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If God is a woman, who am I?

| Tuesday, February 25, 2020

It doesn’t take long in Genesis for the authors to refer to God as “He.” In responding to Moses’ inquiry about what to call God, God does not assert masculinity, instead highlighting the transcendent nature of the divine: “I am who I am.” Yet still, God is consistently portrayed as a father figure throughout both the Old and New Testament. To the extent that Christians accept God’s particular revelation to the Israelites, we must acknowledge that the language used to speak about God matters. If God is constantly referred to as He, that tells us something about the nature of God, regardless of the obvious fact that God the Father is not a man. But in a generation that dismisses the idea that gender means anything at all, we must ask ourselves: would referring to God as “she” change our ideas of the nature of God? The author of “Is God a Woman” writes, “The image these [feminine] references [to God] paint is gentle and warm. Comforting and caring. Forgiving and loving. Not threatening and overbearing and demanding.” We cannot simultaneously hold on to the idea that how we refer to God matters in our understanding of Him/Her and also believe gender has no significance beyond our bodies (and in an era of shaming pronoun assumption, perhaps not even that). At once my generation claims that just because you are a “she” doesn’t mean you must be feminine, but also those who don’t conform to femininity don’t have to be “she’s”. With one breath, we’ve blurred the lines and with the next we’ve reaffirmed the boundaries. I am not particularly opposed to emphasizing the feminine aspects of God. If referring to the Creator in a new light draws people nearer to God, if those who otherwise struggle to conceptualize a relationship with God find comfort in using feminine pronouns, then more power to them. In doing this, though, we must recognize that our desire to see ourselves in God through a gendered lens conveys the importance of gender. If God is a woman, then what is a woman?

Sophia Sheehy


Feb. 21

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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