Thursday, June 19, 2008

On using gendered pronouns for God

I thought we had progressed further than this. In the comments to my final post on the Envision conference, some people criticized me for advocating the removal of gendered pronouns in relation to God. They argued that this was implicitly a rejection of the revealed triune name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Whenever I hear this kind of argument, I reminded of how much re-education still needs to happen in the church.

The fact of the matter is that the name “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” has nothing whatsoever to do with gender. God is neither male nor female, because God is not a creature. God is qualitatively different from anything created, and that means the distinctions between male and female, old and young, black and white, have no bearing on God’s being. Even when God takes on the humanity of Jesus, this does not mean God only takes up the male sex. That would be heretical, tantamount to saying that God only died for men, not for women. The humanity of Jesus is concrete, yes, but a concrete universal—the humanity of all people. This is why the Roman Catholic insistence upon male clergy on the basis of Jesus’ maleness (and the sex of the disciples) is fundamentally mistaken: it elevates the particular attributes of Jesus as a male human over the attributes of his salvific significance. The only attribute significant in terms of his identity as the Savior of the world is the attribute of “human nature,” not “male humanity.”

At the end of the day, interpreting the name “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” in gendered terms is equivalent to interpreting anthropomorphic imagery about, for example, the “hand of God” as if God actually has a hand. The Bible is full of anthropomorphic talk about God, but that does not mean God is just a Big Human in the sky. Similarly, the revealed name of the Trinity as “Father, Son, and Spirit” should not lead us to the mistaken impression that God is simply a human father raised to the level of infinite perfection and then projected upon the face of the divine. Nor is the Son of God simply a human son raised to the level of infinite perfection. (As always, we face the perennial problem: what is the gender of the Spirit?)

I am not arguing that we should jettison anthropomorphic imagery of God. The fact of the matter is that all human speech about God is necessarily anthropomorphic. As humans, we cannot speak about God in non-anthropomorphic language. We only know creaturely reality, so such talk is inescapable. But we cannot interpret such language literally or univocally. To do so would only be a denial of God’s divinity. It would mean reducing God to the level of a being within the world. It would be to adopt the metaphysical idea of God that Feuerbach already unmasked as a human projection, an idealized human being. According to Feuerbach, “The divine being is nothing else than the human being, or, rather, the human nature purified, freed from the limits of the individual man, made objective—i.e., contemplated and revered as another, distinct being. All the attributes of the divine nature are, therefore, attributes of the human nature.” In the end, Feuerbach realizes that such knowledge of God is only “man’s knowledge of himself, of his own nature.” When we ascribe gendered pronouns to God as if they are actually descriptive of who God is in Godself, then we fall prey to Feuerbach’s critique. We succumb to metaphysical thinking about God.

Am I saying that gendered pronouns are absolutely unacceptable? No. God had to become a specific gender in the incarnation, and it happened to be that God became a man. Does this mean that one gender is superior to the other, or that one gender is more a part of God’s being than another? Absolutely not! But it does mean that gendered pronouns are, in a certain, inescapable. When we talk about Jesus, we are talking about God. My argument was really about being courteous to those who seek to excise gendered pronouns when speaking about God, about the divine. While I personally strive to never use gendered pronouns because of the possible misinterpretation that God is somehow male or related more to men than women, I do not disparage those who choose to use such language, as long as they use it critically and responsibly.

Where I get frustrated is when people think that somehow male pronouns are privileged over female pronouns. That is nonsense. We can and should be able to speak about God as a “she” just as much as a “he.” Either gender is anthropomorphic in nature, and thus does not apply to God’s actual being, because God is not a creature. We speak as humans to humans, and we need to be aware of the limitations of our speech when we talk about God. Failure to do so is to fall into idolatry: to make God like us, or, even worse, like me.


Robert said...

Thanks for this well thought out post. Like you I try (and it is a hard habit to break) to avoid the use of gender specific language for God. But it is hard to get away from it sometimes!

halden said...

To my mind the important point about the differentiation between the maleness of the Father-Son language for the Trinity and the tote court application of male pronouns to God comes down to how we define the meaning of "Father" and "Son" based on the economy of salvation.

God is Father in that God is the Father of Jesus, not in that God somehow carries the characteristics of maleness or creaturely fatherhood in a way that excludes femaleness or creaturely motherhood. To call God Father is to affirm that the relationship that we have to God is a sharing in the same relationship that Jesus had to the one he called Father, not to make a statement about divine gender at all.

