An Inquiry into God as Our Heavenly Parents
By Tyler Hendricks, Ecclesiastical Endorser, Unification Church of America
I recall those boring accounts of the Church Fathers arguing over the Trinity. One of the views was that God is One who appears in different modes—sometimes as Father, sometimes as Son, sometimes as Holy Spirit. It is called “modalistic monarchism.” The view that came to the fore in the West asserted that God is not one person appearing in three modes, but is three distinct persons who are one. The problem with modalistic monarchism, they argued, was that it denied the personhood of Jesus.
How three persons could be one God they left as a mystery. Good for them!
I think that the view that God is our Heavenly Parent, who can appear as Father or Mother, is a repeat of modalistic monarchism. It’s not because I want to uphold the orthodox view of the Trinity that I say this. But I did want to begin by contextualizing the discussion in historical theology, and I do support, by and large, the Divine Principle view that God’s providence worked through the Western Church.
Now, to the main point.
I heard a story the other day on National Public Radio by a bisexual. It was one of their StoryCorps episodes, which are little vignettes of American life. The subject was a person who was born a man, married and fathered a child or children, and then changed his bodily make-up and became a woman. This person recounted how s/he related to the children he had fathered when a man. This person said, “I asked myself, am I their father or mother? I decided just to call myself their parent.”
By the doctrine that God is our Heavenly Parent, this person is the image of God.
This illustrates why I believe that the term “Heavenly Parent” is mistaken.
God as “Heavenly Parent” is androgynous. It is a trans-gendered existence that is neither male nor female in any common sense meaning. I find it hard to relate to such a transformer God.
Of course, men have feminine traits and women have masculine traits, but this does not compromise the principle of absolute sex, that each person has a deep identity as one or the other, a man or woman; in True Father’s lexicon, “convex” or “concave.”
All entities exist, act and multiply as part of a four position foundation with differentiated plus and minus or male and female partners. Without the differentiation between subject and object, there is no robust infusion of love, or Universal Prime Force, to instigate give and take action. God is not the exemption; God is the exemplification. God is a differentiated Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother, two persons, so we address God as our Heavenly Parents. Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother are two persons, just as are Jesus and the Holy Spirit. The full image of God is the two united as one. Men and women do not need surgery to stand in the image of God.
There is no “parent,” strictly speaking, in the universe; there are only parents. It takes two to parent.
God is love, and love is genderless, but love is not a person; it is power infused with principle. Love seeks the beloved who, other than the common base of love itself, is completely other. Heavenly Father is the person infused with that creative, initiating love impulse. Love also seeks to be loved by the beloved who is likewise completely other. Heavenly Mother is the person infused with that attractive and receptive love impulse. The “One” is love itself; love is undifferentiated.
God does not love himself as His bride; God loves an object partner as His bride.
Just as the Messiah raises up his bride, Adam was to have raised up Eve, and Heavenly Father’s creative, initiating love brought forth His Object Partner from nothing into full personhood, Heavenly Mother, equal in divinity, power, authority and uniqueness. And that task was completed in the creation of the world, on the level of the creation, and is continuing through the history of providence. And so the goal of all creation was achieved in the perfection of our True Mother. Just as Heavenly Father was, in a sense, completed in the perfection of True Father, so too Heavenly Mother was, in a sense, completed in the perfection of True Mother. And the age of woman ensued, the completion of the creation. The ultimate purpose of creation is the perfection of the object partner.
Since True Father and True Mother became one on earth, Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother are one in Heaven. God is One, our Heavenly Parents.
I suggest that the view that I can relate to God as my Father, and then separately God can decide to appear as my Mother, is a picture of a God that is not One. I believe that gender is a core identity attribute. If God can be fully Mother and fully Father, then gender is not a core identity. If that is the case, then the next step is to consider gender culturally conditioned.
Based on that hypothesis, we see the social engineering to force elementary school boys and girls to sit together for lunch, or compel male soldiers to accommodate female soldiers on the battlefield. Sexual harassment is skyrocketing in the military. Who is shocked by that? Only those who think that sensitivity training seminars and new high command rulebooks can change essential human behavior.♦
Dr. Tyler Hendricks was President of UTS from 2000-10, and President of HSA-UWC in the United States from 1995-2000.
Response by Dr. Andrew Wilson, Professor of Scriptural Studies, UTS:
I appreciate Dr. Hendricks’ efforts to understand that God is our Heavenly Parent, or better, he avers, our Heavenly Parents. I think it is wonderful, and fraught with potential for our own spirituality, to recognize that God is not only the “creative, initiating love impulse” of Heavenly Father but also the “attractive and receptive love impulse” of Heavenly Mother. In that regard, I view it of utmost importance that we seek out Heavenly Mother and come to know Her through prayer and spiritual experiences. Her spirit and truth is subtly different from that of Heavenly Father’s spirit and truth, just as in the family our mother and our father come at parenting from different standpoints and may have different views of what is best for their children’s growth and happiness.
I can contemplate the oneness of God, and yet, I can and do experience Heavenly Mother differently and at different times than Heavenly Father. I think it is only natural, given that this is the way we relate to our natural parents.
Dr. Hendricks also invites us to consider a version of the age-old question, “What was before God,” and posits that before there was Heavenly Parents there was Heavenly Father. The argument is rather thin and hinges on an analogy from restoration, namely that Father raised up Mother. But restoration was carried out in a world of gender inequality, with Christian expectation fixed on a male Messiah. I presume at the time of creation there was no such inequality. Is there any significance to the fact that the first sinless child of True Parents, the first-born of the new creation, was a daughter? ◊
See Dr. Wilson’s “Towards God’s Ideal for Gender Relations” on this site.
Response to Dr. Wilson by Dr. Hendricks:
I appreciate very much Dr. Wilson’s response. His final point is well-taken and deserves further thought, prayer and spiritual experience. Rev. Moon’s words to Japanese members on the day of their Holy Wine Ceremony, September 22, 1978, highlight the importance of going beyond the framework of temporality: “When the perfect plus appears, the perfect minus automatically manifests itself. This is the principle of creation. When someone becomes a perfect minus, the perfect plus will appear.” (“A Day When We Welcome the Blessing,” in God’s Will and the World, p. 460) ◊