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  • Writer's pictureJoel Riehle

Here's to You Women

Love & Diversity Series / Post Three

I admit that I was a skeptic of everyone getting their own history month. Truth be told I laughed when I discovered this was National Women’s History Month. That was wrong. I know it. And after Melissa scolded me because women had been treated unequally for a long time, I did not have a reply.

So as my small group examined the gospel according to Luke someone pointed out how prominent women like Mary, Elizabeth and Mary Magdalen were in this telling of Jesus’ story. So here is my tiny contribution to National Women’s History month. There is only a need for it because we have screwed up in the past.

There are few issues today that are more pressing or fluid than human sexuality. The creation/recognition of new genders. Altering of one’s birth gender and of course relationships between the sexes are all front page news. So what does God think of gender? What is God's gender? Are male and female truly equal in God’s sight?

God’s Gender

Much like time and space, God is not confined nor bound by any gender known in this world. Scripture uses the term Father to refer to God. But like other analogies in the Word it is there in a “lack of a better term” kind of way. In the patriarchal society in which scripture was born this would have been the most natural description for God. Even in the New Testament God is described as the Heavenly Father. Not because He is the 'up-in-the-cloud' version of your earthly father but because this is as close as our finite minds can come to understanding His LOVE and care for us.

So despite these biblical monikers at no time is God assigned the male gender. In fact in creation God created both male and female in his image. And there are instances of God being referenced in the maternal sense as well (here).

My friend Jen Sheppard explained that, "Knowing the different genders and how they function together in relationship gives us the best approximation of the trinity that we can experience on earth."

When genders are mentioned in the New Testament there are only ever two points being made:

  1. Explaining the husband and wife relationship (see 1 Peter 3; 1 Corinthians 5:21-33)

  2. Pointing out to the inclusivity of the Good News (Col 3:11, Gal 3:28)

I’m sorry that the New Testament does not address whether or not we should change our gender to one with which we better self-identify. To someone who believes whole-heartedly in scripture this signals to me that there are still principles there that do address the issue but we'll have to leave that for another hour.

Gender Plays a Part in God’s Plan

God created and assigned the male and female genders from the start of creation. So how do they differ?

Physically is the most obvious answer. But also Eve is created out of Adam’s

rib and is created second. She is there because it is not good for man to be alone. She is to be his helper. But the word helper here is the same used to describe God's role as 'helper' of Israel. Hmm. Chew on that one.

But I definitely notice that in the creation account there are no value statements made about who is in charge. Actually there is, but the answer is not male nor female. The creation story is not about which gender will rule the earth but rather who is God and will He be the Lord of His creation.

It seems clear that male and female have distinct traits and offices in their relationship to God’s Kingdom here on earth. Like the oft-used metaphor of Christians being part of the body of Christ. Paul is already addressing issues in the early church people thinking they are better or more valuable that other members of the body of Christ. This betrays the design of God.

For one: Jesus called us to be unified. We cannot do that with pride in our heart.

And for two: If any of us are the main focus of the body than we cannot be giving all the glory to God where it belongs. (See “Reorient Your Story”)

“God created lots of complementary things. Day and Night. Land and Sea. Male and Female. We need all 7 billion people on planet earth in all our uniqueness to best capture the brilliance of God. And even that falls short.“ (Jen Sheppard- Conversations on Luke)

And in God’s beautiful design He created genders to play a role in recreation. It has always been God’s plan for His creation to multiply. (Check out: Made to Multiply) He could have literally designed humanity to procreate through storks dropping babies off or for each human to reproduce asexually. But there is beauty in His design still today. Even as we try to pervert it.

So yes women are equal to men. Our order in creation is nothing in comparison to our equal and different roles in the body of Christ. In all of our different places in God’s Kingdom expanding into the darkness of this world.

And no God is not male, fully, neither is He female fully. He is beyond creation. He is before it.

Genders do matter. And how you relate to your human sexuality matters. That hasn’t changed since the dawn of time. But what I want to say is...

Here’s to you women

To this day women do no have the full equality of respect, pay, voice, etc. I believe that months like National Women’s History are for people like me who are still growing into the way our God views equality.

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