As far as I'm concerned the real question is for those who think that retaining only masculine pronouns for God is absolutely essential. Insisting that we should not find alternatives for Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is utterly different from claiming that in order to call God by this name is to call God a "he" over against a "she". I hate to speculate, but it seems to me this sort of rabid insistence on calling God a he is grounded in some sort of male insecurity or phobia of "liberals" rather than in a concern for God's name. Only if God's name means that God IS male should it drive us to only call God a he.

Craig Carter said...

No one has offered any evidence for the spurious claim that to use male pronouns of God is to engage in projection and to assert that God is male in every respect. Grammatically, a pronoun stands for a noun and the same inspired Bible that informs us that God is Father also refers to God as "He." Who would be so rash as to assert that when the Bible does this, it is referring to an unknown god who can just as easily be called "Mother" as "Father" depending on our preferences? Of course the Bible and the Christian theological tradition following it means "Father" when it refers to God as "He" or "Him."

This post is confused about how analogical language works. In every analogy there is both similarity and dissimilarity and in analogical language about God the dissimilarity is always greater than the similarity. So it is absurd to infer that to speak of God as Father means that he is nothing but, and in every way just like, a human father. Since the male pronouns refer back to Father, the same is true of the pronouns. But it is equally absurd to infer that when the Bible speaks about God as Father it means that he is nothing whatsoever like a human father and might just as well be referred to as Uncle or Mother or Third Cousin Twice Removed. The revealed language of Father reveals something without asserting that God is just like a human male in every possible respect. That is why it is indispensable.

This post admits that gendered pronouns are "unavoidable" because of the Incarnation of the Word in a male body. But the author seems a bit ashamed of the fact that it was a male body and hastens to assure everyone that we can speak of God as "she" because all language is "anthopomorphic in nature" and does not apply to God's actual being because "God is not a creature." So the argument, as I understand it, is that all language about God (including Father language)is "anthropomorphic. All right, who ever said otherwise? But since when does the anthropomorphic nature of human language mean that we have no access to the "actual being" of God? This is exactly what Arius argued. God is essentially unknown even by the Son. But Athanasius argued that our human language for God is able to speak of the being of God (when it is taken up in the event of revelation and rendered meaningful by the Spirit) and that the Father-Son relationship is analogical - meaning that there is both similarity and dissimilarity between God and our human language of Father and Son. My point is that there is some similarity. To suggest that an entirely different metaphor, not sanctioned by Scripture, is just as good for ascertaining the nature of God is to lower the biblical language about God to the level of human speculation and to turn all theology into mythology.

What frustrates me is when people think that pronouns are unconnected to nouns and are therefore merely human projections.

Andy said...

For what it's worth...after my M.Div I entered parish ministry all ready to use the term "Godself" without any hesitation; ready to teach my wide-eyed flock, through my highly-educated diction, that God has no gender.

Imagine my surprise when I realized that most church-goers are actually savvy enough to realize that God is not a man. They already realize this--even those who have never heard gender-neutral language for God, or any arguments for it. I began to feel like I was actually insulting their intelligence to insist on using this foreign, unfamiliar way of speaking of God.

So I agree in part with a post above: whatever controversy there may be about gender-neutral pronouns used for God, this controversy is not really about whether God is male. It's about something (or somethings) else, but not God's gender. No one, not even the regular folks in the pews of my congregation, are unaware "of the limitations of our speech when we talk about God." Let's give the Church a little credit.

halden said...

Craig, despite all your qualifications about analogy, even on this score your view inevitably makes God at least "more" male than female. Even if the exclusively masculine language for God only means there is a similarity within a greater dissimilarity between God and masculinity, it inevitably means that however great his dissimilarity is, the dissimilarity between God and the female is inestimably greater.

Sure, I get that you're saying God isn't "everything" that is male, but in the same breath you're saying that God is essentially nothing that is female (since all female language being unbiblical [which is not quite true, but that's another discussion] is inappropriate for God). I don't see how that ultimately is all that different that asserting that God is male.

D.W. Congdon said...


I'm actually not talking about parish ministry. I'm really only concerned here with academic language about God.

