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By Mike Edwards

Beliefs claimed about God lead to many tuning out God. Our relationship with God cannot exceed our understanding of God. I have written HERE how we can decide what God is really like. One’s interpretation of a Book may be the only reason to think human and godly perfection are different. Why would a Creator not love us and others how we were seemingly created to love others?

Common moral sense would never put men in authority over women.

Most would agree equalitarian rather than hierarchical relationships are less likely to lead to the mistreatment of women. Many husbands assume leadership means making final decisions in an impasse. Best friends, in marriage or other dyad relationships, don’t require a leader. I have never had an issue in 37 years of marriage that cannot be solve creatively without one partner making all such decisions.  Jesus said the first shall be last, but most men don’t interpret this to mean their wife is the final decision-maker. Women need men with the heart of a servant (Eph. 5:28-29).

Isn’t it obvious the most qualified or gifted should be appointed CEO? Few would dare justify only allowing men in leadership roles in business; I doubt God feels any different who the preacher or priest is. Does God really not trust women to handle the Truth! Let’s stand on the side that is potentially less abusive to half of God’s creations.

Doesn’t the Bible though argue for loving authority?

It is said that the Apostle Paul, who wrote a lot of the New Testament, teaches men have spiritual authorities women don’t. Some may be unaware the Bible can be interpreted to endorse roles according to gifts not gender. See here. Paul affirmed and didn’t condemn women praying and prophesying (I Cor. 11:4-5). Paul mentions in practically the same breath that roles are according to one’s gifts and doesn’t mention gender (I Cor. 12:4-11). Romans 16 is only one of many chapters in the Bible that speaks of women in leadership roles, similar to both Priscilla and Aquila teaching Apollos (Acts 18:26). Passages like this presuppose that women can teach men.

Did Paul really use the example of Adam and Eve to suggest a universal model for leadership to avoid women leading men astray (I Tim. 2:12-15)? It is just as likely Paul used the first couple as an example of what to avoid – Eve prevailing upon Adam to go against God’s ways. But, if such a sin keeps women from preaching for eternity, maybe men shouldn’t preach either. Besides, Paul says Adam was responsible for what happened in the garden (Rom. 5:12). Paul in this same Timothy passage advises women to avoid certain hairstyles or jewelry (I Tim: 2:9), but seldom do churches make the same prohibitions as they do women teaching.

God can’t be bias toward gender or skin color.

I am not sure why any fair-minded person would think women can’t fulfill the same leadership roles as men in the spiritual or work realm unless believing a Book teaches this is God’s will for humankind. Most would agree not allowing equal roles because of the color of your skin born with is immoral. I would suggest denying women equal roles, because of the gender born, is emotional abuse if they are gifted to lead. A good God surely doesn’t advocate racism or favoritism. I am going to stand on the side that is potentially less abusive to half of God’s creations. 

Even in the Old Testament female leadership isn’t condemned.  

OT times, where patriarchal and female concubines were rampant, would likely be an era to speak against female leaders. The role of a prophet was clearly a mouthpiece for the very words and council of God. Miriam, the sister of Aaron, was a prophet (Ex 15:20) who help lead Israel (Mic. 6:4). Huldad also was a prophet (2 Kings 22:14; 2 Chron. 34:22). Queen Esther had great influence and clear authority (Esther 7-10). Deborah was a prophet (Judg. 4:4) who also served as a Judge of Israel, which was the highest leader position in Israel at this time. Such an authoritative role by a woman may not have been common in a patriarchal world but the text offers no condemnation. The OT recognizes a place for women in roles of civil authority and as spokespersons for God. Saying “a woman’s place is only in the home” is not a biblical one.

What about God’s gender and Jesus’?

But Jesus was a male and God is our heavenly Father! If people already didn’t listen to Jesus in the first century do you think they would listen to a female Jesus? Jesus encouraged equality between the sexes against culture norms. The gods of the nations in biblical times were described as either male or female. By contrast, the Jews did not speculate about the “masculinity” of God, and God is never ever referred to as male. We must be careful to not assume God is more male simply because our English translations use male pronouns when referring to God. God was also described both like a woman in childbirth (Isaiah 42:14), a mother who does not forget the child she nurses (Isaiah 49:14-15). Both male and female best describe God’s image (Genesis 1:26). A reason for more male references by the biblical writers is likely because of the patriarchal cultures the writers lived in. 

