Sunday, February 22, 2009

Feminist Views on God

I recently got into reading feminist theories on mothering after finding a reference to a book entitled "Mothering: Essays on Feminist Theory" in the BYU textbook "Strengthening Our Families." Interesting to find the two connected, isn't it? After I placed the request for the feminist theory book, I saw what other things came up on the search for it and I discovered The Journal for the Association for Research on Mothering. I requested a couple of the issues one on the process of becoming a mother: socially, physically, emotionally and politically, the other spirituality and mothering; both topics interesting to me.

One of the articles discussed the goddess worship and the antiquated views of deity as a patriarchal, controlling male presence. The author, Trudelle Thomas, discussed the history of goddess worship and why it has resurfaced in the last 40 years. She proposes a new paradigm for viewing diety: in the female form as Mother, Guide and Friend to take the place of the Father, Warrior, King.

Of each, she says:
"Whether we imagine God holding us in her lap, braiding our hair, rocking us to sleep, or tenderly feeding us, the effect is to affirm God's personal love and nearness....By affirming our connections with God as Mother, mothers can help children also believe in an intimate, powerful and benevolent God."

"Whether we speak in terms of coach, teacher, doula, or mentor, a guide is a powerful image of God because it connotes caring, helpfulness, and generosity....Like a mother, a guide offers encouragement and support, but she also invites us to grow into more; she "tests and challenges us."

"Think of the ten-year old who is discovering the difference between a buddy and a true friend, the college student who finds her kindred spirit in a new place, the spouse who grows into a trusted friend, the widow who enjoys traveling with dear friends.


Latter-day Saints are not opposed to recognizing that there are divine females (Hymn #292, O My Father). And while viewing God in the feminine appeals to me, I feel its unnecessary. I truly believe that God is my Father and that his fatherly attributes are kind, loving, compassionate and gentle. He is also my friend and guide. Latter-day Saint culture teaches males to be fathers who are not the your typical authoritarian, domineering 1950's father, but to cultivate Christlike attributes that are more culturally seen as feminine: "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, ggentleness, goodness, hfaith, Meekness, temperance (Gal. 5:22-23). Through my prayers and efforts to establish a relationship with my Heavenly Father, I have come to know God as the perfect father--exactly the type of father who would best support and encourage my development as his daughter.

I also recognize and believe that God is all-knowing. In my logic, that means He also knows how to be the perfect mother and it is through that infinite knowledge and understanding that he possesses that I can learn to be a "perfect mother" or in essence, a goddess.

Latter-day Saints believe in the doctrine of eternal progression where we continue to learn and grow throughout eternity until eventually we possess all the knowledge that God possesses and through obtaining all that he has, as joint-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17), we "shall be gods" (D&C 132: 20).

Therefore, in my belief, God, then not only knows how to be a father to me, but He also knows how to mother me, more perfectly than any earthly mother. He is a friend to me, and provides me the Holy Spirit to be my Guide (Hymn #143, "Let the Holy Spirit Guide").

There are so many other scriptures I could cite to tie all these together. It may even be enough to write a book or a chapter of a book, which would be a worthy goal... But for right now, I with let what I have already expressed suffice.

1 comment:

Jessica said...

Jenne,
Thanks for sharing your thoughts here. I'm surprised at how much more meaningful it is for me that you still imagine God as male, even though you see the advantages of seeing God as female. I really respect your perspective. Thanks for the links and quotes.