Christians believe that God made man in his image, but I think the opposite is true — we make gods in our own image. So if we see ourselves as overwhelmingly manly and tough, as so many men like to see themselves, we project those traits onto those we worship. Retired Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin provides a rather silly example:
During his speech, Boykin told the male audience that Jesus was not the weak, effeminate, “feminized” figure taught in church today but was really a ripped, tough, strong “man’s man” who smelled bad!
As Boykin explained, Jesus was a carpenter and stone mason for most of his life, which required him to be constantly lifting heavy pieces of wood and stone. All this lifting, in turn, meant that Jesus had calluses on his hands and “big, bulging biceps, big ole veins popping out of his arms, thin waist, [and] strong shoulders.”
“He was a man,” Boykin said. “He was a man’s man, but we feminized him in the church … He was a tough guy and that’s the Jesus that I want to be like. That’s the side that I want to be like. But we’ve feminized Jesus in the church and the men can’t identify with him anymore; not the kind of men that I want to hang out with, they can’t identify with this effeminate Jesus that we’ve tried to portray. He was a tough guy. He was a man’s man.”
There’s pretty much nothing in the gospels to support that claim, of course, other than the story of his temper tantrum aimed at the temple money changers (temper tantrums are viewed by people like Boykin as very, very manly). I find it amusing how luridly he describes Jesus’ sweaty body, but I dare not speculate on the psychological origin of such thinking.
Like Dispatches on Facebook: