I've Been Thinking...

I’VE BEEN THINKING........ about the male character of God. In this day and age male and female roles are getting confused and mixed in ways that affect us all. The other day I was in the waiting room of the dentist and a child was playing on the floor. The mother was not in the room but there was a grandmother-type lady that wanted to talk to the child. Unfortunately none of us could tell if the child was a girl or a boy. The grandmother asked several times, “Are you a girl?” “Are you a boy?” The child made no answer. I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of self image is growing in that child’s mind. When the mother came in, we found out the child was a girl.

When I was a child it was easier to tell. Men were supposed to be strong, tough, somewhat unfeeling , and often bossy and have short hair. Women were to be gentle, kind, caring and seemed to carry the larger load of family responsibilities.

Then the sixties and seventies came when men grew their hair long and took up dancing and stringing beads, while they took less family responsibility. Women demanded their rights and attempted every job opportunity no matter how dangerous or physically difficult. Now the school nurse might be a man and the plumber might well be a women, though it’s often hard to know which is which without medical records.

Children grow up seeing adults in all kinds of lifestyles, but seldom as clear role models. Huge numbers of children have never known a real father, a real mother, a real grandparent. They are raised by society much like I raised rabbits when I was a boy. The whole situation leaves confusion, insecurity, and indecisiveness throughout their entire lives. The past stereotypes were not healthy either, every generation reflects a fallen world. But God seems to have something to say about His world and ours, since He has chosen to be identified as a Father and calls us into “His” kingdom, not into “her” kingdom or the kingdom of the “god person”.

I’ve given this a lot of thought and I’ve come to a few conclusions. First of all, I believe God is in truth a perfect mother and a perfect father. I don’t believe He is either male or female, like in our world, but the sum total of everything perfect of both. Jesus said in heaven we will be neither male nor female but like the angels.

However, God made our world to be a limited copy of His infinite world. From the beginning He had to simplify and make some decisions as to what to put in and what to leave out. He chose to make male and female people for the differences that it provided and as a visual example of a larger portion of Himself. One type of person could have been enough for reproduction and family life, if that had been God’s plan.

But God is so clever, He likes to do things in puzzles, where the pieces fit together to form a bigger picture that continually challenges and leads us to more of Himself. By creating male and female people, He established another concept of marriage and covenant and family structure using the differences as the basis. Now these concepts could have been introduced in another way I’m sure. The point is not that it’s impossible to have a family of all male or all female members. The point is God is saying something about the design of our world as it compares to Him. There is a true reality, and are we willing to embrace it?

God made the male, Adam, first, and God Himself uses that identity. God is male in image, because He came first. He is before all things. He is our strength, our protector, our source. Jesus always called God his father, never his mother, though certainly he was well aware of the mothering aspect of God. The mothering quality is described in the Bible. But God’s identity remains our Father all the same.

Second God made the female, Eve, to tell us there is more in store. A man by himself is a poor shadow of the true living God. There is another whole perspective that we dare not miss or the world would become one big stinking locker room, where the strongest bully always hogs the ball. God forbid!

Then He puts man and woman together, and children and families and grandparents and covenant relationships are all born and created. And the picture of God’s kingdom is stretched to new dimensions. Wow! We are apart of something big and ingenious!

In it all God identifies Himself as Father, King, Ruler, and..... male. Why? There must be a clear purpose I believe. I think God from the beginning intended to say something about the nature of Himself and His kingdom, as well as who we are. God is called He, Him, and Father because the leadership and strength is to come through the male side of society. This is not to say women are unable and should not be allowed to have leadership and physical power. But it does say we must train our young boys to be like God, strong, protecting , providing, able to live as an example of righteousness in a wicked world.

Jesus also has made it clear that marriage is a model of the relationship between Himself and the universal church. He is the Prince, we are to be the princes. He is the bridegroom, we are to become a beautiful bride, in order to become the eternal partners we are meant to be. Our decisions and lifestyles do matter; weddings matter, style of marriages matter, male and female roles matter.

There is a pattern to which we should conform and then reflect into the world. It’s not that life will cease to be if we just live and let live. But our eternal message will die, our influence to demonstrate spiritual absolutes will be nonexistent. To fear God is to desire to be consistent to the pattern, to avoid missing the mark, or become a reflection of a distortion.

I enjoy being male, as I have found my redemption in Christ. I also adore the feminine qualities, which I do not have, that seem to be like a mystery, and more wonderful than the abilities I do possess. I hold this in highest honor. Yet, God is my Father, not because He is by nature male in His make up. But He is the one to whom all final responsibilities and judgments and mercy must fall.

I can not learn who God is by looking at myself. I must rather learn who I am by seeing God in all His fullness. Then my share of His image is a gift, which I joyfully carry in humility, never to be used like a tyrant or to destroy. This message desperately needs to be proclaimed today. It is my desire, in some small way to live it out as a demonstration.

© 2002, Warren Okerman