Gentle Jesus, Meek and Mild*

The Feminization of Christ as Compensation for the Denial of the Feminine Principle in Christianity

David Lance Goines

February 18, 1997

When Angelo paints even God the Father in human form, mark what robustness is there. And whatever they may reveal of the divine love in the Son, the soft, curled, hermaphroditical Italian pictures, in which his idea has been most successfully embodied; these pictures, so destitute as they are of all brawniness, hint nothing of any power, but the mere negative, feminine one of submission and endurance, which on all hands it is conceded, form the peculiar practical virtues of his teachings.

-- Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chapter 86, "The Tail."


Jesus, the dying and resurrected Son of God and Man, the promised Messiah of the Jews, somewhere along the line got a sex-and-race change operation and by the 19th century had been transformed from a poverty-stricken, dark-skinned, unkempt Aramaic Jew into a comely, tidy European woman.

Basically, Christianity began as a sect of Judaism, and like all those old no-girls-allowed, sky-god religions, steadfastly rejected the feminine principle. Recognizing a losing proposition when they saw one, by the 5th century the Holy Roman and Apostolic Church managed to reinstate just about every single heathen god and goddess that ever existed, plus a few new ones, with Jesus the incorporation of every dying and resurrected god of every religion that ever had one. There were a lot of gods, with one chief God and His Son and His Son's Mother whom He'd knocked up in the grand old pagan tradition and a host of small-timers to do most of the pick-and-shovel work of granting prayers and getting people out of hot water. Almost everybody was happy with this setup for a thousand years.

Nothing lasts forever: in the 16th century, Protestantism got "back to the Bible," and threw out the Papist pantheon and Virgin Mary and all the other dames and ruled that there was just one hairy thundering vengeful God the Father and His Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit (who doesn't look like much except maybe a bird). But, if there's only guys around, somebody's got to be the girl. Calvinist artists got their mitts on the poor boy and all of a sudden it's Jesus' turn in the barrel; they gave him such a sissy look that unless you knew otherwise you'd think Our Lord and Savior was a transvestite. That simpering gaze, eyes uplifted or looking deeply into yours like a chicken-hawk trying to pick you up; that shiny, perfectly-brushed almost-but-not-quite-blonde hair; those sappy blue eyes (blue eyes for Chrissake!); the nose-job; that delicate complexion and nancy, limp-wristed pose. Plus, he wears a dress.

Think of all those Sunday School portraits: "The Light of the World," "Knocking at the Gate," "The Good Shepherd," and the famous head-and-shoulders portrait with the soft, folded hands and heaven-directed, liquid gaze.

Jesus: the Michael Jackson of the supernatural.

* "Gentle Jesus, meek and mild, Look upon a little child; Pity my simplicity, Suffer me to come to thee. -- Charles Wesley (1707-1788) Hymns and Sacred Poems (1739) "Gentle Jesus, Meek and Mild."

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