The “Feminized” Jesus

Jesus SupermanLieutenant General William G. “Jerry” Boykin, now with the Family Research Council, wants to be like the Jesus who was a “man’s man,” who had “big, bulging biceps” and “smelled bad.”  Nothing is stopping him, but he’s nevertheless concerned with the “feminized” way Jesus often gets portrayed.  You know, without massive muscles. Not a tough guy.  “But we feminize Jesus in the church,” he complains, “and men can’t identify with him anymore, not the kind of men I want to hang out with. They can’t identify with this effeminate Jesus that we’ve tried to portray.”

You’ll notice that, for Boykin, the key to identifying with Jesus is the Son of God’s masculinity.  Or rather Boykin’s idea of masculinity. My wife, an artist, has worked with wood and stone; her labor, sweat, and muscles don’t make her masculine.  These aren’t defining characteristics of gender.

You’ll also notice that Boykin is only interested here in men and their relationship with Jesus. He’s letting everyone know that he doesn’t like the “effeminate Jesus” because its harmful to men.  Or so he opines.  Whether or not people who are not his “kind of men” can better relate to Jesus by way of feminine symbols, or masculine symbols that don’t meet his approval, is irrelevant to him.  Identifying with the real Jesus is about being a real man.

I might call this defensive gender ideology as Christianity.  It’s not about Jesus or about God or about identifying with symbols of the divine.  It’s about discomfort with changing gender norms.  Boykin has a very narrow (and false) sense of what qualifies as masculine, and he doesn’t like that Jesus has been portrayed in the church outside of his idea of masculinity.  The Jesus of the church isn’t a man he wants to hang out with.  Too effeminate.  Too feminized.

In Christian theology, God incarnated as a man, but God is neither man nor woman. The Scriptures speak of God in both masculine and feminine terms.  Mostly masculine, true, but consider the social context in which the texts were written.  These terms are starting points, not the end all be all of God, whose infinite inscrutability makes all these terms somewhat nonsensical anyway.  If Boykin wants to grow closer to God, I’d recommend that he expand his symbolism and understanding of gender rather than restrict these to his comfort zone.  The encounter with God really shouldn’t be comfortable.  And not wanting to hang out with men who identify with the feminine doesn’t speak well to one’s moral character.

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29 thoughts on “The “Feminized” Jesus

  1. Back in the 90’s (sigh, how I miss them), I remember reading a theological discussion of how Christ’s torments on the cross itself gave him feminine insight into how women live.

    The spear, for example, gave insight into penetrative sex. The blood and water that flowed from his side gave insight into menstruation.

    I admit: I didn’t buy it.


    • Well, and he must’ve been fairly tough, if the accounts of the pre-crucifixion events are true. After the flogging and carrying the crossbar to the hill, I’d have probably been dead before the nails went in.


      • I choose to believe most of the moneychangers were fleeing because they weren’t used to seeing some enraged lunatic with a whip running around knocking tables over, and were waiting for the temple guards to show up and subdue him so they could get back to their business. Chances are all the moneychangers weren’t in very good shape themselves.


      • From the Jewish perspective, Jesus behavior at the Temple with the moneychangers was a sign that he was a dangerous heretic.* The Tanakh explictily stated that the tithe to the Temple must be given in shekels, a specific type of coin. The Jewish Diaspora meant that many different types of coins were being brought by Jewish pilgrims during the Pesach festival in order to pay the tithe. The money lenders were there to change the coins into shekels for the purpose of the tithe.

        *Until the 20th century, the traditonal Jewish view of Jesus was to see him as a sort of cult leader.


  2. Is this anything new?

    It seems like I hear stories about this every few years in the media about a pastor or some other figure who thinks hippie Jesus is bad and wants to recreate masculine Christianity. Usually this guy is associated with the evangelical/fundamentalist movement.


  3. This trend goes beyond Christianity. Most religions with a central figure; be it Jesus, the Prophet, Buddha, or Zoroaster make frequent references to the gentleness or kindness of their central figures. The problem is that gentleness isn’t highly valued in many societies, especially if your a man. A lot of people end up trying to square the circle by creating a masculinized version of their founder.


  4. While he’s at it Boykin can redact out the stuff about being compassionate to the poor and welcoming sinners into the inner circles and seeing moral worth in the actions of traditional ethnic and cultural rivals. Just leave in the parts where Jesus KICKS ASS!

    The last step will be giving this God His original name back: “Herakles.” Nothing wrong with worshipping Herakles (and calling him “Jesus” too). It’s Boykin’s right as an American to do so if he wishes.


  5. to be fair, most religious believers do this. liberal christians think god is fairly liberal, etc.

    however, also to be fair, boykin has the added advantage of being super hilarious.


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