The Religious A priori

Women And Christianity

Neither Male Nor Female:

No Grounds for Female Submission?

There are basically four areas in which the traditional view might be used to support female submission to the male gender:

I. God's (alleged) Gender.

II. Order in creation

III. The (alleged) curse on Eve (in the fall)

IV. "Headship" in the New Testament.

This page will debunk I and II.

I deal with the other elsewhere..

I.God's Gender?

Christians don't normally argue for God's gender as a basis for male "Headship," or authority. This is because most of us realize that God transcends gender. Gender is biology and culture, God has neither. But I have seen atheists argue "the Christian God is a Male and that's sexist." The Christian God is not, strictly speaking, "a male,"
It is a common misconnection to assume that God as a gender, and that that gender is male. God is pictured as a father, a kind, a big guy on a throne in heaven. These images stick in our minds and we come to think to God as "the big guy up stairs." Jesus prayed to "our father who art in heaven" and many of us are willing to take that as a definitive statement on the nature of God's "gender." But all religious language is analogical, it is metaphor. We filter our images of God through our cultural constructs. The Bible emerged out of a patriarchal culture which existed in a male dominated period of history. Thus the Jews thought of God as "male" and thus, Jesus addressed God as "father." But that form of address is indicative of a relationship, it is not a theological statement about the nature of God. In speaking of God's nature, in the Gospel of John, Jesus said "God is spirit." Spirit is not biological, and therefore, God cannot have a gender.

There are also many ensconces in scripture where God is imaged in female or motherly terms:

Deu 32:11 "As an eagle stirs up her nest, and hovers over her young, and spreads her wings, takes them up, and bears them on her wings.

Deu 32 :18 "Of the Rock that bore you, you were unmindful, and have forgotten God that formed you." (that one may be hard to get, baring children--female image).

Job 38:8 "Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb."

Job 38:29 "From whose womb did the ice come forth, and who has given birth to the hoarfrost of heaven."

Isa 45 9-10 Woe to you who strive with your Maker, earthen vessels with the potter. Does the clay say to the one who fashions it: What are you making, or Your work has no handles? Woe to anyone who says to a father: What are you begetting? or to a woman: With what are you in labour?

Isa 49:15 "Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. (comparing God's attitude toward Israel with a woman's attitude toward her children).

Isa 66:13 As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.

Hosea 13:8 "I will fall upon them like a bear robbed of her cubs, and will tear open the covering of their heart";

Mat 23:37 and Luk 13:34 Jerusalem, "Jerusalem, the city that kills its prophets and stones those who are sent to it. How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing."

God transcends either gender. Gender is a matter of culture, sex is a matter of biology, and God is a product of neither. We can, however, learn a lot from the fact that God is compared with both mother and father. This sets the basis in equality; neither gender is privilaged by imaging God.

God's attitude is compared to that of a mother as well as a father. God is not only fatherly, but also motherly. Moreover, the word used of God which is most often translated as "Lord" in the Old Testament, the word "El Shaddi," comes form the Hebrew Shodine which means "a woman's breast." God is mother-like as well as Father-like. That's because the divine is beyond your understanding. All we can do is relate God to things we do understand.

II. the Order in Creation.

There are basically two arguments which complamentarians or traditionalists make for the alleged subjugation of women: (1) the order in creation; man was created first; (2) the so called "curse" on Eve.

18 Then the LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I R58 will make him a helper suitable for him." 19 Out R59 of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought {them} to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him.

21 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. 22 The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. 23 The man said, " This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man." 24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

Adam, the man, was created first, but no where in that record of his creation, or that of the woman is any statement made which would imply that the man is to be "in charge" or that the woman is under his authority. Some argue that the fact that Adam named Eve implies a seniority. It does, of course, Adam was older and came first. How could the newly created name herself? While that does imply a kind of "seniority" between that couple, it does not establish a universal principal that males have authority over females a priori. It does not even establish authority in marriage. Adam was created after the animals, does that mean that the animals are in charge of him? If anything, being created last should imply that Eve has authority over Adam. The naming of the animals was emphasize to Adam that he was alone, that he was the only one of his kind that he needed a partner. His naming of Eve does not establish authority over her, in fact the stamen he makes is one of equality and intimate union "this is bone of my bone and flesh of my felsh."

In the account of Eve's creation we see nothing stated that places the male over the female in authority:

Help Meet

Some try to use the phrase "help meet" as the basis for female submission. There is nothing about this term that implies submission: the term is "ezer" and it baiscally means "succor" "aid" "help" "to strengthen." From an on line version of Driver and Briggs as well as Vines Hebrew lexicon we see that this word is used of God in the psalms, and in other ensconces where the "ezer" was greater or more important or stronger than the one being helped.

Translated word: Ezer; help, soccer, support

Pslams20:2 "Send thee help from the sanctuary, and strengthen thee out of Zion;"

Ps 33:20 "Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield."

Ps 70:5 "But I am poor and needy: make haste unto me, O God: thou art my help and my deliverer; O LORD, make no tarrying."

Ps 89:19 "Then Thu spikiest in vision to thy holy one, and saidst, I have laid help upon one that is mighty; I have exalted one chosen out of the people."

Ps 115:9 "O Israel, trust thou in the LORD: he is their help and their shield."

Ps 115:10 "O house of Aaron, trust in the LORD: he is their help and their shield."

Ps 115:11 "Ye that fear the LORD, trust in the LORD: he is their help and their shield."

Ps 121:1 "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.

Ps 121:2 "My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth."

Ps 124:8 "Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth."

Ps 146:5 "Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God."

In all of these verses God is the help.This is the very same word translated "help meet" in Gensis the second chapter. One can see that it is nota word which denotes any sort of submissive or subservient position. The only other major claim is that submission was the consequence of the fall, a curse put upon woman for sinning and eating the fruit. Let's examine that idea on page 2.

Christ: first born from dead

Some might try to use this passage in colossians to estabish the principal of first born as ruler:

Col. 1:12-19

13 He has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; 16 for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities--all things were created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in everything he might be pre-eminent. 19 For in him all the fulness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

The problem here is that this is not the establishment of a principal of first born for all of life. It's speaking of Christ's metaphysical position in the cosmos and in all of reality. It says he was before all things, it says in him the fullness of the Godhead dwelt. That's a bit different than Adam being created first. Adam was not eternal. Unless the traditionalists are willing to give up the Trinity, they have to see Christ's nature as "first born" as some speicial realationship to his nature as eternal and part of the God head; an extenstion pertianing to his earthly incornation. That is not a basis for prima genitor, but for the metaphysical position of the Logos.

Moreover, this prima Genetor (first born rules) was violated by God himself in many enstances: Jacob over Eseau. Joseph over his brothers. Solomon over Rehaboam. One can keep going. But Paul specifically disrupts the concept in relation to women in 1 Corinthians 11: 10-12 where he says "woman comes from man but man now comes form woman and all things come from God." see my pages on that passage (1 Cor ll).

Next:Curse on Eve?

The Religious A priori