Having said that, I think you and I have had very different experiences with church ministry. I taught an adult ed course at a church when I spoke one week about women in ministry. When I made the statement that God transcends gender, one of the men in the group was shocked. He had never considered that God was not "male." I don't know how many others shared his opinion, but it was certainly a view that I encountered.

Craig Carter said...

Halden - 4 Points:

1. Neither you or the author of this post has yet addressed my point that all the arguments you make about masculine pronouns can just as logically be directed against the Father (and Son) language itself (and are so directed by many Feminist theologians today).

2. Your quarrel is not with me, but with the Divine Author of Scripture who did not reveal Himself as the Mother Goddess. We are "stuck" with what revelation gives us and I would suggest that we not waste time wishing it were otherwise. Rather than rejecting or supplementing or translating the biblical language too quickly, I suggest that we focus on contemplating what exactly the Father and Son language is meant to convey. (And if you drag up the few feminine similies for God in Scripture, be sure to consider J. B. Torrance's point that there is a great deal of difference between a similie and a metaphor and that there are no feminine biblical metaphors for God.)

Your understanding of analogy is coming, but it is not quite there yet. In analogical language it is common for people who are too quick on the draw to misconstrue exactly what the similarity is. I'd suggest that you meditate on the way that the idea of love and mutuality is expressed in the gendered language, rather than on other aspects of the gender imagery itself. What is the significance of the fact that humans image God in the one-flesh relationship of husband and wife, while the God thereby imaged is then presented as the Father and Son and their mutual love (the Spirit). Two (of two different genders) image three (with only one gender mentioned). Remember that revelation conceals as well as reveals simultaneously. (Barth)

3. You just need to get rid of the shallow idea that males must be more in the image of God because a masculine image is used of God. There just is not a shred of exegetical evidence for such an idea; it is an invention of non-theological minds. In Genesis the man and woman together image God (emphasis on "together"). Gender is used in much more sophisticated ways in Scripture and in the Great Tradition than the modern idea that "if God is male then the male is God." This logic would seem to lead to saying that if God is not the Goddess then women are not really in the image of God. But if God is the Goddess then men are not in the image of God. OK, so God is both male and female so both men and women can be in the image (each individually, no doubt, in deference to modern liberal individualist ideals). Talk about Feuerbach! And we reach this absurd point by starting from the premise that, since God is not male, using masculine pronouns for God (but not Father language) is to make God male.

4. Finally, you might want to reflect on the significance of the ideal model of receptivity to revelation in Scripture being a woman, the Blessed Virgin Mary. Is it any accident that the women receive revelation of the Resurrection before the male disciples do? What does this say about the ability of men to be Christians, i.e. to be receptive of revelation? It seems to me that if the same hermeneutic of suspicion operative in the "if God is male then the male is God" way of thinking were applied here, it would result in the idea that men can only be second-class Christians. The absurdities of missing the real similarities in analogical language are endless.

dan said...

If Paul can refer to himself as a mother ("like a nurse caring for her own children" or "in labour again"), then why is it such a big deal to refer to God the Father as a she (or, at the very least, a s/he)? If Paul can be a male mother, what's the problem with a God who can be described as a female Father? Wouldn't that be a better way to get around all the ideologies of gender that people on both sides have built up around the idea of "God"?

D.W. Congdon said...


Before I respond to your 4 points (Halden can offer his own response), let me say a few words. First, I have absolutely no interest in a hidden God. My position is thoroughly Barthian, and thus talk about God is truly talk about God.

Having said that, such talk is still human talk about God, and therefore it says as much about us as it does about God. Our language about God is inherently limited by the fact that God transcends all such creaturely descriptions. Talk about God falls under the category of hermeneutics: it is a human attempt to understand an object. I affirm that God gives Godself to be known by us, but in that giving, in that self-revelation (as self-interpretation), we are still seeking to understand God. And that means our language is, in an important sense, contingent and culturally conditioned.

Just because "father" is a masculine noun in relation to human fathers does not mean that "Father" in relation to God is still a masculine noun. Here I could even deploy the classical definition of analogy which you yourself cite (though I would rather replace that definition with Jüngel's). My point is that we use a masculine pronoun in relation to "father" because fathers are actually of the male sex. But since God has no sex, then to bind ourselves to a masculine pronoun is simply wrong. We can call God "Father," but we do so knowing that this is a human attempt to speak about God. God the "Father" is also YHWH, the God whose name is not spoken by Jews. YHWH is the triune God. We would do well to remember the Jewish concern for the commandment against taking the Lord's name in vain. God is not a "him" or "it," but a "Thou." God is a personal being with whom we relate, but unlike any personal being that we know.

