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The Father’s womb: a sermon on God and gender

October 18th, 2011 by isaac · 2 Comments

Here’s part of the sermon I preached this past Sunday:

Can you imagine a Father with a womb? That’s what the church Council of Toledo declared in 675 CE: “One must believe,” it says, “that the Son is begotten and born not from nothing, nor from some other substance, but from the womb of the Father [de Patris utero], that is, from his substance.”

It says, in Latin, “de Patris utero” — literally, from the uterus of the Father. A couple hundred years before this confession of faith, this confession of God with a womb, Augustine of Hippo makes a similar claim as he works through the passage we read from Psalm 110. Traditionally, Christians have taken this Psalm to be the words of the Father to the Son, “The Lord said to my lord,” as it says in the first verse. In verse 3, in the version of the Bible Augustine is reading from, the Father says to the Son, “out of my womb before the morning star I bore you.” So Augustine writes, with Psalm 110 and John 1 in mind, and says, “Let us then understand the Father saying unto the Son, ‘From my womb before the morning star I have brought thee forth.”

To imagine a Father with breasts and a womb stretches our imagination, inviting us into very bodily metaphors, and to reach through them into God, into God’s life, a life that reaches through us and stretches out beyond us, affirming who we are, while inviting us to think beyond fixed genders.

God bends gender, this way and that, twisting genders into one another, forming life-giving combinations. As I sketched briefly tonight, there’s a rich tradition in the church of thinking about a God who fuses and transgresses our ideas about gender. When we say that God is a Father, we have to imagine someone with womb. But more than just imagining God in this way, as Christians we are invited into a relationship with this mother, into our mother, who holds us within her — this One who lives for our sake, letting her life flow into ours, providing a place for our bodies to grow within hers, being patient with us as we kick her from within the womb, forbearing us as we take over her body from the inside.


For more, go here: the father’s womb


Tags: sermons · spirituality