In Kabbalistic thought, much emphasis is placed on the duality of God’s sexual identity. Without reference to physical form, God is both male and female. The spiritual aspects of the two genders express the characteristics of the God of Justice who is also the God of Mercy. Masculine strength combined with [feminine] compassion comprise the perfect balance without which divine rule cannot function. Mystics constantly emphasize the need for perfect balance between these two polar forces. from: “The Sistine Secrets” by Benjamin Blech, professor of Talmud at Yeshiva University, & Roy Doliner, humanities scholar, including Talmud, midrash, and Kabbalah.
I’ve quoted at length the academic and professional qualifications of these two writers and scholars to show they are not writing from a place of “New Age” weirdness as some would think. They are respected scholars and teachers in Hebrew scriptures and studies. They obviously have no trouble with the concept of “God” as both masculine and feminine.
I wonder why those who follow Christianity do? Is it the cultural heritage we’ve inherited from ancient Rome? The Western church is, after all, a Roman construction.
Sitting and watching our February blizzard out my window with its swirling winds and shifting white creates a nice, comfortable place for reflection. Certainly nothing outside calls me to go explore. I’ve been in Kansas blizzards: thanks, but no thanks. I’ll sit here and ponder.
But when you think about it, looking back at the early church and why the church refuses to recognize the feminine face of God and by extension the leadership of women, it’s a little like looking through a blizzard. Pretty fuzzy. Hard to get a handle on exactly what happened and why the church was so afraid of women.
Historically, we know that the focus of the early church shifted from Jerusalem when the temple was razed, the centers moving to Constantinople and Rome. Historically, we know that the Emperor Constantine used Christianity as a political tool; and we know priests and missionaries followed the Roman army as they conquered new territories.
But why, in this 21st Century, when so much is known and when so much information is at hand, is there such a knee-jerk reaction to the idea that God must be feminine, too? Why do so many insist on the pronoun “he” for God? Why, when so much scholarship gives us so much information, do so many churches insist on the later priest-redacted Genesis myth (the one where woman were made from Adam’s rib) rather than the earlier story where the creator god made man and woman as equals in image (oh, you didn’t know there were two creation stories?).
The wind blows from the north and the snow comes from the south. It whips in front of my window, circles back on itself in a fan of snow. I like watching natural elements when they are at their most fierce. They are, at base, elemental.
You’d think that after this many centuries, humanity would have evolved enough to be comfortable with the elemental whether the forces of nature or the forces of natural. Male and Female: God created them. Something certainly did.
One of the arguments says, well, Jesus called God Father, and Jesus knew, so God must be a he. Now really, when you logically think about it, does that make sense? Of course Jesus spoke that way. His was in a first century male-dominated society. Women couldn’t even be reliable witnesses. Widows left with no son lost any property their husbands might have had and were forced to beg. Of course Jesus would say Father in a male-dominated culture. You sure wouldn’t say follow me and my mom.
But let’s go back to weather for a moment. We knew this storm was coming two days ago when it was barely forming down in Arizona. We even knew how much it would snow. Sure, the prediction could have been off by a couple of inches, but we knew that this was a giant storm and that it was coming. There was, in fact, such confidence in this forecast that schools were closed yesterday and stores were shopped down to bare shelves with only a light drizzle that occasionally froze. Even twenty years ago, this kind of prediction would not have been possible.
But there’s the rub, isn’t it. Nature is natural and science. God is not. We can prove nature; we can look at patterns and see a clear direction. But isn’t it also possible to look at the direction of the culture and see where it is heading? Twenty years ago, I was constantly teaching my classes to use gender-neutral language (I am not a “he”; therefore use humankind not mankind). Now I don’t even bring it up. Now it’s already part of their lexicon. Does that mean to those who are now in their pre-teens or younger, and that millenial generation that so amazes many of us, that “she” and “he” are relative terms that can also be used for God? Only time will tell.
But just imagine. If we were to stop fighting about what God is or isn’t, we might just stop fighting.