Friday, December 16, 2011

"God Has Chosen to Liken Himself to a Female and We Are the Fruit of His Womb"

Theology has been my passion since seventeen years of age when I memorized the book of Romans. I began collecting theological books in high school and later worked diligently on learning Greek and Hebrew while studying business and finance at Baylor. In 1982, when I was a poor twenty-year-old kid, I entered a pawn shop in Waco for the first time to get some much needed cash. I brought my prized collection of D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones books to sell to the shop--fifty books in all. It was a sad day for me. I needed money and my hard cover Jones' books were worth over $500 even back then. It made me sick to have to sell them because of my love for Jones' writings. My favorite Christian authors are John Calvin (16th century),  John Owen (17th century), John Gill (18th century), Charles Spurgeon (19th century), and D. Martyn Lloyd Jones (20th century). I now own everything these men have ever written, but back in 1982 my largest collection, by far, was Lloyd-Jones. The pawn shop owner told me he would give me $2.00. Disappointment rose within me and I asked, "Just $2.00 per book?" He looked at me with a quizzical expression and said, "No, $2.00 for the whole lot!" I left that pawn shop and kept my Jones' books, which now form a portion of my library of over 10,000 antiquarian, historical and theological works. Everytime my eyes fall on the colorful dust jackets of the D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones books, I remember my pawn shop experience and I have reinforced within me the biblical truth that "The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned" (I Corinthians 2:14).

That story is relevant to what follows because of the subject matter I am dealing with in this post. I have just finished reading the biography of Steve Jobs and author Walter Isaacson writes that Steve firmly believed you can know a person by looking at the songs kept on that person's I-Pod. That's the modern application for the old axiom "you can know a man by his books." I am a conservative inerrantist who values and treasures the Word of God. In 2010 I publicly described my theological views as "Calvinistic in soteroiology, partial-preterist in eschatology, open communion in ecclesiology, and continuationist in pneumatology." To some that sounds like a medical diagnosis, but to those in the theological know, it describes a very conservative biblical framework. Using easier to understand words, I believe that "God saves sinners through Christ, the prophecies of the Bible are fulfilled precisely and completely, the church of Jesus Christ is universal and extends far beyond the walls of any one local assembly, and the Spirit of God continues to work in God's people today as He did in New Testament days." Theological liberals would not agree with my views on the nature of Scripture or the interpretations of the Bible that I hold which flow from my high esteem of the Word of God. Because I belief in the authority of Scripture, I must accept the truth of the Bible. Because I accept the truth of the Bible, I must accept that the invisible, immortal and omnipotent God has female characteristics, and that females were created in the image of God to be co-regents, co-equals, and co-leaders with men over creation,

A Conservative, Bible-Believing Christian Should View God as the Bible Portrays God

This leads me to the reason why I chose the particular title for my post today. Read the title again. "God Has Chosen to Liken Himself to a Female and We are the Fruit of His Womb."  I found this quote in my theological library, in a book that was originally written nearly 500 years ago by a conservative, Bible-believing Protestant evangelical named John Calvin. That's right, THAT John Calvin.

In Isaiah 46:3 God says, "Listen to Me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, you who have been borne by Me from birth and have been carried from My womb." John Calvin comments on this verse by writing "God has manifested himself to be both Father and Mother so that we might be more aware of God’s constant presence and willingness to assist us" (Volume VIII, Isaiah 33-66, page 436). Later in Isaiah, God says to His people: "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!" (Isaiah 49:15). In Calvin's commentary on this verse, the great orthodox theologian writes, "God did not satisfy himself with proposing the example of a father, but in order to express his very strong affection, he chose to liken himself to a mother, and calls His people not merely children, but the fruit of the womb, towards which there is usually a warmer affection.” John Owen and John Gill are just as graphic in their expositions. These men, all of whom lived centuries ago in England and Europe and were considered the greatest Hebrew and Greek linguists in their day, felt no qualms and gave no caveats when presenting the feminine qualities of our ominipotent and sovereign God. Why should they? They believed the Bible.

