On Divine Feminine Nature

There’s a lot of noise about whether God has a feminine side. It came up again in some offline discussion around here and my thoughts are noncommittal.

First, there is some ambivalence about how the ancients approached this question. There is a vast array of ancient pagan reasoning that has bubbled up into modern thinking on it, and as you might expect, it’s read back into the Bible. As near as I can tell, there’s nothing to denigrate feminine nature in itself, but there has always been a big problem with making a feminine deity that is based on fallen awareness. But it’s the same with shaping an image of God from a fallen masculine viewpoint. The big deal with the cultic Baal and Asherah worship was that all of the doctrine arises from fallen awareness; it’s contrary to revelation. Whatever it is you associate with deity has to come from a higher source. Don’t dispute what’s revealed.

Second, I’ve made much of how you must find your own comfort zone. Theology is not revealed from heaven; it’s the individual mind’s response to revelation. Theology is propositional. God’s truth is not propositional but personal. Truth is Person, not intellectual content. Your mind will operate in terms of structure and content, so the trick is to teach your mind to obey conviction, because conviction is the part of our souls where God’s Person speaks to us.

So: If your theology reflects a feminine element that is too fallen, you will be barking up the wrong tree. It will be the Forbidden Fruit, not the Tree of Life. A critical element in the narrative of the Fall is Eve making a decision that was outside her purview. It symbolizes all kinds of improper elevation of a woman’s approach to things. Adam failing to stop her represents an improper elevation of the masculine approach. It’s not a question of equality if “equal” means interchangeable. There’s a reason for Scripture uniformly condemning females in the priesthood; it’s not their proper role.

I’m not going to tell you that you can’t imagine the Holy Spirit as somehow feminine. It seems to me manifestly obvious that this is proper in some ways, but I call to your attention how the Holy Spirit does not receive glory, but always shines glory back on Christ. Whether you want to use the feminine pronouns for the Holy Spirit is up to you; just note that most translations in English do not. Also not that in classical English, as with biblical languages, the masculine is the default; it is inclusive of both genders. The context should make obvious whether it’s pointedly masculine or inclusive. I don’t buy into the current politically correct trend of “fixing” this linguistic gender bias. At the same time, I’m not telling you that you have to do it my way. Don’t assume I am make no place for the feminine.

As it is, I’m not strictly trinitarian in the first place, not in the sense of Western theological traditions. I think the tradition makes too much of propositional reasoning and misses the point. I also reject the Unitarian teaching, too, with a whole range of other ideas. The Holy Spirit is for me more a role than a distinct separate Person. I maintain that the truth escapes human intellectual grasp, so it’s fuzzy. I refuse to nail it down to anyone’s logical satisfaction. That’s the same with the question as to whether and how God might have a feminine nature. You have to settle that question in your own mind, and there’s no doubt your cultural background will play a part.

About Ed Hurst

Disabled Veteran, prophet of God's Laws, Bible History teacher, wannabe writer, volunteer computer technician, cyclist, Social Science researcher
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4 Responses to On Divine Feminine Nature

  1. wildcucumber says:

    Since the concept of gender doesn’t *really* apply to God, using the pronoun “He” is as inappropriate as using “She” would be; yet we still need a pronoun and “It” sure isn’t appropriate!

    Besides, we only use these pronouns when we talk *about* God. What’s more important is talking *to* God, and then the pronoun is “Thou”.

    However, as a woman, with a woman’s heart, I believe that we experience aspects of the Person of God that have feminine characteristics that (most) men cannot see. Not “feminine” as men define these things from the outside looking AT women, but as we women experience them in our lives.

    So – when we use the feminine pronoun, we feel that we are* expanding* the human understanding of the Most High to include what is so often left out.

    I don’t expect (most) men to grasp what I am saying here, I can barely grasp it myself, let alone express it clearly. What I can say, with certainty, is that at this time the Divine is awakening more and more women, calling us to serve in ways that only women can.

    Are we are hearing a female voice “only” because it is calling to us through our female hearts? Maybe. If that’s the case then men should understand they hear a male voice because it is calling through their male hearts.

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  2. Ed Hurst says:

    Good words, Sister.

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  3. Jay DiNitto says:

    It might help to understand God as male in relation to humans, as we “receive” God as the initiator of the relationship. So that would make human souls as more feminine than masculine, at least in this analogy, and prior to the Fall I don’t think the God-masculine, human-feminine dichotomy was in play as it is now. We don’t know how the Fall affected things exactly, but I’m of the opinion that the binary nature of the sexes was heavily affected.

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  4. Ed Hurst says:

    Indeed, Jay, a critical element in the whole question is how much we can know or sense about what things were like before the Fall. We are pulled morally toward that Tree of Life, but we can’t fully comprehend what it was like. “But then we shall see Him face to face…”

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