Ok, maybe God isn’t a girl. But according to God’s declaration that male and female are both made in His/Her divine image, God isn’t a boy either. I suppose this notion tends to make many of us uncomfortable because we have been using masculine pronouns for so long that God is often thought of as a wise, powerful old man.
I wonder if this way of viewing God can have a negative impact on how we experience God, ourselves, and others. If God is seen as purely male, then is He stripped of all things feminine? In extreme cases God might become more authoritarian than nurturing–more powerful than compassionate. If God is a man, then men have to act like men. Is a man who is “soft” and has no desire to be a leader seen as having strayed from his design? Is a woman seen as missing something essential? Should she, therefore, be seen as incapable of being a leader inside the home or church?
Of course I am not suggesting that God isn’t masculine. Certainly God embodies the best of masculinity. I just believe that God also embodies the best of femininity. I believe that submissive men and authoritative women are just as much bearers of God’s Image as the opposite. And, of course, I believe that to be just as true with those who inhabit the egalitarian household and Church.
I just wonder what God experiences we miss out on when we try to attribute one exclusive gender to Him. If we feel like God is drawing us in as a nursing mother, could our need for God to be a man keep us from fully experiencing that embrace?
I also wonder if seeing God as one particular gender can negatively impact the view we have of ourselves. If I am a man who isn’t interested in sports, can’t start a fire, and is moved to tears by beautiful poems, am I somehow flawed? If I am a woman who pursues a career and participates as a leader in my household, should I see my deepest desires as evil?
I also wonder what Body of Christ experiences we miss out on when we try to attribute one exclusive gender to God. If we need God to be a woman, will we welcome the patriarch of a family warmly? If we need God to be a man, will we see as lesser the leadership of a woman or effeminate man?
I also wonder what beauty could come from viewing both our masculinity and femininity as being born out of God’s Image. I wonder how many of our stereotypes and prejudices would simply wash away. I wonder how much more we would experience the true unity of the Body of Christ. I wonder how much more transformative our own experiences with God would be. I wonder how much deeper our acceptance of ourselves would be. Perhaps it’s time we intentionally dislodge our need to attribute a particular gender to God. Perhaps we need to humbly admit that we don’t know as much about Her as we once thought.