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What if Jesus were a girl?

It's a girl!

A conservative evangelical facebook friend shared an image with a “LOL!” about three wise women arriving at the Bethlehem scene – asking directions, arriving on time, helping deliver the baby, bringing sensible gifts, cleaning the stable, making a casserole,… and there would be peace on earth!

I began to wonder how my friend would react to a similar image of the baby at that birth being a girl. Here is some of my whimsy…

Obviously the Second Person of the Trinity is not male, not masculine. The human Jesus 2,000 years ago was male [I will come back to that tense (“was”) in a moment], but the Son of God, Second Person of the Trinity, is not male, not masculine. For Mormons, of course, the person before the incarnation was male – but I will leave that to one side.

Jesus is representative human. Some evangelicals teach men can represent women, but women cannot represent men (Complementarianism). So Jesus can save humanity because he is male, but a woman could not have saved us. [There’s probably varieties of positions within Complementarianism that disagree with each other about details].

The virgin birth story, now that we actually understand the biology of conception (which Luke and Matthew did not), leads more naturally to the birth being a girl. A female’s sex chromosomes are XX. They do not have the Y chromosome to produce a male.

Evidence for women being crucified is very thin (Antiquities of the Jews 18:3). We are then entering into the discussion, did the messiah need to be crucified in order to save us…?

We could discuss whether a woman would have been listened to at the time of Jesus, in the context then? Would such a message have spread? What if the messiah came at a different time – when women were listened to more… Might the story of the woman messiah have even more strongly illustrated the turning-upside-down of our human understanding…

The messiah, of course, is the Second Adam. What does it alter to have the messiah as the Second Eve? The acceptance of evolution, of course, has already destroyed the understanding that Adam brought death into the world (Romans 5:12-21, etc) so to stay with the messiah-must-be-male theology we probably need to keep to an evolution-must-be-false presupposition.

Back to that tense: “Jesus was male”. Orthodox theology holds that Jesus is fully human, and that this full humanity continues through the resurrection (distinguished, obviously, from resuscitation). Is the Risen Christ male? Is our gender part of our resurrection state?

Add your own reflections in the comments – from the profound to the whimsical…

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25 Responses to What if Jesus were a girl?

  1. Kia ora Bosco.
    I love the pic! Throughout history we have reinvented Jesus to match our own view of life, the universe and everything. That is the power of metaphor.

  2. Well, if Jesus had been born female, then the rich gynaecological dimension of life known in theory but not in experience by males – menstrual cycles, breasts that serve some real purpose, and childbirth – would be a much fuller part of Christian understanding of what it means to be human. And given that the typical age of marriage and childbearing for first century females in Palestine was in the mid teens, the chances of young Jesus/Jessie getting to thirty without sexual experience would be very low.
    It’s hard to imagine the discipline of celibacy taking such a prominent part in Christian history.

  3. Dear Bosco. My belief is that God is always pragmatic. If Jesus had been born exclusively female (is there such a creature?) she may not have gained any credence in the patriarchal situation of traditional Judaism – or of any patriarchal society.

    The fact that, as you say, Jesus was certainly representatively human – rather than merely male – allows for the redemption of ALL humanity, not just the male of the species. If God really became human, and we could all become partakers of divinity; then it figures that Jesus could have been like any one of us: L.,G.,B.,T., or even Q. After all, Jesus never chose to marry!

    This fact makes me even more prone to accept all human beings as children of God – irrespective of their sexual-orientation or gender-specific.

    (It was a very good night at our Transitional Cathedral, last night – especially witnessing Lynda’s Installation and Bishop Kelvin’s sermon!)

    Gaudete!

  4. You raise a serious question in the overall imagery of Scripture. That Jesus is the Bridegroom. The seed is the word. The fruitfulness is in us as Bride, that Christ might be formed in us. (Somewhere in Galatians)

  5. For the Son of God to be incarnate, He had to pick one sex or the other. Had he picked female, there would have been no male involvement whatsoever; by picking male, He at least allowed a woman to be as involved in the process as humanly possible.

    • I have no idea, Peter, sorry, what your comment means. How, by picking female, would there have been no male involvement whatsoever? And how is a woman involved in picking male? Blessings.

      • The Blessed Virgin Mary is the woman involved! If Christ had been a woman, there would be no man involved. The female Christ and her mother would have both been women.

