Is God a Man?

Sistine Chapel
Sistine Chapel
The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, which Michelangelo painted from the year 1508 until 1512. This part of the ceiling depicts God giving life to Adam. | Michelangelo, Painting, God, Adam,

Does God look like Charlton Heston?

Look at the depiction of God in the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. He sure looks male, with powerful muscles and a white beard sitting on a cloud. When Michelangelo painted this masterpiece in the 16th century, it was in an almost completely male-dominated world. Women were hidden away for reproduction and cooking/cleaning. And granted, Michelangelo was under contract to paint for Pope Julius II, as violent a megalomaniac as he was corrupt.

God in most representative incarnations is portrayed as looking like the late Charlton Heston with a beard.

We all know, or think we know, that God is not a woman. Therefore, if God is male, I'm male, and so I must be Godlike, more so than a woman, because God looks more like me than her. I don't personally believe God is a man and that I'm better than a woman.

But other people apparently do.

God created Adam in his own image (Genesis 1:27) according to scripture written down centuries ago by scribes whom we know nothing about, which if you believe in the Good Book, unequivocally shows that God is male. God felt sorry for Adam and gave him Eve as kind of a companion plaything.

If I look more like God and Adam than I do Eve, I must be better. It was brainless Eve who fooled with the snake and got herself and Adam kicked out of the Garden. Therefore, since God created Adam in his own image, and I look more like Adam than I do Eve, I look more like God than my wife.

I look like God. Be nice to me.

And what about the saying, God bless America? If God blesses America, he (notice I use the word "he") isn't blessing anyone else. We didn't say God bless France. Or God bless Senegal. We said God bless America.

God must be an American male.

I'm not against America. I love my country. I want God to bless America. But let's be fair about this. Let's use logic. Why would God, the creator of all things, the universe, the yin and the yang, the origin of everything that is anything, bless a geographical region with a border lined up by surveyors who back in the day were all Caucasian men? Most of these borders, those of our individual states, and the north-south national boundary line, were determined by the flow of rivers, such as the Rio Grande, or in the case of states, by rivers or political boundaries. Thus, the boundary of the state of West Virginia was aligned by white men because people in West Virginia were less apt to hold slaves than their more politically Southern brethren in Virginia. No women or African Americans or American Indian native peoples drew the boundary of the country we know today.

I don't want to sound sacrilegious or a blasphemer, as I've been called at times, but this really takes a leap of faith. Why would God in his infinite wisdom and power, again, the instigator of every entity since the beginning of time, choose to favor with his (using the word "his" again) blessing people living inside a boundary line that in its current configuration is approximately 60 years old if you count Hawaii and Alaska?

What if we said, God bless the Gadsden Purchase, denoting the small 30,000 square miles of land in what is today southern New Mexico and Arizona acquired from Mexico in 1853 for $10 million, less than the cost of a one-minute Super Bowl TV commercial today. The rest of Arizona and New Mexico we stole outright from Mexico during the Mexican War.

If we said God bless the Gadsden Purchase, it would sound silly. But we say, God bless America, even though we annihilated the country's original inhabitants, the slaughter of which was not originally begun by us, but by immigrant ancestors from Europe who enslaved Africans. Why should God favor such a boundary?

Are we better? Are we more Godlike?

I've never heard anybody say, God bless Honduras. God apparently isn't interested in Honduras.

If we ask God to bless America and don't mention anyone else, we are asking him (the word "him" again) to bless five percent of the world's population. Is God's blessing an exclusive club that leaves others who are non-American out? I instead tend to favor Tiny Tim's admonition in Dickens' Christmas Carol, "God bless us all."

The conclusion based on Michelangelo and boundary line surveying is inescapable. God is a white, Caucasian American male who looks like Charlton Heston with a beard. This might be comforting to members of the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party if it was true.

I don't believe it for a minute.

In saying God bless America, are Americans, especially those of us who look more like God, claiming ownership of God, or alleging special favors from him (using the word "him" again)? Is this is nationalistic arrogance using religion?

I'll side with Tiny Tim.

Comment on Disqus

Comment on Facebook

Updated Aug 12, 2017 12:29 PM EDT | More details


©2017 AND Magazine, LLC
5 Columbus Circle, 8th Floor
New York, New York 10019 USA

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without express written permission from AND Magazine corporate offices. All rights reserved.