Friday, July 03, 2020

The nurturing one

A God beyond human gender can still be imagined in terms of gendered humans, without any rejection of tradition, as long as those images or metaphors are not reified. As such, the nursing God is as valid as any other biblical image, and it has the potential for great good. As Davina Haskell observed, it “construct[s] an emotionally positive relationship of nurture and reliance between God and human beings” and “establishes an intimate, familial bond between divinity and humanity, redefining the relationship between the two in terms of tenderness, rather than dominion.” As the Bible testifies, this is part of God’s identity.

Efforts to discourage and stamp out goddess worship are at best useless, and at worst harmful. Christians who attempt this are already conformed to the patriarchy of this world, and they can be transformed, as Paul said, only by the renewing of their own minds. The battle that has long been waged outward against the culture must be turned inward if it is to succeed—turned toward the long self-inquiry and self-analysis required to root out the ways in which the church continues to push people away from the God of the Bible, who offers his nurturing breast to all. The resources of the tradition are rich in this area. Using feminine language and imagery for God in worship is a starting point that can create fruitful discomfort and invite worshipers to ask hard questions about God and gender that lead to good conversations.—Christopher B. Hays in Divine Doppelgängers: YHWH’s Ancient Look-Alikes, 218

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