I have been reflecting on the idea of God as a father and God as a mother. Following on from the think tank I have listened to The Liturgists Podcast and re-watched The Shack. We have a different view of women presently than when the Bible was first taught and written, and our metaphors and view of the sexes has changed, therefore does that mean that we should change our perspective of how we perceive God?
In the Liturgist Podcast: God Our Mother, they ask the question at the beginning, ‘Does God have a penis?’ This leads into a discussion on the pronouns used to describe God. I think that this is the wrong question to ask and we should be asking whether this is limiting our view by only viewing Him as a father. This view of God as a person seems to limit Him. God is an omnipotent and omniscient being, beyond our own human capacity to fully understand who He is. God is relational, He wants to be known but God is non-gendered. However, if viewing God as a father or as a mother, as male or as female helps us to be able to connect and partly understand who God is then saying He or She is subjective. An example of this controversial idea is from the book The Shack, where God appears to Mack as a woman.
In the podcast they say, ‘Metaphors help draw things near and real to the consciousness.’ Our language and metaphor of who God is, can limit God, but it also can widen our understanding of who He is. The journey as Christian is constantly about growing your own relationship with God and widening your own knowledge of Him. Part of that is understanding that God has attributes of males and of females because we were both made in the image of God. Therefore, whether it is He or She, God understands who we are, how we think and how we feel.
I do like the idea of pushing the boundaries of how we view our Father by viewing Him as a Her. If I want to know God more should I not be willing to develop my idea of who She is?
The other day I had committed with a friend to go swimming. I haven’t gone swimming since primary school – like 25 years. You can guess it is not my favourite recreational activity but as my back has been giving me problems and swimming is supposed to beneficial, I approached a friend who does like swimming, thinking if I have a buddy I will go through with it… moral support etc.
However, when our swim day came around it was snowing and my friend messaged me ‘I don’t know how you are feeling about going tonight… we could maybe go Saturday?’ I was just about to reply that I was in two minds about it, when her second message came through which read ‘it’s women only from 8.30pm’. Immediately I replied ‘Cool, let’s do it!’
I was surprised at myself… I wouldn’t have thought that would be so much of a motivator – knowing it would women only… but clearly I was nervous about what this going back to swimming experience would be like, and I immediately felt safer knowing there would be no men there.
Now I am a wife, a mother, a professional… I don’t consider that I am easily intimidated by men… and yet this ‘male free zone’ still put my mind at rest… so how much more is this space vital for the vulnerable young women we work with? For them to feel safe to share and develop with us their physical, emotional and mental health.
I’m not a great swimmer, I’m not very sporty or competitive in that arena of life… ‘no men’ meant to me that it was ok to just ‘have a go’.
I also remember in grade 6 walking back to the change rooms by the Kew swimming pool and Bradley Collins pulling my bathers strap off my shoulder as he walked past laughing with his mate…
Yes, there is a rationale for girls only spaces.