  6. Ah, the Thirty-Nine Articles have thought about so many things already: “IV. Of the Resurrection of Christ: Christ did truly rise again from death, and took again his body, with flesh, bones, and all things appertaining to the perfection of Man’s nature; wherewith he ascended into Heaven, and there sitteth, until he return to judge all Men at the last day.”

    As to the ontology of his maleness, if Christ were female, the Church would be her husband.

    • Thanks, John.

      So are you suggesting that maleness appertaineth to the perfection of Man’s nature?

      And you see maleness as ontological?

      Is there some issue with the Church being her husband?

      Advent blessings.

  7. Another angle on the question of is the Risen Christ male:

    I see another question as being related: “Is the Risen Christ Jewish?” The has been a pertinent question for Messianic Jewish theology and for Jewish/Christian relations. When 2 Timothy 2:8-9 instructs readers to “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the Son of David, Messianic Jewish theology understands this to be underscoring the early Christian claim that the resurrected Jesus is the Jewish Messiah who is now enthroned in heaven and will one day take his place as ruler in the Messianic kingdom to fulfill God’s covenant with David.

    NT scholar Markus Bockmuehl (Cambridge) is one writer supporting this claim. He has written on the topic in at least two essays, one entitled “Seeing the Son of David” in his book Seeing the Word (details from biblioblogger Joel Willitts here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/euangelion/2013/04/seeing-the-son-of-david/) and one called “The Son of David and the Gospel” (found in the recent Zondervan release Introduction to Messianic Judaism).

    If the NT claims that the Risen Christ is the Son of David (a christological title), then the implication would seem to be that he is still a descendant of David, which would imply that he is still Jewish. From this it would seem to follow that he is also still male . . . and that the resurrected humanity includes the diversity of gender and ethnicity as part of the God-created goodness persisting into the World to Come.

  8. If Jesus were a woman, then the Eucharist would have even more profound meanings, given that a woman’s body gives life and a woman’s breasts give food/drink. (In Spanish the word for giving birth is “dar luz” – which, literally, means “give light”.

    Wow!

    That is very profound!

  9. A female Jesus would (if you apply Leviticus’s strictures on menstruation) be unclean 7 days in every 28…

    Which isn’t to say it’s impossible, but it would require a great deal of unpicking of what had gone before to work.

    • James,

      A male Jesus would have been unclean any time he had a nocturnal emission. To quote blogger Derek Leman, “It is no sin to be unclean. A woman who has a baby becomes unclean. A son who cares for his father’s dead body becomes unclean. Sometimes it is a sin not to become unclean. Yet God taught Israel that certain things made them unclean and gave them procedures to cleanse themselves. He said it was a sin not to cleanse themselves (Lev. 15:31; Num. 19:13), but he never said it was a sin to be unclean.” (From Notes in Impurity/Uncleanness, which cites Jacob Milgrom’s seminal (erm, haha?) work on Leviticus.)

      If it is not a sin to be unclean, then I’m not sure what would be necessary to “unpick.” 🙂

  10. If in Christ there’s neither Jew nor Gentile, no more male-and-female…, Christ himself must be beyond all that. It’s not that Jesus be Jew. He is himself THE Israel.

    Saint Gregory Nazianzen wrote: «If anyone has put his trust in Him as a Man without a human mind, he is really bereft of mind, and quite unworthy of salvation. For that which He has not assumed He has not healed; but that which is united to His Godhead is also saved.»

    If sexual complementarism be right, then Jesus had to assume both femaleness and maleness. Otherwise, he would have saved only the males. But that would destroy the complementarist theories, because those generally don’t accept intersexuality facts.

    If sexual complementarism is wrong, then there’s indeed no ontological difference between male and female, and the whole heterosexist theories are BS. And in that case, sexual complementarism is a christological heresy like monotheletism. The conclusion is that gender is not relevant for wedding and ordination.

    Btw, there’s an interesting article by the Serbian bishop Velimirović: «Woman as a Symbol of Christ».

  11. In Christ’s Incarnation, regardless of which sex He had picked, His mother — a woman — is necessarily involved. However, no man is involved in a virgin birth, unless the one being born himself is the man. 

    • If we are discussing whether God could have sent a woman as our messiah, can we not discuss whether a virgin birth is the only way God could have brought the messiah to birth, Peter? Advent blessings.

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