The name of the project—the Images of God—is intentional. There are dozens of images of God in the Old and New Testaments. This project seeks to expand those images beyond the biblical to include images of gender, race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation in its many expressions. The Images of God Project provides a forum for discussing these concepts, for sharing ways that groups across the faith spectrum are implementing them, and for introducing them to a larger audience.
Jesus made it clear that his message was for everyone. The dominant language and images in churches today, however, perpetuate exclusiveness and hierarchy. Perhaps a broader set of Images of God will allow little girls and gay teens to believe that they are made in God’s image. Maybe it will also allow people of privilege will see the #BlackLivesMatter proponents as people made in God’s Image.
For several decades, scholars and theologians have examined the images of God, particularly with a feminist lens. The works fill a respectable number of bookshelves, yet there is little evidence of the work in churches. For example, few Protestant congregations have integrated images or concepts of the feminine divine into their worship services. The Images of God Project seeks to make the feminine divine more visible and more accessible to those of us in the pew and in the pulpit on Sunday mornings. It is time for inclusive language in our prayers and liturgies and choir music and hymns. In every part of our faith life there are opportunities be proactively inclusive.
This project is a discussion with many possibilities and few certainties. I invite you to join me on the journey by posting comments, submitting essays, and sharing your experiences.
I am a Lutheran, a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). This is important for two reasons. First, the ELCA ordains women and, secondly, it ordains LGBTQ people. That means that the ELCA would not reject my application for ordination on the basis of my body parts. They might for other reasons, but not my sex. The second reason is that the ELCA does not reject people for candidacy for ordination based upon whom they love.
The ELCA has other attributes that are important, particularly it’s emphasis on grace. A short explanation of grace in this case means that God really does forgive sins—all of them, no exceptions. While that is personally hard for me to fathom, I have taken enough theology classes to believe this amazing premise.
I have been a feminist since I was in my teens. I believe in the equality of women and men. I believe that we are different from each other, but that we are also equal. For some people, those are conflicting concepts, but they are fundamental to my faith. All of my published work has in some way related to women and power, a topic I find fascinating and I am appalled and horrified by the use of rape as a weapon of war. I find it an unforgivable tactic, but it is not my call to decide who gets forgiven—see above.
I have resisted believing that I have any words or thoughts to bring to the discussion about the images of God for a long time. It is, however, my hope that I can help connect Christians who believe it is important to know that we are made in God’s image, male and female, every skin color, every race, every ethnic group, every economic group, LBGT members, and every gender identity. All of us. God made us in God’s image.