It started out innocently enough with a paper for my marriage and family therapy class. Dan Allender and Steve Call, both brilliant men and awesome therapists and teachers, assigned us a paper to explore our beliefs and ideas on gender roles in marriage based on Genesis chapters 1-3. I read through the chapters once, then again, and even a third time before I began writing. What I noticed first and foremost was that the first relationship was not between man and woman (Adam and Eve) as I’ve always believed, but it was between God and humanity. God created adom (Hebrew for mankind, humanity, human creation) and speaks to adom. Then God takes adom and separates humanity into man and woman.
The first relationship was between God and humanity.
This brought to my mind the idea that we are all created in the image of God, we all bear the impression if the imago dei on our souls. This led me to another thought:
If we are all created in the image of God then God must be both man and woman. God is gender inclusive… God is a hermaphrodite (more respectfully called intersex)
Then I began to examine my own life; I grew up in the church from junior high forward. After my parents separated and divorced when I was in 6th grade there were little boundaries at home because there didn’t need to be – I was a good kid. I went to church because church gave me boundaries, borders, moral rights and wrongs, goods and bads that I didn’t necessarily get at home because home was in a state of chaos. It was safe for me; there was foundation, a Truth, a firm belief in something.
Within those boundaries there was no; there was a limitation on who I could be.
No, you can’t Courtney. You’re a woman and in 1 Corinthians 14:34 is says that women are supposed to remain silent; 1 Timothy 2:11 says women should not teach a man but should remain quiet. Courtney, you can help lead the youth, and you can be in the choir and sing on the stage, but you cannot speak out in church.
It was the church that first silenced my voice as a feminine creation of God.
I don’t believe in taking scripture as it appears; I view the Bible through a historical lens – the letters to the Corinthians and to Timothy were not written directly to us, a 21st century culture, but to the early church. What was happening in Corinth at the time? What was Timothy dealing with? How can we take those values and societal norms of that time and apply them to our own culture? I believe that to simply overlay them onto our world is a form of abuse that many of us are guilty of – myself included.
I find the idea of biblical inerrancy to be a false foundation – the Bible to be completely free of error?
I cannot I will not believe that. The original version in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek? Yes, those I can believe to be free of errors, but not the current versions we use that have been translated from one language to another, then to another, and possibly another before it came to us as we know it.
By entering into this conversation I do not wish to diminish the masculine characteristics of the Divine Being whom I call God, but to bring to light the feminine that exists within God, has existed since before time, and will continue to exist long after this world ends. This is why I call God (S)He.
Mars Hill Graduate School has broadened my view of the Kingdom of God. It is here that I have felt an unending, unconditional, unwavering desire and passion for God more so than any other place I have been. I see women studying to be pastors, I’ve been to churches where women are the pastors, and I’ve been in the presences of strong, powerful, and articulate women who do not condemn, silence, or try to overpower men.
When women are strong that does not automatically mean that men are weak.
Strength does not exist in a limited quantity that must be hoarded by one gender or the other. Strong women simply mean that women are living into the helpmates that God created us to be instead of merely following along behind men.
I believe that women can and should be strong, and I believe that each woman’s strength manifests in different ways, just as I believe that men can and should be tender and that manifests itself in different ways. Masculinity and femininity are terms that have been defined for centuries by media and culture, both mainstream and Christian.
If everyone is supposed to be unique and different then how can we try to apply one label to all men and another to all women?
How can we say that marriage roles should look the same for all couples? We are all made in the image of God, we all bear the imago dei, and we are all a part of a wounded humanity. As followers in the Way of Jesus we must remember that gender is more than physical attributes but it is a reflection of the God within.
How are you reflecting God to the world around you? How are you living out the call of being a Christ follower to your neighbors? To your community? To those you pass by daily? What stirs in you when I call God (S)He? Would it change the way your worship God, interact with God, commune with God to view God as equally female and male?
Let us all be challenged to love more deeply, live more fully, and never fear the Truth of another’s journey.