Does God have a penis?

Young children will ask, what we as adults consider, outrageous questions. They ask because they don't know, they want to know, and they don't know that its wrong to want to know. This one is particularly challenging. Consider this: western religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) present God as male, referring to god as he or He. While this could be understood as just an idiom, it has had major implications for understanding which of the species is closer to God. However, this question raises another issue: what is it to be a man (and likewise what is it to be a woman). At stake here is the current debate over same-sex marriage. If marriage is defined as the union of one man with one woman (eliminating polygamy as well), then how exactly do we determine what is a man or woman?

If we go with basic biology, a man has a penis and a woman has a vagina or womb, then by definition God is not a man and should not be referred to as he. Indeed, every artwork that portrays God with a male body is thus heretical. Moreover, the male body is no more godlike than a woman's (indeed, according to genesis a man was created from dust, a woman was created from human flesh and has always existed with the inspiration of God). On a more practical level, if a "man" had an accident and lost his penis does that mean he would not be allowed to marry?

If we go with more advanced biology, defining man and woman by sex chromosomes, we still have the same problems. Does God have XX or XY chromosomes, or if one wants to consider Jesus as the embodiment of God, what were Jesus' chromosomes? It might be the case that Jesus had novel genetics that, at a physio-biological level, is associated with his legendary miraculous powers. How telling would a DNA analysis of Jesus be!! So, this definition still leaves God not being a "he."

Another approach would be to define one man with one woman as the two being capable of biologically reproducing. This would exclude same-sex marriage; it also excludes anyone who is sterile (either by accident, surgery or age). The latter seems to be politically untenable. Of course, if the technology developed to cleave two women's eggs together then lesbian marriage would have to be legal (leaving two men marrying inconceivable). Of course, given that it is possible for a woman to get pregnant by spirit alone, it was Jesus' way, could a woman just marry herself (what a tax break!)? Besides, it would seem to take away from the religious/spiritual quality of marriage if its meaning changed with human technology.

If we go beyond biology to make the distinction between man and woman compatible with God being male, then the clarity of what would satisfy the law of one man with one woman becomes fuzzy. What if one person declared themselves a man and the other a woman? If this is not self-determined then who will be the one to authorize the sex of people? Doctors? Bureaucrats? At what price?

Clearly, the volatile nature of the same-sex marriage debate is based not only in morality but also theology. It may be that the greatest irritant is not moral indignation (life is full of indignities), but rather, the fundamental contradiction in a world view that conceives of God as male and only male. It certainly seems to engender a crisis of belief.