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Section 7. Living The Faith... The Biblical Christian/
The Christian Woman

 

 003white Section 7.. Living The Faith       >       Index To  Christian Women       >        Feminism  and The Christian God

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Feminism and The Bible. Part I
All too many women blame the Bible for male oppression of women. Are we erroneously ascribing human prejudice and sexism to God?

Carol Brooks

Also See 003white The 10 Lies of Feminism

ON THIS PAGE... PART I

Introduction

Redefining and Replacing Jesus
"Judith" Christ of Nazareth
How "Son" is Used in The Scriptures
Anthropos

Redefining and Replacing God
God is Spirit
God The Father
Authority, Not Gender
God's 'Feminine' Attributes

Goddess Worship

Blatant Patriarchal Biases And Misogynist Attitudes?

Women In First Century Israel

PART II ...The Bible And Women... Blatant Patriarchal Biases And Misogynist Attitudes?, God and Women, Jesus and Women, Women In The Early Church, Can Women Teach or Exercise Authority Over Men or Do They Have To Keep Silent?, Can Women Be Pastors or "Priests"?, The Genesis of Gender, Help 'Meet' or Helpmate?, Male Headship... The Feminist Interpretation, Male Headship.. The Biblical View, The Lack of 'Church' Support For Abused Wives, Unanswered Questions.


Introduction:
Definition: Feminism is a belief in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.

The underlying base of feminism (or perhaps it just started out that way) is that one's dignity, self-worth, and opportunity for achievement, should not depend on one's gender. Both women and men should have equal social, economic, and political rights, and laws must protect the person and property of every human being...  all points that no one can reasonably argue with.

Feminism has made legitimate and valuable contributions to how women are viewed and treated in society. The woman's suffrage movement that goes hand in hand with the civil rights movement, took great strides in advancing the equality of the sexes by, for example, winning the right of women to vote. However, different branches of the modern day women's movement view the problems of inequality in different ways. Some feminists believe that society itself does not need a major overhaul, but rather laws need to be changed to allow women to become equals.

Radical feminism, on the other hand, tends to stridently proclaim the superiority of the feminine and the inferiority of the masculine. Radical feminists oppose standard gender roles and teach that any perceived differences between the sexes can be laid at the door of 'social conditioning'. This, in their eyes, calls for a radical restructuring of society to eliminate even the slightest whiff of patriarchy. Many of these radical feminists, not only reject historic Christian orthodoxy in favor of neo-paganism and goddess worship, but many of them stridently promote lesbianism and abortion. [See The 10 Lies of Feminism]

The focus of this article is not feminism per se, but the infiltration of radical feminism into the church, which demands a new female-centered theology. The problem being that in much of the Judeo-Christian world, all too many women blame the Bible for male oppression of women.  Referring to American suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton, feminist Naomi Goldberg, professor of religious studies in the Department of Classics and Religious Studies at the University of Ottawa in Ottawa, Canada, said

    "Stanton wanted people to realize how much the Bible degraded women". [01]

As a result, many radical feminists believe they must eliminate any influence the Bible has on our society. In fact, in order to change a civilization built on the Bible, they believe the very Bible must be changed. Some simply discard or ignore verses with which they disagree (ex. Ephesians 5:22-24 and 1 Peter 3:1-6), while others not only attempt to re-write the Bible, but to also totally re-define God... casting Him in their own image. In her book, Womanguides: Readings Toward a Feminist Theology, Rosemary Radford Ruether, an American feminist scholar and Catholic theologian wrote...

    "Feminist theology must create a new textual base, a new canon.... Feminist theology cannot be done from the existing base of the Christian Bible" [02].

And extreme measures have been taken to further these views.


Redefining and Replacing Jesus

"Judith" Christ of Nazareth
A new edition of the Gospels, entitled Judith Christ of Nazareth, the Gospels of the Bible, and Corrected to Reflect That Christ Was a Woman, published by L B I (Law & Business Institute), endeavors to do just that. As a recent article on WorldNetDaily.com says, "Not only has the "Prodigal Son" been transformed into the "Prodigal Daughter" and the "Lord's Prayer" into the "Lady's Prayer", but "Jesus" has been renamed "Judith"".

    And Joseph went to Bethlehem. To be enrolled with Mary, his wife, who was then pregnant. And she brought forth her firstborn child. And her name was chosen to be Judith." [Luke 2: 4-5, 7, 21]

    And She bearing her cross, went forth into a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha; There they crucified her, and two others with her, on either side one, and Judith in the midst. [John 19:17-18]

    Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. But the angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Judith who was crucified." ... "She is not here; for She is risen." [Matthew 28: 1, 5-6]

Billie Shakespeare, vice president for the publisher says

    "This long-awaited revised text of the Gospels makes the moral message of Christ more accessible to many, and more illuminating to all," ... "It is empowering. We published this new Bible to acknowledge the rise of women in society." [03]

Just for the record, the name 'Jesus' (Iesous), comes from a Greek translation of the Aramaic Yeshu'a, related to Joshua  Not only was Mary told she would bear a son (Matthew 1:21) but, over and over again, her son was portrayed as a priest (Hebrews 8:1), and a bridegroom (Mark 2:19-20). Most importantly, He was called the "Son of God", which has great significance.


