PETALUMA, Calif., March 30, 2016 – Two priests walk into a bar.
The first priest, who had just had a near-death experience, says that during the time he was unconscious he went to heaven and discovered that God is a woman.
“She had a soft and soothing voice,” he says, “and her presence was as reassuring as a mother’s embrace.”
The second priest dismisses this story outright, insisting that no matter what his friend thinks he saw, God clearly isn’t a woman.
I know. It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke. It’s actually part of a fake story making the rounds on the Internet. (I made up the part about the bar.) Even so, it certainly can’t hurt to reconsider our assumptions about the Divine, even the possibility that he might actually be a she – or maybe a little of both.
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What difference does it make? For some, maybe not that much. But for others, the willingness to see God in a different, more expansive, more inclusive light could very well be the key to making him – her, it – that much more relevant and practical in their lives.
“In divine Science, we have not as much authority for considering God masculine, as we have for considering Him feminine,” suggests Mary Baker Eddy, founder of the Christian Science Church, “for Love imparts the clearest idea of Deity.”
A provocative idea, to be sure. But Eddy pushes the envelope even further by suggesting that rather than thinking of God in strictly human terms, he/she/it could be better understood as an all-encompassing divine principle, available and appreciable to one and all, here and now.
Although I’d been reading Eddy’s writings for years, it wasn’t until my late 30s that her frequent use of the phrase “Father-Mother God” had any noticeable impact on my life.
It occurred to me one day – quite out of the blue, really – that if I was ever going to appreciate both the masculine and feminine aspects of God, I should be using the words “she” and “her” at least as much as I was “he” and “him.” In fact, I thought, why not take the next couple of weeks and refer to God exclusively in the feminine?
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The shift was surprisingly simple, even a little fun. After just a few days, I can honestly say that I began seeing God in an entirely new light.
Fast-forward another couple of months. A woman I had known for more than a decade but for reasons of both timing and geography had never seriously considered dating, found her way back onto my mental radar screen. Long story short, she ended up joining me for an organized bike ride and a week later we were engaged. Six months after that, we were married.
A favorite aunt of mine, who knew about my efforts to dial in to God’s softer side, asked if I thought this had anything to do with the fact that I was now getting ready to set up house with the woman of my dreams. To be honest, I hadn’t. But the more I thought about it, the more logical it seemed. Not that I was praying for a wife, per se, but why wouldn’t this be the natural outcome of my desire to get to know God better as both a masculine and feminine presence in my life?
Does this prove that God is a woman? No. It does indicate, however, that there might be something to be gained by thinking about God in fresh and inspiring ways.
“We shall obey and adore in proportion as we apprehend the divine nature and love Him understandingly, warring no more over the corporeality, but rejoicing in the affluence of our God,” writes Eddy. “Religion will then be of the heart and not of the head.”
Eric Nelson writes about the link between consciousness and health from his perspective as a practitioner of Christian Science. He also serves as the media and legislative spokesperson for Christian Science in Northern California. Follow him on Twitter @norcalcs. Continue the conversation on Facebook.