God’s Private Parts

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  October 6, 2006 — Leave a comment

In response to a pamphlet on domestic abuse published by the Church of England the Church of North India has gone to the press to proclaim God’s essential maleness.

“The Church of North India, the dominant Protestant denomination in northern India, has said it will not rethink God’s ‘gender’ following the controversial Church of England’s guidelines asking its priests to stop using words that describe the Creator in masculine terms…Bishop Karam Masih, head of CNI’s Delhi diocese, maintained that the church couldn’t possibly view God as a ‘She’. “In our church, God is very much a ‘He’.”

What was so controversial in the pamphlet?

“Domestic abuse is fundamentally an abuse of power, and many conceptions of God derived from the Bible and the Christian tradition have portrayed divine power in unhealthy and potentially oppressive ways…the divine-human relationship may be conceived in terms of domination and submission at the expense of grace, mercy and patient love. When used as a model for human relationships, this emphasizes authority and obedience at the expense of mutuality. In combination with uncritical use of masculine imagery to characterize God, it can validate overbearing and ultimately violent patterns of behaviour in intimate relationships.”

But it seems that asking Christian leaders to be more “critical” in their use of male imagery castrates the Father!

“Pradhan said one of CNI’s core beliefs was the doctrine of the Trinity, which states that God is a single being who exists, simultaneously and eternally, as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The gender guidelines amounted to amending this basic article of faith. “While we are engaged in re-reading the Bible in the present cultural context, we cannot subscribe to any rewriting of the Holy Book,” he said. But he added that the church believed the Holy Father also has qualities of a mother.”

I think this news report shines a light on a certain blunt honesty often missing in Western conversations about God. To most Christians God’s plumbing is male, not female (whether that belief is expressed consciously or not). No doubt this issue is quite urgent in India where the divine can manifest in female forms just as easily as it can male. But I can’t see this public expression of support for God’s boy-parts as helping their evangelical efforts.

Jason Pitzl-Waters