We're talking about contextualization of the Bible this week, which is just a fancy work for a lot of theorizing that's been done lately that claims that the Bible was a word written by a specific people in a specific time in a specific place and that if we ever hope to understand it, we have to translate those people, times, and places into our own language to get to what the Bible "means."
And this started, really (at least in its current manifestation), with feminism.
Feminism set out to put women on an equal par with men across the board, in literally everything that has ever existed. Women could work in the public marketplace, could dress in pants, could play contact sports...we went so far as to have women declaring their ability to pee standing up, just to say that women are equal to men in absolutely "every" respect.
When this became the public conversation, what happened is that some folks started going back through the Bible and deciding that every time the Bible says "he," what it really means is "he and she." And when it says "brothers," it really means "brothers and sisters."
See, what they said is that because the culture in which the Bible was written did not value women, because it was a patriarchal society (a society in which men ruled), the writers simply could have no concept of gender-inclusive language. So it's not that they were being specific to men; it's that they just weren't thinking much about women.
In our time and day, we can fix that! So we started going back through and adding women into everything.
This is a little complicated. On one hand, we know that Jesus had several female disciples that are very rarely mentioned in the Gospels. Yet, we know this because they are mentioned in the Gospels. We know that the first churches had numerous female leaders, a fact that sometimes gets thrown to the side in history. But, again, we know this because the Bible tells us this. The Bible even names them by name. We know that there were female prophets, even though most of the biblical record refers to the male prophets. But, once more, we know this because the Bible names female prophets for us.
So while the feminists are screaming that there aren't women in the Bible because the cultures of biblical times didn't value them and are demanding that we insert women, especially where we know them to be, the truth of the matter is...the Bible tells us about a lot of women. By name. In very key parts of God's story. And then, just in case we missed it, names them again.
Which means that while it might be reasonable for us to assume that there were women in places where they aren't specifically mentioned, it's unreasonable for us to say that the Bible is a patriarchal document that doesn't value women and that it needs culturally updated for our time in this regard.
Still, we did it. We went back through and added women and sisters to all of our passages.
And one of the first things that happened as a result of this is that it grew this entire subset of Christians, particularly feminists, who started referring to "Mother God" and using the "she" pronoun in reference to God. This is still around today - and it still creates great divides in the church. Not because God does not have mothering qualities - certainly, He does, and these are referenced frequently throughout the Scriptures. But the divide is caused because in changing the essential reference to God that has been used not just in biblical cultures, but in every Judeo-Christian culture since, we are losing something of the essence of God Himself. (Yes, I said it - Himself.)
Not only that, but we're opening the door to keep going down this slippery slope. Because here's what happens next...