I retain the language of "Father, Son, and Spirit" not because God is actually like a human father (over against a human mother) but because such language emphasizes the personal relationships between the divine modes of existence. Taking the triune name too literally has led many to the conclusion that God is actually three mysteriously united beings. A crude insistence on gendered pronouns and a crude social trinitarianism are two variations of the same problem: failing to think theologically about analogical language about God.

If we do use such language, we have to know that it is inherently anthropomorphic and thus not actually descriptive of who God is. In other words, God is not confined to such speech. The words in Scripture or elsewhere are by no means the only possible language for speaking about God. Scripture is a witness to revelation, but not the revelation itself. Jesus Christ is the revelation of God -- not in his maleness, but in his humanity, in his salvific work of reconciliation.

This insight legitimates the translation of such language into other human contexts. For example, I can translate talk about heaven being "above us" to language that recognizes that heaven is not a physical location somewhere in space. I can translate language about Jesus ascending upwards into the sky into language about Jesus going to be with the Father, which can also be translated to say that Jesus' salvific work on the cross is now extended to all people in all times. Similarly, I can translate "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" to say that God is a personal being who exists in internal relationality. In other words, God is related to Godself from all eternity, and God extends this relationality to us in and through Jesus. To go much further is running into dangerous -- dangerously idolatrous -- territory.

Finally, your disparagement of feminist theology is unnecessary. We need feminist theology, just like we need Black theology and liberation theology and others. These help to remind us that no one group has possession of the truth. I am happy to identify myself as a feminist.

Anyway, I've been rambling a bit here, so I hope these thoughts make sense.

(By the way, it seems that you come from a Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox perspective. If so, then let me suggest that perhaps your ecclesial commitments are clouding your judgment in this matter. I taught the Catholic RCIA last year, and I am intimately familiar with the need on the part of many Catholics to justify male clergy on the basis of some theological assertion about God. Perhaps this doesn't apply to you, but your last comment sure gives that impression.)

D.W. Congdon said...

Regarding your four points:

1. Sure, one could take these arguments too far and simply reject the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit altogether, but that's called a slippery slope argument, and it's a logical fallacy.

2. The "Divine Author" of Scripture? Have we learned nothing from modern historical criticism? Revelation is not a text or an idea; it is a person, Jesus Christ. Scripture is the authoritative witness to this revelation. Let's not fall into bibliolatry here. Scripture testifies to the triune God, but it does so within a particular cultural context, one which is rather mythological -- heaven above us, Sheol below us, etc. We need to interpret/translate Scripture in such a way that we are able to stand with the writers of the Bible as witnesses of Jesus Christ.

We can talk about analogy and the imago Dei elsewhere, but suffice it to say that I have very different understandings of these doctrines.

3. Here I am in complete agreement with you! Ironically, your statements here only support using gender-less language! If masculine imagery has absolutely nothing to do with ascribing gender to God, then we might as well use gender-neutral language. To respond by saying that the Bible uses a masculine pronoun is to become a slave to the biblical text rather than a "slave of righteousness" (Paul). Do you insist that we also speak about heaven as a place over our heads? Do you insist that we speak about God in Greek or Hebrew? How far do we have to go before your argument begins to sound absurd?

4. This fourth point is just a strange continuation of the third point. But I strongly disagree with your implicit argument that God necessitates masculine imagery because God is the one who gives, whereas humanity is the one that receives -- a relationship which is then imaged in the male-female relationship. I disdain this kind of gender role talk. Gal. 3:28 runs completely against it.

halden said...

David's response can more than function as a stand-in for one I would make to your four points, Craig. However I do have one suggestion to make regarding your (un)willingness to even enter into this discussion in any way that goes beyond your saber rattling.

Your whole rhetoric of condescencion indicates to me that you have no interest in actually dialoging about this, you're just here to pontificate. You deal out throwaway lines about how I don't understand the definition of analogy, or my "shallow ideas" and the need for me to "contemplate" your points left and right. Such jabs are blitheringly obvious as the thinly veiled ad hominems that they are. They neither make a case nor speak well of your willingess to actually enter into the sort of patient and fraternal dialogue that makes for fruitful theological discussion.

