From “She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse”

May 29, 2013

Book by Elizabeth A. Johnson

While officially it is rightly and consistently said that God is spirit and so beyond identification with either male or female sex, yet the daily language of preaching, worship, catechesis, and instruction conveys a different message: God is male, or at least more like a man than a woman, or at least more fittingly addressed as male than as female. Upon examination it becomes clear that this exclusive speech about God serves in manifold ways to support an imaginative and structural world that excludes and subordinates women. Wittingly or not, it undermines women’s human dignity as equally created in the image of God.

She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological DiscourseShe Who Is

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Ahmed Abututa June 1, 2013 at 1:17 pm

I love how I discovered this blog because this has been something that I have struggled with ; that is calling God He or Him. Unless I am explicitly talking about Jesus, God is not either/or. I see God as neutral at best, with characteristics of both sexes at different moments of history. I get an opportunity to preach once and awhile these days and I’ve noticed that it is more of a struggle than I thought to be gender inclusive when talking about God, or even when relating scripture to God’s people. But I consistently and consciously go through my sermons multiple times to make sure my God language and verses I use are gender inclusive.

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David June 1, 2013 at 6:16 pm

Thanks for the comment, Ahmed, and yes it does take vigilance. The place where many people and churches compromise, even if they regularly use inclusive language, is in the use of “lord” and king”, despite the fact that these words are clearly male. Where I worked at St. Andrew’s Church in Austin, we even dropped these terms when referring to Jesus. Certainly Jesus was male, but I don’t think he would have wanted to be called “lord” as we currently use the word. And if the idea of the risen Christ is universal, there is no place for “king” as a descriptor. A person’s Christology is key. It’s been my experience that those who are comfortable with a “lower” Christology have fewer problems with inclusive language, in general. If a person believes “Jesus is God”, then it’s tougher.

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