Is God a Man or a Woman?

If we are all created in God’s image; what about women?  In Genesis we read, “God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them.  Wow, we are made in God’s own image – male and female!  So ‘God the Father’ is just as likely ‘God the Mother’.  Back in 1978, Pope John Paul I said, “We need to call God ‘mother’ as well as ‘father.’ ” And still over 30 years later the Catholic Church continues to disallow women a place at the table.  If God is male and female, then why deny ordination to women?  If God is feminine and masculine why not celebrate God’s femininity as well as his masculinity?  I love the image of God as father/protector but I find equally comforting the image of God as mother/nurturer.  The Church hierarchy appears afraid of either losing control or they think that a female clergy might reveal how deeply our Church has been wounded by the patriarchy currently ‘running the show’.  If these guys were smarter, they would let the women join in to do the ‘heavy lifting’.  The gals could be balancing budgets and dealing with those pesky laypeople while the boys were busy working on their golf games or their homilies (now there’s an opportunity for improvement!). 

It seems to me that if God has ‘gifted’ women with the joy of being co-creators by carrying the world’s future persons in their wombs the least our Church should do is allow them to approach the altar.  The denial of ordination for women suggests that women are still considered second class citizens.  Please don’t misunderstand me:  I know and love some amazing priests and I know and love some dedicated and gifted women religious (nuns) but would it be so bad if one or a thousand of these dedicated religious women became priests?  What are we afraid of?

Women of spirit, love and intelligence have so much to offer our Church and the continued denial by Church hierarchy only adds more wounds to an already wounded Body of Christ.  Years of apostolic scandal and deceit only further alienate a fragmented Church.  The idea of God as ‘mother’ as well as ‘father’ shouldn’t frighten us.  It should liberate us.  If a male-dominated clergy is about control then it stands to reason that an inclusive clergy would be about deliverance.  I will admit that thinking about God as woman is a paradigm shift for most people.  God the Father, after all sits up in the clouds with a long white beard – even Gary Larson the cartoonist believed that.  And a mother-God makes some people fearful because it brings to mind thoughts of witchcraft or sorcery or some New-Age Earth Mother image. 

Perhaps the problem lies not in whether God is a woman or a man but in our human need to make God smaller; to envision God in strictly human form.  It is very limiting to put God in that box. God is not human and can’t be defined in simple human terms.  God’s power and majesty is only equal to God’s love and forgiveness.  Jesus who was human and divine was God’s sacrifice offered for all of us.  Jesus was male but that doesn’t restrict God to only human characteristics.  I personally don’t want a small, limited God.  My God is boundless and eternal.  God is not human; therefore human descriptions of God are always flawed.

I have Evangelical friends that will consider my opinions heresy – I KNOW WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS.  And I have conservative Catholic friends who are convinced that when they’re in Purgatory working off a few thousand years for eating meat on a Friday during Lent, they’ll be looking down at me in HELL for just thinking about this stuff!

I may be all wrong.  I usually am.  But when I get to heaven (oh yes, I’m planning on going there), I will ask God if He/She is male and female.  And then I’ll have an eternity to ‘wrap my head around’ whatever the answer may be.

Peace,

Denis

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