Feminists claim that Christianity, scripture, and the God of the Bible are unfair to women. They demand theological rethinking.
God’s gender could just as well be She as He. We could say ‘our Mother’ instead of ‘our Father,’ and God created woman in Her image, rather than God created man in His image. These pronouncements come from a growing number of adamant feminists in the churches.
To the amazement of many church leaders, scores of women are taking issue with cherished traditions, even the Bible itself. Women in the churches are sounding a battle cry and demanding equal rights.
They proclaim, “We will be silent no longer! Christianity and the Bible have been male-dominated and male-favored too long! We insist on full and equal participation with men in all levels of church decision-making and power!”
Though this feminist movement within the churches is mainly centered in the United States, indications are that it is a spreading worldwide trend and not just a passing American fad. Conversations with both men and women church leaders and feminists within the churches confirm this.
Women in religion are actively banding together and zealously urging all women everywhere, who feel called of God, to seek ordination into church ministries and priesthoods. They are requesting women to work as catalysts in their local churches to gain support for the women’s movement. They want all women to pressure the churches into ordaining more women into the ministries and to begin giving women equal rights.
Already, women have made major inroads in mainline church denominations. Over 80 Protestant denominations worldwide have officially ordained women into their ministries.
Among mainline denominations, the United Methodist has the largest number of women clergy – over 300 of them. There are more than 240 women ministers in the United Church of Christ, and hundreds in the United Presbyterian Church.
Churches like the Evangelical Lutheran Church in West Germany, the Lutheran Church of America, and the American Lutheran Church, which have always been predominantly male-led and have had a traditionally male hierarchy, have opened their ministries to women.
Reformed Judaism, to the wonderment of Jews everywhere, now has a woman rabbi. More women rabbis are expected in the near future.
Priesthoods that have always been considered exclusively male are beginning to give way to women.
Militant feminists in religion are not satisfied with the gains women are making within the churches, nor are they content with settling for full, equal participation with men in all levels of church hierarchy. They want complete theological rethinking – an out and out feminist theology.
Feminists take issue with everything from church cannons to church hymnals for what they call an over usage of male-gendered words and philosophy.
The United Church of Christ has been persuaded by feminist groups to abolish “sexist phrases” in its official language. “Brethren in Christ,” for instance, becomes “kindred in Christ,” “mankind” becomes “humankind,” and the pronoun “he” used generically to include everyone, become “he or she.”
Feminists also take great exception to marriage ceremonies, which they claim perpetuates male dominance. They dislike the terms man and wife. The term “giving away” the bride also angers feminists. The bride is not one’s property and doesn’t become anybody’ property they say.
One leading feminist within the Catholic Church went so far as to say that she envisioned a 2nd coming of Jesus, this time as a black female so that our human idea of God could be complete.
But perhaps the most gutsy issue of all, as far as the new feminists within the churches are concerned is the Bible itself.
They challenge the relevancy, validity, and the fairness of most of the Old Testament and much of the New Testament. Scriptures that pertain particularly to women are singled out for scrutiny and debate. Are the scriptures pertaining to women really unfair? Is God himself unfair to women? What does the Bible really say about women?
The truth is that God, the Bible, and true Christianity are solidly on women’s side! Nowhere does the Bible allow or teach discrimination against women.
On the contrary, women are held in great esteem and respect in the Bible. They are heirs, together with men, of salvation. God created women to be capable, worthwhile members of the human family. The Bible itself is replete with accounts of competent, industrious, reliable women who served God and mankind.
The accounts of Sarah, Rahab, Ruth, Deborah, Esther, and many other women are on record in the Bible as perpetual examples of those who had character, intelligence, faith, and loyalty to God.
God nowhere teaches that women should be treated as non-persons or second-class human beings. As a matter of fact, God himself commands husbands to give wives proper respect and honor. “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them (wives) according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel (physically), and as being heirs together of the grace of life” (I Peter 3: 7).
God’s very laws and statutes protect women from rape, abuse, and misuse. For example, holding women up as sex objects, a justified complaint of feminists, is condemned by God in the Bible: “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, that whosoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matt. 5:27-28).
God’s law and God’s Bible are not partial. God is not a respecter of persons (Rom. 2: 11), nor is he a respecter of sexes.
