Let’s start by getting one thing straight shall we? The Holy Spirit is not a boy. It is not a girl. It is a spirit. But let’s also remember that as human beings we have limited ways of expressing our understanding and knowledge of God. Our language is not perfect. And even with our male and female nouns and pronouns we still often struggle to correctly describe certain theological things.
Our limited non-perfect attempts at expression do not give us the right to skew the truth to what we would prefer it to look like. A misplaced word or phrase has massive connotations for certain situations – especially theological ones, and can completely change the meaning of a certain word and the proper teaching behind it. In short – it is not difficult to lead people down the wrong path.
For those in a position of power or trust, this is an incredibly important issue. It is so important for the Pope that he has his own personal moral theologian who oversees every written speech, homily and even his Tweets.
Speaking of Tweets…
Hmmm. For those of you who don’t know Fr. James Martin, he is an extremely well known Jesuit in America who has written plenty of books and has a very large social media following. His views are vague and liberal. He is not particularly concerned with upholding the truths of the catholic faith but instead is interested in discussing issues like gay marriage, women’s ordination ect… He leaves the content of his posts ‘open’ but does not step in to correct the ordinary person in the pew when they reply to his Facebook posts with comments like:
“Thank you, Fr. Jim for your post. My wife and I are remarried divorced Catholics who anxiously await some change in the Church’s position on people like us. More importantly, though, we have a number of gay and lesbian friends including two married male couples each of whose love for each other could serve as an example to many couples, both heterosexual and homosexual! I pray that the day will come when all of us can be completely reunited within the Church we love and were raised in! God bless you.”
“It was such an honor to obtain a secular appointment to officiate at legal marriages. I have only presided over one: the civil marriage of two wonderful gay friends who have been in a committed relationship for more than 30 years. I know the church would not approve of my doing this, but my conscience and the Holy Spirit said that their union must be legal and blessed.”
Well, I guess if the Holy Spirit told you it was ok to go against church teachings then ‘she’ is right! (Goodness gracious me…)
But every so often priests like this get a little too big for their liberal boots and end up making a big boo-boo. By calling the Holy Spirit ‘her’ based on the ancient Hebrew term ‘ruach’ is one of these big boo-boo’s. Now I am not an ancient Hebrew expert myself – but I have a few friends who are, and I showed them this tweet (hiding Fr. James’ identity) and asked them to give me their honest opinion:
“Hilarious. Just another modern sort suffering from theological confusion. Who said that? According to Strong’s concordance it is a feminine noun. However, in Gen 1:2 it is used with a masculine noun (elohim). It is a fascinating usage. Ruach (feminine) Elohim (masculine plural). Literally translated as Spirit of Gods. The Rabbis are still working that one out.
The Holy Spirit is pure spirit and does not have gender. Gender is of the material creaturely realm. Angels and God do not have gender (though the Son does because he has a body!!). Digressing slightly, the Son is often referred to as the Wisdom of God, but the book of Wisdom refers to wisdom in the feminine! The word ‘Spirit’ as ruach feminine noun, but it does not mean it applies exclusively to women, as per English language. Hebrew is ancient and thus has different rules to English, so he cannot apply the same rules.
The New Testament word is ‘pneuma’ which is a neutral noun. The only phrase I can find where Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit using gender is John 15:26, ‘The advocate…he will…’ Either way, the Holy Spirit is ‘Elohim’ which is specifically masculine, and God is always referred to in the masculine, thus we should always speak of God like that.”
So it seems Fr James either needs to brush up on his ancient biblical nouns, or he knows quite well that what he was saying was a load of old nonsense. But either way – he knew very well to begin with that the church does not refer to the Holy Spirit as a female.
A comment like this has consequences theologically. I mean – what does it mean for Our Lady? Would it make her part of some sort of life giving same-sex union with a female holy spirit? Does that mean that Jesus had 2 mums? What would this sort of idea mean to someone who was not so well educated in theological terms and was dealing with same-sex attraction themselves? Would they feel that because a priest was saying this it was giving them the affirmation they were seeking that a same-sex union, even a same-sex family was ok? It might. I certainly can’t find anything Fr James has ever written saying that marriage can only occur between a man and a woman (correct me if I’m wrong here).
He is leading the people of God down the wrong path.
He is also leading younger priests down the wrong path.
Hmmm. Again I went to a friend who has studied both theology and ancient Hebrew and asked them (without revealing Fr Dan’s identity) to give an opinion on this statement:
“First premise is wrong. The Holy Trinity NEVER acts alone – and to say the main way we relate to God is through the Spirit is to misunderstand the Spirit’s role is to lead us to the Father, by leading us to Jesus, who is the perfect image of the Father. Seems also to downplay the objectivity of the Holy Eucharist which is a tangible participation in the real Body and Blood of Christ – hardly and insignificant relation to God, rather a particularly intimate one.
Second point is that the gender of verbs really does not get you very far – the Spirit proceeds from the Father AND the Son – being the love between them, being the glory of Jesus – therefore to posit a kind of competing feminine identity for the creative/salvific mission of God is – heresy. We in fact are the feminine – we are the receptive ones to the Spirit. This is a very dangerous and confused idea – and comes from someone with only a superficial understanding of both language and theology.”
Oh dear. So here you have a young guy – not even been a priest for 2 years, and he is being led astray by the nonsense of a much older and more experienced priest – whom I’m sure he trusts. However, Fr Dan also knows full well that the church has never referred to the Holy Spirit as a female. It kills me to see priests go astray like this – especially young priests. I pray and fast too much for priests to let them throw themselves into Satan’s arms like this. If they don’t like or agree with what the Catholic church teaches them why stay in the Catholic Church? There are plenty of Protestant churches where you can believe whatever the hell you like – go and join one of them. The Catholic church requires solid faithful priests with strong backbones, not lily-livered flannels who’s limp theology destroys the church from within. What’s going on with these guys?
Do they think that by throwing a bit of ancient Hebrew around they are sounding clever? Do they think they have suddenly found a new and incredibly ‘inclusive and diverse’ theology that the church must have inadvertently missed for the last 2000 years? Trying to make the faith ‘acceptable’ to today’s politically correct culture of death? Are they trying to look cool and clever?! Or are they just trying to forward their own warped theological ideas of what they would prefer the Catholic faith to look like?
I contacted both priests today and explained the female/male noun thing and asked them for and explanation. Neither of them admitted error. In fact quite the opposite – although Fr James Martin SJ did delete the Holy Spirit quote from his Twitter feed when he realised it actually made him look a complete um… twit.
Here is another post both these guys shared:
Worrying isn’t it? And as you can see from the comments, no attempt was made to correct this pseudo idea of ‘Love’ that is being floated around. The person in the pew has been left in error.
If our priests do not believe in the teachings of the church, is it any wonder that the people of God go astray. Maybe we should ask Ireland… When the shepherds lose their way, the sheep perish in the desert.
I’ll leave you with the well known Patrick Swayze liberal hymn to the Holy Spirit “She’s like the wind” (I’m just kidding! Bad joke – I know! – Keep smiling people 🙂 )