Several of my co-bloggers here at Patheos Pagan have stepped in with their rebuttals the post written by another Patheos blogger, Father Longenecker, called “Twelve Reasons Why You Can’t Call God, ‘Mother,‘” and after reading their wonderful write-ups, I felt inclined to include my own. Please also read the other Patheos Pagan opinions on this issue as they are quite informed and interesting.
I spent many years as a Christian before transitioning to Paganism and I do value many aspects of the path. It is like the soft spot one maintains for an ex-spouse they truly loved. Ultimately, Christianity had too many behaviors that were complete deal-breakers for me, so the split was inevitable and better for both of us. There is still love, but the incompatibilities are blatant and cannot be resolved. As a student of religion, I was fortunate to study a broader perspective of faiths, both cross-culturally and within the context of time, and this young upstart called Christianity has certainly taken its toll on the conscience and, sadly, on the death toll, of humankind. I have tremendous respect for any spiritual path that brings out the best in those who follow it, however, I am dismayed when those paths instead bring out the worst, which brings us back to Father Longenecker and his death grip on what is right and what is wrong.
I am reminded of some quotes I heard over the years for which sadly, I do not have a source although I suspect it was Zsuzsanna Budapest or perhaps Diane Stein. These are paraphrased:
So tremendous is the hatred patriarchal religions hold for females that they would have made Satan a woman had it not given a woman too much power.
Men are often uncomfortable looking a woman directly in the eyes because there, they see the face of the Goddess scorned and spurned.
There is no denying the multi-century war on women imposed by many religions, and by Christianity in particular. In the Bible, misogyny is a clear theme from the first mention of women in Genesis 2:20, when Eve is fashioned from Adam’s rib as a last resort because God could not find a suitable “help meet” for Adam among the livestock. Further on, in Genesis 3:16, God actually curses Eve for daring to eat of the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and sharing it with Adam, whereupon their “eyes shall be opened, and they shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:22) The curse God lays upon Eve is that “In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children. … Thy husband … shall rule over thee.” Since the Lord thy God is a merciful God, God not only curses Eve, but every female that comes after her, which is arguably a dick move even for a deity. Of course, this is the same God who got so pissed at the world for using the power of choice He bestowed upon them that he viciously shook the entire etch-a-sketch with a flood and killed off all except one elderly reformed sinner and his family.
The first book of the Bible is not isolated in its hateful depictions of women. All through this sacred text, women are denigrated as a baneful but necessary property fit only for raping, selling, and son-bearing, even telling them directly to shut the hell up on spiritual matters and do what their
owners men tell them to do (Corinthians 14:34-35).
Why then would those who cleave to this text have any interest in the proposition that God could be a woman? Of course, that idea would be repugnant to them and they need look no further than their scriptures to find sufficient reasons why God cannot be called “Mother.” The article Father Longenecker wrote is no great challenge to write. Just close your eyes and pop the Bible open to any page and you will find sufficient guidance to malign the very existence of woman outside of turning their collective uteri into baby clown cars, preferably ejecting baby male clowns at absolutely every opportunity. Finding supportive Biblical dictates to disparage women is no great act of literary journalism. It’s like struggling to find recipes in a cookbook.
The real heroes are the brave souls, the ones Longenecker calls, “feminist Anglicans” who “now that they’ve succeeded in getting women ordained as priests and bishops [are] pushing for the language of the liturgy to be changed to call God “’Mother’.” The heroes are people such as Pope Francis who have worked aggressively to humanize the face of Catholicism so it no longer appears as an uneducated Neanderthal dragging women around by their hair and despising and bullying their fellow humans.
Half of Father Longenecker’s reasoning comes directly from scripture, but he does manage to get in a few zingers from a sociological perspective:
“Calling God ‘Mother’ and ‘Father’ is confusing” and“Our world is confused enough about gender right now.” Apparently, he is accustomed to dealing with imbeciles who are easily confused. I forget how protected I am within the social circles I frequent.
“Gender identification enables a loving relationship” and “You can’t love someone without sex being involved. I don’t mean by “sex” genital activity. What I mean is that we relate to others through gender.” Because as stated above, we are dumb, single-minded little things who start our relationships at the genitals and work our way up. Of course, when your religion creates such a gaping abyss in the division of gender worth, I can see where he would operate this way because one must immediately size up the value of a person based on the plumbing they are packing.
“Calling God “Father” helps to heal the father wound” and “Our relationship with our earthly fathers–even with the best of fathers–falls short of that and leave us with what is called “the Father wound.” The very text he uses to justify his perspective identifies women as the source of all evil, not men. While having it both ways works well in many arguments, it lacks substance in this one. If women are as vile as the Bible insists, should there not be a Mother wound in greater need of healing? The message here is that fathers suck so horribly at parenting their children that they create a devastating wound that only Divine substitution can fix.
“Referring to God as “Mother” is part of an overall plan to eradicate any sign of patriarchy from Christianity” and within the construct of a religion that reviles women, such balance and reverence for both genders would be absolutely tragic. What I meant to say was “evolved,” “safe,” and “downright reasonable when rational thinking is applied.”
“To Call God “Mother” is to worship a pagan Goddess.” While I understand the necessity of having Pagans around to vilify now that women have turned into such upstarts, I assure you that we don’t mind if the feminist Anglicans call their Divine representation “Mother” if they don’t mind. They are not stealing our Goddess(es) away from us nor are they appropriating our beliefs. They are simply broadening their definition of God to include a greater vision. To deny that God can appear as a woman is to limit the power of God, which is limitless. It amazes me that within sacred texts, God can appear as a pillar of fire, as burning shrubbery, or even a jackass…just not as a woman or a mother. Apparently, the Christian God has far greater behavioral restrictions than the God I know.
“Calling God ‘Mother’ opens the door to New Age Witchcraft” and the next line is even more insulting to Christians when he says, “Why are people so dense about this?” Apparently, viewing God as female is a gateway drug and sooner rather than later, these feminist Anglicans will find themselves strung out on goofer dust and the rendered fat of unbaptized babies, kissing the devil’s arse at the sabbat and if you do not believe that, well, you’re just “dense.” I won’t even dignify with response the use of the terms “New Age” and “Witchcraft” within a breath’s distance of one another.
Our intrepid doomsayer ends with the direst of warnings, “That’s where it is headed, and the reason anyone who can’t see it is because they won’t see it.” And perhaps they do not see it his way because they came up for air and liked breathing air that was not created for ancient Hebrews within the laws of Israel. Or maybe they do not see it because it is simply not true.
Somebody please get this guy an “End of Times” sandwich sign and a hamburger he will gladly pay for on Tuesday send him on his way.