God & Gender
During January and February of 2020, our Sunday worship services will focus on Bible passages that confront us with our gendered assumptions about God and invite us to re-imagine our relationship to God and each other. The readings listed below will serve our mid-week discussions. Please email Isaac if you would like for him to send you a pdf of the texts.
M. Shawn Copeland, “Marking the Body of Jesus, the Body of Christ,” in Enfleshing Freedom: Body, Race, and Being (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2010), 55-84.
- An opportunity to reflect on the body of Jesus in his context and ours, in terms of how to think about the power relations involved in the gendering of his life and what that means for our lives of faith.
Mary Daly, “After the Death of God the Father,” Commonweal (March 1971): https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/after-death-god-father
- This is an early reflection on the patriarchal foundations of Christian discourse about God. Daly links together the practical work of liberation to the reformation of our theological language.
Emily A. Holmes, “Transcendence Incarnate,” in Flesh Made Word: Medieval Women Mystics, Writing, and the Incarnation (Baylor University Press, 2013), 169-195.
- In this concluding chapter to her book, Holmes summarizes her study of medieval women’s theology and develops how their work renews our imagination for God.
Elizabeth A. Johnson, “Redeeming the Name of Christ,” in Freeing Theology: The Essentials of Theology in Feminist Perspective (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 1993), 115-138.
- In this biblical study, Johnson explores the dependence of New Testament passages about Jesus on Old Testament texts about divine Wisdom. The study concludes with a presentation of Jesus as the embodiment of Wisdom personified, named Sophia in the Greek texts.
Julian of Norwich, “Revelations of Divine Love,” Long Text, Chapters 57-63.
- In this fifteenth-century text, Julian frames her conversation about Jesus within a discussion of Mary’s motherhood, which allows her to consider Jesus as the mother of our faith. Sarah Jacoby: “I find Julian’s writing very healing in general and I loved reading this profusion of pronouns and roles–for example, the phrase, ‘He is our mother.’”
Catherine Mowry LaCugna, “God in Communion with Us,” in Freeing Theology: The Essentials of Theology in Feminist Perspective (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 1993), 83-114.
- This essay offers a survey of the history of theological discussions about the doctrine of God and concludes with a vision of God as a non-hierarchical community who invites us into egalitarian communion with each other.
Audre Lorde, “An Open Letter to Mary Daly,” in This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color (Kitchen Table/Women of Color Press, 1981)
- This early response to Daly has become a touchpoint in exploring the racial blindside of white feminism. Lorde exposes the lack of consideration of the experience of black women in Daly’s vision for (white) sisterhood liberation.
Melanie A. May, “The Promise of Presence” and “Telling the Truth,” in A Body Knows: A Theopoetics of Death and Resurrection (New York, NY: Continuum, 1995), 60-92.
- These two chapters are the heart of May’s theological/autobiographical reflections as a Church of the Brethren minister who has struggled to find a place in her tradition as a woman, as a lesbian.
Virginia Ramey Mollenkott, “The Problem” (ch. 1) and “Some Suggestions & Conclusions” (ch. 19), in The Divine Feminine: The Biblical Imagery of God as Female (New York, NY: Crossroad, 1989), 1-7, 110-119.
- This whole book provides a explores the feminine imagery for God in the Scriptures and explores the insights of church people through the ages. This is a very readable survey of the possibilities for exposing our default patriarchal imagination and invites us to consider other ways to think about God.
Rosemary Radford Ruether, “Sexism and God-Language: Male and Female Images of the Divine,” in Sexism and God-Talk (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1983), 47-71.
- This chapter traces through history the effects of patriarchy on our ability to imagine God and exposes the complexities in thinking about God, given the gendering of our own bodies and imaginations.
Rosemary Radford Ruether, “Christology: Can a Male Savior Save Women,” in Sexism and God-Talk (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1983), 116-138.
- This essay became an immediate classic. Theological discourse about the salvation offered in Jesus Christ has been wrestling with this question ever since.
Laurel C. Schneider, “What Race is your Sex?” in Disrupting White Supremacy from Within, eds. Harvey, Case, Gorsline (Pilgrim Press, 2004).
- This essay makes the case for the interconnection of race, sex, and gender. Each of those aspects of ourselves cannot be separated from the others. Schneider asks for feminist concerns not to ignore racial analyses.
Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, “Women in the early Christian movement,” in Womanspirit Rising: A Feminist Reader in Religion (HarperCollins, 1979), 84–92.
- This chapter provides an account of the role of women in the early Christian movement, before the suppression of women as Christianity developed through the ages.
Janet Martin Soskice, “Calling God ‘Father,’” in The Kindness of God: Metaphor, Gender, and Religious Language (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2007), 66-83.
- This chapter wrestles with the patriarchal language of the “Father” used for naming God and attempts to re-understand that word as describing a non-hierarchical relationship with the other persons of the Trinity.
Janet Martin Soskice, “Trinity and the ‘Feminine Other,’” in The Kindness of God: Metaphor, Gender, and Religious Language (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2007), 100-124.
- In this chapter Soskice takes insights from French feminist theory as vantage points to re-examine how we imagine the inter-personal relationships of the Trinity.
Lauren Winner, “A Short Note on Gender and Language for God,” in Wearing God: Clothing, Laughter, Fire, and Other Overlooked Ways of Meeting God (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2015), 25-30.
- This chapter offers a helpful biographical entrance into talking about gender and God, particularly from a devotional perspective. Winner engages the issue on a personal level, which invites readers to chart out their own personal history of thinking/acting when coming to theological subjects that carry a lot of cultural/psychological baggage and assumptions.
In the last decade, our congregation engaged in a discernment process to affirm publicly the LGBTQ people in our community. This decision in 2015 led to our pastor officiating same-sex weddings for people in our church the following year, which resulted in the censure of his ordination by our regional conference. His ordination was restored in 2018 after our congregation moved our membership to a Mennonite conference that allows pastors to conduct same-sex weddings.
The documents below show the process that led us to our decision, as well as our responses to the concerns expressed by our regional conference at the time. Lastly, included below are reflections by our pastor, as well as several news pieces about our decision.
Timeline of events: LGTBQ Affirmation and Same-Sex Weddings
Isaac reflects on the decision to officiate a same-sex wedding: “Wife and Wife,” Bearings (Oct 2016)