In Genesis 1:27 it is said, "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them."  The male and the female were created by God. The male and the female both bear the image of God. The male and the female are both included in the Hebrew word adam (man) - "So God created adam ... He created them."  Notice what God says about them ... "and let them rule.…”  The male and the female were both designed to rule. Men and women are created by God in His image as co-regents of the world He created. Any system, any society, any organization that places one gender as an authority over the other, whether it be patriarchal or matriarchal in nature, is a direct violation of the command and design of the Creator God. Why can women rule in God's creation? Why can women lead in God's creation? Why can women be equal to men in God's creation? Women are created in the image of God, just like men, and when the omnipotent, sovereign and invisible Creator God determined to create man in His image, He created a male and a female, reflecting the very nature of God Himself. This is why there is nothing wrong with considering God as both Father and Mother, as the invisible and all-powerful Ruler of the universe who reflects Himself in both males and females--God is Spirit and the perfections of each gender are seen in God.

George Kwami Kumi, Ph.D. is an Akan Ghanaian Christian and the vicar general of the Diocese of Sunyani, Africa. Dr. Kumi says that the affectionate term Father-Mother God is used among his native people to denote the invisible God of the Bible. Dr. Kumi is himself accustomed to referring to God as Father-Mother God, and he found it surprising to discover a resistance among conservative evangelicals in the United States to acknowledge God in the way the sacred Scriptures present Yawheh. Dr. Kumi has wondered if western conservative evangelicals in the United States have succombed to creating a god in the image of western civilization culture. Dr. Kumi has even called "strange" the practice of some Christians to only view God in male terms. He explains that Akan African Christians have a fuller and more biblical understanding of God as both Father and Mother, precisely because both male and female characteristics are found in the nature of the invisible spirit God. Dr. Kumi also learned the Catholic catechism as a child which states "God is neither man nor woman. God is pure spirit in which there is no place for the differences between the sexes. But the respective "perfections" of man and woman reflect something of the infinite perfection of God: those of a mother (Isaiah 49:14-15; 66:13; Psalm 131:2-3) and those of a father (Job 31:18; Jer. 3:4-20) and husband (Jer. 3:6-19)." [CCC 370]. Dr. Kumi is a modern day theologian and conservatives automatically call him a liberal because he dares acknowledge the feminine in God. Were Dr. Kumi to deny salvation by grace through faith, or were Dr. Kumi to deny the authority and infallibility of Scripture, or were Dr. Kumi to deny the deity and humanity of Jesus Christ, you could rightly call him a liberal. However, if a bible-believing scholar holds to the equality of women based upon the belief that the Bible explicitly teaches the image of God in both the man and the woman, then that scholar is not a liberal.

The True Liberals Are Those Who Deny the Clear Teaching of God's Word Regarding Gender

The liberal scholar is the one who denies that both men and women are created in the image of God. Some liberal scholars are self-proclaimed conservative scholars who twist the Scriptures to purport that only man is created in God's image and the woman is the glory of man, not God. Sound strange? To me it sure does. Let me give you an example of this kind of teaching. Dr. Bruce Ware, in a long and bizarre article entitled Male and Female Complementarity and the Image of God writes, "I propose that it may be best to understand the original creation of male and female as one in which the male was made image of God first, in an unmediated fashion, as God formed him from the dust of the ground, while the female was made image of God second, in a mediated fashion, as God chose, not more earth, but the very rib of Adam ... The theology of this is clear ...  Genesis 2 intends for us to understand the formation of the woman as both fully like the man in his humanity, while attributing the derivation of her very nature to God's formation of her, not from common dust of the ground, but specifically from the rib of Adam, and so from the man. Just as the man, created directly by God is the image and glory of God, so the woman, created out of the man, has her glory through the man.  This much is clear: as God chose to create her, the woman was not formed to be the human that she is apart from the man but only through the man. Does it not stand to reason, then, that her humanity, including her being the image of God, occurs as God forms her from the man as "the glory of the man"?  (emphasis mine).

