A Lutheran Says What?

Sermons and random thoughts on God, the world and the intersection of the two

Does God wear dangly earrings? November 18, 2013

So I have to admit that I rarely, if ever, listen to “Christian music.” It’s fine, I suppose, but I find that most of the music on the common Christian music stations lacks depth, authenticity and is trite. (Plus, musically its typically uninspired.) Most of it is also written by people who have conservative and fundamentalist religious leanings. So what that means is that there is nearly exclusively “Father God,” language and God is male in this music . Period.
Now, you might ask me, “Brigette does that really matter? Of course women are created in God’s image. It’s just easier and more comfortable (or less controversial) to use “he” to refer to God. Don’t stir up trouble or be one of those female pastors.” Well, I don’t want to be obnoxious, but I think I actually might be one of those female pastors. And I don’t care.
I talk to many women who nearly all have some piece of their growing up in some church (denomination doesn’t always matter but there are some that are more consistently misogynist than others) who no matter how educated and intelligent, still harbor a feeling of not really equal to men and not really created in the image of God the same way that males are. I know because I am also one of them. Now, I was brought up in the Lutheran church but God was clearly explained to me as male in one breath and then in the next told “but girls are made in God’s image too.” So I am kinda a “he?” Or does God like nail polish, high heels, skirts and dangly earrings too?
The music that I tend to listen to can best be categorized as alternative I suppose. I resonate with Tori Amos, Sarah Mclachan, Alannis Morrisette and Natalie Merchant. All women who write music and words about being female, owning one’s femininity and sexuality and what that means for spirituality. They have a particular voice expressing who they are and their experience in the world: struggling, questioning, lamenting, loving, celebrating. No sappy “if you just believe in God then everything is alright.” Everything is not always alright.
Tori Amos in particular works out much angst in her music. Her father was a fundamentalist Christian pastor and she was brought up that God is male, her sexuality was not of God, wrong, that women cause men to stray and it is women’s responsibility to keep men in line. She explores ideas such as how Mary Magdalene was a scape goat, God needing a woman (great song called “God”), the tendency for women to believe everything a man tells them about themselves, social norms around women and sexuality, religion and sexuality and how at the end of the day, men and women fall into the same cultural traps with one another. She points out the lasting danger of women thinking that if God is male and male is God, then a man can save you if you are a woman. Then when that doesn’t ultimately work out, somehow you must have messed up.
I don’t want to be an extreme feminist but I have seen study after study that let us know that if girls hear only male language for God, then they don’t truly believe that they are made from the divine, even if they are told that is true. Are we, as the Church, setting up girls to have low self-esteem and fall for every line some boy tells them? I do not want this for my daughter or my son. I want them to know that they are both equally created in God’s image, as is the girl my son might someday date and the boy my daughter is currently dating (yes, she has a boyfriend, prayers are welcome).
What I really long for is for this conversation to no longer be relevant. I look for the day when no one thinks twice that I am a pastor (or when my kids say they are PK’s the assumption is not that it is their dad), that religion and God are not used to keep anyone (gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, etc.) “in-line” or in a certain position in society. I don’t like that I have to point out the exclusively male language. If you come to my church, you will find that I do use male language; I am not against it. But I also use other images and nouns for God-female, creator, redeemer, sustainer, comforter, sender, savior, mother, father, rock.
I have many wonderful men in my life (my husband for one!) who treat me as a complete equal, whom I cannot imagine life without and I don’t want to diminish who they are in the life of God either. This is not about one against the other. It is about radical equality that perhaps we as broken people are not even capable of. I am aware of that possibility. This could be as good as it gets. But I am more optimistic than that. I believe that God is moving among us and that he/she wants us to live in radical love, equality, mercy and grace. As people of God, we are capable of this sort of relationship with one another. We can ensure that men and women both view themselves as God sees them: good enough as they are, equally lovable, whole and redeemable.

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2 Responses to “Does God wear dangly earrings?”

  1. Rob Moss Says:

    I, for one, am glad you’re one of *those* pastors. That’s the only way we’ll get to the day when the “women pastors” conversation is irrelevant.

  2. Anna Goodwin Says:

    Brigette, I’m glad you are one of “those” pastors, too. I love the idea of “radical equality” especially because once we get there, this issue will be a thing of the past. And rightly so. Thank you.


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