How "Son" is Used in The Scriptures
The phrase "Son of man" is used close to ninety times in the New Testament, while the phrase "Son of God" occurs over 40 times. Not only did Jesus refer to Himself by that term (John 5:25; 11:4), but the Father Himself called Jesus His "Son" at some extremely significant moments... ie. His baptism and transfiguration

    Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.  (John 5:25 NASB)

    But when Jesus heard this, He said, "This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it."  (John 11:4 NASB)

    and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased."  (Matthew 3:17 NASB)

    Then a cloud formed, overshadowing them, and a voice came out of the cloud, "This is My beloved Son, listen to Him!" (Mark 9:7 NASB)

It should, however, be noted that the word "son", as used in the Scriptures, is not always used in terms of offspring, or biological children, but can be used of a person's tribe, people, city, and country of birth etc. As Strong's Greek Lexicon says, the word is used very widely of immediate, remote or figurative kinship. For example believers who share no blood relationship with Abraham, were called "sons of Abraham" in Galatians 3:7. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said peacemakers 'shall be called "sons of God" [Matthew 5:9]. In Job 1:6 heavenly beings were also called "sons of God".

Additionally "son" can also mean "sameness", as when a person displays certain characteristics or qualities of something, or someone, else. For example, Jesus referred to James and John as "sons of thunder" (Mark 3:17), which may refer to them wanting to call down fire down from heaven on a Samaritan village, that would not receive the Messiah. (Luke 9:53-54). In the same vein, Judas was called the "son of perdition", while other wicked men were called the "sons of Belial".

In other words, the simple phrase "Son of God" conveyed the idea of an, obviously, unparalleled and exclusive kinship and intimacy with the Father. Also to be noted is that although the Father did have headship, inasmuch as Jesus said "... the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner"  (John 5:19 NASB). However, it is also very clear that when Jesus called God His "Father", it was a radical proclamation of equality with God.

    For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.  (John 5:18 NASB) 

See Son of God... Was Jesus the "offspring" of God?

What I find both incredible, and faintly amusing, is how changing Jesus' name into something it was not, acknowledges the rise of women in society? Does calling the Savior 'Judith' change one single aspect of His gender, personality, behavior, appearance, teaching or mission? Or do we imagine that portraying Him as a woman somehow magically changes Him into one?

Are we that shallow, or just that stupid?

In fact, if one cares to give it a modicum of thought, this actually lends to a reverse inequality, which is nothing more than pure hypocrisy.


Anthropos
Feminists claim that, in the New Testament, the Greek anthropos (human being) is used for Jesus, rather than aner (male). They conclude that we are therefore not intended to think of Jesus as a male but simply as a 'generic human being'. Virginia Ramey Mollenkott, author or co-author of 13 books, who specialized in feminist, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender theology, was the "stylistic consultant" for the New International Version of the Bible (NIV) for the American Bible Society from 19701978, and on the Advisory Board of the Program on Gender and Society at the Rochester (New York) Divinity School from 19931996), said the following..

    the New Testament authors refer to Jesus as anthropos, human, rather than as aner, male. To suppress the ministry of women on the basis of Christ's maleness is to go against the emphasis of the whole New Testament of Christ as the new Adam (a Hebrew word including both male and female). Christ is the embodiment and regenerator of the entire human race. [04]

It is true that, of the well over 500 uses of the word in the New Testament, anthropos is often applied to humankind, as the following verses show (none of which can be strictly applied to males).

    For if you forgive others (Gk. anthropos) for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  (Matthew 6:14 NASB)

    In everything, therefore, treat people (Gk. anthropos) the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.  (Matthew 7:12 NASB)

    But those (Gk. anthropos) who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. (1 Timothy 6:9 NASB)

    For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men (Gk. anthropos) (Titus 2:11 NASB)

    And inasmuch as it is appointed for men (Gk. anthropos) to die once and after this comes judgment, (Hebrews 9:27 NASB)

    and cinnamon and spice and incense and perfume and frankincense and wine and olive oil and fine flour and wheat and cattle and sheep, and cargoes of horses and chariots and slaves and human lives (Gk. anthropos) .  (Revelation 18:13 NASB)

However, in many cases, anthropos clearly refers to specific men, including Jesus, John the Baptist, Nicodemus, and Stephen.

