Chattering Mind

Chattering Mind


God’s Gender

posted by acunningham

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.



Advertisement
Comments read comments(16)
post a comment
Jeremy

posted June 8, 2007 at 6:39 pm


I think it is important that we refer to the Divine in ways that are gender inclusive rather than gender neutral. Dominate “western” religious culture has spent the last two thousand years referring to God as “He,” “Lord,” “King,” etc. It is time to balance the scales by rising up and calling Her name, and not forgetting that the Spirit is also far beyond our limited gender constructs.
Jews and Christians believe that we are “made in the image,” therefore, we should be able to look to any person—male, female, white, brown, grey, gay or heterosexual—and see part of the Face of God.
Sometimes, breaking with traditions, however comforting and familiar, can help to liberate the full Presence of God in our lives.
As Rilke wrote:
We must not portray you in king’s robes,
you drifting mist that brought forth the morning.
Once again from the old paintboxes
we take the same gold for scepter and crown
that has disguised you through the ages.
Piously we produce our images of you
till they stand around you like a thousand walls.
And when our hearts would simply open,
our fervent hands hide you.



report abuse
 

ABJ

posted June 8, 2007 at 7:26 pm


personally, i have the opposite problem….i really dont like it when people refer to God as a she, you get into godess worship and stuff like that…I prefer to refer to God as heavenly father and him.
i do agree with the in his image by



report abuse
 

Ryan

posted June 8, 2007 at 11:54 pm


I think it’s alright to affirm God’s feminine side and God’s masculine side in their turn, just as long as we remember that these are human constructs of great limitation, and do no justice in fully expressing the true awesomeness of the Divine.



report abuse
 

Mike

posted June 9, 2007 at 9:49 am


Well, we have to assume God had something to do with gender being a reality. So we can not say God is genderless, but maybe gender neutral. Nonetheless, even if God is gender neutral, we are all like women before HIM.



report abuse
 

Jim

posted June 9, 2007 at 12:39 pm


In the first place it is refered to God as our Father. Then there is suppose to be the fact that “He” if i may,created man. Then took a rib from Adam,and created Eve.
How anyone would get any facts that God was a women i’ll never know. Got could be anything. Even an animal type for all we know. Seeing animals were created first before us. And then there is proof we have heshe’s in life,with both genders.
So it sounds to me someone is trying to turn minds into thinking women should be superior then they have already accomplished over men,through their own jeolousy to share,as men have shared in the past.



report abuse
 

lolobug

posted June 9, 2007 at 2:08 pm


Male language for God is male worship. So, what’s wrong with goddess worship?
What’s best is both, a balance of both.



report abuse
 

Nate

posted June 9, 2007 at 11:25 pm


I’m a practicing Hindu and in the religion it is very clear that God is both genders and beyond all genders (both the manifested universe and beyond the manifested universe). However most of the texts that have been translated into English often still use the “He”, “Lord”, etc use…unless the text is specifically talking about a feminine aspect like Kali or Durga then “She” and other appropriate gender pronouns are used. At the same time I have read books where when the gender is unclear the word “It” is used. I’ll admit that when I first began exploring Hinduism that I was immediately put off by this use of “It”, but as I got to learn and understand Hinduism more and realized that in Sanskrit how words are masculine, feminine, and neutral all at the same time (and thus change according to use) that the idea of “It” was basically because the Sanskrit word used in those texts was the neutralized version of the word. An example is the word Dev, Deva, Devi. Dev is the neutral, Deva is the masculine, and Devi is the feminine. All translate as “God”. I took me some time to get used to hearing “It” being used or to reading “It” as a translation, but with time I slowly recognized it. However even I, a person who adopted/converted to Hinduism, still often say “He” or “Lord”. It’s not that I think God is exclusively male….in fact even when I’m saying these words there is a larger part of me that thinks “It”….but instead I’ve often found myself using the gender based on what the people around me are using. I’ve talked to folks who refer to God as “She” and when I open my mouth and speak I find myself doing the same thing and yet, once again, thinking “It”. I realize that when I say “It” to some people they react much the same way I first did when I read/heard “It” as used for God. Perhaps its because our language limits the use of that word to things…nonliving things to be specific…and God is very much alive. We have trouble associating the word “It” with God because of our own association of the word “it” as being only for nonliving things. We therefore limit our words. I’ve noticed when speaking to my many Hindu friends…those born into the Hindu tradition, that they often avoid pronouns altogether and stick with names that are often gender neutral…inter-sect used such as Ishvara or Brahman or just “God”. It’s not unusual for them to say “God” rather than “He”, “Him”, “Lord”, etc. Saying things like “God is capable of drawing all people back to God.” It sounds a little odd at first until you realize that’s just because most of us would have said it as “God is capable of drawing all people back to Him.” But I find I can more easily say “God” than I can “It” when I speak and am unaware or unsure of the person I am speaking to’s own use of gender pronouns. So rather than think “do they think of God as ‘he’ or ‘she’ or ‘it'” I just don’t bother with it at all and say “God”. If it comes down to it that I’ve heard what they’ve said and pronouns have become clear I am more apt to just start using the pronouns they use, too. Much the same way as I am when speaking to people and the word “God” is bothersome to them, then the word “Divine” is often used or some other term. Afterall English is only as limited as we make it and so long as the symbolism of our language properly conveys are understanding, then that is what is most important.



