To use gender-neutral language in the bible is one thing, but to completely feminize God is another thing. A sector of feminism has tried to neuter and feminize God’s male gender in Father God, not just from the bible, but also from our everyday speech. If there are any feminists out, please don’t take this the wrong way. Theological conservatives are not against feminism per se. I must say that feminism has made some positive contributions for more equitable treatment of the marginalized; and I think many conservatives would agree with this. However, our conservatism prevents us from agreeing with some of the ideas in Christian feminism, specifically, regarding the feminization of God. It is an uncomfortable image and I must try not to be reactionary about this myself. But before we begin blaming feminism for “taking society backwards,” we should “remove the log from our own eyes”, then we may critique some of the points we may disagree with in Christian feminism.
No one can dispute Jesus’ gender, but we can dispute our depictions of his color or race. Throughout the history of the Christian Church, we have tried to racialize Jesus as a black Jesus…an Asian Jesus…and a white Jesus. Christians from the first century likely would have been appalled at how we have painted the face of Jesus in many colors. Perhaps the early church would have felt scandalized by our false depictions of Jesus, whom they knew as a Mediterranean man. How many of us have been shown pictures of a white Jesus in Sunday School and thought nothing of it? While growing up, I actually thought Jesus was a white guy. It likely never occurred to many of us that the pictures of Jesus we saw were not accurate depictions of the real Jesus in history. Christians like to conveniently make Jesus into what we want him to be to us. Will the real Jesus please stand up?
Just as there has been a deliberate agenda to repaint the face of Jesus into the color of our choice, we cannot deny that there is also a feminist agenda that wishes to neuter God the Father. Some feminists do want to reconstruct or re-image Father God into a female motherly figure. A book where one can learn more about this might be The Feminist Mistake: The Radical Impact of Feminism by Mary A. Kassian (Crossway). If it was so easy to paint Jesus as a white Jesus, a black Jesus, or an Asian Jesus, just think… how much easier will it be to neuter and feminize God the Father who is invisible and unseen to us? If this were to happen, what would this sound like? One might begin the Lord’s Prayer with “Our Mother, who art in heaven.” This does sound kind of hokey to theological conservatives and even to theological liberals. However convenient and necessary to be able to relate to a comforting and loving God, feminism ought to recognize the limits of how far they should go? Where should Christian feminism stop? Some think that it has gone way too far, but some think that it hasn’t gone far enough. Let me ask: If Jesus recognized God as his Father, who are we to change Father God’s gender? (Luke 10:21-22; 23:34). Didn’t Jesus also teach us how to pray to our “Heavenly Father” (Matt. 6:8-9)? As children of God, aren’t we also encouraged to call to “Abba Father”? (3rd picture: Jesus the Guru; the link above is a speculative depiction of what some think Jesus might have looked like, based on a reconstruction of an ancient skull).