I think this kind of teaching, promoted as the norm at the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, should be called out for what it is. It is liberal theology. It is a denial of the nature of God and the authority of Scripture. From this strange doctrine arise toxic problems within Christian churches and homes. For example, if the male (not the female) is created in the image of God in an unmediated fashion, and the female bears God's image only through the male, then females will be taught that their identity will only be found in a man, not God, and thus ...

(1). Females should always be under a 'protective covering' of a man, either a father or a husband just as men need God's protective covering.
(2). Females should never lead, rule or govern anything but only serve and support the males who were designed to rule as God rules.
(3). Females should be subordinate to the authority of men in the same manner Jesus is eternally subordinate to the authority of God the Father, and even if that authority is abusive at times, the woman should always remain compliant and submissive.
(4). Females should always find their identity and self-worth in the men that God has given to them (fathers and husbands), with home-making and child-rearing being their focus and never working toward any career or identity outside the man's home.
(5). Females were designed by God to be recipients of the leadership, service, and authority of males, and for females to view oneself as equals to males in the home or in the church is rebellion toward God.

I could continue with the toxic effects ad infinitum, but my oatmeal is getting cold and I'm getting a tad nauseated as I think about the damage being done to new church plants, Christian homes, and the kingdom of Christ at large over a very toxic and unbiblical view of men and women.  The image of God is in both, and God intends for both males and females to work, serve and lead as His Spirit gifts. Our identity, whether single males or females, married males or females, widowed males or females, or even small male and female children, should be found in who we are as human beings made in the image of God, independent of our relation to the opposite sex. One of these days people will awake to the revelation that when cultures--whether they be religious or secular cultures--promote one gender over another in terms of authority, then the truth of God's Word is being denied. Scripture reveals that both genders reflect the nature of our sovereign, Ruling God. I use the pronouns Him, He, when speaking of God without apology, and I never hesitate to pray as Jesus taught, "Our Father who are in heaven." But when I consider my Father in heaven Who is the invisible, eternal, ruling God of the Universe, I see Him--like the prophet Isaiah, John Calvin, and all my theological heroes--as the God who chooses to reveal Himself as Father and Mother and reflect His image equally in the men and the women He creates. Therefore, I praise God when a gifted woman leads, teaches, prays or takes a position of authority in the presence of men. It's a reflection of God. So, men and women, let's get back to serving one another in the Spirit of Christ with all humility, knowing that our identity is found in our relationship to God.

38 comments: said...

I am in the city celebrating the graduation of our son from Business College at the University of Oklahoma. I will be unable to respond to comments, but I welcome your thoughts and will respond at the next available time.

Christiane said...


please don't insult 'Liberals' by comparing the CBMW to them.


I can't believe that the followers of that religion have attempted to change the doctrine of the Holy Trinity to support their claims. That whole ESS business is NOT orthodox, no matter how they try to call it that.
That CBMW religion is quite scandalous, I think.

Alan Paul said...

Wade- I greatly respect your writing and opinions as evidenced by the fact that I post most of what you write to my facebook page - even if I don't always agree with you. So I ask you this in genuineness:

From what I understand after reading your essay, you do not believe husbands are the head of wives. If that's the case, how do you deal with Ephesians 5:21-25? That section starts off by admonishing mutual submission and then clearly says husbands are the head of their wives and the wife should submit to him as she does Christ. Seems pretty clear to me - even in the context of the chapter and book. BTW: I don't doubt that God has both male and female traits. It would be silly to deny that. But that doesn't necessarily rule out what this passage says. said...


My wife and I are just walking out the door, but I thought I would respond to your question quickly, though if you search my site, you will see other articles, far more detailed than this brief answer.

