The author argues there that the Christa is a stunning expression of Christ’s solidarity. Some women find a man hanging on the cross to be alienating, especially if men have been the source of their pain but the Christ figure as feminine brings them a way to connect with it. This is not an unfamiliar concept in art: think of black, Indian or Korean Jesus.
Of course, there are dangers associated with this idea:
- Women are so often depicted as victims of violence. This image may only reinforce that representation.
- Depicting Jesus as a woman crucified may give the impression of womankind being crucified, as if femininity in itself is sinful.
- Jesus was, in fact, a man. If you push the Christa idea even a little too far, you disconnect it from the historical Jesus, at which point the hope of both atonement and resurrection is lost.
However, I’m intrigued by the depth of meaning this image evokes. I think this exists on two levels.
- Jesus died for my sin. The Christa’s body looks like mine and it brings into very real perspective the truth that it should have been me there, that “It was my sin that held him there until it was accomplished”. The Christa arouses in me a deep thankfulness, a new perspective on Christ’s substitution for me.
- Jesus knows my pain. This is Hebrews’ foundation for Jesus being an empathetic high priest. But in my cynical moments I wonder, did he merely suffer as a male? Does he understand the experience of suffering as a woman? The Bible never answers this question because the categories are foreign to it: Jesus is humanity’s high priest, knowing humanity’s suffering. Yet, thinking of the Christa, I get a tangible sense that perhaps this is true, that Jesus does know the suffering of humanity, including women. Nicola Slee writes of ‘Every woman forced to have sex who didn’t want it… The woman you meet in the street with bruises up her arm… The anorexic teenager starving her young body… The women who walk through thousands of miles of war-zone with babies on their hips… Christa, our sister.”
It is Jesus Christ, risen and reigning whom I worship and follow, not the Christa, a mere idea. However, as a piece of art, I have found it helpful this Easter both to know that Jesus has come close to me and that I can confidently draw close to him.
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.