Rather than simply going around pontificating and trivializing other in hopes of bullying them into agreeing with you, you might do better to actually entertain the notion that people with perspectives other than your own have thoroughly thought through their views in light of Scripture and tradition and are not just a bunch of idiots (or your favorite enemy: "Liberals") and as such should perhaps be taken seriously as dialogue partners rather than merely ridiculed and scoffed at with an air of superiority.

dan said...

Well said, Halden.

R.O. Flyer said...

I've been following this discussion since it began and it seems that the disagreement here is pretty fundamental. Not only is there a disagreement about the use of analogy, but also about the nature of the biblical text. Despite Craig's appeals to "the Tradition," which at any rate only seems to mask a gross conservatism, his understanding of the inspiration of scripture seems to be grounded more in evangelical fundamentalism.

Craig, it is simply disingenuous to label and then dismiss all feminist theological critique as "liberal." It is imperative that the "Tradition" be interrogated concerning the predominance of masculine language for God, and this cannot be so easily dismissed on the basis of a short-sighted conservatism. Likewise, and this seems to be the heart of the issue for you, it is imperative that even the language of Scripture be interrogated! Again, this is no plea to coalesce to the whims of modernity; it is, at its best, an honorable attempt to be faithful to Christ.

It strikes me that Craig is simply unwilling to

R.O. Flyer said...

"It strikes me that Craig is simply unwilling to" - this was unintended, please ignore it.

Jennifer Aycock said...

A non-academic elite speaks--

I have neither the education nor patience to respond to the entirety of this dialogue, though I have been greatly amused by the post itself and the comments. A few points in passing--

1) Andy, your comments (and David's response) were perhaps the most profound because they engaged real people and their realities. Thank you. I do not mean to slight others who I realize are engaged in church ministry as well; but you did not take the opportunity to speak from those places.

2) I recently literally stumbled upon Deuteronomy 4:15-18, specifically "beware lest you act corruptly by making a carved image for yourselves, in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female, the likeness of any animal that is on this earth...winged bird that flies in the air...anything that creeps on the ground, any fish that is in the water under the earth..." I give away my bias for Scripture here, and I don't read specifically that anyone would object to the trajectory of this passage. However, the tears this has brought to my eyes originate in the great hope found in One who rests above all yet exists through all, miraculously embodying no thing or no shape we can conjure, no matter how gendered or non-gendered our language may be.

3) A personal practice note--I have lived in and support-raised in predominantly white evangelical contexts. I have also lived in an ecumenical, theologically inclusive community wherein I grew comfortable with praying to a genderless God, even though as a woman I still struggled to pray to "she." Currently I serve in evangelical and Catholic contexts, in neither of which I could pray to a gender neutral God nor a female God, much as I would like to rock that boat. Through each of these contexts I have learned the following--It matters who is listening. Yes, we must always be ready to challenge others in how we conceive of and encounter God. However, if either gendered or gender inclusive references to God prevent the hearer from encountering Truth, we must be willing to sacrifice our theological, spiritual, and academic causes toward this end. One may only be ushered into the mind-blowing, non-boxed in presence of God as she or he is given eyes and understanding to do so. I argue strongly that we cannot allow others to walk comfortably along in their faith without challenges to seeing God differently, reading Scripture fully, and witnessing accurately the testimony of history. However, we must speak to others--as individuals or gathered groups--wherein we find them. If that allows us a freedom to address God more completely, then we find this a grace. If it asks of us humility to temper our causes so that we may be conduits of God's voice and Spirit as Paul was able to be in Acts 17:22-34, to name an unknown god according to a specific context and work further past the naming to the knowing as in Galatians 3 (for any reference to who we are in Christ must inevitably direct us to the image in which we are all held together), then we find this a challenging privilege.

4) David, you know I appreciate your posts; however, this particular conversation (as with others in general) lacks female perspective and interaction. I find this interesting and saddening. Considering your point of view on this topic, one would think this would be a safe space for women to enter into dialogue concerning gender and God (not meaning this should be the only conversation in which we should be engaged). Yet their absence and silence is almost startling. Brother, you and we have some work to do.

D.W. Congdon said...

Hi Jennifer,

Thanks for your comment. Your comments on Deuteronomy, the need to avoid all forms of idolatry, and the importance of never impeding the ability of others to hear the good news are all very important points.