You seem to want to interpret "head" as authority. This is not the meaning in Ephesians. Head speaks of source, as in the head of the river, and if you look at the context of Paul's writing in Ephesians. There is only one time in the New Testament where the word "authority" is used in terms of the husband wife relationship and that is in Corinthians when Paul talks about a husband and a wife and their bodies. Where the only time the word is used, the Apostle Paul says explicitly that the man does NOT HAVE AUTHORITY over the woman. said...

Also, Alan, thanks for the kind words. said...


I think you know that I believe all the CBMW men and women are my brothers and sisters in Christ. :)

I am simply giving them a little dose of their own medicine--for the good of Christian women everywhere.


Bruce H said...

"For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven." Matthew 22:30

The Christian's new position in heaven will be someplace between the angels and God. We will be like angels according to gender, but not exactly angelic. We will have no gender identification or any other identification we use in this old world. Eternal things are incomprehensible to the natural mind and the use of the Father/Mother of God satisfies to illustrate what He is. My focus was more on the womb. That connects me to God's family, bloodline and future inheritance as His "child". Sad thing is, I can’t leave now because I’m healthy and have a wife and children.

Great post.

Debbie Kaufman said...

To interpret scripture correctly, all of scripture must be read as all flow as one. Just look at any marriages portrayed in the Bible. None were hierarchal marriages. Many times God spoke to the wife and sometimes to the husband.

Read any passage where there is a couple mentioned. I just don't see where the husband was the boss over the wife. Source? Yes. Boss? No, unless someone can point me to such a example in scripture.

L. Lee said...

Matthew H.: It strikes me that Jesus is not teaching about gender in that passage (Matt. 22:30) but is rather teaching about whether there is marriage in Heaven (or the resurrection). Assuming there is no gender in the life to come may be to much an extension of what is taught in that text.

Wanda (Deb) Martin said...


Congratulations to your son on his graduation from college. I know you and Rachelle are very proud of him.

It was such a pleasure having two of your sons join us for lunch last Sunday. I was EXTREMELY impressed!

Also, thank you for this important post.

Alan Paul said...

Thanks for the response Wade. You're right. I was assuming "head" as a word of authority. I'll look into what you're saying.

Steven Stark said...

A fascinating post! Good luck in standing up for the rights of women - which is the correct thing to do whether it's biblical or not.

"The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned" (I Corinthians 2:14)."

I would argue that what makes a scholar "liberal" is that he/she takes the spirit more seriously than the letter.

Rex Ray said...

Man was made from dirt.

Woman was made from refined dirt.

Nuff said.

Matt said...

I've often thought to myself that completarianism, taken to it's extreme degree, would result in a woman finding her identify in a man instead of God. I've never heard a complementarian teach this until I heard about a book written by Robert Lewis, author of the "Men's Fraternity" curriculum and pastor of a nondenominational, fundamentalist, Bible church.

In "The New Eve," Lewis instructs women on how to be the woman God created them to be. I find it interesting that he is a man telling a woman how to be a woman, but that is just a side note. It's first major premise is that every woman should "seek deep and lasting companionship with a man." It then goes on to talk about who and what this man should be.

Shouldn't a woman's first priority be to seek a relationship with Christ? Apparently, not when Dr. Ware's statement is taken to it's logical conclusion, as you skilfully articulated. Popular authors like Lewis are proof of this, and average folks in the pew are buying into it!

Thanks for pointing us towards the truth. I really enjoy your blog!

Paul Burleson said...


Your words that capture the heart of this matter are these...

"Scripture reveals that both genders reflect the nature of our Sovereign, Ruling God. I use the pronouns Him, He, when speaking of God without apology, and I never hesitate to pray as Jesus taught, "Our Father who are in heaven."

"But when I consider my Father in heaven Who is the invisible, eternal, ruling God of the Universe, I see Him--like the prophet Isaiah, John Calvin, and all my theological heroes--as the God who chooses to reveal Himself as Father and Mother and reflect His image equally in the men and the women He creates."

