Wednesday, July 15, 2009

God's gender

Pastor: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
Congregation: It is right to give him (God) thanks and praise.
this little substitution ("God" instead of "him") is pretty much the only way i modify the church service i attend every week.

it's not that i'm some kind of stark raving feminist (no offense to them, some of them are my closest friends). it's just that i'm trying to change the way i think of God.

i don't believe God is male. for that matter, i don't believe God is female. after all, God is transcendent, not limited/divided/categorizable in the way we humans are. i'd say God is both male and female, or neither.

but what i believe about God doesn't match up to how i think of God. i think of him as male. see? i just said him without even thinking about it. i picture him talking with a dad-like voice. most of the metaphors i have for God are male: king, (male) shepherd, carpenter... i don't like it. i don't believe it. it's just a reflex, and i don't want that reflex.

i'm not saying we should rewrite the Bible with all gender-neutral pronouns (not like we even have those in english). i don't even necessarily think my church should make this substitution in this line of the liturgy. but i do think that the more i call God "him", the more i slant my image of him toward "him", whereas saying that line a little differently than i've said it for so many years helps remind me not to do that.

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