God is Not a He
Despite What the Old Boys Wanted Us to Believe
In the Christian teachings of my childhood, God was always referred to as male, often as God the Father. Jesus and Christ were considered male and one-in-the-same, even though the concept of Christ-consciousness far predates the birth of Jesus. Even Holy Spirit was referred to as “He”.
In just a couple of months, after over six years of formal study, I’ll be ordained as a Unity Worldwide Ministries minister. Part of the required study included scores of Bible classes and I wasn’t too happy about that at first. However, one of the many things I value about Unity is that it’s about principles rather than dogma and exploration rather than status quo.
The Bible classes did explore the spiritual wisdom that can be found in the stories, events and characters, but also, importantly, added the history and context in which the various books of the Bible were written; in other words, what was going on in the cultures and politics of the time. There is little question that the power-brokers of those times were men, usually relatively wealthy men, and the Bible was structured to help support the societal rules and norms those men wanted to perpetuate. As an example, the first four books of the New Testament are Mathew, Mark, Luke and John. However, Mathew was not the first book written. Compared to the other three gospel books, Mathew was written in a way that explained Jesus as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy and so made a cleaner transition from the Old to the New Testament.
One obvious aspect of societal design that the patriarchs of the day were after was subjugation of women and the devaluation of women’s roles in society. This thread ran throughout the Christian teachings of my early life, from wives being told to obey their husbands (even when those husbands were being awful), to the warnings to women to be chaste, to women being prevented from leadership positions in the church.
This (along with a number of other philosophies) did not sit well with me and in my late teens I dropped “Christianity”. Like many, I’d been taught that God had made man in God’s image, but I came to see it was much more likely that man made God in man’s image. I wanted to find out what I believed and embarked on a journey of eclectic spiritual study including indigenous paths, goddess religions, paganism, Buddhism, and eventually Unity, gaining insights, disillusionments, and a number of mystical experiences along the way. In the process, my concept of God evolved tremendously.
I no longer view God as a clearly distinct entity, but rather as the Matrix of all Creation, a force of which I am part of, one with. This Creator goes far beyond male, or female for that matter, which are ridiculously small boxes in which to limit and contain the Divine Vastness. This God is not a separate being, apart from and outside of us, but rather a force that is in and through all life, including me, and you, and everyone, whether we recognize it or not. Recognize – re-cognize – re-think.
When I first started out in ministerial studies I didn’t really know why. Mostly, I was just doing my own work and taking classes that were aiding in my own healing. I was taking a lot of such classes and figured I might as well be getting credit for them. One-thousand-plus credit hours later, right on the brink of ordination, I now know that part of my ministry is about helping to heal the cultural shadow of patriarchal Christian dogma. Part of this involves avoiding perpetuating the micro-aggression of labelling the Divine as “He” or “Him”.
About seven years ago, A Course in Miracles found me. I was immediately and simultaneously drawn to it and repelled by it. The way it challenged and supported the process of questioning all our assumptions and old beliefs spoke to my soul. At the same time, the Christian terminology and the entirely masculine language throughout was almost enough to cause me to set it aside. The power of the teachings won the day (or more like the year) and to say the Course has transformed my life is a genuine understatement. Now, part of my evolving ministry is to provide Course teachings in gender neutral language. With that, here is lesson 189, one of my favorites, exactly as written in the Course, except that I have edited out the gender bias.
This is a beautiful reminder of what we truly are and I hope it touches your heart.
I feel the Love of God within me now.
1. There is a light in you the world can not perceive. 2 And with its eyes you will not see this light, for you are blinded by the world. 3 Yet you have eyes to see it. 4 It is there for you to look upon. 5 It was not placed in you to be kept hidden from your sight. 6 This light is a reflection of the thought we practice now. 7 To feel the Love of God within you is to see the world anew, shining in innocence, alive with hope, and blessed with perfect charity and love.
2. Who could feel fear in such a world as this? 2 It welcomes you, rejoices that you came, and sings your praises as it keeps you safe from every form of danger and of pain. 3 It offers you a warm and gentle home in which to stay a while. 4 It blesses you throughout the day, and watches through the night as silent guardian of your holy sleep. 5 It sees salvation in you, and protects the light in you, in which it sees its own. 6 It offers you its flowers and its snow, in thankfulness for your benevolence.
3. This is the world the Love of God reveals. 2 It is so different from the world you see through darkened eyes of malice and of fear, that one belies the other. 3 Only one can be perceived at all. 4 The other one is wholly meaningless. 5 A world in which forgiveness shines on everything, and peace offers its gentle light to everyone, is inconceivable to those who see a world of hatred rising from attack, poised to avenge, to murder and destroy.
