OWL Scripture Reflection – Winter 2022
By Amy Johnson
UCC Minister for Sexuality Education and Justice
15God spoke further to Moses: “Tell the children of Israel: ‘YHWH, the I AM,’ the God of your ancestors, the God of Sarah and Abraham, of Rebecca and Isaac, of Leah and Rachel and Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my Name forever; this is the name you are to remember for all generations.”
Exodus 3:15, The Inclusive Bible
The personal name for God, Yaweh, revealed to Moses in the scripture above, is a remarkable combination of both female and male grammatical endings. The first part of God’s name in Hebrew, “Yah,” is feminine, and the last part, “weh,” is masculine.[i]
God transcends gender. The still-speaking, non-binary God who created us and called us very good; the God who is always and everywhere, who set themselves free in human form to teach us; the God who is—transcends gender. And we, whom God created and called very good, were created in God’s image. It follows, then, that we as humans also transcend gender.
Gender as a construct has very real effects and consequences on each of us. These vary in type and by intensity depending on who our families our, in which communities we live and engage, where in the state or country or world we live, if and how we practice religion, and whose voices we listen to.
The next thing on my plate today is a meeting to plan for the Reimagine Youth Ministry event, where I am presenting a workshop about Reimagining Sacred Bodies and Relationships. So I invite you to reimagine with me. Reimagine biblical translations, like the one above, which include more than male names for our ancestors. Reimagine young people who are grounded in the knowing that whatever gender they are, they are created in the very image of God, and they are very good. Reimagine a society where power structures and institutions reflect this honoring of all genders, and treat each human being with respect and dignity, in all the ways they identify, express themselves, and engage in loving and consensual relationships with one another.
And then remember. Remember that this is entwined with our work with Our Whole Lives and Sexuality and Our Faith. Creating places where conversations about bodies, relationships, gender, and consent are welcome. Places where we acknowledge harm that has occurred and work to repair that harm– in our own OWL programs, in our faith communities, in our country, and in our world. May it be so.
[i] (https://theconversation.com/what-the-early-church-thought-about-gods-gender-100077; David Wheeler-Reed. Aug 1, 2018. “What the early church thought about God’s gender”).