No kidding. There is meaning in the God as Father metaphor. Everyone knows who your mother is, but a father has to claim his children. And with that claim comes rights to his name and inheritance. God is also King not Queen, because in the ANE kings were different than queens. The fact that we use some gendered imagery to understand God and we traditionally use masculine 3rd person pronouns in English to refer to God doesn’t make God a male or mean that God is more manly than womanly.
You are part of the Bride of Christ, but that doesn’t make you a woman.
Amy Peeler just wrote a definitive scholarly book on the topic called Women and the Gender of God, here’s a podcast:
Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Some might even interpret this as meaning we see the image of God in this relationship between male and female (or more generally in the relationship between all of us in our diversity). After all, when regarding any limitations or restrictions of any particular group, we can easily say that God is bigger than that.
I don’t want to speak for @Christy here, however, I don’t think she is saying we should or shouldn’t pray to God as ‘Father’ as in the Lord’s prayer. More that, as I understand it, praying to God as Father doesn’t make God any more male gendered than you and I being part of the Bride of Christ makes us female-gendered.
As I understand it, if the ANE were a matriarchal society Yahweh might well have revealed Yahweh-self to Israel as Mother and Queen. Again, as I see it, it is not what the titles ‘Father’ and ‘King’ tell about God’s being that matters, but what they tell us about God’s nature and character, and our relation to God as God’s people and children.
(Phew… It was tough to write that paragraph without gendered pronouns! )
I may have an answer to the question, which didn’t sit well with me. Certain what if questions seem to fall under the secret things that belong to God, but the things that are revealed (God as Father) belong to us and our children forever (Deut. 29:29).
To God, who doesn’t have a gender. Envisioning God as Father is not the same things as envisioning God as a man.
I agree the imagery is gendered and the gender informs the imagery, which we use to understand God’s actions and attributes. God is not like a father in all ways because he is not an embodied father. He has never physically inpregnated anyone. He has no biological offspring. He doesn’t have genitalia. He is not a man.
The Spirit of God in the OT is a grammatically feminine noun and God’s Divine Wisdom is personified as a woman in Jewish Scripture. That doesn’t make God’s Spirit female or ontologically feminine. Male and female only relates to bodies that sexually reproduce and masculine and feminine only relates to human societies that create gender roles based on experiencing sexual dimorphism. God uses our experience with sex and gender as embodied creatures to teach us things that are beyond our grasp about a spiritual, non-finite, transcendent being.
Of course it is. In order for God to communicate and relate with humans at all, he has to use human points of connection and accommodate human embodied experience and human conceptual frames.
I don’t really have a problem with anything in particular that I can see, but I just feel like he’s been objectified and is being talked about like less than someone’s loved one. But admittedly, that is subjective on my part.
Yes, agreed. I certainly don’t pray to God as a man. I don’t think I envision him at all, like I don’t envision someone whom I don’t know talking to them on the phone. But I most definitely think and feel about him as I would a father, my Father, so I am defensive to and offended by those who don’t know any better (or at all) and who ridicule the idea, not to mention ridiculing him! Maybe I am learning to walk away from active and proselytizing sadducees, though, even subtle ones.
I had an opportunity to visit San Francisco on Dec. 27th. and spend time with the son of my dearest friend [long deceased] in the city. Reminiscing about his mother and the bond between us, I told him that others in the church and the public circles we traveled in often suspected that there was more to our relationship than we let on. I told him the marvelous thing about the relationship between his mother and me was there was more to it than two persons of opposite sexes spending time together. “She” and “He” were completely alien concepts eventually, “She” was “she” and “He” was “he” only when one of us wasn’t around. [Martin Buber] wrote a short book called “I and Thou”, in which he wrote of the difference between an “I and It” relationship and an “I and Thou” relationship. The relationship between my friend was like that: “I and Thou”.
There is a problem in English though with third person singular personal pronouns that aren’t gendered (maybe other languages have them?). I don’t think I’ll be using the plural ‘they’ or ‘their’ any time soon when referring to God. (“I and the Father are one” comes to mind, although some might argue that does not refer to God’s triune nature.)
God the Father and God the Son will still be referred to as ‘him’ or ‘he’ of course, and the Holy Spirit can be called other things like Paraclete or Counselor, but I don’t think I could accept ‘she’ or ‘her’. That would easily imply sexuality within the Godhead, more than just masculine and feminine characteristics or traits.
Lots of languages have only one 3SG pronoun that isn’t gendered. They can talk about God just fine without a word to say “he.”
In Me’phaa there is 1PL inclusive and 1PL exclusive. (we as in, all of us, and we, as in myself and others, but not you the person or people I am talking to.) Greek and Hebrew only have one, so translators have to guess what group the speaker was including in every “we.”