Why we need to call God “She”

I think it’s time to start using feminine pronouns for God. Not exclusively. Not because God is a woman. Not because we hate men. But because the exclusive use of male pronouns has left an ugly mark on the church, Christianity, and female and male human beings.

Here are some implications of exclusive male language for God:

  • God is male
  • If God is male than men are some how made “more” in the image of God than women
  • If God is a man, than Christianity should have a “masculine feel”
  • If God is a male than to be female is to be less than, or un-godlike
  • If God is a man, than women don’t have as much of a place (or any) in the work and movement of God
  • If God is male, than men are better, more capable, and more perfect than women

Whether or not it is intended, this is the message  I (and many other women and men) receive when God is solely referred to as “He”. So what can we do? It is possible to repair the damage that has been done over hundreds and hundreds of years of people seeking after and believing in God?

It seems pretty harsh, when I put it in those terms. But I don’t want to be silent about how painful it is to hear/worship/read/talk about God only in masculine terms. It makes me feel like I don’t belong. And when we don’t even talk about it, I begin to wonder if much of the Christian world even cares.

I think we can stop excluding half of the population with our language about God. I believe change is possible. I think we can start living out our belief that God is neither male nor female, yet somehow encompasses both.

Here are some small steps in the direction of healing and equality:

  • Take some time to think about your image of God. How is God feminine to you? How is God masculine to you?
  • Instead of saying “He” and “Him” for God – just say “God”. It might makes sentences more bulky or slightly awkward, but give it a try.
  • Interchange your use of “He” and “She” for God. Maybe just try referring to the Holy Spirit as “She” for starters.
  • When you’re preparing a sermon, writing a blog, having a conversation or updating your facebook status – pay attention to the language that you use for God. Does it promote love and justice?
  • In your interactions with fellow human beings, take note of how talk about God affects them. Does your language and tone invite them to see themselves as equally and beautifully created in the image of God? Or does any of your language promote a hierarchy or a “less than” position?
  • Since much of the damage has been done to women, take time to specifically build up the women in your life and make sure they are equally welcome at the table.
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4 thoughts on “Why we need to call God “She”

  1. I like to think God is somehow both fully male and fully female, possessing the full attributes of each and further, that the reason we won’t need marriage in heaven is because our restored bodies will be made in this same image – fully human in both genders. It is time to elevate all people to the glory of beings in God’s image. It’s easy, too. Everything you suggest is easy and costs nothing.

  2. I hear what you say here but I have a question for you. How would you reconcile the fact that Jesus cried out Father?

  3. I think there needs to be much more feminine imagery for Godde to balance out 2,000 years of the masculine. Two resources for you are The Christian Godde Project (http://www.godde.wordpress.com). I’m an associate editor on the project, and we are working on a Divine Feminine Version of the New Testament with female nouns and pronouns for Godde. To date we’ve put out Matthew, Mark, Romans, Galatians, Philippians, and Colossians.

    My friend, Laura Grimes (an executive editor on the Christian Godde Project) has also published a set of Sophia prayer books and Psalter that you can find at her website: http://lauramgrimes.blogspot.com/. I have all of her books and love them, especially the Sophia Psalter, and I chant the psalms.

    I also use a lot of female imagery for Godde on my website, but I don’t use Mother exclusively for Godde the way Laura does.

    You’re not alone in your search and belief that we need female images of Godde to provide balance to the highly masculinized God that we grew up with. And if the church really believed that women are made in the image of Godde then female imagery for Godde would not be a big deal. In fact, it would be normal.

  4. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I’d love to refer you (if you don’t already follow her) to Rachel Held Evan’s blog. She does an incredible job of posting about love, justice, equality, with particular emphasis on women within Christianity. This week she has been posting specifically on women in the church…right on target for this! 🙂 Enjoy!!
    http://rachelheldevans.com/

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