    As they were going out, a mute, demon-possessed man (Gk. anthropos) was brought to Him.  (Matthew 9:32 NASB)

    There came a man (Gk. anthropos) sent from God, whose name was John. (John 1:6 NASB)

    Now there was a man  (Gk. anthropos) of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews;  (John 3:1 NASB)

    Therefore Pilate went out to them and *said, "What accusation do you bring against this Man (Gk. anthropos) ?" (John 18:29 NASB)

    They put forward false witnesses who said, "This man (Gk. anthropos, speaking about Stephen) incessantly speaks against this holy place and the Law; (Acts 6:13 NASB)

Note: although anthropos is used in ancient Greek writings to portray specific women, the word is not used so in the Bible. I haven't been able to find a single verse in which it word refers to a particular female. On the contrary, there are several verses in which anthropos is distinctly contrasted with a woman, or wife (Gk. gune).

    and said, 'for this reason a man (Gk. anthropos) shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife (Gk. gune), and the two shall become one flesh'? (Matthew 19:5 NASB Also See Ephesians 5:31)

    The disciples *said to Him, "If the relationship of the man (Gk. anthropos) with his wife (Gk. gune)is like this, it is better not to marry." (Matthew 19:10 NASB)

    Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good for a man (Gk. anthropos) not to touch a woman (Gk. gune) .  (1 Corinthians 7:1 NASB)


To Sum Up
I have absolutely no idea how renaming Jesus can "acknowledge the rise of women in society". Regardless of how much we may desire someone to fit the mental picture, or image, we have of them, the fact remains that people's characteristics, personalities, or even gender, are not based on our perspective. People are what they are, and it is we who need to have a realistic image of them. The same principle applies to both God and Jesus. They are unchanging and everlasting, and nothing we do, think, or say, is going to change who they are, and what their characteristics are. Therefore, our perception of God and Jesus has to be based on who they truly are, which we can only discover from what they have said about themselves.

In other words .. Jesus' divinity may have transcended gender, but calling Him "Judith" doesn't change the fact that He was a man when He walked the earth. His very name Jesus comes from the Hebrew Joshua. Mary was told she would bear a son (Matthew 1:21) who was not only portrayed as a shepherd ... a traditionally male role (John 10:11), but as a priest (Hebrews 8:1), and a bridegroom (Mark 2:19-20).

He was incarnated a man.. Get Over It.

Finally, to say that the ministry of women has been suppressed on the basis of Christ's maleness is probably true... at least in part, but this is not the Biblical position.  However, I will come to that a little further down.


Redefining and Replacing God
Not content with attempting to transform Jesus, radical feminists, who consider the "patriarchal language at church to be very offensive" [05] endeavor to re-define, or even replace, the Father Himself. In her book Changing of the Gods: Feminism and the End of Traditional Religions, feminist Naomi Goldberg (cited earlier) said...  [Emphasis Added] 

    God is going to change,' I thought. "We women are going to bring an end to God. As we take positions in government, in medicine, in law, in business, in the arts and, finally, in religion, we will be the end of Him. We will change the world so much that He won't fit in anymore'.... The feminist movement in Western culture is engaged in the slow execution of Christ and Yahweh. Yet very few of the women and men now working for sexual equality within Christianity and Judaism realize the extent of their heresy... As a psychologist of religion, I do not agree that improving the position of women is a minor alteration in Judaeo-Christian doctrine... When feminists succeed in changing the position of women in Christianity and Judaism, they will shake these religions at their roots.

Why? Because she says "the psychology of the Jewish and Christian religions depends on the masculine image that these religions have of their God". A few pages later (Pg. 25) Goldberg adds...

    Gods who prefer men to women and spirit to body will no longer command respect. It is likely that as we watch Christ and Yahweh tumble to the ground we will completely outgrow the need for an external God [06]

I cannot help but laugh at these statements.

Even if God did not exist, there are many, many reason why people might find it necessary, or just plain comforting, to invent him. After all the idea of a 'superior being' is useful for any number of reasons... such as to hope rather than despair, to codify morality and behavior, to find an escape from the complexities of the world, to indulge in rituals that help strengthen community bonds, to explain things we have no rational explanation for, to have someone to blame for everything that goes wrong in our lives etc. etc. etc.

In the case of a 'god' that only exists in the minds of people, it may very well be theoretically possible to bring an end to him.... to create a world that he no longer fits into. However, since God just happens to not only actually exist, but is, to boot, the omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing) creator and ruler of the universe, bringing an end to Him is going to be slightly challenging. As Paul once said..

     "The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; (Acts 17:24-25 NASB)

Much to the contrary it is God that is going to bring an end to the world as we know it, and that, in a very short time from now. [See The Wrath of God]

Others take a slightly less strident, but equally absurd, view. Quoting from the introduction of In Whose Image, God and Gender by Jann Aldredge-Clanton, one of the first women ever to be ordained as a Baptist minister in the South, the Web site of the Ebenezer Lutheran Church in San Francisco says... [Emphasis added]

    If we look closely at the worship language and the visual images in most churches, we see that we worship a white male God. Although the bible pictures God as Father, it gives a wide variety of other pictures. It is thus unbiblical, idolatrous, and oppressive to use only masculine images... [07]

There are two parts to this statement. The first being that "we worship a white male God".

