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.
The Bible sets forth an ideal and calls the ideal woman an eshet-chayil, which is the Hebrew for a “virtuous woman” (KJV) or a “wife of noble character” (NIV). This Hebrew expression occurs only three times in the Old Testament, but a study of these three passages is likely to reveal what the Bible supports as an ideal of Christian womanhood.
Recently my neighbor told me about a widower living in double jeopardy. With no homemaking training in his past and no wife to clean up after him, his house was piled high with junk, dirty dishes, and soiled clothes. In addition, he had to share that house with a virtual stranger: his child.
Can evangelical feminism be saved from secular feminism? In response, I propose that many of the needs and the bases for feminism come from God and God's followers. Further, both feminists and male chauvinists elevate values and perspectives that, in truth, should not be contradictory or exclusive from one another.
The Bible uses many diverse metaphors for God, including rock, light, mountain, shepherd, vine, woman, landowner, dove, warrior, lamb, father, mother, and countless others. We need to be aware of the diversity of these images as we build our concept of the person God is.
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.
It seems that so few Christians understand the importance of including women in worship and the language of worship and of not speaking of God in solely masculine terms. I am convinced that when we limit our language, we limit God, ourselves, and others.
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."
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.
Popular references to God most often imply a certain masculinity, but I had always interpreted them as playful anthropomorphisms, endearments meant to humanize God just enough so people can speak comfortably yet respectfully about him in secular circles.