Thursday, December 28, 2017

Women of God

The same broken feminist theo-ideology that alienates us from God, calls into question His very nature, and makes Him entirely unknowable also alienates us from ourselves, as we go back through the Scriptures and re-read them through the lenses of popular gender politics.

It is not at all uncommon for us, in trying to demonstrate either gender equality or gender neutrality, to read the stories of the faithful women of God through eyes that no longer see anything feminine about them at all.

For example, take Jael. Jael is the woman who drove a tent peg through the invading army commander's temple while he lay resting in her tent in the heat of battle, killing him. We think of Jael as the she-man, a hammer in one hand, doing this very masculine thing that God had called her to do. Women were not warriors, but God made this woman a warrior. So, we say, He made her a man.

And to back this up, we go back to the words of Deborah, the prophetess who foresaw the whole thing and said plainly that victory would come through a woman because the man was unwilling. See? See? the feminists cry out. God raised up a woman to do a man's job! He's all for this feminism thing!

An argument, we might add, that is padded by the example of Deborah herself, who was one of the only female prophets that we know about in all of Scripture. Again, a more commonly male role that we see here being filled by a woman, who we immediately masculinize and declare that women can, indeed, be men; there is no reason to distinguish the two.

But what if God called these women not to be men, but to be women? What if, instead of reading our postmodern gender politic into these passages, we read the God-breathed creation into them? What if instead of thinking of Jael or Deborah or any of the other female characters in Scripture as she-men, we thought of them simply as "she"?

Because there is something good and beautiful about being a woman, about being distinctly female. We know that there is because if there wasn't, God would not have created them male and female and called it "very good."

Don't get me wrong - I get it. Men and women throughout history have gotten so much of this wrong. We have corrupted the patriarchy, twisted gender roles so that it's almost impossible for us to even imagine driving a tent peg through a man's skull to be a feminine act. So that it's almost impossible for us to fathom a female prophetess. So that when we read the story of Lydia in the New Testament hosting a church in her home, we can't help but ascribe to her the role of both pastor and elder. We have been so hurt, so wounded by the way that our world handles our femininity that it's easier for us to reject it, to refuse it, to refute it than to embrace it for what God intended it to be.

But I'm telling you - there is still something good and beautiful about it. And what we have to do is not to say that there's nothing at all to being male and female, but that there is something inherently incredible to it. There's something amazing about it. We have to look at the women that God has called to do these incredible things, and we have to see them first as female, not by the nature of their acts, but by the intention of their creation. And then we ask what it means to be a woman of God.

Spoiler alert: being a woman of God does not mean becoming a man of God. Ever. Being a woman of God does not require us to trade in our femininity for something holy; our female nature is already holy.

We have to rethink what we've rethought about these female characters in the Bible and let them help us recapture our feminine grace, not exchange it for some fictional masculine glory. Jael is no she-man; she is a woman of God. Deborah is no prophet; she is a prophetess. Lydia is no pastor or elder; she is a deaconess. That's not the popular opinion, I know. We have worked so hard to remove these feminine suffixes from our culture, from our vocabularies. But there's something about them. Something "very good" about them.

God said so Himself. 

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