Although we may idealize the early church, most of us would not have enjoyed a visit to a worship service at Corinth. The impression which one was most likely to receive was that of chaos and delirious insanity.
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 extent of appropriate sexual interest and involvement outside of marriage is an important question young adults face. It is also a question of concern to any Christian regardless of age or marital status. Our sexuality, in all its dimensions, is a wonderful gift from God, to be enjoyed and appreciated. Indeed, it is much more than a gift: it is an essential component of our personality and is as ever-present as our consciousness. The physical expression of our sexuality, just as our use of any gift, needs to occur in the right contexts.
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.
The following set of guidelines is intended as a tool for pastors, musicians, and lay people who are in a position of editing or selecting existing hymn texts. While these suggestions have been written primarily with hymnody in mind, they may also prove useful at times for spoken prayers.