The Effeminate Jesus

It’s strange that we can be advanced on so many topics and technologies in 2022, yet there are still people who believe that emotions are weak and ungodly for leaders of the church.


5 min read

It’s strange that we can be advanced on so many topics and technologies in 2022, yet there are still people who believe that emotions are weak and ungodly for leaders of the church.

This was not a joke, friends.

This tweet has blown up, as you can imagine. Here’s my response:

This debate of how to lead or market a church—feminine or masculine—is not as uncommon as we’d all like it to be. The question in my experience has been “who will really bring the family to church?” I was part of a church staff with two male senior pastors who disagreed on this front.

“You get the dads, you get the family,” one would say or communicate through their obvious bias in decision-making.

“If the moms are bought in, the family will follow,” says the other.

I side with the invisible and often shunned (albeit arguably more Christlike) lane of “Both men and women are of equal importance, every family is different, and not all men and women are moms and dads.”

I digress.

In case you need a quick refresh, here’s what good ol’ Google reveals about this stark word used to denigrate men, pastors, women, Jesus, and the church.

I love that they even flag the word as derogatory as if to remind any man named “effeminate” that they were just wildly insulted.

I think we can all agree (though it’s 2022, so it’s possible we don’t all agree) that Jesus was a man — biologically, fundamentally, man. Jesus was also the human embodiment of an omniscient, omnipotent, supernatural God who is far above any sort of gender nominals. But Jesus of Nazareth came to earth as a man — fully man and fully God.

To make such a blanket statement that an effeminate man cannot lead a church (or be strong, for that matter) is to exclaim some pretty bold and incorrect statements about who Jesus was (not to mention the disregard for how it belittles women as naturally weak for their femininity).

I missed the part of Creation where God made women weak, in someone else’s image. Or are we saying that God is weak? Tricky path to walk.

Let’s clarify some of the cultural behaviors our culture claims to be more feminine than masculine:

  • Nurture—Namely, the specific ways a mother cares for her child or dear loved ones.

  • Emotions—For the sake of this guy’s ignorant tweet, I’ll emphasize sadness, crying, sensitivity, and empathy.

  • Compassion/Comfort—We assume women are more willing to wrap an arm around loved ones and sit with them in times of need or go out of their way to care for the needs of a grieving friend, etc.

  • Humility—Though often forced upon women, there is an expectation that quiet, reserved, humility is more of a feminine feature, a willingness to blend into the background. (Well, that’s really not humility, but it’s what people expect humility to look like in women.)

  • Hospitable—Where does she belong? In the kitchen! (Please see my sarcasm seep through here.) The hospitable nature of welcoming friends and family to dine together or share a holiday together is apparently only reserved for women.

I’m sure you could add a few more to this list.

Here’s a snapshot of moments throughout Jesus’ life that show his effeminate side:
(*gasp* not Jesus being the exact effeminate representation of a leader this guy is referring to!)

  • Nurture
    “People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.”
    (Mark 10:13–14; emphasis mine)

  • Emotions
    “Jesus wept.”
    (John 11:35)

  • Compassion/Comfort
    “Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.’”
    (Luke 8:41–42)
    —The significance of this story (the bleeding woman who reached out and touched Jesus’ cloak) is the upside kingdom represented through the way Jesus took the time to recognize her, allowed her to be healed by his touch, and therefore revealed himself to be unconcerned with the “unclean” rituals the Jews lived by so fervently because his compassion outweighed the rigidity of the law.

  • Humility
    “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
    (John 15:13)
    —Jesus’ humility is most obvious through his sacrifice on the cross, but not lost throughout his ministry in general.

  • Hospitable
    “‘Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.’”
    (John 2:10)
    —Jesus’ first miracle was being the most hospitable host there ever could be by turning water into wine at a wedding. He didn’t just offer more wine though, he offered the best wine.

Why does all this matter?

After all, Dale Partridge claimed that an effeminate pastor was a danger, not Jesus. But the two are inextricably tied because pastors are called to shepherd in the shadow of the Good Shepherd. If we are called to live like Jesus, then we have to recognize both sides of his nature — male and female. (Again, I’m not saying he was biologically female, just to be clear).

If both male and female were made in the image of God, then it stands to reason that there would be a feminine nature within Jesus, too — because He is God incarnate.

We can even clearly see Jesus’ “feminine” nature through his life on earth. If we’re really honest, the problem here is just semantics because it’s all based on what our American, Western, 21st Century culture deems to be “feminine” and “masculine”. But that’s the exact problem.

If Christians are to be a witness to the life of Christ and the gospel of faith, then we should be basing our standards on Jesus’ life and God’s character, not this world’s.

Dale here does exactly the opposite in siding with this belief that being sad, crying, being sensitive or hospitable, humble or overly compassionate is somehow a weakness. (I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that he didn’t specifically name effeminate characteristics, but I think we can read between the lines).

That’s what the world has told us for many, many years — that women have their place in society and their female characteristics have no place in leadership and men have their place and their male characteristics have no place in childrearing (or the like).

What Jesus lived out and preached was quite the opposite — the upside-down kingdom.

“He said:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 5:3–10

The church should be teaching the truth of who Jesus is, and that might mean recognizing there is strength in femininity just the same as there is strength in masculinity, but leave it to one side or the other and that’s where the danger lies.

So, I will just reiterate my response to Mr. Partridge and leave it at that.