Chapter 7: (continued) Reconciling Claims Against a Feminine Holy Spirit



Conferring Godhood on a Female

Is it really appropriate, I was asked, in the light of Paul’s comments regarding female participation in church activities, to confer Godhood on a female? The implication was that it is not.

Personally, I think that the reason that Paul, in 1 Timothy 2, expressed the desire to limit the role of females in the Church is that he wished all of us, given our future hope of participating so intimately in the Godhead, to remain suitably humble regarding the nature of that future participation. In that sense, he would have had no interest in lessening the position of the female in the present church; to the contrary, his interest would have been to keep all of us, male and female, in our places. Most interestingly, God Himself, when men fail to step up to the plate, puts women in positions generally thought to be reserved for men.

One can readily discern in the account of the prophetess Deborah in Chapter 4 of the Book of Judges that God didn’t categorically deny to women the exercise of leadership. Deborah was the fourth in a line of fifteen judges over Israel following the death of Joshua and before the institution of kings over the nation. The situation was extreme, to be sure, and apparently the men at that time had turned so far away from God that He not only handed over the prophetic role to a woman, but also made her a judge and a military leader. Given that the Israelite men at that time apparently failed to shoulder their responsibilities, Deborah’s actions should not be considered to be usurpations of authority as Paul admonished against in 1 Timothy 2:12. According to the account in Judges 4, Deborah served as a military leader only when Barak refused to confront the Canaanites without her. That certainly can not be construed as a usurpation of the man’s role, and it is apparent from what followed that God was there all the way with both Deborah and the woman Jael, who slew Sisera.

The scene is set for the story of Deborah in Judges 2:13-19:

“And they forsook the Lord, and served Baal and Ashtaroth. And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers who spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies. Whithersoever they went out, the hand of the Lord was against them for evil, as the Lord had said, and as the lord had sworn unto them; and they were greatly distressed.


          “Nevertheless, the Lord raised up judges, who delivered them out of the hand of those who spoiled them. And yet they would not hearken unto their judges, but they went a whoring after other gods, and bowed themselves unto them: they turned quickly out of the way which their fathers walked in, obeying the commandments of the lord; but they did not so. And when the Lord raised them up judges, then the Lord was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge; for it repented the Lord because of their groanings by reason of them who oppressed them and vexed them. And it came to pass when the judge was dead, that they returned, and corrupted themselves more than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down unto them; they ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way.”.

The full account of the exploits of Deborah and Jael in Judges Chapter 4 is given below.

“And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord, when [the third prophet] Ehud was dead. And the Lord sold them into the hand of Jabin, king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor, the captain of whose host was Sisera, who dwelt in Harosheth of the Gentiles. And the children of Israel cried unto the Lord; for he had nine hundred shariots of iron; and twenty years he mightily oppressed the children of Israel.


          “And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, judged Israel at that time. And she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah, between Ramah and Bethel in Mount Ephraim; and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment. And she sent and called Barak, the son of Abinoam, out of Kedesh-naphtali, and seid unto him, Hath not the Lord God of Israel commanded, saying, Go and draw toward Mount Tabor, and take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali, and of the children of Zebulun? And I will draw unto thee, to the river Kishon, Sisera, the captain of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his multitude; and I will deliver him unto thine hand.


          “And Barak said unto her, If thou will go with me, then I will go; but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go. And she said, I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding, the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honor; for the Lord shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman. And Deborah arose, and went with Barak to Kedesh. And Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh; and he went up with ten thousand men at his feet: and Deborah went up with him. Now Heber, the Kenite, who was of the children of Hobab, the father-in-law of Moses, had severed himself from the Kenites, and pitched his tent unto the plain of Zaanaim, which is by Kedesh.


          “And they showed Sisera that Barak, the son of Abinoam, was gone up to Mount Tabor. And Sisera gathered together all his chariots, even nine hundred chariots of iron, and all the people who were with him, from Harosheth of the Gentiles unto the river of Kishon. And Deborah said unto Barak, Up; for this is the day in which the Lord hath delivered Sisera into thine hand. Is not the Lord gone out before thee? So Barak went down from Mount Tabor, and ten thousand men after him. And the Lord routed Sisera, and all his chariots, and all his host, with the edge of the sword before Barak, so that Sisera lighted down off his chariot, and fled away on his feet. But Barak pursued after the chariots, and after the host, unto Harosheth of the Gentiles: and all the host of Sisera fell upon the edge of the sword; and there was not a man left.


          “Howbeit Sisera fled away on his feet to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber, the Kenite; for there was peace between Jabin, the king of Hazor, and the house of Heber, the Kenite. And Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said unto him, Turn in, my lord, turn in to me; fear not. And when he had turned in unto her into the tent, she covered him with a mantle. And he said unto her, Give me, I pray thee, a little water to drink, for I am thirsty. And she opened a bottle of milk, and gave him drink, and covered him. Again he said unto her, Stand in the door of the tent, and it shall be, when any man doth come and inquire of thee, and say, Is there any man here? That thou shalt say, No.


          “Then Jael, Heber’s wife, took of nail of the tent, and took an hammer in her hand, and went softly unto him, and smote the nail into his temples, and fastened it into the ground; for he was fast asleep and weary. So he died. And, behold, as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet him, and said unto him, Come,and I will show thee the man whom thou seekest. And when he cam into her tent, behold, Sisera lay dead, and the nail was in his temples.


