An atheist mom’s challenge: Teaching my daughter that God might be a girl

I consider an old essay I read, by Christian ethicist Rebecca Todd Peters, in which Peters describes answering the question “Who is God?” for her two-year-old daughter as the little girl asks, “Did he make the trees?” “Yes, she made the trees.” “Did he make the bunny rabbits?” “Yes, she made the bunny rabbits.” “Did she make my milk?” “Well, the cow made your milk, but God made the cow.” “Did she make the table?” As Peters shifted pronouns, so did her daughter.

Peters wrote, “As long as we continue to allow a male monopoly of language for the divine without balancing it with female language and images, we capitulate to the powerful privilege of male-dominated culture and replicate those structures in our very speech.”

I want to protect my daughter from a theology that is built to exclude her. Whatever form of faith winds into her life from outside, it’s bound to be overtly masculine.

So even while the vestiges of my old faith stir a certain nervousness within me — I myself was trained for decades to call God male — I say to my daughter, “Look, if God exists, God is just as likely to be He as She or They or It.”