God He, God She, and God They: Options For Naming the Divine
When I was younger, it was automatic for me to talk about, think about, and pray to Heavenly Father. In the past few years, however, I’ve grown much more uncomfortable with these things. My problem, primarily, is one of language.
When I speak of Heavenly Father, I feel uncomfortable, anxious, and sad about the way I’m not including Heavenly Mother. When I hear Father in Heaven referred to continually throughout the three hour Church block or in our sacred texts, I feel sad that there’s no acknowledgment of Heavenly Mother, a deity who stands as a model for my eternal future. Because of her absence in our words and prayers, I am left wondering about my eternal potential. And do I really even want to reach it, if my future is one of nothingness.
So no more. I’m the one who is ultimately in charge of my spiritual progression, and if I’m hindered by androcentric language, I’m changing it to something more inclusive. Of course, in my ideal world, not only would I be able to openly pray to Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father, I’d also be able to mention her continually in lessons, talks, and discussions. But my faith community would make me an outcast if I did so, so I’ve got to make some public compromises. And here they are:
a) I pray to God, not Heavenly Father. And my God is not a God He or a God She. It’s a God They. A divine unit of male and female. I’m reaching out to both my Parents.
b) I speak about God (They), not Heavenly Father, in non-Church settings.
c) In Church settings, I replace Heavenly Father with Heavenly Parents as often as I possibly can (thank you Proclamation for that!), and then I switch to God when people start raising their eyebrows.
So far, this is working for me. And sometimes it even rubs off on those around me. A couple of years ago I gave a talk in which I mentioned Heavenly Parents at least five or six times. And then the counselor got up and closed the meeting mentioning the love of our Heavenly Parents. Yay!
How do you deal with the absence of the feminine divine in Mormon speech and texts? Do you amend language? What are some other good options for inclusive God language?