Gender & Worship (Part III)

By Allan Turner

According to Rosemary Radford Ruether:

Feminist theology must create a new textual base, a new canon.... Feminist theology cannot be done from the existing base of the Christian Bible (Woman-guides: Readings Toward a Feminist Theology, p. ix).
In other words, before society can be thoroughly feminized, the radical feminists know they must eliminate any influence the Bible has had on our society. In doing so, the feminists refer to pre-Christian, non-Christian, and so-called post-Christian religions that affirm the image of the Divine as male and female. For instance, Ruether´s book, Womanguides, is a collection of writings from the ancient Near East, Hebrew and Greek mythology, Christian Science, paganism, goddess worship, and the New Age movement. As Phyllis Trible wrote in God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality:

A feminist who loves the Bible produces, in the thinking of many, an oxymoron.... After all, if no man can serve two masters, no woman can serve two authorities, a master called scripture and a mistress called feminism (quoted in Mary A. Kassian, The Feminist Gospel, p. 109).
These feminists, of course, do not just reject the Bible, but they reject the God of the Bible as well.

In her book, Changing of the Gods: Feminism and the End of Traditional Religions, Naomi R. Goldenberg wrote:

“God is going to change,” I thought. “We women are going to bring an end to God. As we take positions in government, in medicine, in law, in business, in the arts and, finally, in religion, we will be the end of Him. We will change the world so much that He won´t fit in anymore” (p. 3).
According to the feminists, “If God is male, then the male is God” (Mary Daly, Beyond God the Father, p. 9). Daly writes:

The symbol of the Father God, spawned in the human imagination and sustained as plausible by patriarchy, has in turn rendered service to [patriarchal] society by making its mechanism for the oppression of women appear right and fitting. If God in “his” heaven is a father ruling “his” people, then it is in the “nature” of things and according to divine plan and the order of the universe that society be male-dominated (Ibid., p. 13).

In rejecting Jehovah, the only true and living God, feminists sought a new symbol that would affirm the legitimacy of their revolutionary movement: the goddess. According to Mary A. Kassian:

Initially, feminists reacted with scorn to the goddess and goddess worship. Why would intelligent, self-defining women want to bow down to ancient idols of stone? But feminists learned that goddess worship was not worship of an external deity; it was, in essence, worship of oneself. The goddess was merely a symbol that acknowledged the legitimacy of self-worship” (The Feminist Gospel, p. 159).
In modern feminism, Satan´s old Edenic lie, “you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:4), has come full-cycle.

Those who have tried to be feminists without giving up the Bible (something that is quite impossible) have insisted on the use of inclusive language. Rejecting masculine pronouns as limiting one´s understanding of who God is, and citing His “feminine” characteristics, feminists feel justified in calling God “She” or “Mother.” And although feminists claim that using female as well as male pronouns to address God has de-sexualized Him, in effect, the opposite has occurred. When feminists switched from masculine to feminine in their description of God, they reduced God to sexuality. They actually presented an image of a deity who is bisexual or androgynous rather than one who transcends the polarity of the sexes. In addition, in renaming God as She/He, feminists have stripped God of independent, personalized existence. The Bible teaches that Jehovah is an individualized, personalized Being who has chosen to relate to His creation as “male.” He is not merely a “force,” as the pagans have traditionally identified Him. Nevertheless, in transforming Biblical feminine metaphors into a divine name for God, the feminists soon discovered that they needed to extend this practice to other metaphors as well, i.e., God ought to be understood as a “rock,” “eagle,” “door,” etc. As a result, His personality was further diffused to encompass all natural phenomena. Renaming God in a way other than He had named Himself has ultimately led the proponents of inclusive language to think of God as a force with no independent personality. This is evident by their reference to God as “He/She/It” (Virginia Mollenkott, The Divine Feminine, p. 113).

