The Bible is full of feminine imagery for God. God speaks through Isaiah saying, “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you” (66:13). He speaks through Job, “From whose womb comes the ice? Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens…?” (38:29). Jesus says, “…how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings” (Matthew 23:37). Yet we often read right through these passages without really paying attention to a key part of their significance.
Our conference gift bag at “Q” included a recent Nooma video, titled “She.” I thought it was interesting. It wasn’t a deep theological treatise on gender. It simply encouraged us to remember that God created both male and female in the image of God, and pointed to God’s own references to himself in that sense.
Those female descriptions are wonderfully affirming to women. It allows us to see our unique identity in our creator. Yet I know this perspective makes some men uncomfortable, though I don’t really understand why. It’s like looking at a guy who’s a long-time friend and saying, “I can really see your mother in you.” Depending on his relationship with his mother, that could probably be taken as either a compliment or a huge criticism, but you get the point. The statement doesn’t in any way challenge his masculinity. It’s an observation of origin, of connectedness.
God transcends and somehow also includes male & female. To ignore the female aspect of God is to dismiss something central about who he is. So, as the video handbook closes,
“May you embrace the God who’s bigger than any of our language. May you celebrate all of the images and pictures and metaphors that help us better understand who God is and what God is like.”
6 thoughts on “she”
I think you’ve really hit the nail on the head here. We tend to see God’s use of masculine terms such as “father” and masculine pronouns as having a profound significance on his gender. But we need to see that God created us in his image as male and female. We are incomplete in a way without our mate, but he is complete in himself. He contains both the masculine and feminine aspects in perfect balance and harmony.
Thank you. I especially like your point about men/women becoming one, but God is complete in himself. Great observation.
We were studying the first two chapters of Genesis yesterday in Bible Study, focusing on being women (because it’s a women’s bible study group) created in God’s image. Synchronicity!
I found myself wondering about this during the study though: obviously God created us to have a mate, and since the Fall presumably it is no longer possible for everyone to find the “perfect” mate for themselves, and some people remain single. Paul reckons that it is better to be single than married. I guess that this view would have been different had the Fall not happened…?
Oh yeah, and I also was thinking about the fact that Tom Cruise’s corny line from Jerry Maguire “You complete me” was actually sort of spot on, which I’ve always thought was wrong, because we are only complete in Christ.
Thank you for writing this post. It’s funny, because I have been thinking about this very topic over the past couple of days. I think that masculine language predominates in our description of God because we are using the extremely limited human language to try and describe the greatness of our Lord. I think you are correct that he transcends this language and that, as the previous commenter said, God is complete in himself. Love it!
There’s this little glimmer of hope. A hope that someday, probably not in my lifetime, that people will go to a conference and talk about human rights. They won’t talk about Women’s lib or Patriarchy or the stone-fingered crush of masculinity…because it won’t be so much of an issue anymore. That said, I know it’s just a glimmer.
We still have to deal with people who think it’s more important to feed a starving boy than a starving girl. We still have to deal with people demonizing certain ethnicities and bending on their extinction. We still have to deal with prejudice against ideas of all kinds. I have to. I know I do. God as female, God as male. Whatever God is, I doubt that God is very much pleased with us right now.
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