By Jameelah Jones
Day 1 of 7: Love is Not Gendered
God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”
-Exodus 3:14 (NIV)
“God does not call us to conform to narrow gender stereotypes but to be conformed to the image of Christ.”
-Rachel Held Evans
In 2016, I spent the entire year working to break the habit of using “He” pronouns for God. I started prayers with “Mother/Father/Parent God,” I read scripture checking myself for the male images I had in mind. I even replaced “he” for “God” when I was singing Gospel songs. This was a small change that turned out to be one of the best spiritual decisions of my life. I figured this little experiment would lead to a small shift in my faith, or at the very least, a more inclusive use of language. But I wasn’t expecting the drastic change in how I approached love.
Think about it. We often hear and speak of God’s love being perfect, all knowing, and necessary to our survival. We also have been socialized to see God as a man. And if we go further, we could also accept what KIND of man we’ve been taught to picture God to be. So what does it mean when we attach a cisgender, heterosexual, white, male image to the vision of God’s perfect love?
For me, it meant I expected God to take on the characteristics of men when it came to how I experienced Their love. I saw God as a strict father figure, and like all kids, I spent a lot of time rebelling against my Father in the sky who had so many rules for me. I took silences during prayer as God’s punishment or unwillingness to hear me. I had a very limited view of my body and the ways it could feel and express intimacy. Worst of all, my vision of love was limited to what men could provide. To assume God is male is to limit the ways you can encounter and define love. The first step in radically changing the way we love, is to question our literal image of God’s perfect love. If there is no room to question where the male image of God comes from, there is no room to accept that we could be called to love much deeper, much differently, that what man can imagine.
JOURNAL: Write down the qualities you see in God (Loving, Strict, Fair, Kind, etc.). Circle any qualities you feel have gendered stereotypes. Write about how gendering God may have affected the way you see love or expect it to be shown.
PRAYER: God, forgive me for accepting a limiting version of you. Help me break the habit of assuming you are a gendered being. Open my heart to new ways to see you and new ways to experience your limitless love.