Women, anger and the Fatherhood of God
Have you watched Ms Represented on the ABC? It’s a documentary series on the history of women in politics in Australia and I would highly recommend it to both men and women. It made me rejoice as I thanked God for the people who fought hard so that I can vote. It also made me furious at the misogyny that women in the house of representatives still live with. You will be aware of the recent avalanche of stories about gendered sexual violence. Christian Porter, Brittany Higgins and Grace Tame are just a few of the names making headlines in this area as perpetrators are being called to account. Yet there is another, related narrative, that it is men who are under attack. The criticism of ‘toxic masculinity’ has been perceived in some circles as a judgement that all masculinity is toxic. How do we speak about a God who reveals himself as Father through the Son when these masculine terms themselves are cause for suspicion by some?
I met a woman recently at a Christian event who was doing some higher research into the feminine imagery that God uses of himself (eg a hen gathering sheltering chicks under her wing in Matt 23). As she spoke, she revealed a deep sense of alienation from the masculine God and the joy of discovering the feminine within the Godhead. She wondered aloud why God had chosen to reveal himself as Father not Mother – it just made no sense to her. Coincidentally I had just read a reflection by a theologian which went a little way to answering that question.
Hannah Anderson was that theologian and she brought me back to biology. The physical realities of mothering and Fathering are different. Throughout history, women have birthed babies and it has always been clear who the mother of a baby is. When I gave birth to my 2 children, no one asked “and are you the mother?” it was quite obvious that the baby had come from my body. But my husband was always asked “and are you the Father?”
Because who the Father is, isn’t a given. Think back to Bible times when there was no paternity testing and a woman’s word wasn’t worth as much as a man’s. Fatherhood was a choice in a way that motherhood was not. History is littered with Fathers who deny their children. When a woman gets pregnant, the question comes – who is the Father? Who will take responsibility for this helpless child? Who will provide, protect and nuture?
Sometimes the Father denies the child. He walks away.
But that is exactly what God doesn’t do. God is revealed as Father because he takes the initiative towards us. He steps into history and claims his children as his own – even though he doesn’t have to.
God reveals himself as Father. He says yes – in our helpless state, he says I will take responsibility, I will pour myself out for the needs of my child. I will provide, protect and nurture you. God says you’re mine. You are my son. You are my daughter. I am your Father God.
– Kylie Brown