Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Feminine Images of God In Scripture & Church History

1. The Word of God: 
"Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them."        Genesis 1:26-27 

2. The Word of God: 
"Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that flutters over its young, spreading out its wings, catching them, bearing them on its pinions, the Lord alone guided him, no foreign god was with him."   
                                   Deuteronomy 32:11-12 

3. The Word of God: 
"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing."                    Luke 13:34 (also: Matthew 23:37) 

4. The Word of God:

"When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son.
The more they were called,
the more they went away;
they kept sacrificing to the Baals
and burning offerings to idols.
Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk;
I took them up by their arms,
but they did not know that I healed them.
I led them with cords of kindness,
with the bands of love,
and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws,
and I bent down to them and fed them."                                      Hosea 11: 1-4 

5. The Word of God:
"Yet you are he who took me from the womb;
you made me trust you at my mother's breasts.
On you was I cast from my birth,
and from my mother's womb you have been my God.
Be not far from me,
for trouble is near,

and there is none to help."                                              Psalm 22: 9-10 

6.The Word of God:
"Upon you I have leaned from before my birth;
you are he who took me from my mother's womb.
My praise is continually of you."                                   Psalm 71: 6  #6

7. “Listen to me, O house of Jacob,
all the remnant of the house of Israel,
who have been borne by me from before your birth,
carried from the womb.       Isaiah 46: 3-4

8. Shall I bring to the point of birth and not cause to bring forth?”
says the Lord;
“shall I, who cause to bring forth, shut the womb?”
says your God.        Isaiah 66: 9-10

9.“Out of whose womb came the ice? And the hoary frost of heaven, who hath gendered it?”      Job 38:29

10. “For a long time I have held my peace; I have kept still and restrained myself; now I will cry out like a woman in labor; I will gasp and pant.”       Isaiah 42:14

11.  “You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you, and you forgot the God who gave you birth.”                 Deuteronomy 32:18

12. I will fall upon them like a bear robbed of her cubs; I will tear open their breast, and there I will devour them like a lion, as a wild beast would rip them open.     Hosea 13:8

13. As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem. Isaiah 66:13

14. O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.      Psalms 131:1-2

15. Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth;

break forth, O mountains, into singing!
For the Lord has comforted his people
and will have compassion on his afflicted.
But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me;
my Lord has forgotten me.”
“Can a woman forget her nursing child,
that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget,
yet I will not forget you.      Isaiah 49: 14-15

Just a Thought: The Scriptures contain many references to God that are explicitly feminine in character.  They all flow out of the creation account where we are told humanity, male and female, is created in the image of God (Genesis 1: 26-27).  God speaks of Himself as having a womb (Job 38: 29) and of giving birth (Deuteronomy 32:18). He compares Himself to a nursing mother (Isaiah 49:15). He cries out like a woman in the labor pains of birth (Isaiah 42:14). He repeatedly describes Himself in the role of a midwife at the birth of a child (Psalm 71: 6, 22: 9-10, Isaiah 46: 3-4, 66: 9-10).  He fulfills the role of a mother or nanny nourishing and teaching Israel like a young child (Hosea 11: 1-4). He comforts like a mother comforts her child (Psalm 131: 1-2, Isaiah 66:13). He is as the mother eagle who cares for and teaches her young (Deuteronomy 32: 11-12) and He protects His own like a mother bear protects her cubs (Hosea 13: 8). Jesus speaks of Himself as a mother hen who would gather her young to herself (Matthew 23: 37, Luke 13: 34). These feminine images of God do not make Him female any more than the masculine images make Him male. All of them serve to communicate to us that our God is a personal God to whom we can relate. How sterile would our knowledge of God be if we did not know Him both as father and mother, masculine and feminine? JDJ # 416

Just a Thought: The straight and narrow path is not a slippery slope, but it is often lined with pitfalls, enemies, and anti-Christs, those who presume they have the right to mark the path. I grow weary of warnings about the proverbial slippery slope, especially as it relates to issues concerning women in the church. The recurring argument against women being charged to serve God in all the offices of the church is that any discussion of women’s rights and responsibilities within the church will start us careening down that slippery slope into the ordination of homosexuals. Frankly, I find that offensive, illogical and demeaning to women. The question of the place of women in the church should never be juxtaposed with the issue of homosexuality or any other sinful behavior. It is offensive, if not sinful, just to make that link. The question of the role of women in the church may be debated in light of the Scriptures, but it must never be stated or implied that women are by nature spiritually deficient just because they are women. The Scriptures never frame issues concerning women in terms of sin; the texts that supposedly restrict women address the issues in terms of Christian practice or decorum and not as issues of sin. The Bible does not suggest that a woman who speaks or acts in a manner not appropriate to church life has disqualified herself from membership in the Body of Christ. Homosexual behavior is always addressed in the Bible as sin that disqualifies persons from participation in the Kingdom of God. It is never addressed in terms of misguided Christian practice. The world may place women’s rights and homosexual rights on the same slippery slope that they call social justice or civil rights, but the church must see them as altogether separate issues. In modern times, the issue of women being ordained to ministry and sharing as equal partners in the life of church and society was born out of the Wesleyan/Holiness movement with its commitment to sanctification and social holiness. The Holiness churches have maintained that commitment and never found themselves on a slippery slope into sin because of it. They have always understood that the path of holiness is a straight and narrow way that both eschews evil and cherishes the promises of the kingdom. JDJ # 417