Is there a need for a female identity?

Some feminists may be driven by a desire to find a female identity, just like we were driven to find an Asian Jesus, a black Jesus, and a white Jesus. Sure some women who may have experienced abuse by men might find it more challenging to relate to God as “Father God”. As a result of abusive treatment by men, some women may find it difficult to think of God as a loving fatherly figure (such may be the opinion of some Christian psychotherapists). In such cases, they might find it easier to relate to a “gender neutral” God. I can see why the Roman Catholic Church has found “Mary, the mother of God” to be a useful feminine identity. Women who have been abused or those who have become resentful of men might find a feminine figure like Mary easier to identify with. However, I am not suggesting that we Protestants should begin saying “Hail Mary” like Roman Catholics. What I am saying is that those who need healing from past abuses might then be more readily able to identify God with gentler and softer characteristics. They still have the Holy Spirit to relate to as their “Comforter”. With the Holy Spirit’s comfort, guidance, inspiration, and etc., do we really need a feminine God? The Holy Spirit or Comforter has connotations of one who comforts. In the bible, God is said to act like a comforting mother (Isaiah 66:13); one who cries out like a woman in childbirth; one who acts like a mother eagle; and one who rages like a mother bear (Hosea 13:8). These are vivid imagery and can add meaning to how we think of God as one who comforts, cares, cries, and protects ones children. To say that God is a “mother bear” or a “mother eagle” would be incorrect. Likewise, to say that “God the Mother” is identical to saying “God the Father” is to be unscriptural and unorthodox; this is to speak on a completely different level. In the biblical text, no one has ever addressed God directly as a mother. This is why I suggest that our practice of addressing God as “Father God” is clearly orthodox, scriptural, and free from any ambiguous scribal errors.

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Author: Kevin S.

A follower of Jesus, a husband and a father. Hobbies include biking, keeping fish if they don't die on me, blogging when I can, theologizing and ministry, and pondering about world affairs.

6 thoughts on “Is there a need for a female identity?”

  1. I’ve been waiting to see if you get a female response to this, Kevin.

    I can understand how somebody who has endured abuse can feel a need for feminine, or “softer and gentler” identity for God.

    But a person who has grown in the Lord will understand that God is not a human father, but a perfect heavenly Father, and we can’t equate what He is with what we are and what our fathers are/were.

    I used to know a woman who had been married four times and was abused by all four husbands, and she had a terrible time with the masculine ideas about God. I think she has gone back to the Catholic church where she can identify better with the “Holy Mother”.

    Some seem to need that. But doctrinally, we can’t go changing scripture. We can’t make God in our own image. He revealed Himself to us, and called Himself our Father.

    My 2 cents worth, anyway.

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  2. Gary, I don’t worry if females read this blog entry. I only worry about the liberal Christian feminists reading it; I hope they won’t be too offended. 😉

    I see a small issue here with what you said. Even when someone has grown spiritually, it is never certain that someone will understand God as “a perfect heavenly Father” because that is only achieved through the process of enculturation.

    If the church teaches a whole generation of Christians that God should be addressed as “Mother God”, then that whole generation will, sooner or later, begin addressing God as “Mother God.” Just like my previous entry to this one, I mentioned that how we have come to see Jesus as a white Jesus or a black Jesus, etc. Everything has to do with enculturation.

    So Gary, if we use this argument that: “one only needs to grow in the Lord” in order to see God as “Father God”, then couldn’t the Catholic church can say that people come to realize the truth about Mary being the mother of God because they have learned this truth by having “grown in the Lord”? Hmm…most conservative protestants would object to this.

    I think it all depends on how we teach people about God. So orthodox theology or correct teaching is important.

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  3. I don’t anthropomorphize God so the gender of God is not an issue for me at all – at least, that I am aware of.

    However, I do remember that getting to know a woman priest in the Anglican church was a great blessing to me. I need older women as leaders to mentor me. I also have great difficulty receiving communion from a man.

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  4. Suzanne, well sometimes a gendered god can cause problems either way we have it. But since you don’t anthropomorphize God, it’ll save you from the dilemma. I still better with a “Father God” because it’s biblical and orthodox…but then, maybe it’s for my own sake.

    I can see how how women do function better with women in the pastoral role. That’s why female leadership and mentors in the church is much needed today. God can use everyone–all genders and all races–to bring healing from our hurts and pains.

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  5. Kevin,

    Thanks for your comment. I don’t think some churches realize what a difference it can make. Women can benefit very much from a being ministered to by a fully equal women pastor.

    It is regrettable that my church never realized this.

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  6. Suzanne, there is hope for tomorrow. Churches ranging from Pentecostal, Baptist, Lutheran, and Anglican have witnessed the undeniable leadership strengths in women beginning in small unofficial steps. It is inevitable that each church where this is happening will go through a contemplative phase where they begin serious considering having women ordained as pastors.

    Who knows…your church may be next? 🙂

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