In my writing about God, I intermix the pronouns I employ for the divine. I’ll use She in one sense, He in another with few rules to distinguish the difference.
It makes perfect sense to me, but I get more questions about this than many of the more provocative things I write. It’s confusing, I’m told.
Of course it is when our most powerful images of God are male.
But I wonder is the confusion necessary. Does it say more about our lens than it does about God, or the clarity of my prose for that matter? We are mentally blocked to view God as anything but male. That, in my mind, is the problem.
In allowing these mental blocks we dissect from God some of the best attributes.
We don’t think about how truly odd it is that we wholeheartedly accept the masculination of God at the expense of the feminine divine.
Go back to the earliest Christian and Jewish story in the first chapter of Genesis. God says “let us” make humans in our image, “male and female he created them.”
Christians recognize the presence of The Trinity — God, Jesus and The Holy Spirit– at this moment of creation, thus the plural pronoun: let us. Just as simply the oldest of texts state God’s image is fulfilled by the creation of male and female.
The Holy Spirit throughout scripture is described in terms that traditionally feminine: The comforter, the counselor, wisdom, for example.
Let’s be clear. I’m not being ground-breaking here. A femine God has historical precedent in spiritual writings, which confronts the accusation that its modern, PC pandering at its best. The idea of a feminine God is easily found among leading Christian and Jewish scholars. For example:
“Christianity is particularly interesting because officially, and I’m being orthodox here, out of the Holy Trinity, the three Gods in one, only one is male. That is the incarnate son, the second version of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, because he was born a man,” writes Andrew Walker, professor of theology and culture, King’s College, London.
“God the father has a male name, but we know that procreation doesn’t occur in spiritual world, so the only reason that Christianity ever came to call God father is because Jesus did.”
It seems pretty basic, really. Why wouldn’t the God of all, but a woman. Why wouldn’t we relish the idea of being pulled fiercely into a maternal embrace or connect with an intimate image of a feminine God?
“Well, for starters how about centuries of masculine cultural dominance and misogyny, duh,” gazillions of women would respond.
True. When I think of how women have been treated by religion I wonder how any woman finds the life-changing relationship with God at all. Somehow they do and because of that force us to rethink our image of God. We benefit.
My personal spirituality moves to a deeper, more meaningful and healing place when I consider and interact with the feminine side of God. When I consider myself as a son in need of comfort, I sense a proximity to God that I don’t with just the notion of “Father God.”
More importantly, when I delve into the most confusing, complicated, often failed part of my life as a lover and companion of women, it helps me to consider a God who created me and celebrates me in that joined expression of equal love. As deeply as I desire love, God so desires me. I rise from my selfishness to a closer form of love God create me to enjoy.
But I started this post talking pronouns, not spiritual vitality. It comes down to this. When I write, I often add an S to the pronoun He. Many tell me this confuses them, which as a writer I work hard to avoid. But as a spiritual sojourner, this small act of confusion packs more punch than the words I write around it.
An example: Let’s say I write something like, As my feet pounded the pavement in jogger’s angst, my mind reeled against an image of an indifferent God who ignores my prayers. A quiet voice interrupts the circling pity in my mind.
I love you, She says.
Fuck that, I say back.
You can’t control me, she says. You can only chose to love me.
And I grow silent. She is right, I think with an angry swipe of the beading sweat on my brow that leaks into my eye like a bee sting. God, I hate it when you are right, I say through heavy breath. Somehow I think I see her beautiful face smile.
Replace the she with he. Read it again, Does it read the same? Not in the least, which is the point. Is it a bit jarring if you only see God as male? Absolutely. But apply the Strunk and White challenge for writers: Does every word tell?
Absolutely. And none “tell” more than the pronoun she.
In my mind, it’s worth the confusion, both as a follower of God and as a writer of such topics.