Feminists really need to do their homework, which most churches never seem to have gotten around to. Although churches tend to portray a while male God, and an equally white Jesus (with shoulder length brown hair and a rather soppy expression) they are terribly off base. While there is no doubt that, when Jesus was incarnated as a human male, He certainly did not have shoulder length brown hair. And has anyone seen very many white middle Easterners? [Footnote I]

God the Father is spirit, not a man of any color, size, or shape, and should not be portrayed as such.


God is Spirit
There are several verses that emphasize that God is not a man.

    "God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? (Numbers 23:19 NASB)

    "Also the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind." (1 Samuel 15:29 NASB)

    "For He is not a man as I am that I may answer Him, That we may go to court together.  (Job 9:32 NASB)

    I will not execute My fierce anger; I will not destroy Ephraim again. For I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst, And I will not come in wrath. (Hosea 11:9 NASB)

The nations that surrounded Israel worshipped an innumerable number of gods and goddesses, as did the Greeks and Romans... something they share in common with a number of modern religions. In sharp contrast, the Jews worshipped "the true God... the living God and the everlasting King" (Jeremiah 10:10 NASB)... one that transcends gender. When, at the burning bush, God commissioned Moses to rescue the Israelites from Egypt, Moses asked God what he was to say should the people ask who had sent him. God's reply was extremely significant. His self description "I AM that I AM" is perhaps one of the deepest statements to be found any where in the Bible. The Hebrew word hyh, translated I AM, means to exist. There was nothing about name or gender, only that He was the self-existent, eternal God.

Why then do we refer to God as "He"?

Unlike English that uses a neuter gender, there are many languages, Hebrew and Greek among them, that assign either the masculine or feminine gender to all nouns, regardless of whether they are actually male or female. For instance, when the Bible says "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1), the Hebrew word rendered 'God' is elhym (used well over two thousand times in the Old Testament). What is important to this topic is that both elhym and the singular form, elahh, are masculine nouns.

Since the rules of grammar dictate that any pronoun used must agree in gender with the noun to which it is referring, Using "He" and "Him" in conjunction with elhym, does not mean that God is masculine. Much to the contrary, Jesus Himself told the woman at the well that "God is spirit" (John 4:24a NASB). In fact, God is an infinite Spirit that "heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain" (1 Kings 8:27). Although we are not told very much about spirits, we know they do not have flesh and bones as Jesus Himself said.

    See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have. (Luke 24:39 NASB)

Therefore, when the Scriptures tell us that both males and females were created in the image of God it cannot refer to purely physical characteristics. God created man (Gk. dm) in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Genesis 1:27 NASB). Please note that the name Adam, which almost literally means 'the one formed from the ground' is also used for mankind as a whole. [Footnote II]

However, lets see if there is any truth in the other half of Jann Aldredge-Clanton's statement... "Although the bible pictures God as Father, it gives a wide variety of other pictures. It is thus unbiblical, idolatrous, and oppressive to use only masculine images."

Although He does not have flesh and bone, when God told Israel that He would redeem the nation with an outstretched arm (Exodus 6:6), He was using very understandable human expressions, which is a very common feature in the Scriptures. Creating visual images, or painting word pictures, has much more of an impact on the human brain, which retains these images for a long time. (Revelation in particular, is not literal but highly dramatic. The events depicted often deliberately exaggerated even bizarre, in some cases, so that the message is neither underestimated, nor soon forgotten. See Overview of Revelation.

Additionally, there are quite a few verses in Scriptures that portray God as having non-human physical characteristics. For example, He is described as a 'rock' (ex. Deuteronomy 32:4), and as having wings (ex. (Ruth 2:12, Psalms 36:7).

Neither of which means we would be justified in portraying Him as a boulder, or an oversized chicken. 

Although God Himself is a spirit, I would be very curious to know just where Naomi Goldberg comes up with the idea that He prefers spirit to body. Certainly the Bible does not say, nor even indicate, any such idea. Much to the contrary, man was the last of God's creation, after which He pronounced everything He had made "very good" (Genesis 1:31). As a matter of fact, in God's coming kingdom man isn't going to be a spirit, but will have a physical body, albeit one that is somewhat different from what we have now. [See Our Resurrected Body, which is Part V of the article What And Where is Heaven?..


God The "Father"
So why then, if God is 'spirit' without the physical characteristics we associate with being male, and when He is so often depicted as having almost 'womanly' feelings, does the Bible repeatedly refer to Him as "Father". Since, as far as I know, no one has had a cosy tte--tte with God, or managed to interview Him, the only source we have to glean specific facts about God, especially His nature and gender, is from what He has told us about Himself... namely, the Scriptures. And it is to those we must turn.

Although, God is explicitly called "Father" in the Old Testament only occasionally..

    Do you thus repay the LORD, O foolish and unwise people? Is not He your Father who has bought you? He has made you and established you. (Deuteronomy 32:6 NASB)

    For You are our Father, though Abraham does not know us And Israel does not recognize us. You, O LORD, are our Father, Our Redeemer from of old is Your name. (Isaiah 63:16 NASB)

    "Then I said, 'How I would set you among My sons And give you a pleasant land, The most beautiful inheritance of the nations!' And I said, 'You shall call Me, My Father, And not turn away from following Me.' (Jeremiah 3:19 NASB)

    A son honors his father, and a servant his master. Then if I am a father, where is My honor? And if I am a master, where is My respect?' says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests who despise My name. But you say, 'How have we despised Your name?' (Malachi 1:6 NASB)

.... and the 'Father image' occurs but a few times in the Hebrew Bible..

