The God presented by the biblical authors and worshipped in the Church today cannot be regarded as having gender, any more than God can be regarded as having race or color. In recognizing this truth, we will be more free to use inclusive metaphors for God.
Many contemporary evangelical Bible scholars and theologians, not to mention ordinary lay men and women, are convinced that attempts to use the Bible so as to exclude women from positions of leadership for which their Creator has made them and to which their Lord as called them – whether in society, home or church – is flawed.
In the search for a more inclusive understanding of God, the feminine “Sophia” has for many persons become a bridge between traditional Christianity and feminist concerns. So we ask: Who is Sophia, and where did she come from? Is she the long-awaited answer to this search?
The best example of a woman in leadership over Israel is Deborah, one of the judges, all of whom were responsible for keeping the Promised Land free of foreign domination. Judges 4 is the prose account of Israel’s victory over the Canaanites from Hazor. Judges 5 is the “Song of Deborah” which tells the same story in poetic form.
Have you ever felt uncomfortable in a church service because of the overwhelming number of masculine references to God? Have you ever found yourself changing the words to a hymn as you sing in order to be more inclusive? Have you ever found yourself counting the number of times a masculine reference is spoken, prayed or sung versus the times a feminine one is used?
In my writing I have generally used traditional “male” language for God: he, his, him. Although I do not regard God as a “Super Male in the Sky,” I grew up hearing and reading those male pronouns for God, and the use of them comes naturally to me
The Church is on the defensive these days, attacked by feminists for her long history of condoning patriarchy. Much of the criticism is valid, and most denominations are working hard, as they did when accused of racism, to atone and amend for past and present sins of sexism.
In the Old Testament book of Proverbs, God’s infinite wisdom is personified as a woman. The association of divine wisdom with the feminine is not accidental. Social relationships in Israel reflected spiritual relationships between Israel and Yahweh. As a result of this basic analogy between the earthly realm and the heavenly realm, one can look to the feminine images of Hebrew scriptures to better understand personified wisdom.