Rejecting God as Father, the feminists have rejected Jesus Christ as Son. They have argued that Jesus´ maleness is inconsequential. In her book, Women & Worship, Sharon Neufer Emswiler surmised, “if the society had been reversed and Palestine had been a matriarchy instead of a patriarchy, surely God would have sent her Daughter” (p. 31). Therefore, feminists urge their followers to change their language about Christ. In doing so, they reject Son of Man, who they consider too masculine, and encourage the use of the Human One. But, of course, such theological shenanigans have serious consequences. The Son of Man is a title indicating that Jesus was divine and those who heard Him refer to Himself by this designation understood that He was really identifying Himself as the “Son of God” (Luke 22:69, 70). Whereas, the designation the Human One indicates that Jesus was merely an example of ideal selfhood or humanity. In other words, through the feminist theologians´ inclusive language, Christ is viewed as a model of the new humanity, the one sent by God to reveal to us what we can become, rather than God Almighty in the flesh, who took upon Himself the penalty for our sins.

There must be no mistake about it, radical feminism is anti-Bible, anti-God and anti-Christ. It does not liberate, rather it enslaves all those who embrace it to the bondage of sin. Conversely, it is the Bible, and the Bible alone, that contains the real hope for the liberation of women. Knowing the Truth makes one free indeed (John 8:32).

A Taste Of Heaven

The history of man and woman, as well as our own experiences, demonstrates the real problems created by the consequences of our first parents´ sins. The unity God intended for His creation was destroyed by those sins. As a result, the woman would desire to usurp man´s rule, and the man, if he was to rule, would do so with great difficulty. Add to these consequences our own sins, and the battle between the sexes has actually grown into a full-fledged war. The family, the very fabric of our society, is being destroyed today. Divorce is rampant. The so-called “traditional family structure” is being redefined to include unmarried couples and homosexual liaisons (they call each other “housemates” and “significant others”).

In addition, the feminist goal, which is nothing short of social, political, and cultural revolution, has had a dramatic impact in our day. Whether we like to admit it or not, feminism has converted our culture to the feminist mind-set. In fact, the feminization of America is in full-swing. As a so-called “Biblical feminist” has noted: “Feminism since the early 1960s has begun to color interpersonal relations, the language we speak, family life, the educational system, child-rearing practices, politics, business, the mass media, religion, law, the judicial system, the cultural value system, and intellectual life” (quoted in Mary Pride, The Way Home, page 12).

Paradise Lost

As originally created, the male and female were to complete each other as they enabled one another to fulfill the God-ordained purpose of procreating and subduing the earth. Neither was to seek the other´s position, but as half of a whole they were to complement each other. When sin entered into the world, their distinctive roles were blurred and their harmonious relationship distorted. Instead of working together in unity, they began to compete with each other. Instead of reflecting the glory of God, they began to mirror the corruption of sin. Their original “oneness” was replaced by a power struggle that has continued in society ever since. This struggle, although it does not always manifest itself overtly, does, nevertheless, lie just below the surface in even the best of marriages.

Unfortunately, many men, even Christians, “hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13), have engaged in the practice of “lording it over” their wives. While on the other hand, many women, even Christians, have become “silly women laden with sins” (II Timothy 3:6) and have not willingly submitted to the headship of their husbands. It is sad but true that many Christians, both male and female, instead of “prov[ing] what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:1), are actually being guided by current secular values. Of course, we, of all people, ought to know that the answer to this problem is not to be found in current secular thought or even in so-called traditional thinking. Instead, the answer is to be found in God´s Word, the Bible. It is in this book that we will find the answer to our problem.

Paradise Restored

A part of the “good news” of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that what was lost in the Garden of Eden can be restored in Christ. As faithful followers of the humble Galilean, the husband and wife can once again become the unit God intended them to be from the very beginning: the husband, the loving leader who “nourishes and cherishes” his wife as if she were his own body (Ephesians 5:28,29) and the wife, the suitable helper who willingly submits to her husband´s guidance, “as to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22). Such a relationship must be characterized by selflessness, yet it is only in Christ that one learns to crucify Self. It is only in Christ that one exchanges the egotistical “I am” of sinful pride for the loving guidance of the Great I Am. It is only in Christ that two people will live in the estate of matrimony as God truly intended. Does this mean that people who are not Christians are not married? No, of course not. Does it mean that a Christian cannot marry a non-Christian? Again, no. (Please note that I am not attempting to answer here the question of whether a Christian ought to marry a non-Christian.) Well, then, what does it mean? What it means is that without the restoration that comes in Christ, marriage will never be, nor can it ever be, what the Lord created it to be; namely, a relationship of unity that supersedes every other earthly relationship and in a very wonderful way reflects the unity that exists between Christ and His church (Ephesians 5:22-33). This Bible truth is a part of that light that illuminates a lost and dying world (Matthew 5:14). And it is this truth that functions as some of the salt that preserves our decaying society (Matthew 5:13). If Christians are not living this truth out in their lives on a regular basis, then they are no good to themselves or anyone else.

