For most of my adult life I’ve struggled with the idea that God is a male. Many spirit persons don’t imagine God as a supernatural gendered being, but many ordinary people do. Everywhere we turn, religious language still speaks of God as one-sidedly masculine. As a child I found this curious. By midlife I found it annoying. Now I think it’s just plain silly, because this way of thinking limits our ability to fulfill our potential and connect with our Source: the Mystery of life.
Still, there are levels of spiritual awareness. And there are times when describing the Mystery in terms of gender can be helpful, as it was for our early forbears. When it comes to seeing our assumptions and biases, it still is. To that end, in my book, Healing the Sacred Divide, I offer two lists: one contains concepts associated with the “Feminine Principle,” the other with the “Masculine Principle.” (pp. 50 – 52) I put these terms in quotes because I might as easily say the “so-called” masculine and feminine principles. There are males and females of course, but physically and psychologically many people find themselves somewhere between the two.
Scientists have long understood that the interaction between polarities keeps our planet stable and ensures that life functions smoothly. Yet until recently, few people with Epoch II ego-consciousness have thought of human behavior in the same way. Freud wrote, “…man’s instinctive nature is divided between the instinct for self-preservation and the instinct for species-preservation,” a theory that was initially introduced to him in a letter from Sabina Spielrein, a client of both Freud and Jung.
In a return letter to her Freud wrote:
“The individual does actually carry on a twofold existence: one to serve his own purposes and the other as a link in a chain, which he serves against his will, or at least involuntarily.” Sigmund Freud, “On Narcissism: An Introduction,” Yearbook of Psycho-Analysis, vol. 6, 1957, p. 78.
Jung associated the drive for self-preservation with “masculine” striving for Logos, discrimination, and individuation, and the drive for species-preservation with our “feminine” capacity for Eros: acceptance, relationship, and feeling. He realized that everyone contains both drives. Our awareness of the polarity of masculine/feminine persists because these terms symbolically express the energy that empowers every polarity, including the two hemispheres of our brains and the pairs of opposites that fuel every psyche. The mistake our cultures and religions have made with our God-images is assuming that masculinity was somehow more worthy and entitled. In truth, none of the qualities at either pole is inherently good, bad, or more desirable, and any can be taken to negative extremes if we obsess over them and repress their opposites. All have positive value for both genders, and everyone has the potential to develop them all.
You may ask, why emphasize the differences between the opposites? Because before we can create unity in ourselves and the world, we have to be able to discriminate between opposites and accept that we contain both. My goal is to dissolve gender stereotypes, not promote them. I am not a proponent of dualistic thinking. I don’t think all men (or all women) are alike. I don’t believe people should be judged or treated by different standards based on their gender identity. I don’t consider either drive more valuable or less equal than the other, or prefer the qualities associated with one over their opposites. I don’t believe our roles in life should be prescribed by society’s attitudes toward gender. This is Epoch II thinking and a source of spiritual blindness.
When I first learned that reason has generally been associated with masculinity and emotion with femininity it made me mad. Why the strong response? Because I didn’t want to be associated with a quality that my “tribe” considered undesirable: being emotional. I was thinking of the term feminine as a synonym for women. I didn’t know yet that women have a masculine side and men have a feminine side. Associating emotion with femininity isn’t the same thing as stereotyping women. It’s merely an indication of how civilizations have tended to view the feminine principle, a metaphor for the drive for species-preservation. In the everyday world of human behavior, women can be eminently reasonable and men can be wildly emotional.
Every living thing is part of the miracle of life. Human life begins with a union between masculine sperm and feminine egg. Whatever name you use or image you have of what created you as an individual, it is composed of unified opposites. You were born with a powerful need to fulfill the seed of your potential and become all you were created to be. When your religious biases cause you to repress any part of that potential, you reject a hidden treasure. A golden opportunity. You thwart your hope to connect with the oneness of life. If you have rejected healthy masculine or feminine qualities for religious reasons, you have an Epoch II, ego-centered God-image.
How did the gender-related religious beliefs you inherited influence your self-image? Your life as a young adult? How do they influence you now?
Read more about your spiritual journey in Healing the Sacred Divide. This copyrighted material is from pp. 46-53.
Image Credits: Pinterest. Masculine/Feminine
Paper and E-book versions of The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon. The Wilbur Award-winning Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications.com. Jean’s new Nautilus Award-winning The Soul’s Twins, is at Amazon and Schiffer’s Red Feather Mind, Body, Spirit. Subscribe to her newsletter at www.jeanbenedictraffa.com.