Saturday, July 8, 2023

Pastor's Ponderings, July 8, 2023

For this week’s Pastor’s Ponderings, my brother, Dana Fair, wrote a very thought-provoking blog.  Please click on the Pastor's Ponderings link to our blog and learn about the value of the feminine voice and share your comments, concerns, and counter-arguments.


I miss Mom. And let it be said that a world that devalues her voice and those of women is a greatly diminished and broken one, and one that doesn't truly reflect God.


Valuing the Feminine Voice


I miss Mom. She passed away in 2001. I miss her laughter and sense of humor, her words of wisdom and thoughtful insights, and her incredible scratch cakes (Betty Crocker, eat your heart out). I miss many things about my mom. Most of all, I miss her voice. 


When the voice of a mom or indeed women is taken away, something significant goes away. Dare it be said that when the feminine voice is removed from the conversation or a narrative – leaving only the male perspective – one is left with a distorted view of reality, the world, and even God’s redemption story.  


The devaluation of the feminine voice and perspective is a form of misogyny, which is a direct result of the fall of wo/mankind. Genesis 3:16 states that “[A wife’s] desire will be for [her] husband, and he will rule over [her].” That temporary state was part of the curse. 


When Jesus died on the cross, He broke all fall-related curses (I John 3:8b), including the ones involving women. Yet it’s been at least a 2000-year journey and women in many respects are still going for broke. 


As a man, one of the most annoying things I see men do is take scriptures and twist them in such a way as to mean that women should be subservient to or less than men. The only way that's accomplished is when the feminine voice is extricated from the narrative. 


We observe this dynamic when their rich and authentic stories get filtered through the male gaze and mansplained to the extent that we only hear about them briefly on special occasions, such as Women's Day or a funeral. Stories that include:


·      Deborah, the great military leader, who successfully guided an army of 10,000 Israelites into battle against the Canaanite army, which included 900 iron chariots, the preeminent military tech of her time.  

·      Esther, the courageous Persian Empire queen, who using wisdom and strategy saved essentially all Jews living at the time from annihilation and who’s still celebrated today during the holiday Purim .

·      Priscilla, a church founder and co-pastor along with her husband Aquila, risked her life for Paul, taught Christian leaders, and supported ministry and missionary work. 

·      Phoebe, a church elder and preacher, and Paul’s emissary to the church in Rome. 

·      Lydia, the Coco Chanel of her region and the first convert in Philippi, who leveraged her influence and ministered to many, including Paul and Silas when they were thrown into prison and other female heroines and leaders.


Here’s the thing, Genesis 1:27 says that “God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”


If that scripture is to be taken at face value, it suggests that God has a male and a female side. By extension, God would then have both a masculine and a feminine voice, whether literally or figuratively. Selah, or pause and let that one stew for a bit.


Whenever God spoke audibly to folks in the Bible, I assumed it to be in a deep and masculine voice (I Kings 19:12, Revelations 14:2). I don’t know that scriptures always conveyed that idea, but I am a man and God’s voice is of course going to be male. No need to read further.


The Hebrews however knew YHWH as El Shaddai, which means Almighty God or Many Breasted One. Consider if you will that God’s voice might occasionally be feminine (Ezekiel 43:2).


Imagine for instance, after Adam ate the forbidden fruit, the voice of God calling to him in the garden like a mom. This would make his response even more compelling when he says, “[That] woman whom you put here with me [and who sounds a lot like you right now], she gave me fruit from the tree, and so I ate it." (Genesis 3:12 with liberties taken for effect)


In this scenario, Adam isn’t merely throwing Eve under a bus, he’s also accusing the very essence of God that could be considered female. A particularly tricky game to play. 


Okay, ok, so I’ll dial back the conjecture, as I wouldn’t want to be branded a heretic for my suggestions about God's image. Nor do I want to impose my male perspectives onto curse-free women (Isaiah 10:27), and what that might mean in terms of their position and operation in the church.


I miss Mom. And a world that devalues her voice and those of women is a greatly diminished and broken one, and one that doesn't truly reflect God. Selah.


Genesis 3:16 

English Standard Version (ESV)

16 I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.


Genesis 1:27 

King James Version (KJV)

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.


I Kings 19:12 

King James Version (KJV)

12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.


Revelations 14:2 

King James Version (KJV) 

And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps


Ezekiel 43:2 

King James Version (KJV)

And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east: and his voice was like a noise of many waters: and the earth shined with his glory.


Genesis 3:12

New Standard Version (NSV)

12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”


Isaiah 10:27 

King James Version (KJV) 

27 And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing.



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