I was never going to be easy, and I was never going to be safe.
That was the realization I came to this morning, when I was thinking about the kind of person I am supposed to be. The person — deep down, in my created place — that was my original blueprint, when God first thought me up.
I won’t make life easy. I will say things that make people uncomfortable. If steadfast and status quo are what you’re looking for, I will not be a safe choice. I will challenge presuppositions if I think they are off base. I will call out and I will own up. It’s the only way I can sleep at night, and I value sleep.
I have a talent for ruffling feathers. I would much prefer a talent like, I dunno, crocheting. Baking cupcakes, maybe. Designing buildings. But no. My special sauce is having opinions and using words to piss people off. I was never going to fit into the nice and sweet box, and when someone tries to make that happen, it’s the box that ends up getting torn to shreds.
I prefer the stink of sweat and sore muscles, the curse words of exertion and boundary pushing, the thinking of thoughts outside the status quo. This makes for things that are decidedly unladylike in a gender-definite world, and I consistently fail patriarchy’s definition of “a lady”.
Usually, I am not sure which is more offensive: what I’m saying or the fact that I’m a woman while saying it.
The fact that God self-identifies as both male and female has been of great interest to me of late. I’m certainly not the first one to call the Christian God “She”, nor am I the most scholarly person to do so. I’ve only just begun my theological training and the culmination of my work so far has been one assignment, the purpose of which was to prove I could write a bibliographical entry.
I think it says something, too, that I’ve put off entering seminary for years because I was afraid of being marginalized to oblivion. Every single seminary I looked at had nothing but old white men on its faculty. No offense to old white men, who I am sure are very wise, but I’d like you to move over and allow some women in there. Maybe some brown skin and some black; open my mind with diversity — don’t program it with privilege. The world has enough of that and I do, too.
So I enter seminary with a preconceived criticism and a longing for the feminine divine, and this is, apparently, appalling. If I call God “She”, readers will flee by the alleged dozens. If I put that in a book, buyers will return them. I will be blacklisted on earth as in heaven, and flung far from the Amazon Best Seller list.
But it’s right there, in the scriptures we hold so dear. Genesis 1:26-27. God has a feminine side. And I long to lean into Her bosom and rest.
This is not, as some may claim, because I want to destroy God’s masculine side or because I hate men or because I think masculinity is evil. None of this is true. I love my Father God. And Jesus was most definitely a man — a beautiful, bad-ass, strong-yet-tender-bag-of-emotions who subverted every social role patriarchy holds dear. I do not deny Jesus’s masculinity. Nor — and this is important — does Jesus marginalize me for my femininity.
That’s actually the weird part. The critical part. Despite what the pharisees of today’s religious landscape might say about my femininity, Jesus sees it as completely valid, worthy of respect, and equal. My femininity comes from Him just as much as a man’s identity does. To look at me in my womanhood is to look at Jesus just as much as it might be to look at any male believer.
But call God “She” and everyone gets their pink panties in a big old bunch.
Call God only male, however, and you lose out on the fullness of the divine identity, the true shalom of God, the way things are supposed to be. When we insist on only half of God, we who are Her manifested created selves are delivered into an obscurity of identity, a delineated loss of self that is deeply painful and inherently cruel. Our full and complete selves are shunned into servitude to a patriarchal system that keeps us limited, quiet, victimized, and dependent.
This is not the way it was supposed to be.
It’s certainly dangerous to start recognizing the Feminine Divine. It’s dangerous, though, not because of what might happen when we start living as the two equal parts we were meant to be, but rather because of the war that patriarchy will fight to keep its place at the top. That’s where the casualties will lay. The danger is not in letting woman be her whole self, fully recognized by her God. Because truly, what mother seeks to destroy her family? The danger is what people will do to protect their beloved patriarchal power structure.
Recognizing Mother God and the fact that earthly women bear Her image is a step closer to the Kingdom of God that’s been promised to us all along. If it takes switching up some pronouns to pay homage to that Kingdom, I’m all for it. I’m in.
I’ll poke that status quo.