Lent, Day 12


Is the Trinity a boy or girl?

“Father” and “Son” are obviously very masculine names for members of the Trinity, and even “Holy Spirit” is often envisioned in masculine terms. As the past two hundred years has led to a recovery of the full dignity and worth of women, both in the culture at large and in the church, many wonder why our language about God is so masculine-heavy.

Here’s how I’ve attempted to resolve this in my own inner-devotional life: I have accepted that thousands of years of agrarian, Paleolithic, Fertile Crescent, patriarchal, and finally imperial inertia influenced the appearance of largely masculine names for God.

But you know what I believe? I think the spaces in between the members of the Trinity are unmistakably feminine. The forms or manifestations strike me as the masculine dimension, and the diffused, intuitive, mysterious, and wonderful unconscious in-between, that’s the feminine. And that’s where the essential power is-the space between the persons more than the persons individually.

That said, I think we’ve done a very good thing in recent years giving the feminine nature of God her due in our biblical studies, our theology, and our worship. Our witness to the divine feminine in our worship is particularly important, so people don’t come away with a picture of God as irreducibly masculine.

But precisely what this mystery of Trinity does for me is give me a way to be true to both of these witnesses to the feminine in God. It’s okay if you want to keep the persons of God in their traditional masculine language-you don’t have to, but it works as long as you start unpacking, proclaiming, teaching, and understanding the spaces in between, the relationships, the movement of the dance itself between three persons, which for me is the underlying feminine dimension of God.

This is where the generativity seems to happen- where Hildegard’s veriditas, or new life, seems to happen. As the scientific principle of William of Ockham’s “Razor” suggests (one of our less-known Franciscan luminaries), the truest answer will usually be both simple and elegant; I find simplicity and elegance in this explanation. So take it into your prayer; walk inside of this masculine/feminine polarity and dance and see if you’re not renewed. History up to now has very seldom found the lovely balance.

-Richard Rohr, The Divine Dance

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