report abuse
 

Martie Mahoney

posted June 10, 2007 at 1:02 pm


Growing up in a small town with every faith of worship seemed quite normal to me, it gave me a sense of knowing everyone worships and believes strongly in a higher power. When others services were discussed on Monday, all were referred to as male.To me it was as natural as breathing, it was always comforting to know that kind,strong,forgiving grandfather-like man was there watching over me and my family.Why does it matter so much how we genderize?, as long as we individually have that relationship that fullfills and sustains us,after all, isn’t the message more important than if it came from a man or woman. God Bless



report abuse
 

elmo

posted June 10, 2007 at 2:52 pm


I am a Christian and so I go by the definition found in the chapter 3 of Exodus, where Yahweh defines himself.
That said, I also realize that God is a mystery and can be male/female, or both, or neither, or something else entirely.
That woman who bullied Marianne Williamson does seem rather jealous of the entire male species. I hope she found some way to peace.



report abuse
 

Donny

posted June 10, 2007 at 11:19 pm


The Trinitarian concept appears to try to bring an understanding of the unfathomable.
“Let ‘us’ make man after ‘our’ likeness . . .”
God as a family unit.



report abuse
 

Iris Alantiel

posted June 11, 2007 at 9:27 am


I refer to God as “Him/He”, and it makes no difference to me whether other people say God is male or female. I believe that God is beyond such human distinctions. I can sort of see the point that, even if God is beyond these distinctions, there are implications for us as people. However, I feel that a debate over the gender pronoun we should use for God distracts us from some more important questions. Just use what feels comfortable in your own heart and never mind political correctness.



report abuse
 

lola oates

posted June 11, 2007 at 2:25 pm


as you know jesus has address god as his father.



report abuse
 

dixie

posted June 11, 2007 at 7:20 pm


hello folks, I guess if i thought gender was this important i’d also figure what race and so on, see it don’t matter to me, all that. what matters is that i know that i am not alone any where i go and that i always have unconditional love all the time. pretty simple. wondering about the gender of god makes about as much sense as thinking your worth or value in gods eyes being only monetary. or that the church or the body of believers can only do good if they wait till the money comes before doing anything. look around you at what god did with nothing. thanks for the opportunity to say this. have a beautiful summer.



report abuse
 

Lisa

posted June 12, 2007 at 12:16 pm


My understanding is that the custom of referring to God exclusively as male was really reinforced during the establishment of Christianity by Constantine and by the King James translation of the Bible. From what I’ve read, earlier Greek texts referred to the Holy Spirit as female, thus having a female counterbalance to God the Creator (later translated as God the Father). Also, in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), certain names for God (such as Ruach — the wind or breath) were often used with feminine pronouns.
Certainly most non-Christian (e.g., Hindu) and pre-Christian (e.g., Pagan) traditions recognize both male and female aspects of God. To me, the problem with referring to God exclusively and always as male is that it is too limiting. Maybe that’s what the woman was trying to say to Marianne Williamson — not that she wanted her to always refer to God as “she” (that would be equally limiting), but rather to incorporate/acknowledge God’s feminine qualities as well as masculine (Yin/Yang).
At my church (United Church of Christ), my pastor alternates between male and female pronouns or uses “God” or other gender neutral terms.