There are so many reasons to not encourage men having authority over women.  

One person wrote to the editor of a newspaper “…it’s been bothering me since 9/11. What’s the difference between the strain of Islam that proscribes gender roles and its counterpart in Christianity that does the same thing, albeit with a different set of prohibitions? Religious extremists would rather be dead than advise husbands to love their wives as their own bodies as the Apostle Paul did (Eph. 5:28). In any religion justification of the different treatment of women from men is usually because of a Holy Book that speaks for God. Common moral sense is assumed to be the enemy.  I haven’t only argued my view according to the Bible. Literature always requires interpretation, so we must use common moral sense as well. Appointing men in authority over women can be conducive for domestic abuse and other atrocities women face at the hands of men.

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By Mike Edwards

We can’t know exactly what an invisible God is like, but God’s visible presence may only lead to fearful obligations to obey. Uncoerced, freely chosen devotions more likely lead to lasting convictions. We can’t just say God is like what the Bible says, because we disagree what the Bible reveals about God. So, how can we know what God is like?

The Bible does frequently compare God to a loving human parent. Intuition suggest a loving Creator would want us to follow their example just as do our human parents.  How can we be like God if we don’t know what God is like? Analogies aren’t perfect but the best way to imagine what an invisible, perfect God is like – no one thinks an imperfect God is worth believing in – is to consider what a perfect human parent is like.

God couldn’t possibly be an angry, egomaniac lover.

A loving human parent directs their anger not toward their child but at actions that can harm their child and others. Gloomy uncertainty of a parent’s favor doesn’t cause us to be less self-centered or more loving. Loving parents don’t demand respect or glory but wish for a relationship based on mutual respect. God’s or a parent’s continual encouragement and mercy lead to a deeper bond that can transform us into the kind of person we all desire to be.

God couldn’t possibly be a homophobe.

It makes no sense to me why God would condemn gays when they can no more choose who they have feelings for than straights can. Just ask heterosexuals or homosexuals. We know the psychological harm done when one must hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility. Any loving parent is surely guided by how they should treat others if they had the same non-choices.

God couldn’t possibly be a hell monger.

Hell seems to be an invention over the centuries to scare people into submission and obedience. Our traditional understanding of Hell is not an appropriate translation of the Greek word Gehenna (the name of a real valley near Jerusalem) in the New Testament. Why would a loving God torture anyone forever since such pain serves no lasting purpose? Humans wouldn’t even create such a place for their worst enemies much less their children. Are we better lovers than God?

God couldn’t possibly be a sexist.

It is suggested the Bible endorses men to have authority over women, but the Bible can just as well be interpreted to encourage roles according to gifts not gender. Men in authority over women has led to so my atrocities women face at the hands of men. Women don’t need male leadership; women need men who have the heart of a servant (Eph. 5:28-29). Jesus said being first is last so maybe men should always defer to women.  Isn’t mutual equality the safest, most loving way for men and women to interact?

God couldn’t possibly be dogmatic about what religion we choose.  

Suggesting a loving God insists one can only come to God by believing in Jesus is to ignore the realities of our world. The majority of people that have been born into world never had a Bible to know of Jesus. The vast majority of people choose or rebel against the religion where they are born, whether be Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, etc. Wouldn’t a loving Parent, earthly or heavenly, no matter where born simply seek to help all be their best for self-interests and the interests of others?

What do you imagine God is really like?

You may be right! Listen to your moral inner voice since we just seem to know what is moral or immoral in most situations. Most suspect One claiming to be God must lead by example and encourage we love others by treating them like we want to be treated. I am absolutely convinced that God’s love is the love we deep down desire to show others consistently. God’s love is perfect parental love that we have always desired from our parents. We may not agree always what a perfect parent would do, but a loving parent surely isn’t egotistical, a fear-monger, a homophobe, a sexist, or bias against one’s religion!

 

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