Well, ladies and gentlemen, I have just finished and defended my thesis and can now proudly say that I have a Masters in Theology. My thesis discussed the idea of gender fluidity—basically, whether or not a more expansive view of gender could help to limit stereotypical views of gender in theology. That’s not what this post is about, but these ideas did get me thinking about how God is portrayed both in theology and in pop culture.
God is often portrayed as male, in part because of the stereotypical and sexist view that masculinity denotes power and authority. Any good Biblical scholar would know, however, that there are many portrayals of God as female in the Bible as well. For example, in the Book of Wisdom, which is included in the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox versions of the Bible, Wisdom (or Sophia) is personified as a woman and tries to lead all people on the right path. Wisdom is very strongly implied to be God throughout the book.
But conventional wisdom for most Christian denominations today is that God does not have a gender. God does have masculine and feminine attributes, which are reflected in us, but God is neither male nor female. I have also heard that God is both male and female while being neither male nor female, which has many feminist theologians asking: why in the hell do we still constantly portray and talk about God as male? Furthermore, it leads me to ask: why, in pop culture, should God be portrayed as fitting into the gender binary at all?
Every portrayal of God on television has been almost exclusively male, and there has only been the occasional female God, such as Alanis Morissette’s iconic role in Dogma. But if God is understood by most Christian denominations as having no gender, why then should God fit into the gender binary?
The only example I can think of in pop culture of a non-gendered God comes from South Park, but the God in South Park doesn’t look human either, and regardless, Jesus in South Park still refers to God exclusively as father—so a gender is still at least implied if not outright stated.
When watching Supernatural I remember being really pissed off that Chuck, originally thought to be a prophet, was revealed to be God. At first, I had thought that because of all the women Supernatural killed or portrayed as evil that they owed me a female God, but the more I thought about God being both and neither genders, the more I wanted a God that didn’t fit the binary. I wanted God to be personified as someone who was intersex, genderfluid, genderqueer, or nongender, because wouldn’t that be a more correct portrayal of God?
Pop culture today is greatly lacking characters that are outside the gender binary and we need to see more characters who represent nonbinary people in our media. Wouldn’t it be great if one of those characters to be God? I certainly think so.