God As She (2)
AXES AND PRAXIS
Carr has observe that studies of medieval mystics have brought new attention to theological symbols of ‘Jesus as mother’ and the ‘motherhood of God’ as well as to the importance of gender in the analysis of religious symbols. She also notes that there have been proposals for referring to God as ‘parent’ or as ‘father and mother’, or for the balancing use of feminine language for the Spirit, since the Hebrew word for Spirit is grammatically feminine.
Kirk maintains that humanity alone, of all Creation, is in the image of God. Neither sex reflects the imago Dei on its own. He believes that their equal humanity is based on their equal relationship to the one who made them.
The Genesis account speaks of the union between man and woman without speaking of procreation. This helps to dispel a deeply distorted view of sexual intercourse, according to Kirk. Pedilla says that sexual desire is not oriented around the fruit of the conjugal union, but around the union itself.
Ruether says that Feminist critique of Yahwist religion has focused on the patriarchal ordering of society and the imaging of deity in terms of patriarchal leadership roles, such as king, warrior, shepherd (a kingly title) and judge. Ruether believes that the more one studies different religious traditions and their early roots, the more one is tempted to suggest that religion itself is essentially a male creation.
While this suggestion is understandable, I would conclude that God is not a male creation, he is not a male in any biological sense and that the very real issues are to do with this issue are really about God’s people themselves – not with God himself. The axe should really be taken to that which has been built on false foundations, so that the church’s praxis may better reflect the God it serves.
I believe that there are some very real theological difficulties in referring to God only as ‘she’ (or any feminine designation), but that should not stop the church at large from dealing fairly and impartially with the issues that Feminist Theologians are raising. We must also be very careful not to project our ideas of sex and gender back onto YaHWeH. Gender is in YaHWeH and that is reflected in human beings.
Let us debate these things in an atmosphere of love and acceptance, and not merely throw theological stones at one another. There is a lot of rubble already under the carpet – let us begin to clean it out rather than adding yet more.
Editors: Sinclair B Ferguson and David F Wright, The New Dictionary Of Theology, (Leicester, Inter-Varsity Press, 1988)
Editor: Robin Gill, Readings In Modern Theology, (London, SPCK, 1995)
Dr Elaine L Graham, ‘Gender, Personality And Theology’, Scottish Journal Of Theology, Volume 48 Number 3, 1995, pp341-358
Daphne Hampson, Theology And Feminism, (Oxford, Blackwell Publishers Ltd, 1990)
A Hauge, ‘Feminist Theology As Critique And Renewal Of Theology’, Themelios, Vol 17 No. 3, 1992, pp 8-11
Dr Donald D Hook and Rev Alvin F Kimel, ‘The Pronouns Of Deity: A Theolinguistic Critique Of Feminist Proposals’, Scottish Journal Of Theology, Volume 46 Number 3, 1993, pp 297-323
Editor: Alister E McGrath, The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Modern Christian Thought, (Oxford, Blackwell Publishers Ltd, 1993)
Lisa Isherwood and Dorothea McEwan, Introducing Feminist Theology, (Sheffield, Sheffield Academic Press, 1993)
Editor: Kathy Keay, Men Women & God, (Basingstoke, Marshall Morgan and Scott, 1987)
Joan O’Brien, A Talk On Feminist Theology And The Family, (published on the Internet at: http://tac.joyassociates.com/femtalk.html)
R P Stevens, ‘The Mystery Of Male And Female: Biblical And Trinitarian Models’, Themelios, Vol 17 Number 3, 1992, pp20-24