For some reason, going to church makes me think a lot about gender issues. Perhaps it is the seemingly constant struggle and debate over the gender of God that does it to me. Does God even have a gender? Yeah, I know, ancient texts refer to God as “he,” but back then every authority figure was male, so it made sense at the time. But how “he” is God? Does God have genitalia? I don’t think God procreates, but what do I know? Well, I do know that we are created in the image of God, but since people look all kinds of crazy different ways, I view that as referring more to our souls than our bodies.
So anyway, there I am in church, thinking about how manly God is or is not, when we start singing a hymn about the church. And the Christian church, as you may or may not know, is female. At least, it is often referred to as “she.” So why is that? Well, one possibility is that the church is often compared to a bride, in terms of Christ being the groom and all, and brides are typically of the female persuasion. Although honestly, saying that the church is betrothed to Christ like a bride to a bridegroom seems more like a clever analogy to me than a declaration of gender. Another possibility might be simply that the Greek word for church (η εκκλησία) is feminine, kind of like the Spanish word for carpet (la alfombra), so when it is translated is comes across as female.
But okay, that sort of explains why the church is a lady, however we cannot use the same reasoning for why boats are also female. Even boats with dude’s names! You can have a boat named something totally masculine, and it is still a girl boat! “Welcome to the christening of my new boat, The King Rambo ESPN Sports Center. Isn’t she a beauty?” How does that make any sense?! Is that in the Bible too? Was Noah all like, “Get on the ark everyone, she’s about to set sail!”? I must have missed that verse.
Of course it’s not just boats. Cars, trucks, houses, guns, televisions, mounted trout, and pretty much anything else that one can own, can sometimes be referred to as female. “Yep, had that fish mounted after I finally reeled her in. She put up quite a fight!” Even countries are female! “God bless America! Land that I love! Stand beside her, and guide her…”
Now I know what you are thinking. Wow, women sure are popular and lucky to have everything on the entire planet trying to be like them, gender-wise. But no, as much as it might seem like a compliment, I fear that it is just the opposite. By labeling property as female, we are equating the two, and subconsciously thinking of woman as property too. Anything that can be owned is female, so females can be owned, right? And anything that can own things is male. But who can own things besides people? Bears think they own things, but they really don’t. No, the only thing truly above us, that we can say has authority over is, is God. And, wait a minute, let me go back to paragraph one here, oh my goodness, we think God is male! God has been mannonized!
Do I think that you all truly believe that women are property? No. Do I think that we as a culture want to own women? Not most of us. But are we pretty messed up due to centuries of ridiculousness? Absolutely. And I know that this is not a new idea or revelation, but I think that just saying it and acknowledging it helps me to break free from it a little bit. So that’s all that this was really about. I have a daughter you know. These things worry me. But no matter how bad it seems sometimes, there is always hope.
And Hope is a girl’s name.