Just my Thoughts · Religion

God Is A …

Man?  Woman?  Being?  I was wondering around the blogosphere when I came across Ronna Detrick’s entry entitled “Do You Remember When God Was A Woman?”

I thought long and hard as I was reading both the entry and its accompanying comments.  You see, I am a catechist.  I have completed the Basic Catechetical Certification courses required by my diocese to be certified to teach religious education, to be a certified catechist.

I mention this because I vividly recall an exercise in one of the classes where we had to write down descriptive words that came to our mind when thinking of God.  Now, God was the Father so that was what people thought of.  Yet, there were those in attendance, myself included, who wrote words that were more of a mother nature than of a father nature.  Words such as nurturing, caring, mothering that should apply to either sex but that in this case, people felt was odd in applying it to a male higher being.

I was offended by that thought.  I was offended that God could not have a nurturing female side.  Mother Nature is worshiped by many.  She does good for us all.  Why is it that God has to be seen as male?

Being Roman Catholic, this is not always a good topic for me to bring up.  Granted, I am a convert and was never Roman Catholic prior to Vatican II.  Even if I had been, I would have been so young I doubt I would remember pre-Vatican II.  I definitely do not remember it, though, as I became a Roman Catholic 27 years ago this Easter season.

I have ideas and beliefs that I had prior to becoming a Roman Catholic.  I did not give those up.  I attempted, and in many cases succeeded, in merging my two divergent views.  The image of God as male, though, is not one that I have had much success with changing.  Many cradle Catholics think I am crazy when I describe a God that has more female characteristics than male characteristics.

The Church has attempted to become less sexist.  Traditional hymns have had minor word changes.  I find this annoying.  I also find this just cosmetic.  Some of the hymns that have had changes made are centuries old.  When they were written, man was king literally.  The wording reflects those days, those times.

As I look back at some of the questions Ronna posed at the end of her entry, I truthfully believe that God being male, female or non-sexed doesn’t matter to me in the long run.  I know that there is an all-knowing, omnipresent being who loves and nurtures us as we live our very human lives.

12 thoughts on “God Is A …

  1. Interesting piece and congrats to your certification.

    I have always liked to approach questions socratically–its about asking the right questions–the answers may not be compatible.

    The initial inquiry would be: does spirit possess gender? Residing in a male dominated society, questions like these go under the radar.

    However, in antiquated times, god was revered as woman–its femininity has been overshadowed by short masculine vision.

    1. Thanks for stopping by. You are right that the initial inquiry should probably be does spirit possess gender. The answer is so influenced by society that it is scary.

  2. Thanks for linking back to me, Nicki. It’s a BIG topic – with lots of tributaries we begin to travel when we start the journey. And it’s endless…this journey. The ramifications of gendered language – and thereby gendered understandings of God – impact our religion, certainly, but also our spirituality, our relationships, our work, our culture, issues of social justice, our world, and even our understanding of ourselves. I appreciate that you are in a space of both wrestling and resting with the ideas and concepts. That, to me, feels like the in-between place where God most profoundly resides. Have fun!!!

    1. You hit the nail on the head, Ronna. We have to find that place in ourselves to be able to both question and rely on our faith for it to grow and impact our live positively.

  3. i knew i loved you. i knew it.

    coupla things here…i cannot BELIEVE i didn’t realize you had a blog. but i truly didn’t. maybe the first comment you ever left on mine didn’t include your website?

    regardless, i figured it out today, and though i’m not the best blog-visitor in the world, here i am paying you one.

    i think of God as male, but am fully cognizant of the irrationality behind such a notion. mild b/c like you, i take some of the hymn and biblical wording with a grain of salt as so much of it is simply a reflection of the times during which it was written.

    my mom was the head of the philosophy department of the university of TN, but more significantly, she founded the women’s studies department, so anyone who might be tempted to think my (almost-by-default) personification of God as a male is sexist by nature would be sorely mistaken. she taught me well. of that i can assure you.

    for when i think of God, i think of perfection, and perfection contains male and female elements to it. nothing gets created without the involvement of both. that fact alone makes me certain both are equally a part of our Creator.

    i myself am proud of the many soft qualities i have. i’ve always believed the most manly men among us are in touch with their femininity.

    darn it. i just chipped a nail.

    great post, nicki. sorry to ramble on in my comments. can’t wait to come back…

    1. JCO – I am still shaking my head. I am at a loss as to how I didn’t mention I have a blog. Not sure but I know at least one other blogger said my site didn’t come through in my commenting on hers.

      Thank you for visiting. Please do come back!

  4. I love your thoughts on this subject. I was raised Catholic and have wrestled with this very topic myself over and over. And as a “cradle Catholic” I don’t think you’re crazy!

  5. Hi Nicki, it’s funny because I know hard-core Catholics who would lose their minds over this, yet I also know agnostic-types who could speak words devoid of feeling over the subject.

    If we were all half as willing as you are to discuss “taboo”, then we’d probably understand each other a little better…

    1. Belinda – I know hard-core Catholics that would think this is blasphemy. Sometimes, I wonder how they manage in their distinctly black or white world. I do wish that we could all be a bit more understanding of each other’s quirks now and again.

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