          “So God subdued on that day Jabin, the king of Canaan, before the children of Israel. And the hand of the children of Israel prospered, and prevailed against Jabin, the king of Canaan, until they had destroyed Jabin, king of Canaan.”

The bottom line is that God is not so rigid that He unconditionally prohibits a female from serving in a role usually reserved for a male. Where in Scripture outside 1 Timothy 2 is there even a suggestion that He should categorically deny a female from sharing Godhood with Him? Furthermore, it is a reach to extrapolate that notion from Paul’s letter to Timothy. Even in that passage, Paul notes the cause of the proscription against women teaching as Eve’s deception in the Garden of Eden. It is more likely that Paul’s proscription came about through his perception that Eve had usurped her role as Adam’s wife in acting independently without his lead, perhaps in so doing violating her creation in the image of the Holy Spirit. This likely scenario, then, far from precluding a female Holy Spirit, actually supports the notion.

The nation of Israel has had another female leader much more recently, one whom God also used to save the country. The following story, while somewhat redundant to the general theme of the feminine nature of the Holy Spirit, serves to underscore the fact that Paul’s comments regarding the service of women in the Church has little or nothing to do with their capability of performing roles, with God’s blessing, more commonly associated with males.

Born in 1898 in Kiev, Russia (Ukraine), Golda Mebovitz immigrated to the United States at the age of 8. She grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She married Morris Meyerson in 1917 and with him she immigrated once more in 1921 to Israel, her homeland for the rest of her life.

Culminating a career in government service, Golda Meir was elected Prime Minister of Israel in 1969, becoming the fourth P.M. of the new nation. (There may be a prophetic implication here between Deborah’s being the fourth judge – and effective leader – of Israel and Meir’s being the fourth modern leader.) Mrs. Meir served in that capacity until she resigned in 1974 at the age of 76, partly because of failing health.

In the year previous to her resignation she played a major role in extricating Israel from near-defeat in the Yom Kippur War of 1973. Faced with terrible attrition in the coordinated Egyptian-Syrian assault, Israel was on the point of annihilation. Golda flew to the United States to plead with then-president Richard Nixon for support in the form of weaponry with which to resupply her troops.

Amazingly, Nixon’s Quaker mother had told him when he was a child that some day he would be in a position to help the Jews. When that happened, she said, he must do everything in his power to provide that help. Her message to her son was prophetic, and when Golda Meir approached him with her plea for help, he remembered his mother’s admonition. Accordingly, he embarked on a massive resupply operation for Israel. The action saved the day, and with that help Israeli soldiers turned the near-defeat into victory.

This modern incident supports the Scriptural suggestions that God doesn’t mind if a lady takes over the reins once in a while. While it’s rare, it’s obviously not forbidden. Paul’s comments in 1 Timothy 2 related to Eve and her female offspring, not to the Holy Spirit. Nor do they have anything to do with women’s future post-resurrection roles.

If one wants to find a mindset that really represses females, all one has to do is go to China or India or visit a Mosque, talk (in depth) to a Muslim, or digest the tenets of Shari’a law. Interestingly, Islam, while treating women as greatly inferior to men, also denies the deity of Christ and the existence of the Holy Trinity, and advocates the murder of Christians and Jews. Jesus is there, to be sure, but as a mere prophet who subordinates Himself to Mohammad, denies that He died on the cross and supports the Muslim antipathy toward Christians and Jews. I personally think that God’s view of womanhood, as gleaned from Scripture, is vastly different than that promoted in the anti-Christian Muslim faith.   The odd fact, as noted above, that whereas Deborah was the fourth judge over ancient Israel, Golda Meir was the fourth leader of the modern nation of Israel, might be repeated in the context of demonstrating God’s continuing hand over His people.

Even if one would insist upon a Godhood reserved exclusively for males, I suggest only a female function for the Holy Spirit, not a female substance. I would remind the objector that my view of the Holy Spirit is as a compositional male (substantively) as well as a functional female. In that capacity the Holy Spirit would indeed be capable of assuming a male role, notably the exercise of Will belonging to the Father. That the Holy Spirit has not assumed this lofty position to date is simply one of obedience to a functional role that is complementary to the Father’s will given the continuing presence of the Father. This brought the disobedience of satan (Isaiah 14) to mind, which was of that nature. The issue also raised the companion issue of subordination of one Member of the Godhead to another, which appears to many as a heretical stance. In that regard, the specter of the old Arian heresy rears its ugly head. Here again, I had addressed the Arian heresy in Family of God, noting how it had no application in my thinking. The Arian heresy, in placing Jesus below the Father as lesser than God, is nowhere close to what I propose about the Members of the Godhead, which is more a voluntary and time-specific functional subordination, not one of intrinsic capability. Scripture itself endorses my stance. In John 14:28, for example, Jesus declares the Father to be greater than Him, which makes no statement whatsoever regarding either His Godhood or His capability of assuming the Father’s role. Regarding the issue of precedence between the Father and Jesus, I cite Revelation 3:14, wherein Jesus names Himself “the beginning of the creation of God”. I don’t think this departs greatly from the Westminster definition of the Godhead, but to those who would claim that it does, I remind them that the Westminster Confession is extra-Scriptural.

[to be continued]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: