Jesus – A Boy In A Non-Binary Way

28 Dec


Photo by Christopher Campbell on Unsplash

We all know the excitement of waiting for the birth of a child.

We may be waiting by the phone and when it rings hearing the words. “It’s a girl” or “It’s a boy”.  The moment we get that news we begin to imagine a live for the little one based on the description of their gender. Its hard not to. We are wired that way in our dualistic world. You are one or the other in so many definitions and gender is just one of hem.

By virtue of your gender you are placed in a box of expectations and social mores that will impact on you for the rest of your life. How you dress, do your hair, who you marry, the type of work you may do and whether you are good at makeup, cooking or tinkering with cars and which church you can become a priest in. Dualism is often the only choice we have – this or that.

In recent times there has arisen a new way to describe gender – non-binary or gender fluid – implying that one’s gender is not fixed but in fact can and does move across a spectrum from one to another, often sitting somewhere in between. There has been much discussion about transgender where one chooses to be the other in a definite choice, but non-binary or gender fluid allows you to move according to where you find yourself within yourself and responding to the world around you as appropriate in that moment.

When Jesus was born, the news spread even without FaceBook – “It’s a boy” – and immediately a set of expectations appropriate to his culture came into play. Yet was Jesus a boy, in the sense he wasn’t a girl? Or was Jesus different.

In the next few minutes I am going to explore three non-binary ideas about Jesus which are important this Christmas.

Jesus was a boy in a non-binary way. 

Yes for all intents and purpose Jesus was a boy – apparently he had the appropriate plumbing. Yet throughout his life Jesus was more than the gender he was born with. He was aware of his completeness as a human being and was able to engage with the full breadth of his humanity – his feminine and masculine traits being visible in his engagement with those he shared his life and those he encountered. He was just at home with a women suffering from what we would now discreetly call women’s problems and with men struggling to fit the stereotype of wealth and success deemed necessary for a good provider; he understood the softer moments with his friends Mary and Martha as well as the blokey stuff with Peter and the boys. While the Gospel writers concentrate on the boys in the story Jesus was well aware of the role women played and how vital they were to his very existence. Jesus was no stereotypical bloke and he was, in this sense, gender fluid.

How different life in world would be if we could embrace this sense of non-binary or gender fluidity within both the church and society. Perhaps if we did so we would see less of the violence against women, be it sexual, domestic or simply the closed doors in male dominated hierarchies like the church. Perhaps if we could understand that to be completely human we are to be non-binary in our understanding of ourselves and therefore more at ease with the diversity of gender within ourselves and others.

Jesus was an adult and a child in a non-binary way.

When a child is born we go all-gooey and wax lyrical about beauty, innocent and cuteness in a way that should embarrass us.  But at some point that comes to an abrupt stop and we hope that they mature quickly because their antics somewhere between baby and adult can be trying. The little things that we used to think were cute and innocent cease to be so when they are 20, 30 or 40 and we are over it.

Yet childlikeness is an important trait I hope we never lose, even though it may annoy our parents and our partners.  One day, on High Street, I noticed a grandmother and a 3 year ol;d on the foot path. The grandmother was ahead of the child who was dawdling along looking at everything. Noticing a tree she went up to it and sat on her haunches and looked at it for a number of minutes, then giving it a knowing touch she slowly moved on.

Jesus’ life was both mature and childlike and often somewhere in between. Unless you become like a little child he both said and practiced. You see, Jesus saw through the eyes of a child the value of others not valued by society, he had no problems sitting down with the outcast and difficult. When our daughter was young and we were in the Salvos, where ever we were in NSW we would often get visited by an old time swagman we knew as Old Bill. He would turn up on our doorstep with his swag and his battered old guitar. A man of fewer than few words he would share a meal and then sit with Katrina, a very small child and they would sing and clap and share the joy of life together. It did not matter to her that he smelt a bit, wasn’t dressed well or had few teeth. He was Bill and she loved him for being Bill. Jesus, like a child was able to see the world and the things of creation and reading them in a way that informed his life. He had a childlike understanding of what is right and wrong, what to hold on to and what not. Jesus was both an adult and a child but in a non-binary way.

Finally, Jesus was God and human in a non-binary.

Yes Jesus was born as a little person, a fully human little person with all the evidence of being one of us. He grew and matured Just as we do. He had emotions and feeling, he laughed and cried, he hurt and rejoiced just as we do. Yet at the same time he was more than this bundle of bones held together by tissue weight skin –  he was God-  he was, as he said to us, one with God. I wonder if he said to God – I am one with them? I am sure he did. His identity was not either or but both at the same time.

This is important  for us to understand –  at Christmas God became human so that humans could come to grips with the potentiality alive with in them- within you and me – to be Godlike in all that we are and do. Not God like that we are to be the centre of the world but Godlike in compassion, love, awareness, other focus, selflessness, sacrifice and strength to hold to what is right even though it will take us to the Cross in some way.

 Like Jesus we are humans in a non-binary way. If we are able to understand the incredible possibility that comes to us wrapped in the ordinariness of a baby this day, that is the ultimate gift of Christmas.

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