I've never heard a sermon on Jesus saying, "Follow me," that was addressed to men only. Yet, my analysis of the meditation is that I've apparently heard a few too many messages in the Church that have, intentionally or not, excluded me.
Yes, God is our Father. That's what Jesus called God: "Abba, Father." That is how Jesus taught us to pray: "Our Father." We rejoice that God is merciful and forgiving, "like a father who runs to welcome the prodigal home." But God's also "like a mother who will not forsake her nursing child."
Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. She used to sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim; and the sons of Israel came to her for judgment. (Judges 4:4–5, NASB)
Where did judges like Deborah come from? We read in Acts 13:20-21 that the Israelites settled in Canaan and “After this, God gave them judges until the time of Samuel the prophet. Then the people asked for a king....”
"In many modern churches, only masculine language for God is deemed acceptable. This restriction is historically and, more importantly, biblically unfounded ... By having an essentially masculine view of God, we blind ourselves to other ways we may connect to God and understand God. This not only distorts our image of God, but a purely masculine view also negatively affects the way we interact with one another—most prominently, how the church interacts with women."
Those who argue that the church must retain its predominantly masculine imagery for God and those who want to introduce into the church's vocabulary female imagery for God are in agreement at only one point: both are convinced that the integrity of Christian faith is at stake.
Recent events in the evangelical community—particularly with the release of Todays New International Version (TNIV) Bible translation—have raised concerns over masculine language. Does Jesus ask us to be fishers of people or fishers of men (Matt. 4:19)? Is there a difference? Should we be afraid to use words like people, especially when the ancient text and context warrants this?
Throughout history why did the church frequently use feminine language for God? In what way did this feminine language serve the church? Why do we evangelicals, in contrast, appear so uncomfortable with feminine imagery for God?