Suppose you were to open your Bible today and read: “Our Householder; which are in heaven; hallowed be thy name; thy rulership come.” What would you think?
Yet this is how what is commonly and erroneously called the “Lord’s Prayer” would begin if an increasingly vocal movement were to have its way. Or how about beginning with “Our Sustainer,” “Our Person,” “Our Parent,” or “Our Mother/Father, which art in heaven”? Actually, even the term “Lord’s Prayer” would have to be changed to “Ruler’s Prayer” or “Governor’s Prayer” or something similar, since the word Lord is masculine and therefore, we are told, sexist. But this would be only the beginning!
The words “Lord” and “Father,” “King” and “Master” would also have to go. “God of our fathers” or “God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” would be replaced with “God of our ancestors.” “Man” would become “people” and “brethren” would be “brothers and sisters.” Jesus Christ would no longer be the “Son of God”; he would be the “Offspring of God,” now “seated at the right hand of the Mother/Father.”
The ultimate goal expressed by some feminists is to rid the Bible and therefore Judaism and Christianity entirely of what they claim are sexist terms. They insist that religion based upon the scriptures as they stand now is male oriented and designed to perpetuate male dominance.
Their objections begin with the Genesis account of Eve falling to Satan’s temptation and then tempting Adam to sin. The many kings and prophets, the most prominent characters and personalities in the Old Testament, they were all men! Oh, there were exceptions like Sarah, Esther, and Ruth. But even they, so it is proposed, were for the most part made to play an inferior role. And what benefit their stories have is nullified, they say, by calling attention to Delilah and Jezebel. Or, Solomon being led astray by his thousand women.
Many feminists aren’t happy about the New Testament either. While Jesus’ mother Mary does play an important part, she actually reinforces, as they see it, the tendency of the Bible to only portray women favorably in a female role – as virgins, widows or wives. (What many are really saying is that they want the Bible to acknowledge and justify the existence of another category of women: those who are free to be sexually active outside the bonds of marriage!)
And then there is the apostle Paul, commanding women to submit to their husbands, forbidding women to speak in church, that is regarded as absolute male chauvinism!
All in all, Judaism and Christianity are considered to be patriarchical religions. As one women minister expressed it, liberated women “see religion as the thing that makes people more sexist than anything else.
Some women reformers insist that established religions, as well as the Bible, are hopeless and not worth reworking. A lady professor of religion suggested adopting some form of polytheism. “A lot of people like myself are saying that monotheism itself is one of the perspectives that we might have to get beyond, to a more polytheistic, more pagan theology.” She explained that she prefers to work with myth and the insights of psychology rather than from a position of faith in the Judeo-Christian tradition.
More specific on the concept of polytheism was a female voice shouting from the audience of a religious discussion sponsored by the National Organization for Women: “Two Gods – one for him and one for her!” (Female deities were prominent in ancient religions, and are so even today in some parts of the world.)
Less radical feminists feel that traditional religion and the Bible should not be rejected. But the words used should be changed, leaving out all, or many (depending on whose view you hear) “sexist” expressions.
When more than single words are in question, such as whole biblical verses and narratives that seem to perpetuate the traditional male role, suggestions run from leaving out the offending portions of Scripture to “reinterpreting” them. An example of reinterpretation was given by a woman minister at Harvard Divinity School: “Eve’s eating of the apple (it wasn’t an apple) in the Garden of Eden was the first free act of the human race,” she explained. “Rather than to continue seeing Eve as a culprit in some evil act, we ought to celebrate Eve. She began the process of freedom.”
Freedom? Freedom from what? Why, freedom from the true God and his rule, of course! Freedom to rebel. Freedom to sin! But that is not freedom. It is license. Let us understand! Central to the whole foolish discussion is the very nature of God.
