Women in the image of God

Following up last Sunday’s first reading from Isaiah which gave a feminine image for God, here is a selection from theologian Elizabeth Johnson:

The women’s movement in civil society and the church has shed a bright light on the pervasive exclusion of women from the realm of public symbol formation and decision making, and women’s consequent strong enforced subordination to the imagination and needs of a world designed chiefly by men. In the church this exclusion has been effective virtually everywhere: in ecclesial creeds, doctrines, prayers, theological systems, liturgical worship, patterns of spirituality, visions of mission, church order, leadership and discipline.

It has been stunningly effective in speech about God. While officially it is rightly and consistently said that God is spirit and so beyond identification with either male or female sex, yet the daily language of preaching, worship, catechesis, and instruction conveys a different message: God is male, or at least more like a man than a woman, or at least more fittingly addressed as male than as female…. Upon examination it becomes clear that this exclusive speech about God serves in manifold ways to support…a world that excludes or subordinates women. Wittingly or not, it undermines women’s human dignity as equally created in the image of God.

She Who Is (p. 4)