Tag Archives: conflict

Debating God’s Gender

I wanted to share some links to interesting articles that were posted last week as prominent Christian bloggers were debating on the issue of God’s gender and appropriate terminology for discussing God.  There were so many fascinating posts circulating that I thought I would link to some here for your reading pleasure!

It all started on Friday, May 16th, when Owen Strachan (president of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood) called out blogger Rachel Held Evans via Twitter for heresy in a 2012 post in which she referred to God as “She.”

Her response: Is God a Man?

Kate Wallace at The Junia Project wrote this brilliant post: “In The Image of Man They Created God; Male They Created Him“.  Read the comments to see Owen Strachan’s responses, plus Rachel Held Evans, Sarah Bessey, Mimi Haddad, etc.  Very intense dialogue happening in the comments!

This post, “El Shaddai and the Gender of God” taught me all kinds of fascinating things.

Dr. Mimi Haddad, president of Christians for Biblical Equality, wrote this excellent series: On Earth as it is in Heaven: Is God Male?, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5.

And this one from Marg at newlife.id.au: “Is God Male or Masculine?

Elizabeth Eshter explained why she would only call God in masculine terms: “I believe in God the Father“.

I had never considered why anyone would refer to God as anything but male, as He refers to Himself as Father.  I’ve learned so much this week about feminine names and metaphors for God!

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Let’s Make a Deal

I think it is possible to have healthy and meaningful and fun! conversations about “biblical womanhood” without attacking or getting defensive or assuming hurtful things.  We need to begin a conversation with a big fat dose of respect for others.  I’ve been reading books and articles and blog posts and watching sermons and talks online on the topic of “biblical womanhood” for several years, from all perspectives.  Obviously, I also have my own perspective, and I want to share that here and engage with you in discussing the topic further.  But, frankly, I am a teensy-bit fearful of being misunderstood and taken for something that I am not.  In my vulnerability, I am inviting you to respond.  And your response could potentially be hurtful.

Let me make you a promise.  If you and I disagree about something, that’s ok with me.  You’re still a beautiful person who deserves to be heard and understood.  I want to know what you think and feel, what your experiences have been and who your influences are.  That’s all fascinating to me.  I can guarantee you Becky would say the same thing.  And I want to assure you that I don’t think I have this all figured out.  Sure, I feel strongly about my own point of view, but I am trying to hold that with an open hand rather than a clenched fist.  So my request to you is that you in turn give Becky and me the benefit of the doubt.  We are desperately in love with Jesus and are trying to be His faithful witnesses.  We may fall short on a regular basis, but please be kind as you interact with us!

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Let me tell you something that I’ve observed about people who change from a complementarian to an egalitarian perspective.  They have unilaterally been influenced by a godly woman who was gifted in leadership or teaching.  America is a patriarchy and many of our faith communities are even more so.  You could read the Bible your entire life and never question whether Deborah was an exception to the rule or if there was ever a rule to begin with.  But when you meet a real-life Deborah, that question slams you in the face.  Why would God give a woman those giftings if He doesn’t intend for her to use them in the Church?

Growing up, I was socialized to view strong women negatively, but when I left home and began meeting Godly women who felt called by God into leadership in the Church, I had to examine my complementarian views.  My stereo-type was shattered, because these women loved Jesus every bit as much as I did, and they reflected His love and grace and the fruit of the Spirit, and God was blessing their ministry.  As Dr. Tim Keller often points out, our thinking is most often formed by our community and not from our logical deduction.

I love this verse:  “The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and sincere” (James 3:17, NIV).  As we consider others’ viewpoints on “biblical womanhood,” let us manifest these virtues.

I love you, Beautiful Kingdom Warriors!

Image Credit: sarahbessey.com and rachelheldevans.com



Sometimes, our false perception of someone’s intention sidelines communication.  We may have been “getting somewhere” with someone, but suddenly we feel stuck in a head-on collision, and we see one person’s reversal as the only way out of this mess.  And so we keep our foot on the accelerator and spin our wheels with our game face on.

Sometimes, we hear attack when someone only intends dialogue.  And so we get defensive and put our walls up.

Sometimes, we hear criticism when someone only intends to encourage helpful change.  And so we stop listening and get even more stuck in our ways.

Sometimes, we hear anger when someone is being passionate.  And so we get angry too, and maybe even get a little hurtful.

Sometimes, we do all the interpretation without engaging in actually asking what the other person means and why.  And so we assume things.  And you know what happens when you assume something?  You make an “ass out of u and me.” (Hee hee….I just said ass.  Sorry, that just makes me giggle!)

But guess what?

Sometimes, our faith is enriched when we engage with Christians who come from different denominations, countries, cultures, and perspectives on any of the myriad of areas where we differ.  And so we need to be proactive about getting outside of our “tribe” and looking at the world through someone else’s eyes.

Sometimes, God uses the most unlikely person to speak to us (He’s even used a donkey! Numbers 22:28).  And so we need to be always listening for His voice!

Sometimes, we are startled when a long-held belief comes under question.  And so that is when we buckle down and study to see how it fits with the testimony of Scripture (Acts 17:11).  And that is good!

Sometimes, we go out on a limb and open ourselves up.  We are honest about who we are, where we come from, how we see the world.  And in so doing, we make a deeper connection with another person and we are both changed in a meaningful way.

Sometimes, we need to abandon our deeply wired fight or flight reaction to conflict and reach out across the divide to make a friend.  And so we begin to practice this, to retrain our mind to be peace-loving and gracious.

You know, maybe we shouldn’t just do this sometimes.  Maybe we could do this all the time?

Maybe we’re not doing this at all.  Maybe sometimes is a big improvement.  We need to learn that it is always appropriate to treat other people better than ourselves (Philippians 2:3).  Starting at sometimes is better than not at all.  And so lets start!

I love you, Beautiful Kingdom Warriors!

Image: Ruth’s son Josiah on Cadillac Mountain, Mt. Desert Island, ME