    Then you shall say to Pharaoh, 'Thus says the LORD, "Israel is My son, My firstborn. "So I said to you, 'Let My son go that he may serve Me'; but you have refused to let him go. Behold, I will kill your son, your firstborn." (Exodus 4:22-23 NASB)

    and in the wilderness where you saw how the LORD your God carried you, just as a man carries his son, in all the way which you have walked until you came to this place.' (Deuteronomy 1:31 NASB)

    Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him. (Psalms 103:13 NASB)

    "They will be Mine," says the LORD of hosts, "on the day that I prepare My own possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him." (Malachi 3:17 NASB)

....This changed very drastically in the New Testament.

"Father", found around a hundred times in the Gospel of John alone, was Jesus' favorite way of referring to, or addressing God. Not only did He refer to God as "Father", but He also taught His disciples to do the same in the opening words of the Lord's Prayer... And He said to them, "When you pray, say: 'Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come.  (Luke 11:2 NASB). The gospel writers, taking their cue from our Lord, also emphasized the Fatherhood of God. "Father" is found throughout the New Testament.... over forty times in Paul's Epistles, over twenty in the others, in very varied contexts, such as...

    Blessings: to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  (Romans 1:7 NASB)

    Doxologies (a short and expression of praise to God)
    Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen. [Galatians 1:3-5 NASB]

    Thanksgiving: We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father, (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 NASB)

    Exhortations and Teachings: Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.  (James 1:27 NASB)

    Creeds: yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him. (1 Corinthians 8:6 NASB)

While virtually all occurrences of the word 'Father" have been translated from the Greek pater Jesus, who spoke Aramaic, also used the term Abba (an intimate term for 'father') in the gospel of Mark

    And He was saying, "Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will." (Mark 14:36 NASB)

While there is no evidence that the Jews of the Old Testament addressed or referred to God as Abba they, following Jesus' example, did so in the early church

    For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" (Romans 8:15 NASB)

    Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!"  (Galatians 4:6 NASB)


Authority, Not Gender
All of which means this issue is not a matter of gender, but of authority.

It has absolutely nothing to do with our preferences, but what God says about Himself, and how He describes Himself. Divine revelation is not relative to the culture, cannot be changed by humankind, and is certainly not negotiable. If we think that all the masculine imagery of God is arbitrary and capricious and, therefore, expendable, it is to question the very authority of God. Transforming the pictures that the Father Himself has painted, is closely akin to the clay overriding the decisions of, or dictating terms to, the potter. Feminists, whether they realize it or not, have decided that God does not know what He is talking about and seek to correct Him.

No man or woman has the authority to change what the Father has said.  [See Is God Male or Female?]

We should also note that, as said by pastor Robert (Bob) Deffinbaugh

    Contrary to popular representations, angels appear only in masculine form. O.K., I admit that this may be only a "for what it's worth" observation, but it is interesting. In Genesis 6, the " sons of God" (whom I understand to be angels) were having sex with " the daughters of men" and producing children.  The homosexuals of Sodom wanted to have sex with the angels who came to visit Lot. The " Angel of the Lord" always appeared as a male as well. It would hardly be appropriate for Jacob to wrestle with a female angel. [08]


God's 'Feminine' Attributes.
Unfortunately, there will always be those to whom the word "Father" conjures up images of a distant, cold, unfeeling, and even vindictive, 'ruler' of His people. I have no idea whether this stems from earlier relationships with men, perhaps even their own fathers, but it is completely unfair to God to be thought of in the same category as men who have clay feet, or are clay through and through. Just because God has chosen to describe Himself as "Father" does not mean He lacks feminine, or motherly feelings.

When God is described as a rock, it conjures up images of something very solid and reliable... steadfast in an ever changing world, not something cold and unfeeling. Similarly the word "father" should invite images of someone wise and wonderful, with the strength, ability, and desire to take care of His children, not a big bully in the sky. We can only understand God's nature and character, if we dig into His words and actions a little more deeply, instead of allowing ourselves, whatever the underlying reason, to be controlled by a knee-jerk reaction to 'masculine' (Father, He, Him etc.) words. God, Himself, says

    Behold, I extend peace to her like a river, And the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream; And you will be nursed, you will be carried on the hip and fondled on the knees. As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; And you will be comforted in Jerusalem." (Isaiah 66:12-13 NASB)

    Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. (Isaiah 49:15 NASB)

Jesus' words were no less tender...

    "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it!  (Luke 13:34 NASB)

Are not these two verses, and many others like them, enough to demonstrate God's message of kindness and caring for His people, be they male or female. Why then do we need to add to the language of the Bible, as Jann Aldredge-Clanton also says...