report abuse
 

sharon

posted June 14, 2007 at 12:01 pm


The Bible says God our Father



report abuse
 

GAREY

posted June 20, 2007 at 1:54 am


IT IS A RELIGION THING
GOD JUST IS CHRIST TOOK UP IN MAN MAYBE HE WILL COME AS A WO-MAN
NEXT TIME IT’S NOT ABOUT THAT THOUGH ITS ABOUT LOVE
LOVE THY NEIGHBOR AS THYSELF ARE WE ARE BROTHERS KEEPER ?
WHEN WE LOVE THY ENEMY WE LOVE AS GOD THAT IS IT IN A NUT SHELL
Where Are You This Moment
Oh dear God in this exact moment I need to find what I can not
My heart searches the light that eludes my soul this very hour
Is there a sign I have missed in my misguided journey or forgot
In my mind at times You live aloft in some far far distant tower
The road is long and winding set before me to travel and find
This destination that the heart yearns to find peace and comfort
Some call it heaven, others speak of home, not a place but mind
Religion set out sign post but call to pay measured coins of sort
Is Love from God for sale, or is it free will for us to find God’s love
Can you with a treasure find the Utmost High in that far far away land
Must this be the road we travel with each religion at every corner of
Selling the truth that masses buy in measures as they empty our hands
I left that way to seek the road less traveled to find that light post to follow
His truth, His life, His way, is straight as is the light energy of the cosmic force
The Christ is not a man but a way that was to be walked, this path so hallow
He entered a man that gave way to his will to be as one with Father, the source
Yes, I love Jesus, but I love the Christ more, in him our journey begins and fulfills
So, Christ, help me to walk the path and to love as You did so perfectly and commit
Know that distance is not far, but outside space and time, may I love as Christ wills
Fill the days with Christ love , living the moment, not asking where are you this moment
AS YOU MAY GUESS I FIT NOT AS A CHRISTIAN AT LEAST THE MODERN DAY ONE BUT SEE JESUS AS TEACHER MASTER OF MAN A SON OF GOD
AS I AM AND ALL ARE BUT NOT SEASONED OR HONORABLE AS HE
MAY SOME DAY WE SEEK WITH TRUE GODLY LOVE AND FIND THAT GOD THE MOTHER OF ALL CREATION THE FATHER OF ALL WISDOM AND THE SON THAT ALL STRIVE TO BE BECOME AS ONE FOR ALL ETERNITY LOVE TO ALL
LOVES US ALL



report abuse
 

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

More blogs to enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Chattering Mind. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here is another blog you may also enjoy: Inspiration Report Happy Reading!!!  

posted 9:09:39am Jul. 10, 2012 | read full post »

CM's Final Posts: You Can Fill the Space
Eighteen years ago, I wrote an article for a magazine that got me called in for a taped interview with a Fox TV morning news anchor. Being an effective communicator and a skillful public speaker was a dream of mine at the time. And still is. After some 30 minutes of prep with the station's hair-and-

posted 3:14:59pm Jul. 27, 2007 | read full post »

Websites to Visit, Blogs to Read
Here are some blogs and websites I like. It's not a complete list. But it's a start. The first is called New Moon Journal and it is written by Michele Bailey-Lessirard, a life coach, collage artist, and "shamanic astrologer." On the opening page of her site, you'll find a little slide show of her am

posted 1:24:03pm Jul. 27, 2007 | read full post »

Still Posted at My Desk
"Take off from here. And don't be so earnest, let others wear the sackcloth and the ashes. Let go, let fly, forget. You've listened long enough. Now strike your note." From "Station Island," by Seamus Heaney

posted 1:13:33pm Jul. 27, 2007 | read full post »

And Finally, This:
Place your burden at the feet of the Lord of the Universe who accomplishes everything. Remain all the time steadfast in the heart, in the Transcendental Absolute. God knows the past, present and future. He will determine the future for you and accomplish the work. What is to be done will be done at

posted 11:30:38am Jul. 27, 2007 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.