, my divine, the one who is not other but is all of us, will emerge, to soothe my soul, with visions of the divine in labor with all creation, displaying a fierce feminine strength, and I will find our hope and freedom in the certainty that God incarnate is Omnigender, not just male.

© 2016 by Christy Sim and Christian Feminism Today

Rev. Dr. Christy Sim
Christy graduated from St. Paul’s School of Theology in Kansas with a doctorate in Global Health and Wholeness. Her main area of research was in healing after domestic violence, and her dissertation was titled Body, Theology, and Intimate Partner Violence: Healing Fragmentation through Spiritual Play. She also holds an M.Div. from Nazarene Theological Seminary in Kansas City and is listed in the Scientific Reviewer and Adviser database for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as an expert in Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Teen Dating Violence. In June, 2018, she helped organize the "For Such a Time as This Rally," speaking outside the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting, encouraging pastors and ministry leaders to respond to domestic violence and sexual assault in trauma-informed and survivor-centered ways. Her new book Survivor Care: What Religious Professionals Need to Know about Healing Trauma will come out in spring 2019 (Wesley Foundry Books).

1 COMMENT

  1. You unknowingly answered a question I’ve had recently…do some feminists see Jesus Christ as female as well as God? While it makes sense that the answer would be “yes” because of the trinity, I have not quite reached that point. Is it that I don’t truly believe in the trinity? That’s a good question. Something I guess I need to ponder more.

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