Have you ever wondered why God sent his son and not a daughter to deliver humanity’s salvation? Was it simply because a male figure would garner more attention in a patriarchal, Middle Eastern society?
Was it a logical progression to continue the gender dominance of Old Testament prophets? Or did it simply come down to God drawing straws.
I am not spiritually or theologically equipped enough to do anything but curiously speculate but, in hindsight, it would appear God knew exactly what he was doing.
The recent national tour of a documentary, Absent, highlighted the destructive ripples spreading through the world as a result of men not fulfilling their anointing in today’s world.
The film focused particularly on those men who had abandoned their responsibilities as fathers and the devastating personal and social malaise that has resulted.
From wars to crime to single mothers, it is difficult to think of a negative social issue that does not have its root in the failure of men.
And then we must consider the countless others whose fathers may have been physically present but have inflicted scars on their children through emotional absence.
The repercussions of this absence have trickled and then flowed through the past century like an insidious disease, corroding the bedrock of God’s intended plan.
For thousands of years there seemed to be a basic understanding that men were protectors and providers and women were gifted with the role of nurturing.
According to the producers of Absent, these roles have taken a twist over recent generations, altered by the industrial revolution which drew men to work away from their family homes, thus depriving them of a male presence and role model.
This was further disturbed by two world wars and the resulting social and personal upheaval.
The chain linking generations of men together, of fathers modelling the God-given attributes of leadership, protectors, moral teachers and providers, was damaged, and sons were not receiving the bonding and formation necessary to transition them into a responsible manhood.
The absence of mature men providing a process of emotional and physiological guidance from boy to man meant that each subsequent generation became further estranged from God’s intended purpose, and consequently from God himself.
Both men and women began to, consciously or unconsciously, associate the imperfections and failures of earthly fathers with their heavenly one, inevitably linking the escalation of absent fathers with the decline in faith.
It became increasingly difficult to reconcile a loving deity, who had always been portrayed as a father figure, with the human males in their lives.
It is what made me think of God’s choice of gender. Many surveys have indicated that, whether believers or not, most people see Jesus in a positive light.
He is the perfection of manhood – loving, passionate, strong, gentle, humble, a protector of the vulnerable and downtrodden, compassionate, sensitive to the pain of others, uncompromising in the face of fear, undeterred by the opinion of others, a seeker of justice, not willing to compromise the truth, and most of all willing to sacrifice himself for another.
God the Father, on the other hand, is often seen as angry, inflexible, officious, distant and judgemental – almost polar opposite to the human Jesus.
But if we truly believed in what Jesus taught we would recognise the lie that has been embraced. “If you know me, you will know my Father. From this moment you know him and have seen him,” he told his apostles (John 14:7).
In other words, he is the very essence of God, a perfect human reflection, or as we say in Mass, of “one being with the Father”.
In hindsight, it makes complete sense that God sent his Son as our Saviour. God created us in his spiritual image and after we used our free will to turn our back on him, he created himself in our physical image.
He must have seen the chaos coming and knew the spiritual, emotional and social ramifications of the male species not fulfilling its intended purpose.
He must have known that we would distort, misinterpret and misunderstand his true nature.
And he must have known that we would need a perfect male role model to turn to if we were to repair the damage.
When we come to know Jesus, we will know the true nature and heart of God.
And when we come to know the heart of our heavenly Father, we will know exactly what it takes to become the men he intended us to be.