Intellectually we know God is beyond gender; however, using only masculine pronouns sends image-shaping messages to our hearts and minds that are incorrect. By neglecting the feminine imagery for God, we have distorted our understanding of God.
Jacob A. Loewen's recent book The Bible in Cross-Cultural Perspective covers a multitude of subjects—heaven, earth, the afterlife, the spirit world, exorcism, among them. Of particular interest to Priscilla Papers readers is chapter 9, "Images of God: Male, Female, or Both" (pp. 109-16). It is packed with wonderful information regarding inclusive language.
For many, it is not only the intellect that needs to receive the message of biblical equality: An individual’s heart and imagination also need to receive the message of freedom and wholeness. The arts are a beautiful tool for guiding us to consider how life could be.
Let us encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ to remain in biblical dialogue with those with whom we disagree, even when there is tension, acknowledging that we, as limited human beings, discern God’s leading in this way.
Greater awareness of Mary Magdalene’s exceptional role in the events surrounding Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection and her leadership in the early church should not only help us do justice to her memory but also inspire us in our struggle for gender equality.
Without the work of a generous widow, millions of people may have gone without a good translation of the Bible for centuries. This woman had a profound hunger for the word of God, boundless care for the needy, courage to cross cultural boundaries based on gender, ethnicity, and class, and gospel vision to put the values of Christ before the values of empire.
If God’s design for male-female relationships was unity and interdependence, and if hierarchy in relationships came as a result of sin, perhaps we need to reevaluate teachings on male “headship” in marriage today.