Gendo Ikari is one of anime’s great villains. Some 15 years after Evangelion originally aired, he remains hated, the very picture of a vile father willing to sacrifice his son (and the entire world, even) for his obsession.
But even Gendo has a tender side. Even Gendo was once in love.
In the following portion of the Evangelion manga, Gendo makes some interesting statements about love and about God. He claims that God gave him Yui, and then after she is absorbed, questions why God gives and takes away.
The question Gendo poses is one that countless others have asked, and that Christians frequently posit as well, even if we might “know” the answers to it in our heads.
The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.
– Job 1:21
Gendo doesn’t explain what he believes the answer was to his question, “If he was going to take her away, why did he give Yui to me?” But he does make a decision – like so many villains before and after him, Gendo determines to become God.
The answer to Gendo’s question, though, is quite contrary to what he resolves to do. Near the ending of Job, throughout which the title character has struggled with the loss of all he held dear, God lets him and his “friends” know that, well, He is God. We can’t always know the answers, for we are not.
And in that seeming insecurity we peculiarly can find hope. For in all the pain and loss in this world, God holds true. His love is true. His promises are true. And when those people and things dear to us disappear, we can cling onto God, for He’s proven that He when all is gone, He will remain. And there’s nothing more assured than that.
2 thoughts on “Gendo Ikari: Yui Give and Take Away”
“God lets him and his “friends” know that, well, He is God. We can’t always know the answers, for we are not.”
I’m going to be a bit…harsher than usual here, and I apologize in advance. :/ It’s basically my take on this whole moral quandary and why people really have it. The problem here is God’s omnipotence, his ability to “see into the mind” of literally everyone involved.
I think what eventually happens is that, sometimes, we start to speculate on the answer to the inquiry….And it looks ugly. Remember that in the Job story, Job’s life was being ruined by a contest between God and the Devil. Essentially, God managed to prove that it was possible to be faithful even if your life was awful. But everyone conveniently glosses over the fact that Job developed horrific skin lesions and lost his entire life to…to a freaking contest! Because God felt like He had something to prove, not Job. That’s not “God works in mysterious ways,” it’s “God subjected you to a living hell to prove a point to the freaking Devil.”
It’s always struck me that I never needed to have faith that God existed, because it was clear to me that the Devil did. What you need to have faith in is that God knows your pain and is actually a decent person. What if “God giveth and taketh away” for reasons that have a lot to do with the human race and nothing to do with your happiness? If Gendo Ikari actually existed, his wife’s death would have been the fuel to ensure that he became a monster, so that Shinji could become a worthy person. And I often have the same quandary when I realize that if my Mom never developed Alzheimer’s, I would have been trapped in a victim mentality for the rest of my life. And Dad might never have been able to heal his heart. But then what about Mom, and how she lost her whole soul to the Void? Was God’s plan really designed to bring justice for her?
And then there’s the strong, unnerving sense I have that Satan fell not just because of his own (Extensive) faults, but because none of us could ever experience the glory of redemption if there was nothing to be redeemed from. Triumph, and glory cannot be felt without sin to triumph over, or in the future….remember.
I don’t think anyone can really answer any of these questions. I definitely can’t. But I think some form of this question haunts a whole lot of people, and that while becoming God and hating God over it is pointless…It needs to be given the depth of examination it deserves. The question is like a plague, or a poison, to someone I love very much, and so I cannot discard it.
Thanks for sharing, as usual. No need for apologies – your comments are always welcome, and indeed, I love it when I see a notification that you’ve left something for us!
I agree that it’s difficult for us to answer these questions. For a lot of them, we simply cannot. We can speculate. And if we do, we might take scripture to guide our speculations, and to ruminate about why things have occurred. The funny thing is, even if we don’t know the answer, or we come to the “wrong” conclusion, God can still use our search to bring him toward him.
Job is a good example – it tells us a lot of things. We see the suffering of Job, and it reminds me of a couple of things that, being completely honest here, is easier for me to see from afar and discuss than accept if I was in the situation, which are that 1) he is human, and our separation from God is so immense that if God were to completely go our of his character and torture us for only his pleasure, we cannot say anything, for we are his clay, and 2) Job is a sinner, as are we all, and our sins ultimately mean eternal separation from God – our suffering here is in large part due to our condition, and becomes an unfortunate foretaste of what hell is like.
Those are part of the lessons of Job that we are to take away, I think. In this day and age, we have a habit of bringing God to human-level, to judge him as human rather than divine, not only as we judge his actions, as if God makes a wager in jealousy or haste, but also in feeling like we know everything about God. I’m certain of this – there’s more to Job than what’s told in the words. If Job’s temporary suffering was vital in bringing untold people to Heaven with him rather than to an eternity in hell, through a plan we’ve never conceived, how then would we consider the story?