    Adding CHRIST-SOPHIA and SHE to the language of Christian belief and worship brings home Jesus' message of good news for the poor and oppressed in a new and powerful way. These feminine references also serve as a vivid reminder to christian men to model their lives on the feminist Jesus, who overcame the temptation to exercise male domination so that he might liberate and empower women and men, and enable them to work as equal partners toward the reign of God.  [09]

What is truly tragic is that she is not only adjunct professor at Perkins School of Theology and Richland Community College in Dallas, Texas, but has also led "breakout sessions" at the 1992 and 1995 Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) General Assemblies. [See Footnote III For Other Pearls Of Wisdom From Clanton.]


Goddess Worship
Not only has God been removed from His rightful place, but He has been replaced by the goddess. (Reverence for the goddess is very widespread in our day, and if you don't believe this, just try googling the word goddess. The results may surprise you). [Also See The Spirits Behind Pagan Gods and Goddesses

However, worship of the goddess often has a deeper meaning than the term suggests at first glance. The label goddess can, and often does, cover a variety of concepts including a specific personal deity, an abstract concept referring to a power or force within one's self, or a symbol that acknowledges the legitimacy of self-worship. In her book, The Feminist Gospel: The Movement to Unite Feminism With the Church, Mary A. Kassian, a professor of women's studies at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, says [All Emphasis Added]

    Initially, feminists reacted with scorn to the goddess and goddess worship. Why would intelligent, self-defining women want to bow down to ancient idols of stone? But feminists learned that goddess worship as not worship of an external deity; it was, in essence, worship of oneself. The goddess was merely a symbol that acknowledged the legitimacy of self-worship. [10]

As director of the Ariadne Institute, Carol Christ has conducted pilgrimages to "sacred sites" in Greece, called Find the Goddess on a Sacred Journey in Crete. She holds a PhD from Yale University, has written five influential books on women's spirituality and feminist theology, and is the author of the widely reprinted essay Why Women Need the Goddess, which "has introduced tens of thousands of women to the Goddess". She says...

    The simplest and most basic meaning of the symbol of Goddess is the acknowledgment of the legitimacy of female power as a beneficient and independent power. A woman who echoes Ntosake Shange's dramatic statement, "I found God in myself and I loved her fiercely," is saying, "Female power is strong and creative." She is saying that the divine principle, the saving and sustaining power, is in herself, that she will no longer look to men or male figures as saviors. [11] 

More about Carol Christ HERE In Slain In The Spirit Article.

You can also order a custom made "Goddess Rosary" from, for example, the Ebenezer Lutheran Church in San Francisco which, on the herchurch site, is pictured wrapped around a feminine hand. The traditional Roman Catholic cross, or crucifix, on the end of the rosary has been replaced with a small gold figure of the Goddess, arms encircled over her head and complete with hips and breasts. Someone who was "eager to experience this new phenomenon" said the following... [Emphasis Added] [Also See The Use Of Images In Worship... Is It Biblical?]

    "From the basket of rosaries, I took into my hand a strand of vibrantly-colored beads with a silver goddess icon in place of the traditional cross. The goddesses came in a variety of shapes and sizes, celebrating the beauty of the feminine form; I found reflections of my own figure in the full hips and Rubenesque curves of my goddess... [12]

Apparently all God's warnings are falling on indifferent, if not completely deaf, ears.

    It shall come about if you ever forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I testify against you today that you will surely perish. (Deuteronomy 8:19 NASB)


Blatant Patriarchal Biases And Misogynist Attitudes?
It may be true to some extent that,

    "There is a direct correspondence between the Church's attitudes and actions towards women and the abuse of women". [13]

And as Naomi Goldberg (cited earlier) also says,

    When, in the early part of the nineteenth century, women began to protest against their civil and political degradation, they were referred to the Bible for an answer. When they protested against their unequal position in the church, they were referred to the Bible for an answer" [14]

However to say "...we need to also confront the biblical texts, products of their day and cultures, for the blatant patriarchal biases and misogynist attitudes" [15] is ten steps too far in the other direction and completely ignores the Bible's stance on women.

In her article, Why Women Need the Goddess, Carol Christ quoted feminist theologian Mary Daly, who commented on the psychological and political ramifications of 'father religion' for women.

    If God in "his" heaven is a father ruling his people, then it is the "nature" of things and according to divine plan and the order of the universe that society be male dominated. Within this context, a mystification of roles takes place: The husband dominating his wife represents God "himself." The images and values of a given society have been projected into the realm of dogmas and "Articles of Faith," and these in turn justify the social structures which have given rise to them and which sustain their plausibility. [16]

But is this true? Is God this Supreme Being sitting up there 'ruling' His people? Why have we forgotten that this very same God sent His Son to die a horrible death so that you and I could be saved which, in any language, spells love. See The Message of The Bible

Is the "divine plan" that society be male dominated, or are we erroneously ascribing human prejudice and sexism to God? Do the Scriptures "degrade" women by relegating them to second class citizens, or is this simply how a male dominated society has interpreted the Scriptures in order to ensure their dominant position?

