As you all know, it is March and that can only mean one thing: Women’s History Month. I’ve decided to show my support for women with a refutation of the religious oppression of women, as well as an exploration into the right way to personify God.
The Problem of God’s Manhood
It is not much of a secret that the Christian church has had a long and spirited history with how to handle the problem of women. Men had already taken the political, social, and economic power, and left women with household management and child rearing. This distributing of societal standards set the precedent of which women will have to combat for almost 2000 years. With the rise of Judaism and Christianity in the West (as well as Islam in the East), a golden opportunity appeared to ensure that men would maintain power over women.
In the story of creation from the Old Testament: God created Man in His own image; the woman was created in Man’s image. It is very interesting that people often overlook the overt sexism that is in the first couple pages of Genesis. Aside from the numerous instances as God being personified as a man, which I will address in the coming paragraphs, God created man first, and then created a woman for the man. The story of creation in the Old Testament was a way for men to exercise their claims that men are closer to God than women.
To keep my point manageable, I will not refer directly to the almost enumerable passages about ‘womanservents,’ slave girls,’ and ‘multiple wives in a household,’ or the passages stating that men rule over women, but please note that I am not pulling these connections between female oppression and the Bible out of thin air.
God is thought to being an ultimate, supreme, and perfect being; with qualities of Omnipotence, Omnibenevolence, and Omniscience. This description has held true through more than two millennia (though questioned by many Christian philosophers), and is one of the first pieces of propaganda that children are taught in Sunday school. God is also said to have human characteristics and traits, based largely on the depiction of God in the Bible, such as love, compassion, morality, and jealousy. God is the creator, the judge, the jury, and in many cases, the executioner. God is also a man.
Aside from the obvious paradoxes that come from combining any of these traits into one being (such as a being that is all-powerful and all-good trying to perform an action that is immoral), the assertion that God is a man, or has any trait of manhood has no logical expounder.
To give God a gender is to say that one gender is more God-like than another Gender. This is to say that one gender, manhood, is more Godly than women, therefore, should hold dominion over the other. However, many Christian and non-Christian philosophers, including St. Thomas Aquinas have decided that it is impossible for human beings (finite), to understand or comprehend God’s essence (infinite).
For these reasons, we can reasonably toy with the notion that the story in Genesis and the conviction that God is a man are purely propaganda pieces used to oppress the rights of women for whatever the necessary end.
The End of Religious Chauvinism
Is it not possible that if a new monotheistic religion, like Christianity or Judaism were invented today, that the God would personified as a woman?
We understand that the Middle East, circa 200 B.C.E. was not a particularly friendly place for women. However, now, in the West, women enjoy many of the same rights as men. Women are known to be physically inferior to men’s strength and muscle mass, but women are shown to have a higher capacity than men in many academic settings.
These facts have led us to a society in which women are thought of as more equal to men than ever before. Though it must be conceded that women are not considered completely equal to men yet, (women have less opportunity and are paid less in professional settings than men), women are more to our modern civilizations than they have been to any in history.
Women are also the leaders of the household in many homes in our modern societies. Due to broken homes, a drastic shift in gender roles, and the growing acceptance of homosexuality over the last twenty years, women have become as entrenched in political, social, and economic roles that were until recently, left only to men. With these changes, the necessity for a monotheistic God to be a man in order for the religion to be socially acceptable is nullified. This means that our modern societies could accept a female God.
If we may look at the traits that I mentioned earlier, which are given to the Judeo-Christian God, we see three main characteristics: Omnipotence, Omnibenevolence, and Omniscience. A new monotheistic God must have these three traits in order to compare to current God that is perpetuated by the three modern monotheistic religions. Our new Goddess must have the traits of Infinite Goodness, Infinite Power, and Infinite Knowledge.
It is not hard to believe that our Goddess could be infinitely good/moral. By our modern societal standards, women are just as moral as men, and less akin to immoral actions of the flesh. There is a discrepancy that could be argued: The social taboo of women being “sluts” or “whores” could be used as a counterpoint to my point. However, those terms are a result of a male-driven society and do not hold up to scrutiny.
Our Goddess could also easily be with infinite knowledge. I argued in an earlier paragraph that women do score higher than men on many academic tests that measure the capacity for learning and understanding in many subject. Therefore, if a male God could be all knowing, so could a female God.
The status of an all-powerful female God could be disputed by a chauvinist. It cannot be defamed that men are stronger than women physically. Even so, women, and mothers in particular are the force that give children everything that they need to grow into adulthood. That is a power that cannot be denied.
Thus far, we have decided that in modern western society, a female monotheistic God is just as possible as a male monotheistic God, but I have not made a claim that would decide for certain that our new God would necessarily be personified as a woman.
Consider this: God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent. These traits are common with a monotheistic God’s essence. However, the original purpose of primitive culture’s beliefs in Gods is the explanation of world around us, and before modern science, the answer to how we got here; a creator. This is how we can know our new monotheistic Goddess will not be hijacked by men and used for oppression.
Women are the creators of life. Women harbor the necessary tools for reproduction, in which a new life is produced from the previous form of life. Is this not what the story of creation in any religious tradition is about?
Without the social, political, economic, and household stigmas that held women oppressed for thousands of years, we can be certain of one thing: Our new monotheistic god will not be an oppressive and jealous oaf that must have a pissing contest with any of the creations that defy Him. Our Goddess will be loving, compassionate, and caring, like a cosmic-mother and creator should be.