In Whose Image?

Christina Engela's picture



Elton John was recently reported as having received a death threat for describing Jesus as a "compassionate, super-intelligent gay man who understood human problems" - fine so let's see who is brave enough to send me a death threat for agreeing with him, even just on principle. Come on, let's have it then. Let's see how brave you are.

It's amazing that a person that represents selfless love and sacrifice and with whom everyone is encouraged to identify, can also inspire the strangest and most violent reactions to how other people identify with him.

While some people may love to imagine themselves as God, I imagine God might well have issues regarding looking like some people. But then, God is God after all, and doesn't think like we do - and that is one of the characteristics of an all-powerful supernatural being - and that is being beyond mortal understanding.

By this I mean that even people we think of as evil and generally not very nice people (such as bigots, haters and murderers - and yes, even right wing homophobic preachers *shudder*) are made in God's image. Although sometimes I am tempted to add "any resemblance to God is purely coincidental".

I mean, we are asked by these same people to put ourselves in the place of Jesus and to imagine what it would be like to sacrifice our lives to save the souls of the world - being millions of people we do not know - alive, and not yet born. And yet, when people like to think of or portray this remarkable savior and benefactor with universal appeal, as somebody who is or looks like we do, some people get all loopy about it.

Remember when somebody produced a picture depicting Christ as a Black man? The right wingers, racists and gun-nuts started looking for somebody to lynch. When a feminist portrayed Christ as a woman, the same bunch of crazies started foaming at the mouth and invoking the Patriarchy. Last year in Scotland, a playwright cast a transgender woman in the role of Christ - with similar bemusing results. And now this.

So just identifying with Christ as a gay man, and a gay man projecting a comparison of himself onto Christ is enough to mark somebody for death? WTF? And presumably this person making this threat of death identifies as a Christian?

Perhaps this person feels that he/she fits the image of Christ or God better? Scary. Very, very scary. Almost as scary as the delusions such people must be under, who can make death threats - and still consider themselves to be followers of Christ, despite this glaring hypocrisy.

So is God a "he"? If you answer "yes", you should know by now that I am going to ask you "why?" Is there a "Mrs God" somewhere, perhaps in a back-room we don't know about? I mean honestly, what would be the point if God were male or had an actual gender if God is the only one of his/her kind?

Yes, so God chose a female to bear Christ into this world - but of course it doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out that choosing a male to do this would have presented certain - er, problems. Why then, would a God not needing to have actual sex with a human being to produce a child, need to have a gender at all?

Another answer, the same one - Patriarchy.

This is just another aspect of male domination and control. God is presented as male, and is supposed to have made males first - and so therefore, that entitles males to rule the world - and females - and is a legitimate excuse for males to oppress females. Simple.

I suppose introducing the boggle about "what came first, the chicken or the egg" at this point and in this context would unnecessarily over complicate my argument, suffice to say, that babies - even male babies - are born from females, so it stands to reason - in terms of humans at least, which came first.

You don't like that? Why not send me a death threat and see if I care?

Some people have a very strange idea about what constitutes sacrilege and an actual insult - particularly when it comes to discerning who such an "insult" is directed at. In fact, it seems that if anyone dares to portray - or even suggest that Christ was anything but White, male, straight and totally celibate, is just a shit-stirrer and a trouble-maker. And of course, don't dare mention the surprisingly little-known fact that Christ was in fact, Jewish - or you will find yourself in serious trouble. Weird, because it is actually true. And as for Mary Magdalene having actually been a disciple of equal status to the traditional male companions of Christ, let's not even start down that road - this time.

Imagine for just a moment that these people are right about God. Imagine that you as a Black person thinking of God or Christ as Black like you, could constitute an act which God finds offensive. Imagine that. Imagine that God could actually find being thought of as being Black offensive. How does that feel? I don't know about you, but if it were me, and if these people were to be right about God - then I wouldn't want to believe in that God at all. because that wouldn't be the God who we believe in, the one they speak of when saying: "God is love." In fact, I would probably go to Hell rather cheerfully and make the best of the trip.

Which is why, in my humble view, really caring ministers and churches find GLBTI people so hard to reach - because they have been subjected to this sort of abuse and spiritual violence - not from God, but from people claiming to be God - and have been wounded to the point where they just don't want to know anymore. Can you really blame them? How can you?

Their own scriptures claim that God made us all in God's own image - meaning that whether we are Black, White, Yellow, Red or purple with yellow spots, we are still made in God's image. If we are male, female, straight, gay, bi, transgender, intersex - or any other flavor in between, we are made in the image of God. How then, does portraying God (or Christ) as any one of us, count as sacrilegious, insulting or offensive?

It would seem to me that it is not God who would be offended by being portrayed as a gay man, but rather, some of God's followers.

This speaks volumes of what some of God's followers think of themselves. Because they are offended by virtue of their own prejudice and bigotry, they automatically assume that the God who made all people - even them - would be also, intimating that God would think like them and also act like them. I find that assumption to be remarkably arrogant.

Who does Christ belong to anyway? You? Me? James Dobson? Erroll Naidoo? Everyone? Or is it the other way round - shouldn't they be looking at people as belonging to Christ instead? After all, he is supposed to have paid our debts and bought our freedom in blood. That doesn't sound like somebody who would take offense at being thought of or portrayed like us, does it?

They are offended that people could portray Christ as Black, or gay - but are they not saying that Christ is a bigot like them? Far be it for me to point fingers, but I imagine that if Christ could take offense at being portrayed as anything human at all, it would not be as Black, transgender or gay - but as a bigot.

Surely this in itself unmasks the prejudice and in fact, the hatred these people have for others, and for diversity?

We are not all the same. We are different. God made us in our diversity, and for them to try to force everyone to be the same and to look at the world - and each other - through monochromatic lenses - is to criticize the work and wisdom of their own God for making us so diverse in the first place. But of course, people wrote the bible - so naturally, they know better.

So if I am going to identify more closely with Christ as a White transsexual woman who is pansexual, why should I be made to feel inferior or guilty for imagining God as somebody who understands me completely and accepts me inside and out as I am, and as I was born? What is insulting about visualizing God as a transsexual person? Or as a gay person? Is there anything wrong with being gay or transgender or intersex? Why should I not think of God or speak of Christ in a manner which facilitates my communing with the deity which I believed created me? Is it somehow disrespectful to think of God as Black, Asian, or female - or Christ as any or all of the wondrously diverse people he, she or it created? Why?

What kind of sick, racist, homophobic, bigoted minds manufactured this presumptuous and asinine convention? Can anyone furnish me with any kind of sound reason which actually makes sense, without having to dump a shit-load of brain cells first?

The people who create, enforce and promote the homophobic conventions, laws campaigns and attitudes in the world are no different from those who forced millions to their deaths in the death camps of Nazi Germany, or the architects and enforcers of Apartheid. NO different. And neither are their policies, their justifications, excuses or fantasies of superiority.

I would love to see the looks on their faces if they were to arrive in Heaven, only to meet a Black Christ at the Pearly Gates, sporting a big Afro, dressed in a saffron frock in rainbow colors and mincing up to welcome them with big white smile - and a lisp. Imagine a flamboyant limp-wristed gesture towards that long, well-greased pole leading downstairs. I would probably die laughing at the irony.

Why should the God that made me thus find such a comparison to me offensive? Is imitation not the sincerest form of flattery? Are we not in fact complimenting God by painting him/her/hir in our own image, complete with our own weaknesses and prejudices - in the same way that God created us?

(Posted at Sour Grapes)

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