What is so overlooked by feminists is that, in ancient times, it was perhaps only in Israel that women had privileges, status, and rights far beyond women in the nations around them. Women had no need to fight for their rights, which were God given. Most false doctrines are based on so called "proof texts" that, if taken in historical, cultural and, most importantly.... textual context, do anything but prove the proffered theory. Similarly, in this case, while a superficial reading of certain passages from the Old Testament and Paul's letters seems to indicate the second class status of women, an in-depth look at many, many passages and incidents in the Bible, actually show a very high view of women. (See Context is Crucial)

In fact, one of the earliest suffragists was on the right track when, as her daughter claimed in a biography of her mother, that Lucy Stone

    "always believed and maintained that the Bible, rightly interpreted, was on the side of equal rights for women." [17]


Women In First Century Israel
There is little question that in first century Israel, women were considered vastly inferior to men. They were not obliged to recite the Sh'ma Yisrael, the twice daily prayer. The morning prayer recited by Jewish men included a passage that said "Blessed are you, Lord, our God, ruler the universe who has not created me a woman." Similar gratitude was expressed for not having been created a Gentile, or a slave. [18]. Women were dissuaded from pursuing higher education, were restricted to the outer court in the Temple, aptly named "the Court of the Women", and could rarely bear witness in a court of law.

However, it is imperative to recognize that most, if not all, these examples of injustice and inequality, DID NOT stem from the Scriptures, but from the religious leaders and/ or the Talmud, a collection of ancient Rabbinic writings which were interpretations of, or commentaries on, the Scriptures. These writings often took precedence over the Old Testament. Tracey Rich, owner and sole author of the articles on Judaism 101, an online encyclopedia of Judaism, says

    The rights of women in traditional Judaism are much greater than they were in the rest of Western civilization until the 20th century. Women had the right to buy, sell, and own property, and make their own contracts, rights which women in Western countries (including America) did not have until about 100 years ago. In fact, Proverbs 31:10-31, which is traditionally read at Jewish weddings, speaks repeatedly of business acumen as a trait to be prized in women (v. 11, 13, 16, and 18 especially).

    Women have the right to be consulted with regard to their marriage. Marital sex is regarded as the woman's right, and not the man's. Men do not have the right to beat or mistreat their wives, a right that was recognized by law in many Western countries until a few hundred years ago. In cases of rape, a woman is generally presumed not to have consented to the intercourse, even if she enjoyed it, even if she consented after the sexual act began and declined a rescue! This is in sharp contrast to American society, where even today rape victims often have to overcome public suspicion that they "asked for it" or "wanted it." Traditional Judaism recognizes that forced sexual relations within the context of marriage are rape and are not permitted; in many states in America today, rape within marriage is still not a crime.

    There is no question that in traditional Judaism, the primary role of a woman is as wife and mother, keeper of the household. However, Judaism has great respect for the importance of that role and the spiritual influence that the woman has over her family. The Talmud says that when a pious man marries a wicked woman, the man becomes wicked, but when a wicked man marries a pious woman, the man becomes pious. The child of a Jewish woman and a gentile man is Jewish because of the mother's spiritual influence; the child of a Jewish man and a gentile woman is not. [19]

In the final analysis, it doesn't matter what the Talmud, nor Orthodox Judaism, believes or teaches. What does matter is what the position of women were in the Bible.
 

Part II... The Bible And Women HERE

 

Endnotes
Unless Otherwise Stated, All Links Good as Of May 2014

[01] Naomi Goldberg. Changing of the Gods: Feminism and the End of Traditional Religions. Publisher: Beacon Press, Feb 1, 1980. 
Ch. 2... No Feminist Can Save God. Pg. 10

[02] Rosemary Radford Ruether. Womanguides: Readings Toward a Feminist Theology, Publisher: Beacon Press; First Edition edition (1986)
Pg. 9

[03] Was Jesus Christ really a woman? WorldNetDaily.com. http://www.wnd.com/2005/06/30604/

[04] Virginia Ramey Mollenkott. The Biblical Basis for Male-Female Equality. http://www.virginiamollenkott.com/biblicalbasis.html

[05] Web site of the Ebenezer Lutheran Church in San Francisco. Goddess Rosary. http://herchurch.org/id8.html

[06] Naomi Goldberg. Changing of the Gods: Feminism and the End of Traditional Religions. Publisher: Beacon Press, Feb 1, 1980.
Pgs. 3-5, 25[07] Web site of the Ebenezer Lutheran Church in San Francisco. Goddess Rosary. http://www.herchurch.org/id8.html

[08] Robert L. (Bob) Deffinbaugh Are Women Second Class Citizens? (Part I: Overview.
https://bible.org/seriespage/are-women-second-class-citizens-part-i-overview

[09] In Search of the Christ-Sophia, An Inclusive Christology for Liberating Christians by Jann Aldredge-Clanton p. 53. quoted on the web site of the Ebenezer Lutheran Church in San Francisco http://www.herchurch.org/id8.html