A couple things in response. First, you mention your inability to pray to a "gender neutral God" (and a "female God"). It's important to remember that a God who transcends gender is no less personal and intimate with us. This is important. God is not a creature, but God is no less personal as a result. We only know human persons as gendered persons, so it's only natural for us to view anything that transcends gender as something that is abstract or impersonal or alien. It's important to remember that just the opposite is the case: God alone is truly personal.

(On a more nitpicky note, my position is not that God is "gender neutral." I'm not speaking about God's being here, but rather about how we speak about God. God's being is not "gender neutral," as if God is simply the opposite of what we find in humanity. This would be to revert to a kind of ancient metaphysics in which God is whatever humanity isn't. So, since we are mortal and bound to time, God is immortal and timeless. This way of speaking about God is really problematic, because it defines and confines God in relationship to creatures. My point is that God is not "gender neutral," in the same way that God is neither male nor female. God is simply the Lord, the Creator, Reconciler, and Redeemer. As the Lord, God is not confined to creaturely distinctions. God remains the gracious Lord who is the Wholly Other.)

We must, as you rightly say, always be ready to have God shatter our preconceived notions about who God is. We must be open to a God who disrupts and reorients us, who interrupts us with the word of Jesus Christ. And that means never allowing a particular concept or message to ossify and become itself an idol.

Finally, I have to say something about your final point. The fact of the matter is that theology as a field of study is male-dominated. The same goes for the blogosphere. This is not something I like. On the contrary, I eagerly look forward to the day when women are actively engaged as theologians and pastors, and are not confined to the role of hearers and recipients.

I would like to think that this is a very safe place for women to speak openly about theological matters. I don't think there is anything in this conversation that is preventing female interaction. If you perceive something, I'd like to know about it. But when I look down my blog roll, there are virtually no theo-blogs run by women. Hence, no comments from women. I've interacted with several women over the years, but they are generally spectators, not active participants. I would love to see that change in radical ways.

If there's a way to increase female participation, I'd like to know. Perhaps I should raise these issues more often, though I'd like to think that women are able and willing to engage in any topic of discussion -- not simply those that touch directly on the issue of gender.

Thanks again for the comment.

Jennifer Aycock said...

Hey David,

Quick response to your wanting to increase female participation--It's both a systemic and personal work to be undertaken, by men and women together. That said, do you have classes with women? Invite them specifically and personally to write/engage/etc. either on your blog or on their own (I believe you and I had this brief email conversation as well and it has me thinking for the future!) Two, you host blog conferences semi-frequently. Host one for female submissions only concerning a topic unrelated to gender issues. We have been formed to function fully in private realms for centuries but the public can still at times flash "danger."

David, it takes intentionality (I know you hate that word as much as I do) on the part of men and women to raise voices that have been silenced by time, and not just women. Spend some time finding what women are out there writing or who have written serious articles, books, reviews etc. and highlight them in a blog. Open up the space a bit. Visibility is key in some senses.

There's so much more here, but I don't have time to get into it. But hey, I'll join you in this work soon. Deal.


D.W. Congdon said...

Thanks, Jennifer.

I'm not nearly egotistical enough to ask anyone to come read my blog who haven't already expressed interest in it. I don't think getting women to participate in blogs is important enough to pander for new readers.

Nor do I think holding a blog conference is really the right idea. I only have one conference anyway -- on von Balthasar. Holding a conference for female contributors only is an interesting idea, but I'm not sold on it. Like I said, there are not many female theo-bloggers, nor are there very many female theologians. Perhaps blogs are not the preferred medium for women to engage in theological debates, or perhaps the absence of women from the blogosphere is simply a manifestation of the lack of women in theological studies in general. Either way, I don't think the way to change this is to hold a female-only blog conference.

But you're right about the intentionality issue. All people need to be intentional about giving space to marginalized voices. But this is something that can be done by any person, and not only the marginalized. Obviously, I want those voices to speak for themselves, but I'm not going to force them to enter a medium (e.g., blogs) in which they are not already engaged.

Personally, I just want this blog to be a place where theology and church practice interconnect in a way that will aid Christians in their efforts to make the church a safe and welcoming place for all marginalized groups. If this blog can become a place where such dialogue actually takes place, so much the better. But that will mean more women need to enter the blogosphere, and that's not something I have any control over.