“Any change, even change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.” – Arnold Bennett

Traditionally, at least in the three monotheistic religions, God is most often referred to as male. The holy texts of these religions are full of references to Him, His and He with very few images including God’s feminine side. This is not surprising if you take into account the communities in which these text were formulated; strong patriarchal societies in which woman did not feature prominently in public areas and matters.

Throughout the centuries this perception about God did not change drastically. In sermons, treatise, theology and discussion the habit to refer to God in masculine terms continued unabated. This comes as no surprise as God was, more often than not, used in justification for conquest, war, crusades and exploitation. It is difficult to use female imagery in terms of God if one is about to use the same God to perpetrate violence.

It has been said it is a man’s world and this is the world that I, and many of you, grew up in. The language of this world is the language that had a vast influence on the way we think and the way we think about God. The question is: knowing the influence historical forces had on our language about God, should we continue in the same vein?

It seems we have the opportunity to re-evaluate the restraints that is placed on the discussion about God. We can simply continue being gender insensitive and use male or female references to exclude people and to try and bend God to our own agenda.  The alternative is to have a good look at the Sacred Texts and to realize that, although it is a patriarchal society, there are moments of the other.

Genesis kicks off with a stunning, often missed, remark. God created humankind in (S)His) image, male and female (S)He) created them. This is followed up in Deuteronomy with God saying She gave birth. These are only two of a number of references where God is not depicted in traditional male terms, others can be found in the poetry of the Bible, the prophecies of the Word and the witness of the Second Testament.

The ancients found a way to depict the holiness and otherness of God. They combined words, used the nouns of one word and the vocals of another. This became the way to write the name of God. Hidden amongst the web of words is the visible reminder that the Real Story is not about us but about God; without becoming so other worldly that we won’t recognize it. The Real Story is about a God who does not exclude people, anything for that matter, based on language, race or creed.

Advertisements