Celtic Spirituality on Masculinity and Feminity

In Celtic Christianity, there are masculine and feminine theophanies of God, that God appears as both the masculine and feminine. As J. Philip Newell writes in his book The Book of Creation,

It would not be right to give the impression that the Celtic tradition has perfectly held in balance the masculine and feminine theophanies of God. (57)

But, Newell continues,

There has always been, however, a significant desire and tendency in the Celtic tradition to use more than masculine imagery to point to the mystery of God. (57)

Compare this with Western Christianity in which God almost always appears as male.

What Newell writes next is bound to piss of more than a few of the complementarian Conservative Christian types.

To speak of the mystery of God’s life is to speak also to the mystery of our lives, for we are made in the image of God. The essence of who we are, therefore, is neither masculine nor feminine. At heart we are an unfathomable mystery, deeper than any such categories. And yet there are manifestations from within us of both the masculine and the feminine. (58)

Not something Driscoll would like to hear. But Newell isn’t done yet.

But the pressure in our Western inheritance has been to be one or the other…This has robbed us at times of knowing the other dimensions of who we are. It has led also to a dearth of resources today in exploring issues of sexual identity. We have been predisposed as a tradition agains men who show their feminine depths, and feel threatened by women who have strong masculine energies. (58-59)

The aim, is wholeness. And how can there be any wholeness when Western Christianity tells us we need to suppress a part of us that has been instilled in us by God?  Whenever we say that the Easy Bake Oven is a “girls toy”, I think we just highlight the issue here. You know, because only girly men bake and manly men cook meat. Tell that to Duff Goldman. Maybe Driscoll should lay off the testosterone and go bake me a cake!


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