Let’s talk about God.
Early in my career as a minister, I walked into a Sunday School class and heard my wife and another woman arguing about whether God was male. They were both pretty invested in their point of view.
You may have noticed if you listen frequently to this podcast, or if you have heard me speak publicly, that I refer to God as She.
I do that in spite of what I believe about God. I don’t think God is a woman.
The anthropomorhization of God creates, in some ways, bad theology. It conditions us to believe God is just a more perfect version of us. The combination of this bad theology and the prevalence of patriarchy leave most of us both referring to God as he AND not thinking it’s a choice – but an observation or an experience.
It is a choice. And by my own admission calling God She is a choice. Until such time as the collective reflexive vocabulary of the vast majority of worshipers stops referring to God solely as male, I offer with some obstinance and purpose an alternative consideration.
I’m looking at the very least for a more balanced view of the sacred, even if the balance still reinforces the notion that God’s only option is to look like us.
My most passionately held theological belief is simply that God is love. Yes, its biblical. But it is also experiential. The most divine, the most sacred, the most holy thing I have ever experienced is love. There is something deeply spiritual and connectional and communal about love. It builds up where hatred tears down.
It helps me to relate to God not as an actual person, but as the source of love.
And since I have known love powerfully from my mother, it is not hard nor disingenuous for me to imagine God as a good mother.
And since I have also know the love of my beloved Mimi for over 35 years now, the power of that love makes me think of God as a good wife.
And since I have known the love of a dear sister, it is not hard for me to compare that love to what I experience with God.
And since I have known the love of a daughter whom I adore, and who finishes every phone with me saying “I love you more,” it is not hard for me to imagine God’s love is like that of a doting daughter.
Mentors and friends and spiritual directors and pastors whom I have know through the years have been women and have shared the power of a deep and abiding love with me.
I am not suggesting the same isn’t true of dads and brothers and husbands and sons. I’m just suggesting that for too long our language has only ever given us one option. The bad theology that this reflects leads to bad behavior and power imbalances in our culture.
Today in worship I heard the pastor introduce the Lord’s Prayer by saying, “Let us pray as Jesus taught us, one who loves us as a brother or a sister, to the one whom we know as Our Mother and Our Father, who art in heaven.” It was a beautiful way to speak of the enormity of love we feel in the wake and presence of the sacred one who simply loves us.
I invite you to go on a spiritual journey, expanding your theological horizons.
When the love of your mother or your sister or your wife or your daughter or your mentors warms your heart – pray to the God who loves you like a mother/sister/daughter/wife. Use female prounouns in your prayers – not as rebellion but as authentic language for what your heart already knows and has experienced.
There are new things to learn and experience when do free ourselves from the constraints of narrow theology. That opening up of our hearts to the possibilities of the sacred is life-giving. See with new eyes, hear with open ears what the Still-speaking God can reveal on this, our journey Into the Mystic.