“God has become regarded as masculine, but I think this is going to change,” stated an ordained female Episcopal priest. “In a sense it is idolatry to say God is male,” said a women theology professor at Yale Divinity School. God, according to some, is not male, nor female.” H” is both. Others assert that he is neither. However, on this they agree: the concept of a male Father-God must go; for, they claim, it serves as the foundation of oppressive, “patriarchal” religion.
In today’s day and age, some of the complaints of the feminists concerning established religions of the world are right! Religion has been used down through the centuries to oppress women, just as it has been used to oppress other segments of human society. Women have often been relegated to the status of a sex object/baby machine/house slave, all based on religious doctrine. Women have been denied some of their rights because of various interpretations of the Bible and ideas about God.
But these have been wrong interpretations, erroneous ideas! The Bible is not anti-woman. Nor is the God of the Bible, nor the true religion of the Bible. What needs changing are the false concepts and doctrines that human beings have invented by misapplying and misinterpreting the Scriptures.
When the Bible is correctly understood it protects the rights of both men and women. The laws of God as recorded in the Bible are for everyone’s good. What is wrong with “Honor thy father and thy mother”? God’s law was set into motion by the one who created us all- created us male and female.
“The Bible is clear on one thing,” insisted a woman professor of biblical studies, “God is not masculine, nor feminine.” One cannot help but wonder which Bible she is reading.
All through the Bible God reveals himself as “he.” Both the Hebrew of the Old Testament and the Greek language of the New Testament had an alternative to the masculine gender. The female gender could have been used. Or in some cases even the neuter gender could have been used. But the masculine is used instead.
Jesus called God his “Father” (John 17:1). He himself was the Son of God (Matt. 1:20-23). As a human infant Jesus was circumcised according to the Law of Moses (Luke 2:21023), leaving no doubt that he was a male.
What does God the Father look like? Jesus said, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9). Jesus looked like the average Hebrew male of his day. He could walk through a crowd without being singularly recognized (Luke 4:30) (And no, he did not have long hair – I Corth. 11:14!)
The Father begat Jesus physically and spiritually. Spiritually he also begets all true Christians (James 1:18). In so doing, he becomes their Father (Matt. 6:9). In fact, if a person is not begotten by God and if a person does not grow as a fetus until he is finally born at the resurrection, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God (John 3:3-8). The movement to demasculinize God strikes at the very heart of the process by God in working out his Master Plan of salvation! God is engendering his own Family to rule with him throughout eternity.
Let us also remember that YHWH – the Lord was a “husband” to the nation of Israel (Jere. 31:32). In Ephesians 5 the apostle Paul wrote at length about husband-wife relationships and concluded, “This is a great mystery: but I am speaking concerning Christ and the church” (v. 23).
Let’s face it. If God were revealed as female, today there would be men’s libbers claiming otherwise. Even God cannot satisfy some people. God is what God is - Elohim - a spiritual Family so far composed of but two persons: the Father and the Son.
The fact that God is called Father in no way gives men the right to be unfair to women. After all, the “feminine” traits and emotions that a woman has come from God as surely as a man’s masculine traits do. Did you ever notice that God’s concern for his people is compared in Matthew 23:37 to that of a mother hen gathering her chickens? God’s wisdom is pictured as woman (Proverbs 8 – 9). And in Deuteronomy 32:18, God complains to Israel, “You were unmindful of the Rock that begot you and you forgot the God who gave you birth.”
God understands the female emotions and desires. He understands that she experiences, to a degree, what no human male can. That’s because he designed the female. He gave her certain strengths and certain characteristics that perfectly complement the nature he put in the male.
God made the differences in the sexes for a reason. He wants the differences to remain distinct. In bodily shape, in appearance, in clothing styles, in reactions and personality, the differences should be emphasized, not covered over by unisex.
The French have long said: “Vive la difference!” And most people have agreed. However, if the current trend were ever to succeed, it won’t, it would have us all blended into one insipid, lukewarm, gray, unisex mass. That is not what God intended! Man should leave God’s creation as it is. Can man improve on what God creates?