So it is Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. Therefore yesterday I found myself sitting in services for a while. The person who gave the talk was talking for part of her talk about G-d's role as a parent, and strangely for the liberal place we go to she actually kept using Father. We tend to use the gender-neutral versions of words, and I was definitely raised doing so-I always mentally change it when I see masculine reference. In the context of her talk though, I started wondering about the real meaning of saying Father.
As far as supposed gender differences go I think most are just that, supposed. But yesterday I was realizing that father and mother are two separate ideas. Scientific advancements aside, when we are born, we are born from our biological mother. This gives the mother a very different role in our lives than the father. The father gave, without the father there would be no life, yet it is the mother who carries a baby inside her and goes through the pain of childbirth.
The reason I use a gender neutral is not merely out of some feminist ideal, except in that feminist ideals make me reject "he" as the gender neutral. I believe it is limiting to the idea of something infinite that encompasses all things. But assuming G-d exists, as the Jews believe anyways*, then while being gender
neutral most of the time, the parenting issue is different. The role G-d plays is maybe that of a father, giving life, being crucial for there to be life, but not actually suffering and growing and everything as a mother does. So perhaps sometimes a gender neutral word is inaccurate. I know they often accomplish less than the gendered versions. Or maybe I am full of it, after all I have no children.
*I say Jewish and Judeo Christian because I think the whole story of Jesus with Mary as his mother gives this a very different slant, one I feel unqualified to examine.