Here’s a thousand things that are wrong with not referring to God as a He.
1. It’s essentially disrespectful to the text, where God refers to himself exclusively as a He.
2. It makes men the enemy. You’ve already made God your enemy, by not referring to him by the pronoun he chooses for himself. It’s obvious, then, what you think of men. Should men, then, give up their male pronouns? I know you think so, but you’re devaluing and making an enemy out of the Other.
3. You’re ruining the English language, as indeed does anyone who insists on being referred to as “they” or “xe”. English deals in gendered pronouns. Other languages have an easy use of neuter pronouns, but we don’t. Of course, if you’re translating the Bible into those languages, and you can chose a male pronoun, you probably should, since that’s largely how God refers to Himself in the Hebrew and Greek.
4. If you feel like you’re cut out of the picture, as a female, because God is male, you have a dismal picture of yourself and God. Maybe this is the church’s fault for a thousand years, but I really doubt it. I think feminism has managed to make women feel cut out of the picture, when they haven’t been. Unless you take up the Whole picture, say some feminists, its like you’re not even in the picture. Which is foolish and selfish and wrong. The picture is actually of God, and you don’t get to be in the picture, much, except maybe as a tiny roughed out sketch in the bottom corner. And here’s the thing about God–which you would discover if you read the Bible–he is big enough to Know You As You Are. He isn’t limited by gender in the way that men and women are. You can’t understand the man, because the man is unlike you. You can’t understand God, because God is unlike you. You can’t understand yourself because you’re crazy. But God is not bound by these limitations. He doesn’t understand you, as a woman, imperfectly because he takes a male pronoun. He understands you better even than you understand yourself because he made you. Truly, a woman can approach the throne of grace, can come before the Savior, can be known and loved by God just as a man can. No difference, no distinction, no limitations. The trouble comes when you project your sense of humanity, of the broken gendered relationships of men and women, into the heavens. Which we do all the time.
5. When you get rid of gendered pronouns, for everyone, but especially for God, you actually increase the distance you have to go to understand and know each other. You force the Other to come onto your ground, your space, your sense of who you are, and know you in that space. Which they can’t do. They can’t. And truly, this is the opposite of love described in the Bible. Your tiny, impossible pronoun makes it impossible for you to love God, yourself, and others with the agape love of self sacrifice and self out pouring. You Cannot love the other, so focused as you are on your gender identity, which means you will never be able to love yourself. Whereas, if you address God as He, and other people in reasonable and normal ways, and don’t demand that people get on board with who you are, you shift your focus out towards the Other, towards the world. Which means that there is hope for you as a person. It’s all about love, it really is.
6. And finally, because six is the number of man and not of God, when you refuse to refer to God as He you really look catastrophically small and foolish. So ungracious, so unlovely, so tortured is the one shouting “Godself” over the din of a congregation mumbling along through the prayers that the sensible person shudders and slips out the back and goes out for a coffee instead of taking communion. What are you trying to prove? You who refuse to think of God as a man. Do you think you get an extra special blessing? Congratulations from your tribe? As I tweeted some weeks ago, “I take particular pleasure in referring to God as He, not only because the Bible does, but also because it makes all the right people angry.”
Anne Kennedy, Patheos 10 Comments
[3/9/2017 1:41:17 PM]
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