Who is He–He is She

It’s a way to remember pronouns in Hebrew…who is he; he is she; dog is fish…

It’s also, perhaps, a way of looking at God…at the masculine AND the feminine aspects of God…at the fact that God is both male and female and yet transcends gender altogether. Quite frankly, I’m tired of only hearing about God using masculine pronouns. I go to church on Sunday morning and (though I haven’t actually kept count), I hear “he” and “him” and “his” in reference to God more than the actual name of God…and it makes me cringe every time I hear it. That’s why I refer to God as God, not as him or her…and that’s why, if you stand close enough to hear me sing on Sunday mornings, I have been known to change the words of songs, substituting God (or some variation on God’s name) for he, him and his…

I recognize that our faith is the product of a masculine, patriarchal society. It was developed by men way more than women. The problem is that now, there’s no room for the femininity of God. Most people in the church won’t even consider it.

If we are all created in the image of God, and we all have masculine and feminine qualities, don’t you think God does, too? If God is not in some ways a woman, how can I as a woman fully relate to God?

The Asian tradition views the Trinity as a family…you have God the Father, Christ the Son and Spirit…you guessed it…the Mother. When you think about the characteristics we attribute to the Spirit, they are those of a more feminine nature…nurturing, counseling, advising, comforting, life-giving…and all of that is rolled up into the whole of who God is.

Don’t get me wrong…I’m not suggesting that ministers get up and pray to Mother God from the pulpit on Sunday mornings. As tempting as that would be, it would create more problems that it’s worth. I would like to hear the words he, him and his a LOT less on Sunday mornings, though. A LOT less. I just want people to recognize that there’s more to this God whom we claim we want to know more fully. And that perhaps in seeing a fuller picture of God, embracing both God’s masculine AND feminine qualities will enable us to relate to God and to one another in an entirely different way.

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3 thoughts on “Who is He–He is She

  1. Add to that the fact that we no longer live in a patriarchal society, rather a society who it is that more fathers than mothers walk out on their families, have affairs, abuse children, etc…

    I’ve never been a victim of any of these, but in some way I can relate to what I’m about to say. My father and I are not close. He isn’t the most easily approchable of people in my life. We are pretty much exact opposites. This is not the picture I have of God.

    My mother and I have always been close. Though far from perfect, she’s understanding, compassionate, honest, blunt, and I just know her better. Therefore, I relate better to the more femenine qualities of God better.

    People who have a bad image of a father figure, or who’s lives are void of father figures, cannot usually relate to the male image of God that we reproduce (mostly in our own image, as even I have just pled guilty to) in our churches. I have a sermon entitled “Mother God” that I’ve never preached. But it’s high time someone did.

    In order to reach people today where they are; 50% in broken familes, we need to reclaim a holistic view of God! If I remember correctly YHWEH was neither masculine or feminine?? i could be wrong on that…my memories have some holes. But either way, there are elements of both gender metaphores for God in the bible. Yes, more male than female due to the pre-modern zeitgeist..but here is another example of how the Christian faith has stopped evolving. How can we be effecitve and holistic ministers in our present climate if we have allowed god to stop revealing more of his nature to us that those of biblical times would not have understood or valued. Face it…. God couldn’t have revealed himself completely and holisticlly in the bible because frankly they weren’t ready to hear a lot of it, or if they had, it wouldn’t have made sense. Tell the patriarchal Pre-modern world that God is gender-nuetral and yet has equal male and female components (aspects, not parts)…they surely would have rejected Christ moreso than they already did. What if Christ had come as a female? His message would never have been spread/heard!

    Maybe it’s time to hear more about “mother God!”

    great post!
    thanks mary!

  2. I cringe too when I hear masculine language referring to God. It gets a little tricky, but I have never referred to God as a He in any sermon I have written.

    Now if only I could have my children to never hear it either, so it would never be an issue for them.

    And I have to add that I love reading my TNIV bible so much more than any other translation.

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