4. Yet is the world of hatred equally unseen and inconceivable to those who feel God's Love in them. 2 Their world reflects the quietness and peace that shines in them; the gentleness and innocence they see surrounding them; the joy with which they look out from the endless wells of joy within. 3 What they have felt in them they look upon, and see its sure reflection everywhere.
5. What would you see? 2 The choice is given you. 3 But learn and do not let your mind forget this law of seeing: You will look upon that which you feel within. 4 If hatred finds a place within your heart, you will perceive a fearful world, held cruelly in death's sharp-pointed, bony fingers. 5 If you feel the Love of God within you, you will look out on a world of mercy and of love.
6. Today we pass illusions, as we seek to reach to what is true in us, and feel its all-embracing tenderness, its Love which knows us perfect as itself, its sight which is the gift its Love bestows on us. 2 We learn the way today. 3 It is as sure as Love itself, to which it carries us. 4 For its simplicity avoids the snares the foolish convolutions of the world's apparent reasoning but serve to hide.
7. Simply do this: Be still, and lay aside all thoughts of what you are and what God is; all concepts you have learned about the world; all images you hold about yourself. 2 Empty your mind of everything it thinks is either true or false, or good or bad, of every thought it judges worthy, and all the ideas of which it is ashamed. 3 Hold onto nothing. 4 Do not bring with you one thought the past has taught, nor one belief you ever learned before from anything. 5 Forget this world, forget this course, and come with wholly empty hands unto your God.
8. Is it not God Who knows the way to you? 2 You need not know the way to God. 3 Your part is simply to allow all obstacles that you have interposed between the Child and God the Creator to be quietly removed forever. 4 God will do Its part in joyful and immediate response. 5 Ask and receive. 6 But do not make demands, nor point the road to God by which It should appear to you. 7 The way to reach God is merely to let It be. 8 For in that way is your reality proclaimed as well.
9. And so today we do not choose the way in which we go to the Creator. 2 But we do choose to let It come. 3 And with this choice we rest. 4 And in our quiet hearts and open minds, God’s Love will blaze its pathway of itself. 5 What has not been denied is surely there, if it be true and can be surely reached. 6 God knows Its Child, and knows the way to them. 7 God does not need Its Child to show It how to find Its way. 8 Through every opened door God’s Love shines outward from its home within, and lightens up the world in innocence.
10. Creator, we do not know the way to You. 2 But we have called, and You have answered us. 3 We will not interfere. 4 Salvation's ways are not our own, for they belong to You. 5 And it is unto You we look for them. 6 Our hands are open to receive Your gifts. 7 We have no thoughts we think apart from You, and cherish no beliefs of what we are, or Who created us. 8 Yours is the way that we would find and follow. 9 And we ask but that Your Will, which is our own as well, be done in us and in the world, that it become a part of Heaven now. 10 Amen.
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Hi All. Wanted to add this bit I just saw. Lo and Behold the Church of England has begun a process to explore gender neutral terminology for God. Interesting!
Your take on things was brilliantly presented.
I have been talking about a simpler form of this in 12 step recovery interactions for years.
While impossible to divorce from the divinity that spawned the 12 step recovery process in its current form, the prevailing wisdom of the time and place, literally the seeds for the creation of the 12 steps were entirely Christian-centric and 100% patriarchal dogma, even as the writings genuinely try at times to temper that with numerous exhortations to feel free to choose your own individual concept of a God of your understanding. That has always been unpalatable to me.
I’ve noticed that as I occasionally “Rontificate” on the things that you’ve written about, some entrenched adherents view my editorializing of, and points against the overriding traditionally Christian nature of the writings unfavorably. In spite of the inherent hurdles which that narrow teaching creates to the changing needs and perspectives of the suffering seekers, increasingly more of them are finding their way to a broader, more inclusive and inviting path by rejecting the built-in restrictions that a strictly Christian, patriarchal route offers them in favor of the type of universality that you discuss. This means that they have gained a vital opening, granting them access to a saving Grace that they may have previously denied themselves because of the restrictive (in their minds) natures of the original teachings. This new perspective can guide them to a different understanding of what spiritual redemption and healing can look like. The type of approach and perspective that you write about, granting immediate and full access to the Divine power will save more lives and souls than all of the other narrowly defined approaches ever have or ever could.
With your background and all of the work you’ve done for your own growth and development, you’ve found your place in helping to gently and lovingly shepherd the suffering, wherever they may presently be lost to a place of peace and redemption.
Because of your developing style of ministering, many will be led by you to a more gentle, pure, genuine understanding of what Gods love is and what it can do for them as individuals. You will be changing the world literally one enlightenment at a time.
That is what true ministers are divinely chosen to do.
Congratulations on the awesome and miraculous milestone that your ordination will be.