Those of us who believe the universe was created by some divine force can all agree the Creator is, well, creative, right?
How about nurturing? Zie’s at least guided things along a bit, which is more than a neglectful Divinity would. Having a knowledge of hidden things, another given. The ordering of the solar system points toward a bit of a cyclical nature, or at least an interest in cycles. Mysterious. Life-giving. The First Parent.
You’ll notice all these traits, in the vast majority of cultures which separate them as ‘belonging’ to any particular gender, consider them feminine.
So why is the Creator – who holds all these traits – so often depicted as masculine?
I don’t mean to start an argument over whether the Creator is male or female – I don’t even believe the Creator of the Universe is necessarily masculine or feminine. It seems any being powerful enough to create the Universe is powerful enough to shift gender at will and too great to be limited to only one form.
So I’m not particularly bothered by anyone believing in a masculine God.
I am a bit bothered by the mockery frequently levelled at people who worship a Goddess – usually because a feminine divinity is seen as weak or inferior. Goddess-worship is often treated as some ridiculous radical-feminist approach to spirituality; as if nobody could possibly want to worship a woman unless they themselves are not only feminists, but complete man-haters.
This view isn’t limited to monotheists from patriarchal religions, either: Pagan and otherwise Pagan-friendly writers will brush off Dianic Wiccans for focusing too much on the Divine Feminine, or refer to the Goddess as a ‘Stepford wife’ to the masculine God.
But even from the viewpoint of the Mainstream US Religion, there’s very little reason to believe the Creator is entirely masculine, with few (if any) feminine attributes. Christian professor Glenn Sunshine once wrote an article on ‘The Image of God and Gender’ supporting feminine aspects of God, in which he points out:
Gender is specifically mentioned in the first passage in Scripture dealing with the image of God: … God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Gen. 1:28 ESV)
Notice that the text very pointedly identifies the image of God with both male and female. Men and women are thus equally image bearers of God, and this means that they are intrinsically equal in worth, in their rights, and in their call to exercise dominion in God’s name over the earth.
(Of course, he then went on to say ‘paganism almost inevitably placed rigid restrictions on women’s roles. Essentially, they were only permitted to do things that the goddesses did. And generally speaking, this meant that they were responsible for the domestic sphere and often little else.’ As someone who studies Druidry, Hellenistic Paganism, and Christianity, I found this hilarious. Please, explain to me how the Mórrigan is domestic. Or Artemis. On the Christian side, I’ve sat through church sermons on ‘Godly leadership/teaching/public living’ which started by explaining how these areas are totally Men’s Work and women should support the men involved rather than getting involved themselves.)
Admittedly, the Biblical God is frequently referred to using masculine pronouns, but whether the Creator is male, female, or non-binary isn’t the point. There’s plenty of humans who identify as male but still have a few feminine traits; why can’t a male God hold feminine traits as well?
And more importantly, why do so many people adamantly behave as though He doesn’t, and treat a feminine Goddess as laughable? ‘The Bible calls God male’ doesn’t exactly justify why a Pagan might roll their eyes at a Goddess-worshipping Wiccan, or even why some Christians separate gender roles into ‘godly’ (i.e., male) and ‘domestic’ (i.e., female).
To those who worship a male God in a monotheistic religion, a little disbelief towards the Goddess is understandable. To everyone else, it shouldn’t be. Accepting the possibility of different gods, especially multiple gods, means accepting the possibility of goddesses – and accepting those goddesses are just as strong as their male counterparts.