Is God a “He” or a “She”? How Disney, masturbation, and Hip Hop helped me answer this

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Is God a “He” or “She”? 

God is bigger than religion. Religion, in it’s unfeigned use, is the lamp that points at God so humans on Earth can know to seek. God reaches further than the ends of the known universe and is not encaged by even the most revealing holy books. These books are gifts from God, tools to help us get closer, but God is not bound to pages. God is omnipotent, unconfined to masculine or feminine. So how do we practically address the omnipotent light we seek? Is God a “He” or “She?” It depends on how God relates to you for the purpose of your life.

God’s Identity

How God resonates with you is extremely personal and it’s different for everyone. That’s okay. I dare ask, let’s forget about political correctness for a hot second. We’re talking what’s right for you in your spirit. For some people, God as a woman is what feels right. For others, they are moved by a genderless, universal God. God doesn’t have a body. In the Hebrew bible, God is also named “Elohim,” a grammatically plural term “Gods” for the single God, the omnipotent God of many faces. God can be feminine or masculine or both. But how do you relate? When you’re having a mental discussion with your creator, how do you address God? How does God’s voice sound when answering you back?

A Disney Fairytale: The “He” in My Life

I once knew a guy in college named Luis who said that he would take sedatives on rare occassions because he enjoyed the challenge of having to mentally fight his own body for physical control. In a similar sense, some people will climb Mt. Everest to challenge the limits of their body. They want to know, “How much can I push myself more than what my body is telling me?” Well, when I think about my relationship with God, I ask myself how much more can I challenge my ego for spiritual control and genuine clarity?

I was born in 1988 so I grew up with the generation of young girls who watched Disney cartoon princesses like Sleeping Beauty, Little Mermaid, Snow White, Beauty & the Beast, Aladdin, Cinderella, etc. These set the ideal that a girl’s ultimate dream is to be rescued by her prince. 1998, was the release of Mulan, the Chinese warrior girl who poses as a boy so that she could take the place of her elderly father in the military during a dangerous time when China was at risk of being seized by an outside army. Mulan thought she Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 9.44.54 AMwould never bring her family honor because she failed to impress the matchmaker, but she gives her father the most unimaginable honor when she rescues the emperor, all of China, and her lieutenant (later lover). I was 10 years old when I saw Mulan and you can ask anyone in my family, I knew every single word!

As a curious, romantic day dreamer of a kid, I’d imagine what is love? I was that cheesy kid who would sneak onto the balcony at night, look at the moon, and dream about falling in love. How would it look like in my life? I didn’t just have romantic ideas about falling in love, I had romantic ideas about good prevailing over evil.

One day, as I walked home from school in 8th grade, fantasizing about the question mark boy of my dreams, I was snapped back into reality by the usual whistles and slurs from the average old drive-by perverts of LA. It was then I had the epiphany, “People pray to God most when they need something. If I’m going to love God, I want to love him on my own terms, not because I need him, but because I chose to, because I want to. I want to love God because I see what is beautiful.”

Somewhere down the line of womanhood, relationships end, hearts are broken, expectations are left in disappointments, insecurities take hold, and you realize that not every boy means what they say. Believing in love, or that I even deserved it, seemed more and more a fairytale to grow out of so I rebelled against myself, my ideals, boyfriends, exes, the old drive-by perverts, and as Lauryn Hill puts it, ” the sneaky silent men, the punk domestic violent men, the quick to shoot the semen quit acting like boys and be men” (Doo-Wop, That Thing – Lauryn Hill). I decided if anyone is going to hurt me, I’d rather take charge of my own destruction. The concept is very similar to painting something and then destroying it before anyone could see it as a sick way of having control over that painting forever.

6cy5BB99iLION SONG (A flow I wrote at 20):

I used to think that I was just another “Kid Insignificant” / So I kicked the scheme of shit / Scribbled it up like paper / And I smoked it / Poked the yoke, like prematurely / So the only one who could fuck with me is me / the destroyer and deliverer of the masterpiece in me / I’ll tear it down before you every get to me / let live and let die, I’ma do it my way. / If it’s mine let it bury me / Inevitably, yo’ it all came down / And I waited there silently
Then a lion came by  / And ate my flesh / Putting demons to rest / As they wash in the vastness of space / Face-to-Face my impurities dripping through it’s teeth / Ferociously intimate, it said something sweet. / Secretly that’s what I always hoped for / And the old me died in peace / Now I find humanity steep in anxiety / Cuz I realize what lies between you and me.

My life’s journey until the end of college, was to demolish myself emotionally, completely. Exhaust myself with passion by feeling through extremities of hot and cold, enraged love and hate, bury myself in my own making. Little did I know, that rubble where I couldn’t fight anymore is where I’d meet God at my most vulnerable to tell me one important secret:

There’s no worthier rebellion than to love beyond the gravity.

