GENDER MISMATCH

 

The other day I read the transcript of a speech given by a pastor to a Christian women’s group. I found it to be fascinating, particularly the relationship between the topic and its Baptist source.

The pastor was attempting to uplift the women by addressing the importance of femininity to the economy of God, even to the extent of including the feminine element in the nature of the Godhead Itself.

The human family, he began, is itself a representation of the Godhead. In that correspondence, the human father is an obvious type of the Divine Father. The human child, to continue in that context, is just as obviously a type of the Divine Son, Jesus Christ. By a process of elimination, he said, the human wife and mother must typify the nature of the Holy Spirit. He ticked off some of the feminine virtues that typify the Holy Spirit’s role within the Divine Godhead: compassion, comfort, support and the like, all of which we typically associate with femininity.

I was delighted with that comparison, having made it myself long ago and written much about its implications regarding the nature of the Godhead after having researched what Scripture had to say about the dots I had connected in that regard. I was particularly pleased to note that these words were penned from a Baptist hand.

But then I encountered a difficulty, one that represented a discrepancy between what the pastor was implying in his description of the woman Christian’s role and what he actually wrote. What he wrote, when referring directly to the Holy Spirit, was the pronoun “He”, implying, as Church authorities usually do, that the Holy Spirit is either genderless or a weakly-gendered male. In making that overt gender assignment in direct contradiction to the association he had made to the women, the minister was simply following the party line begun centuries ago in the translations available to the Christian community, all of them using either the male or the neuter pronoun to reference the Holy Spirit in opposition to what was said in the original manuscripts.

I suspect that, along with a large number of his predecessors, this minister attempted to avoid the inevitable condemnation of his peers that would have been his lot had he used a feminine pronoun in reference to the Holy Spirit in keeping with the association he was attempting to illustrate between womanhood and the functional role of the Holy Spirit.

The man should have read Joshua 1:6-9 and acquired some backbone before delivering his ultimately confusing message to those women in the conference:

“Be strong and of good courage; for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land which I swore unto their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses, my servant, commanded thee; turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper wherever thou goest. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein; for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

“Have I not commanded thee? Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed; for the Lord thy God is with thee wherever thou goest.”

Let me complete the pastor’s message for him a little more boldly than he did, as I have done previously in many places. The association between femininity and the Holy Spirit is correct; in fact, given the entirety of what Scripture has to say about that association, it is the only correct one that can be made. The obvious implication, that the Holy Spirit also has a feminine role within the Godhead, is just as correct: the Holy Spirit is feminine in nature, being the complementary Other to the Divine Father. In every case where Scripture associates man and the Godhead, the woman is a type of the feminine Holy Spirit.

Genesis 1:26a and 27 can only rationally be interpreted in the context of human womanhood representing the Holy Spirit:

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness . . . So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”

Genesis 2:18, 21 and 22 can only rationally be interpreted in the context of a reprise of the formation of the Godhead out of the Father, the feminine Holy Spirit having Herself been fashioned out of the Father’s essence in conformance with His selfless nobility:

“And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help fit for him.

“And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.”

The repetitive statement of Genesis 2:23 and 24 in Matthew 19:4-6 (Jesus’ pronouncement of the godliness of human marriage) and Ephesians 5:31 and 32 (Paul’s statement that the Church will participate in an intimate spiritual marital relationship with Jesus) underscores the importance of marriage to the extent that it also represents the relationship within the Godhead between the Father and the Holy Spirit:

“And Adam 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. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh.”

In what alternate context would Proverbs 8, the Song of Solomon, John 2 (the wedding at Cana), and John 3 (spiritual rebirth) even make sense?

The pastor also tried to gain the affection of his feminine audience by claiming that Woman was created out of Man (Genesis 2:22) last because this final act of creation, that of Woman, was the most perfect of all, surpassing even the creation of Man. That might be the case – or it may not be. The real issue regarding Woman’s formation out of Man, in consistency with the femininity of the Holy Spirit, is that this final act of creation itself was a reprise of the Holy Spirit’s formation out of the Father.

Many of the Church’s problems with indifference and poor attendance could readily be mitigated through a deepening of our pastors’ understanding of Scripture and their acquisition of bones to replace the jelly in their backs. Their position regarding the gender of the Holy Spirit is not only indefensible, but places a stumbling block in the way of the Church members’ love of God. Church members are not blameless either. They could read Scripture on their own more than they do and use their own minds in the process to the extent that they could hold their pastors accountable to what the say.

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