All members of the human family have an equal opportunity to become Christians and receive the reward of a Christian, no matter what their sex, race, color, or nationality.
Paul wrote, “Therefore is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male or female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you be Christ’s, then are you Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3: 18-19). But let’s understand. Everything God has created on this physical earth has purpose and function. That includes the human sexes. God made mankind in his image. He made mankind male and female. Man and woman were created as two distinct members of the same kind, the humankind.
No one can deny that God created obvious biological differences between males and females. Even the smallest cell in human tissue can be distinguished under a microscope as belonging to either a male or a female. Along with the obvious biological differences between males and females, God gave and intended corresponding differences in physical strength, emotions, interests, and psychology.
“The psychological differences between the sexes are as great as the anatomical dissimilarities. The basic differences qualify each sex for a different social role. Being male or female has nothing to do with inferiority or superiority in worth. Being male or female simply has to do with functioning in God-intended roles because of God-designed attributes.
Women were never created to function and be like men, different only in physical appearance. God did not intend for women to have to compete against men. God’s original intention was for men and women to serve each other, each fulfilling his or her designed purpose.
In today’s world it is topsy turvy. Men and women have forgotten or have never been taught what each is responsible for. Rather than serving one another in love and respect, the sexes are too often at odds with one another. God never intended this unhappy situation.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” we read in Gen. 1: 1. God had in mind a tremendous plan. Mankind is a major part of that plan. Our loving Creator had it in mind to create using his image to share his tremendously happy, enjoyable, purposeful, and abundant life and, ultimately, to give us eternal life. God’s plan called for a man and woman team, working together in harmony, encouraging and strengthening one another, loving and overcoming together, to produce offspring able to share in his plan for the human race.
So we read in Gen. 2: 7 that God formed the first man Adam out of the dust (elements) of the ground, making him a living, physical entity. In Gen. 2: 18-20 we see that God made and gave the animals of the earth to Adam. The animals were to be a help to mankind by being a source of food and clothing. But still, Adam had nothing humanly in common with them. God of course, knew this. It was all part of his plan. God intended to create a comparable companion for Adam. God purposed to make a helpmate, someone with whom Adam could share his hopes, dreams, plans, feelings and the future. And so God made woman: bone of Adam’s bone, flesh of Adam’s flesh; a human companion, a helpmate, a wife; a potential heir with Adam of eternal life (Gen. 2:21-24).
Feminists scoff at this. They reject the Genesis creation account of Adam and Eve, calling it the “rib myth.” They resent it and other scriptures which show that a woman was created by God to be a man’s backup, his helpmate.
Perhaps feminists reject this revealed knowledge because they lack understanding. Maybe they think of being a helpmate as only scrubbing and cleaning the floors, doing dishes, ironing, or changing diapers. But it means much more than that. It involves education, intelligence, character, strength, and courage. There is vastly more to a woman’s role than at first meets the eye.
Read the Bible’s example of a real woman. God’s kind of woman. Read Proverbs 31: 10-31.
Here is a woman worth far more than any salary or hourly wage. You can’t put a price tag on her worth, “for her price is far above rubies” (v. 10). She’s a woman in whom a man or anyone else can put complete confidence and trust. She’s a source of encouragement, companionship, and strength (vs. 11-12). Here’s a diligent woman, a woman not afraid of work, a woman who builds on her talents, becoming an accomplished seamstress, shopper, and home manager. She understands how to use money wisely and recognizes the value of property and how to invest (vs. 13-16). In addition, she has a keen sense of business acumen, cashing in on her talent in tailoring (v. 24).
She has confidence. She is not haphazard in what she does. Her husband is known and respected (vs. 17-23). She is also regarded in high esteem by her family: “Her children arise up, and call her blessed, her husband also, and he praiseth her” (v. 28).
The Proverbs woman is a capable, intelligent woman. She is the type of woman God would have all women strive to emulate.
Her husband says of her: “Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that fears the Lord, she shall be praised” (vs. 29-30).
In conclusion, it is recorded: “Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates” (v. 31). The woman described in Proverbs is truly a liberated woman, set free of frustration and unhappiness. She full understands what womanhood is all about.