I sometimes make God sound male in my blog posts by using the words “His” or “Him.” I apologize to anyone who is offended by this. The politically correct part of me knows that making God male isn’t right, but in truth, I refer to God that way mainly because I tend to stay faithful to old translations and traditional language. I like antiques.
At my son’s bar mitzvah, the rabbi offered me some neutral translations, and I told him I preferred the language I was most familiar with “May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face shine upon you…”
Three years ago, I was standing in a line of women waiting to give my business card to spiritual teacher Marianne Williamson. She had just completed a stirring speech at Washington D.C.’s National Cathedral. I was second in line when an older woman in front of me started lecturing Williamson for referring to God as male through her pronoun use. The complaining woman was understandably irate, but she lambasted Williamson for so long that it ultimately became tiresome. I remember she was saying things like, “You don’t know how hard feminists of my generation have been working on this issue. You don’t seem to realize how important this whole question of gender is…” And Williamson was great. Very composed. She kept mirroring back phrases like “I hear you,” “I know,” “I understand why you are upset.”
Finally, the angry woman stomped off, and Williamson bit her lip, looked at the rest of us standing there and said, “How’d I do?” And we all laughed off the tension.
I will say this: When I use “Him” or “His” or “Lord,” I’m really am thinking “Almighty” in gender-neutral terms. I truly don’t see God as male. And I think it is delightful when speakers go out of their way to say “Her.” I relish that newness, but I just haven’t made the transition yet despite the fact that the “movement” to make God gender neutral has been around for twenty or thirty years or more.
How strongly do you feel about this issue? I’m curious. I’m thinking I should bring this idea into my higher consciousness and probably make the permanent gender-neutral switch.