Sun Tzu wrote, “Know yourself and you will win all battles.” I address God as a “He”because it reminds me I have an ego that I have to acknowledge before I can free myself to channel into God. My ego is the embodiment of all my fears, trust issues, false sense of embarrassment, anger, self entitlement, etc. My ego is the door, that once I pass through it, I’m in a place of pure love, and openness, to know God. Referring to God as a “He” is addressing God in my underbelly because when I’m honest with myself it’s more difficult for me to share a vulnerable space with a man. It also reminds me of forgiveness, humility, trust, and leaping as I say “Him.”

A Lesson in Masturbation

I am Christian, Buddhist, and whatever else I’ll add to my list of truths in the future. Some people have a hard time understanding this, and I’ll explain it another time. In short, I subscribe to what I see as the gold thread that runs through all faiths. My close friend, who I will leave nameless, is a Christian – not the lost condemning kind, but the one who loves everyone regardless of their practice. During my visit with her, the topic of masturbation came up (I forgot how we got there).

When it comes to sex and masturbation, there is a wide spectrum of acceptability for Christians. For my friend, abstinence from masturbating is a discipline of great importance. She said that masturbation had long given her a feeling of shame because she struggles with not doing it. She admitted that her pastor said he thought masturbation is ok to express as long as your doing it to appease your own natural impulse for release without lusting or thinking impurely about anyone in particular. Even then, she said it was hard for her to understand what’s right for her on the matter, but that she’s proud she hasn’t done it in a while.

I told her that I don’t believe that masturbating is wrong. To me, it’s a type of freedom that I don’t give myself any slack for, but then again not masturbating isn’t a daily struggle for me so it hasn’t assumed that kind of identity in my life as if it is something meaningful for me to overcome or sacrifice.

At this point there was clearly uninvited tension between us since she felt strongly about not masturbating and I was resound not to care for it. She is the type of person that gives Christians a good name-kind, progressive, and with the biggest heart. So how could we move past this awkward moment? How can we both be right?

Giorgione-s1

Masturbating means different things to us. Neither of us are wrong. The real issue isn’t about masturbating. Let’s look at alcohol for a second. Some people loose control to alcohol and it becomes a demon. Other people can have a night of heavy drinking and not touch it for weeks without any second thought. Alcohol has a different identity to people’s lives. When something like masturbation or alcohol represents a discipline over an obstacle, it then becomes this demon for one to surrender. The way masturbation exists in her life is different from the way it exists in mine. For me, since masturbation doesn’t play this role of a demon in my life, it doesn’t have value for me to surrender.

Demons and egos are essentially the same. They can attach to you, but they are not of you. God is not a formulated character that pops out of nowhere and attacks your true self. God is the eternal that resides in you, because your true self is a mirror of God. But there is something to be learned from this discussion of masturbation. The key here is that the type of identity something has in a person’s life is completely unique to the individual.

Is Hip Hop a “He” or “She?”

Even when we look at hip hop, we see both masculine and feminine identities. Two perfect examples are Common and Erykah Badu’s separate odes to Hip Hop.

Hip hop is heavily a overrun male rappers and male opinions, but in Common’s excellent ode to Hip Hop titled, “I used to love h.e.r.,” Hip Hop takes the form of a woman that he adored and understood was a free spirit he couldn’t have to himself, that he respected and gained wisdom from. Hip Hop was a woman who moved to her own beat, a beat that he was grateful she showed him.

I USED TO LOVE H.E.R – COMMON

I met this girl when I was 10 years old
And what I love most she had so much soul.
She was old school, when I was just a shorty
Never knew my whole life she would be there for me
On the regular, not a church girl she was secular
Not about the money, those studs was mic checkin’ her
But I respected hershe hit me in the heart
A few New York niggas, had did her in the park
But she was there for me, and I was there for her
Pull out a chair for her, turn on the air for her
And just cool out, cool out and listen to her
Sittin’ on a bone, wishin’ that I could do her
Eventually if it was meant to be, then it would be
Cuz we related, physically and mentally
And she was fun then, I’d be geeked when she’d come around
Slim was fresh yo, when she was underground
Original, pure, untampered, a down sister
Boy I tell ya, I miss h.e.r

On the other hand, in Erykah Badu’s ode to hip hop “Love of my Life,” Hip Hop was her childhood sweetheart, the guy she grew up with, that she fell in love with, that knew everything about her. People experience both a feminine and masculine relationship with hip hop. In that same sense, some people feel God’s feminine/maternal or masculine/paternal influence. That’s just how it appeared to them.

Love of My Life (Ode to Hip Hop)– Erykah Badu

I met him when I was a,
A little girl, he gave-
He gave my poetry
He was my first
But in my heart I knew I
Wasn’t the only one
‘Cause when the tables turned
He had to break
Whenever I got lonely
or needed some advice
He gave me his shoulder
His words were very nice
But that is all behind me
‘Cause now there is no other
My love is his and his is mine
A friend became the
Love of my life