This past week there's been some Internet talk about whether Christians can rightly refer to God as a She, as God our Mother. I find this conversation fascinating. I also find it troubling--especially since Christians can't seem to have this conversation without throwing around the word "heretic." I don't find it helpful or loving for Christians to call each other heretics. I think it creates an us vs. them mentality and does not advance the cause of love in this world. So, let's not do that here, k?
Allow me to preface this post by saying this: God is big enough to find us anywhere. It's OK to be wherever we are on our faith journey. You will have no judgment from me in that regard. Peace and love and light be with you as you travel! If your journey takes you outside Christianity, I still have nothing but love and acceptance and big, warm hugs for you! :)
I'm writing this post is for those of us who have found our way back to Christianity. I'm writing this post for those of us who DO affirm the Nicene Creed. For us, there DOES come a time when we defer our preferences (and for me, my FEARS!) to the teachings of our Christian faith. With that in mind, I'll share my thoughts on why it's important for Christians to be careful to how we refer to God.
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As Christians, we have been taught how to refer to God by Jesus Himself.
I find it only respectful to defer to the pronouns God has chosen to use about Himself. Which is to say, God calls Himself Father. And when Jesus taught us to pray, He told us to address God using the words: "Our Father."
Yes, throughout Scripture, God uses traditionally feminine imagery to describe facets of His nature and His behavior towards us. But figurative descriptions are not the same as literal statements.
When Jesus teaches us about His Father, speaks about His Father and prays to His Father, He always uses male pronouns. Why? Because the First Person of the Trinity is God the Father, not God the Mother.
I've had several people tell me that Jesus taught us to pray to a Father because, in a patriarchal context, a female pronoun would have scandalized the listeners. That doesn't seem right to me.
I mean, what are we saying? That Jesus was just trying to make His words relatable to a certain time and place? This can't be true because if Jesus' Words are Truth then they transcend time, place and context--patriarchal or otherwise.
Furthermore, by claiming the use of male pronouns as contextual to patriarchy, we are saying that the Holy Spirit was bound by time and place. By dismissing "God our Father" as the result of patriarchal society, don't we diminish the power of the Holy Spirit?
Patriarchy wasn't (and isn't!) more powerful than the Holy Spirit.
Patriarchy isn't the boss of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus didn't bow to patriarchy's preference for male pronouns. The Holy Spirit didn't check in with patriarchal society and get its pronouns approved before letting Jesus teach us how to pray!
The work Christ did was for all times and places and peoples--and His Spirit was at work then just as it is now.
And through the power of His Holy Spirit, Jesus chose to use the word Father. Jesus used a male pronoun all the time when referring to The One Who sent Him. If nothing else, I think it's wise for me to respect the pronoun Jesus chose to use when addressing His Father.
Furthermore, it's a fallacy to claim Jesus used "Our Father" because He didn't want to scandalize His followers. Jesus never shied away from scandalizing His followers. In fact, scandal was the very definition of His ministry! After all, His scandalous claims got Him crucified.
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Still, I agree that God--as expressed in The Trinity--contains both male and female. This is why, in Genesis 1:27, we are told that both male and female are created in God's image.
I also completely understand the desire--no, the NEED--to be able to relate to God via my God-imaged femininity. As a woman who has experienced severe spiritual abuse at the hands of men, I completely understand the pain of being forced to relate to God through a male-dominated narrative.
It took me a very long time to be able to call God my Father again. It's a sad testament to the abuse I experienced that I am often triggered by "alpha male" language--especially when it is used in conjunction with Scripture.
However, what I've discovered is that my reactions are often sourced in reactions to prideful POSTURING and not MALENESS, per se. I am triggered by swaggering, bigger-than-you posturing. I have been bullied and abused by behavior like that.
And to be quite honest, I also suffered the same kind of abusive posturing and behavior at the hands of women. Abuse isn't mutually exclusive to men. Both men and women can engage in abusive behavior and posturing.
But as I've found a gentle mother in Mary, she is teaching me about the gentleness of my Savior. Her merciful, sweet love has gently led me back into an increasingly trusting relationship with God my Father.
I am discovering God my Father delights in me. He loves me with an everlasting love. He provides for me, loves me unconditionally and cares for my every need.
God is doing for me what I could not do for myself; mainly, heal from the abuses of men. Earthly fathers may have failed me, but God my Heavenly Father is demonstrating His abounding faithfulness to me.
It is my honor to call Him Father, Daddy, Abba.
His arms are thrown wide to welcome me--to welcome us all.
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