The way people refer to God is really interesting because it either reveals how they perceive God’s gender or it signals a personal need they may have.
Christian’s of course, refer to God as Father, for a multitude of logical reasons. One that Jesus was the Son of God and appeared in physical form, not as a daughter but as a son. Secondly, Jesus always referenced God using masculine nouns and pronouns when He called Him Father. The Apostles, as reflected in the many books of the Bible, followed Jesus’ example and used masculine references to God in all their writings and teachings, too. Besides the template set by Jesus, it generally wouldn’t have been unusual since societies at the time were almost totally patriarchal and Jews also referred to God in masculine terms. It was a natural reference since only pagan worshippers or those involved in Hinduism had female Gods.
Others today address God in more nonspecific terms: as the Divine or as Spirit – both of which indicate no gender at all. A few refer to God as Father/Mother. That last group truly doesn’t follow in the tradition of bible based Christian teachings but happen to be totally correct since God transcends gender. As we all know, God created both the male and female in His image. Still, those who speak publicly of God’s neutrality seem to be in the minority.
I personally recognize God as both male and female, intellectually, but using the
Father/Mother reference is cumbersome and something which seems foreign to me. Instead, my fallback position has always been to call Him Father, although I also realize God is a love energy that defies any categorization. Throughout my life, when speaking to God or speaking about Him, the masculine reference has always made me feel the most protected and secure.
With all that said, the reason I even bring up God’s gender is that God paid me a visit a few days ago and made a point related to this very subject, so I thought I’d honor His message to me. Now God doesn’t routinely reach out but when He does, I eagerly run for my pen and pad to write down every single word. I’m actually quite excited when the opportunity presents itself. In this particular message He made reference to my life and wrapped into His comments were lessons for me that were insightful and, as always, extraordinarily meaningful. Specifically, this is what He said that prompted this particular blog. He began, as He does sometimes, with a nice compliment:
“You glorify Me, you ask for guidance and you affirm your commitment to be of service to Me. What Father could ask for more?
“You know I am more androgenous – with no real gender – but I know Father makes you happy because you were always without one. Your natural father - (you never met and your adopted father was absent – emotionally and most often physically. When around, he was absent in the communication arena. (My Daddy was the strong, silent type – ha)
“How smart of you to find that paternal love through Me and not some human who would disappoint and in whom you would unconsciously place so many demands. All could learn from you.
“Perhaps you could write about that? A nice blog, I think you call it.”
I really had never thought of my reference to Him from the perspective God presented but it made sense. I’m probably unique in that respect and know very few others praying to the Almighty, do so using a male noun because they have “father issues”. I’ve always been unique. Ha
At this point I know you’re asking yourself, what does all this have to do with marriage? Well, let me introduce that now.
I’m sure most of you are unaware of a form of counseling for married and soon-to-be-married couples that explores the dynamics of their family of origin. This particular method is not complex, in fact, it’s quite simple. The way it works is that the counselor asks the couple to each describe the dominate characteristic – either good or bad – that was most memorable in each of their parents. Both individuals getting counseling do that exercise and their parental descriptions are best limited to a word or two.
The reason for this clarification is that many individuals, when searching for a mate, unknowingly seek someone who presents one of those parental traits that was dominant in their original home environment. The trait might be something in their father or mother that was either destructive to them or made an impact in their early years. In most of those cases, the child was helpless to effect change in the parent they loved – so later they subconsciously attract partners with a similar trait, in order to repair the damage they were unable to do as a child. In some cases and if they are really blessed, they look for someone who delivers the antithesis of that with which they grew up.
This is a neat exercise which people can also do in retrospect, looking at patterns from their multiple marriages which often point to a missing link that particular person was searching to fill or repair. Anyway, once that parental profile information is on the table, it’s easy for the counselor and couple to begin discussions and eventually spot potential landmines that could eventually surface during their marriage. Strategies are then developed very early to avoid potential conflicts down the road.
This isn’t a Sandy Theory. This is actually quite a successful course of counseling that is more specific than simply a family systems approach to therapy. This can really short-cut working the bugs out of a relationship. Sadly, I’ve known very few counselors who use this method, but it’s fascinating, isn’t it?
OK – I can hear some parents gasping and saying, people always blame the parents! This really has little to do with the parent’s actual actions and more to do with the child’s perception. Nobody is to blame but instead, this is about how the child reacts to it all.
It’s fascinating how the dynamics of one’s childhood can influence the paths they take in life, the preferences they exercise for choosing a partner and even how they approach devotion – with simple reverence or through some subconscious, personal need. In my case, I guess it was some subconscious need, which I’m happy to confess with no guilt at all.
Now, just think, how this realization, many decades into my life, will now prevent me for hunting for a father figure in a future relationship and how this realization has saved some poor, unfortunate man the pain filling a father role for me. Some trick, too, since he’d have to be at least 97 to pull that one off.
So, for the rest of my years, I’ll continue look to the Divine for that Fatherly comfort and eternal guidance – as I always have – but this time, with a new clarity!