Thursday, March 01, 2007


Not sure if I've written on this before now..If I have, forgive me for the rerun....

I had a conversation with a friend last night and I was trying to explain my desire to hear/read inclusion language concerning God.... I really feel uncomfortable hearing/seeing "He" or "His" in reference to God.... I said that God is neither male nor female. And he asked "what about the whole thing about "Father" and Jesus as "son." here's my personal story first and then I'll come back to the theological reasoning in a moment.

My mother was the most important person in my life--as many mothers are for their children. She was probably the most "real" Christian I have ever known (of her generation). She was deeply passionate about caring for those in need; usually serving as the chair of the Missions Committee and/or as an officer in United Methodist Women (women's missions organization). The only time I can remember her leaving home for any events was to go once a year to the UMW's School of Christian Mission. All this is to say, my passion for missions was instilled by my mother. My faith was nutured by her--every night ended with a reading from "Little Visits with God." The only items I can ever remember seeing her sit and read were Mission magazines, Disciple Bible Study, or her Sunday school lessons and circle materials...ok, so I think she had a subscription to Ladies' Home Journal, Better Homes & Gardens, and Redbook, but I think she only bought those for the recipes!

Anyway, she died of cancer at age 60 when I was 30 years old. For a long time, I was very depressed and unhappy, and found it very difficult to pray. I wouldn't have admitted it at the time, but I was probably very angry at God for allowing it to happen. She suffered terribly in the last months of her life. When she died, none of her children had yet produced a grandchild. That was her one regret. She loved children so deeply (she had been a teacher) and she wanted to spoil those grandbabies that were yet to be..... ok, so I was probably rip, roarin' mad at God, but I couldn't express that.

How could I be mad at God? I was the Associate Pastor of a large church...I had to lead prayers every Sunday and teach and preach and worship....besides all that, I knew that "She was in a better place." She wasn't afraid to die and I knew that she was with God... does this relate to any of this God language stuff?

In finally beginning to work through my grief, it took me a while to realize that the things that I missed about my mother were the qualities about her that were "God-like." What I missed more than anything was her unconditional love for me. What I wanted more than anything was to be a child again and crawl up in her lap.

Once I started to connect these dots, I began to "recover the feminine in God." The qualities that I missed in my mother were available to me through God. It was only when I began to envision God as Mother that I was able to begin to let go of my grief and begin to pray again.

So, back to the theological reasoning... God is NEITHER male nor female exclusively--but rather both. If I as a woman am created in the image of God, doesn't that mean that part of God's image has to be female?

As far as the "son" part: Yes, Jesus was male, but that was the "earthly" Jesus--he had to be one gender or the other...However, I'm not sure that the eternal "Christ" has to be thought of as exclusively male.

As for the Holy Spirit: neither male nor female.....

Our language, especially English, is quite limiting.... It places the God of the Universe into small, finite bits. I chose to do my best to not limit the qualities of God to all those that we humans associate with males.

The One who created the universe is much bigger than any of the words that we use.....

No comments: