Independence of another kind

My oldest friend (in terms of time, not of age) and I have been discussing via email different issues with respect to our faith perspectives.

Today she wrote me, after spending time in Proverbs that God’s attention to detail was astounding, in that he came to earth in human form as an “XY” and not an “XX,” because, as she said, it “encompassed all of humanity.”

If we were able to leave it at that, explaining the “decision” by God to come in physical form as a male as a function of inclusion rather than exclusion, I would be perfectly fine with the idea. After all, in recent years, when my Episcopal parish was recruiting a new rector, I argued that very thing from a different direction. We had a longstanding female deacon (in the Episcopal church, deacons are ordained clergy), and I thought it would be in our best interest to hire a male rector—to achieve the balance, to give both the men and women in our congregation a same-gender pastor to whom to go with gender-specific spiritual concerns.

When all was said and done, however, the vestry hired a wonderful woman, and soon after, for entirely other reasons, our deacon resigned. Today, we have an equally wonderful male deacon, which re-established the balance I’d hoped for. XX and XY.

But we don’t leave it at that. Even as I speak, parishes have “pulled out” of the Anglican Communion or threatened to, over the fact that in 2006, the ECA elected a female presiding bishop, and in 2010, the way was opened for appointment of female bishops in the worldwide church. The Southern Baptist Convention continues to rail against female leadership in the “top” position in any church, quoting the heavily 1st Century culture-biased suggestion that women should keep silence in the church or misquoting based on culture-biased translations.

One who once aspired to the ministry in that latter church, until as my spiritual director said, I “discovered I was a girl,” I continue to be saddened over being judged “insufficient” by virtue of my being an “XX,” regularly astounded by the inability of some to see the direct contradiction of their demands to the “neither male nor female, slave nor free, Jew nor Greek…” inclusion of membership in the body of believers. Nothing can separate us from the love of God, but we sure can be separated from the use of the gifts given to us by one and the same if the sperm that gets through just happens to have an “X” chromosome embedded in it instead of a “Y.”

I adored William P. Young’s The Shack for a number of reasons. But I mourned the fact that it stimulated such resistance from some. It reinforced the fact that though we have made great strides, we still have an awful long way to go before gender and race, both chromosomes carried in those sperms and eggs, become non-issues with respect to mental and emotional and spiritual capacity. It revealed to me that I won’t live to see that Promised Land. (If you haven’t read The Shack, I hope you will.)

To make God fit the mold of our perception of any demographic group is to diminish the power, the awesomeness, the inconceivability of the great I Am, chopping the source of life and breath and love into tiny bits we can digest. We are, indeed, blind people describing a never-ending elephant. Even our language fails us, forcing us into rigid adjectival boxes.

Whoopi Goldberg once said that she rejected the description of herself using the hyphenated moniker “African-American” because it implied that she was less than “wholly” American, instead of referring to a characteristic of her wonderful uniqueness. I reject the idea of a male-only God for the very same reason.

Sometimes, I need a daddy to run to, with big, strong arms to keep me safe, defending me from my “tormentors.” But sometimes, I need a soft bosom in which to lay my head, comfort for a skinned knee, an “XX” Higher Power who looks like me. Sometimes, I am  bold to say,  “Our Mother, who art in heaven…”

And when I do, my God comes running, just the same.

Here’s wishing you independence from a limited God.

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