Roymond wrote:Good point about the Hebrew. It's worth noting that the same point essentially extends to all language; anything perceived of as personal is going to get either the masculine or feminine, because that's how we conceive of persons. So deities end up with gender tags even though they may not be actually understood as having gender, at least not in any way we humans would understand.
And that applies whether God is real or not; it's a linguistic/philosophical problem. So in actuality, the case is stronger that patriarchy or matriarchy were imposed on religion by the concepts and worldviews of the socities in question, not the other way around.
Languages differ. Some languages do not even have a gender neutral term for any object let alone a person. But one must understand that language is our understanding of the world and we must be aware of the more pernicious biases built into the language gender being the most important.
One of the first things that offended me when I found out that other people believed in God was that Lord (masculine) and He/His were interchangeable with God. I was still in the scatological humor stage at the time and gleefully referred to God as Sheheit. Making myself unpopular in some circles, but most of my friends were at the most religious agnostics, so I didn't catch much flack. And when I did I would always correct myself to She/he/it. I outgrew the scatology but still refused to even think of God as He. I invented the gender inclusive pronouns some of you have seen here Hesh and Herm very early in life, and discovered that they really helped me think about a supernatural power in a sympathetic way that was impossible with the testosterone poisoned "He." Even trying to insert God in place of the male pronoun every time didn't work too well. As I found out while working on the first gender neutral hymnal revision for the UUA.
By college I had learned to think of everyone as hesh rather than he or she even when it was important to tell the difference. It was the first step to radical humanism as once I began to think of people as hesh it was hard to create differences along any lines since the major pervasive division on gender lines carried over from the patriarchal social system we inherited from God was obliterated in my mind.