In Titus 2:5, the Word of God informs us that the younger women are to be taught to be “keepers at home” (KJV) or “homemakers” (NKJV). The Bible does not prohibit the wife from working outside the home, but it does teach that the home is to be her primary concern. It is unfortunate that the idea of homemaker is being much maligned in our present day society. It is tragic that young women and men are being taught that a female cannot really be happy as a homemaker. It is sad that young girls are being told they cannot be fulfilled unless they have a career that takes them away from their homemaking and child-rearing responsibilities. What is even more tragic is that many Christians have begun to incorporate these secular values into their own lifestyles.

Churches of Christ cannot be negligent in their responsibility to edify themselves concerning this important subject. We must realize that young Christians will not be taught their God-ordained roles, and the duties associated with them, by a secular system inundated by humanism. Churches owe it to their young people to pass on to them the richness of the husband and wife relationship as taught in God´s Word. Furthermore, as husbands and wives, we have the responsibility to live out our God-ordained roles before our children. But this is not enough! These roles must be reinforced by Bible classes that teach the duties and responsibilities, as well as the benefits, of the husband and wife relationship. In truth, we have not done a very good job with this subject, and it has definitely begun to show. The divorce rate among Christians, although much lower than that reflected in the world, is still much higher than anyone would have predicted just thirty years ago. Are we going to wait until the divorce rate among us begins to match the world´s before we do something about it? If not, then we had better get busy and lovingly teach on this extremely critical subject before we find ourselves overshadowed by the horror of darkness that is engulfing our society. Fellow Christians, we must let our lights shine.

The Wife And The Home

The place where God put the wife is the husband´s home (notice that I did not say house). The home is a unique kingdom all its own in the midst of a hostile world. It´s a stronghold amid life´s storms and stresses, a refuge, even a sanctuary! The home is unique in that it is not built on the shifting sands of public life or cultural changes. The home is an institution (relationship might be a better word) that has special meaning and value because it has been especially ordained by God. It´s a place where peace, quietness, joy, love, purity, discipline, respect, obedience, and happiness is to dwell. It is the wife´s calling and her pleasure to build up for her husband a “world within the world,” and do her life´s work there. How happy and blessed is the woman who realizes just how great and rich a task and position God has given her! In this special relationship, the wife occupies a position of permanence, not novelty; constancy, not flux or change; peace, not antagonism or adversariness. In this relationship there are actual deeds, not just empty words; gentle persuasion, not arrogant commands; and, of course, love, not lust. All these are inspired and sustained by her love for her husband — this is the wife´s kingdom. “A virtuous woman [an excellent wife] is the crown of her husband” (Proverbs 12:4).

The traditional family, as defined by secular society, has assumed the husband to be the superior ruler and the wife to be the inferior servant. This is far to the right of what God has ordained in His Word. On the other hand, the feminist movement has swung the pendulum far to the left in denying the family structure and roles God has given. Let us, therefore, as Christians, strive for that golden mean set forth in God´s Word and let us “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of [our] mind[s], that [we] may prove [to a lost and dying world] what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).

What, Then, Can Women Do In The Church?

The answer to the question posed above is “Plenty!” Women are not second-class citizens of the kingdom of God (cf. Galatians 3:28). Consequently, they do not function as inferior members of the local church. They are priests, as are the male members of the church. As such, they do not need male mediation to carry out their sacrifices. In other words, because they are not excluded from our worship assemblies, nor are they prevented from offering their sacrifices or worship in these assemblies, their service to the Lord is not encumbered by their God-ordained roles of submission. Therefore, I find it disappointing that so many Christian men think they have the right to regularly exclude women from congregational decisions. So, it is to the subject of our so-called “business meetings” that we'll turn our attention next month in Part IV of this study.

(Allan Turner is a preacher, writer, editor who lives in Corinth, MS.
He has his own web site located at and
is the editor of this on-line magazine. You can write him at

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