Being the wife of a man and the mother of a son, I think a lot about the ways men and women seem to worship God differently. In 2004, David Murrow’s book Why Men Hate Going to Church (Thomas Nelson) made quite a splash. I like Murrow’s premise and think he was onto something. God’s nature and love is experienced differently by boys and men and the way they return that love is colored by gender.
For instance, the men in my life are fairly uncomfortable with singing in public, so congregational singing is a time to squirm and lose focus. Have you noticed this with guys in your youth group? Or maybe your own brothers? I know a lot of men who love to sing and are especially moved by worshipping through song, so I would never make a blanket statement.
You know what else makes Alan squirm? Being called the “bride of Christ.” I know, and my husband knows, this pertains to the spiritual sense of submitting to Christ’s love for us. We are cherished, protected, and provided for as Christ’s bride. But that doesn’t make it any easier for Alan to say, “I am the bride of Christ.”
So in thinking about these issues as I raise my son, I try to plant imagery in his mind about who our God is in a way that speaks to his gendered frame of mind. My favorite image is one that Anderson gave to me. One night he said, “Can you believe God made something as big as Betelgeuse?” Well, I’m a writer, not a scientist, and what I heard was Beetle Juice, the cheesy 1980s movie starring Michael Keaton. Right? You too? So the conversation became sort of absurd.
“How did you know about Beetle Juice?” I asked, wondering how my eight-year-old could’ve happened upon this movie.
“I found it in a book. It’s huge. Everybody knows about Betelgeuse except you, Mom.”
“Um, I saw it when it came out,” I said. “I’m fully aware of Beetle Juice. I just don’t get the connection you’re making to God.”
“You were here when he made it?” he said. “That’s crazy. What did it look like?”
“Well, it was dumb. And not funny. And a little annoying. I’m surprised it didn’t wreck Keaton’s career, actually.” I paused when I saw Anderson’s confusion.
“Mom, that’s just weird. It’s 700 times bigger than the sun.”
“Wait, what? What are we talking about here?”
I did what any good mom does and I wikipedia’d “beetle juice star” and found out about Betelgeuse, the red supergiant star that is, indeed, 700 times larger than our own sun. I’m sure you’ve all studied it and are shaking your heads at me right now. Did you know if it were placed where our sun resides, its outer edges would reach Jupiter? It’s big, this Betelgeuse. Now that I have this gem that I know captures my little boy’s imagination, I use it. A lot. God is the God of Betelgeuse. I serve the God of Betelgeuse.
I say this to remind myself that we all experience and understand God through so many lenses—gender, upbringing, environment, past wounds, intellectual interests. And the cool thing is that God is big enough to handle those biases.
He is everything to everyone and He is all the power and majesty of creation. He’s strong, our God. He is also as tender as a mother with her child. He is what captivates, this God, the God of Betelgeuse.
O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. From the lips of children and infants, you have ordained praise.”
Psalm 8:1-2 NIVRead More