[10] Mary A. Kassian. The Feminist Gospel: The Movement to Unite Feminism With the Church. Chapter The Meaning Of The Symbol Of The Goddess. PublisherCrossway Books, Apr 15, 1992. Pgs 159-160

[11] Carol P. Christ. Why Women Need the Goddess. Goddess Tours.
http://www.goddessariadne.org/whywomenneedthegoddess.htm#!why-women-need-the-goddess-part-1/cufo

[12] Dalyn Cook. Experiencing the Goddess Rosary. http://www.herchurch.org/id8.html

[13] Web site of the Ebenezer Lutheran Church in San Francisco. Goddess Rosary. http://www.herchurch.org/id8.html

[14] Naomi Goldberg. Changing of the Gods: Feminism and the End of Traditional Religions. Publisher: Beacon Press, Feb 1, 1980. Pg. 11

[15] Web site of the Ebenezer Lutheran Church in San Francisco. Goddess Rosary. http://www.herchurch.org/id8.html

[16] Mary Daly, Beyond God the Father (Bostoen: Beacon Press, 1974), 13. As quoted by Carol Christ in Why Women Need the Goddess http://www.goddessariadne.org/whywomenneedthegoddess.htm#!why-women-need-the-goddess-part-1/cufo

[17] Naomi Goldberg. Changing of the Gods: Feminism and the End of Traditional Religions. Publisher: Beacon Press, Feb 1, 1980. Pg. 13 Emphasis Added

[18] Eliezer Segal. Who Has Not Made Me a Woman.
http://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/who-has-not-made-me-a-woman/

[19] Tracey R Rich. The Role of Women. © Copyright 5756-5771 (1995-2011), http://www.jewfaq.org/women.htm
 


Footnote I.. What Did Jesus Look Like?
While we certainly do not know any specifics, common sense dictates that He could not have been white, nor have long brown hair, simply because the Jews of the period were far more likely to be swarthy, have dark shortish hair and far from aquiline features. In 2002, Popular Mechanics published an article entitled, "The Real Face of Jesus."

    In it, researchers and experts weighed in about what someone living during Jesus' time in the Middle East would have looked like. After analyzing skulls from those residing in Jerusalem and using computer technology, remains were reconstructed. In the end, while not centered upon Jesus himself, the Popular Mechanics article found that the average Semite man during Christ's life was 5 ft. 1 in. relatively short considering the height of today's average male, which is nearly 6 feet. The weight of an average man during Jesus' time was 110 pounds. [a]

In fact, a fresco "Healing of the Paralytic," which dates back to 235 AD, was discovered on the walls of a synagogue in the Syrian city of Dura Europos. It depicts a Jesus with short, curly hair, wearing a tunic and sandals and without a beard. In any case, why in the world would Jesus have sported long hair when 1 Corinthians 11:14 says... "Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him". (NASB) [PLACE IN TEXT]


Footnote II
The Online Etymology Dictionary says Adam is the "Biblical name of the first man, progenitor of the human race, from Hebrew adam "man," literally "(the one formed from the) ground" (Hebrew adamah "ground") [http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=Adam].

The name Adam means Earthling, or rather Corporeal One. The name Adam is the masculine derivation of the Hebrew root ('dm). The feminine derivation (adamah) indicates the ruddy earth found in the Middle East and means acre, ground, land. The words Adam (adom, adem) indicates the typical red color of that earth. Edom, which means 'red' is a related name.  As is Admah. [b]  [PLACE IN TEXT]


Footnote III
Other Pearls Of Wisdom From Baptist Minister ..Jann Aldredge-Clanton

The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) is made up of Southern Baptist "moderates", who after years of fighting, gave up the battle for control of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and in 1991 formed the CBF. Apparently, Jann Aldredge-Clanton, author of In Search of the Christ-Sophia,  led "breakout sessions" at the 1992 and 1995 CBF General Assemblies. 

The Missouri Baptist Laymen's Association quotes from her book.. [c]

    "While some feminist theologies exalt the image of the goddess [Sophia]...this book has put forth the image of Christ-Sophia." [p. 172.]

    Linking Christ and Sophia, she claims, "links races" and "draw[s] from both the Egyptian and Greek figures of Isis." [p. 84.]

    "...Jesus is not just the last and greatest of Sophias children, but is Sophia herself in the flesh. In other words, Jesus is not merely Sophia's child nor Sophia's prophet, but Sophia incarnate." [p. 23. ]

    "When people make the historicity of the virgin birth, the historicity of the miracles, and the historicity of the resurrection their prime concerns, they miss the significance of the Christ-event." [p. 4.] [PLACE IN TEXT]
     

[a] http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/06/10/what-did-jesus-christ-really-look-like/

[b] Arie Uittenbogaard. Abarim Publications. Meaning and etymology of the Hebrew name Adam.
http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Adam.html#.U2VD-NLn8Vt

[c] http://www.mbla.org/MBC97.htm

The Christian Woman

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