Wednesday, May 30, 2007

God & Gender Part 1: "He"??

Don't worry, this isn't another claim that God is really some hermaphroditic super-being that smiles with delight whenever an oldies station dusts off the Helen Reddy and plays I Am Woman...." However, my premise is, God the Father has nothing to do with maleness, at least not in the way you're thinking. But, before you condemn me to Joan of Arc parish, take a quick read below.

Also, please note that my posting has streamed from my inferior brain without scholarly study on the topic; no doubt there are more learned contributors who will correct me and put me in the right. I welcome the feedback. It's what the blog is for.

What am I talking about? Simply this: God was a "father" long before there was a human man (or woman)-- before there was gender. Then He created a human man and gave him the nature of "father.” You see, it didn't happen the other way around. This is the key. He didn’t invent man and woman, wait for them to figure out their respective gender roles and then adopt humanity’s concept of “father” by copying what had developed as human maleness. Rather, His “fatherhood” nature was imprinted, intentionally so, on human males from the beginning.

God had been the Father for all time, and with the entire nature that we know to be characteristic of “fatherhood:” creator, provider, protector, compassionate forgiver. This is His fatherly role toward humanity. It is the role He designated for human males as well, and thus in His wisdom gave males the physical, emotional and mental tools to be “fathers” for their own children, that is to be creators, providers, protectors and compassionate forgivers.

So, what about the pronouns? Should we use the term “He” or “She,” or just allow them to float interchangeably to suit our whims or to avoid conflict with militant feminists? Of course not! God the Father is properly referred to as “He” (not “She”) precisely because the pronoun allows us to recognize and acknowledge the “fatherly” traits He has decided to imbue in human males.

I look forward to any comments for exchange. Look for Part 2 in the next few days as I go further with distinguishing our Divine "Father" from maleness and other human limitations.

3 comments:

ThinkingOutLoud said...

Hmmmm… Ok, but the one question that comes to mind is:

"God had been the Father for all time, and with the entire nature that we know to be characteristic of “fatherhood:” creator, provider, protector, compassionate forgiver. This is His fatherly role toward humanity."

But qualities like creator, provider, protector, and compassionate forgiver require things like those created, those provided for, those protected, and those compassionately forgiven.

It would then seem that these qualities wouldn't be meaningful if a "those", or humanity didn't exist. And if humanity existed, then it would follow that maleness also existed.

Serviam! said...

thinkingoutloud said:
"It would then seem that these qualities wouldn't be meaningful if a "those", or humanity didn't exist."

I see two problems here.

First, the idea of characteristics is being confused with the idea of definition. Characteristics can only describe what is already defined. So therefore if characteristics do exist to describe something, then that something must already exist. So if the point made is that characteristics of “fatherhood” are creator, provider, protector, compassionate forgiver, then “fatherhood” must exists in order for this to make any sense.

Secondly, God the Father is firstly the Father to the Son. And since the Son has existed for all eternity, then the Father must have been a Father for all eternity. This is why St. Thomas Aquinas states that, “…paternity constitutes the person of the Father.”


Read Joshua 24:15’s posts again, you may be missing his point.

Anonymous said...

I agree with serviam. God is a Father from all eternity, eternally generating the Son. Scott Hahn's work brings this out quite eloquently.

However, I am wondering about the gender issue regarding the Holy Spirit as refering to the Holy Spirit or Christ as "She"? When I read Proverbs 8 and 9 and the book of Wisdom 6:22 and on, it speaks of Wisdom as "she". This may appear simple like the personification of Wisdom but reading Proverbs 8:22, it seems otherwise. Perhaps you have some incite or no others who do in this regard?