Your title.."God has chosen to LIKEN Himself..." says it all also.

So...If we REALLY seek to follow biblical language, it seems to me we HAVE to also use the language that recognizes that God, Who is Spirit, is neither feminine nor masculine (gender), neither male nor female (sex) but expresses His nature through BOTH and one IS NEITHER greater NOR more gifted than the other.

I believe [as I've a;ready told you] your last few posts ought to be put in booklet form somehow. Or at least get them on Amazon where people can down load them at will. Good stuff.


Christiane said...


I can point you to a passage in Scripture where God tells a HUSBAND to do whatever his wife tells him to do:

God is clear in his direction to Abraham:
“Do not be distressed over the boy or your slave; whatever Sarah tells you, do as she says (sh’ma b’kolah), for it is through Isaac that offspring shall be continued for you. As for the son of the slave woman, I will make a nation of him, too, for he is your seed.” (Gen. 21:12-13)

". . . whatever Sarah tells you, do as she says . . . "

So God is telling THE Patriarch of the Old Testament, Abraham, Father of three great world religions, that he is to listen to his wife.
Clearly tells him to listen to his wife. . . and to 'do as she says'

To listen to, and obey his wife?

That great Patriarch Abraham?

To do this on the Authority of God?

YES, YES, and YES again.

Honestly, Debbie, people really have to overlook this passage of Scripture to end up following the path of the CBMW. And yet the passage IS THERE.
And it, too, is the Word of God.

Debbie Kaufman said...

I agree Christiane.

Garen Martens said...

Thanks for explaining this theology. I have always had an inner feeling that God was as you have described, but never knew the explanation behind my thoughts.
I am privileged to learn by your research and teaching. said...

Thanks Garen!

That means a lot to me.


Jeff Rogers said...

Wade, congratulations on your sons graduation. I pray it is a precious time of memory creation that will remain for all the days of the Burleson clan. Please congratulate him on the Rogers behalf.

I comment to take issue with a minor point...not the point of the article. The main thrust of the article I am continuing to digest and I may be on the fence for a bit...thinking it over.

But you described your continuationist Pneumatology as...

"the Spirit of God continues to work in God's people today as He did in New Testament days."

I believe that this is a gross misrepresentation of the position and it has the effect of implying that the cessationist does not believe that the Spirit of God is NOT at work in God's people today.

Again, nothing could be further from the truth. Cessationists believe in a continuation of the Spirits work...It is just that he works differntly than he did under the Old Covenant and the transition period of the first century as the old was fading and the New was being established.

ALL of the Charismata, (Spiritual gifts) were for that period and not ours. But that does not mean that the Spirit does not still work.

I do not mean to throw this out as red meat for a debate, only to point out that the definition you used is sorely off target. Continuationists and cessationists are in agreement that the spirit is still at work in the people of God....Just not with the same manifestations of the first century apostolic era.

Thanks....and I will continue to try to wrap my mind around this feminist aspect of the godhead and the gospel.

Yours sincerely, Jeff. said...

Good point, Jeff.

The words I chose for my position wrongly implied something about cessationists.

Thank you for the correction.

Gene S said...

Your initial statement reminds me of a Greek Professor's statement (end of a joke told): Heilgeshickte / ....something I forgot--geshickte / bullgeshickte!"

The guy on the street wasn't impressed with all the hair splitting strange sounding words---and few people really are!

Those who pontificate ad nauseum missed a little part of the birth narrative having a women as the key ingredient!

Further, those same idiots would never acknowledge that the story of Jesus' birth appears in the KuRan!!!

God help the bigots get a brain!!!

God help them ever admit all humans have both testosterone and estrogen flowing in their bloodstream---and that might partially explain homosexuality, but NOT homophobia!

Anonymous said...

Related to this topic, I am hearing great things about Scott McKnight's ebook on Junia: Junia is Not Alone.

I plan to download it as soon as I can get the kindle app on my phone.

Lydia said...


Thanks for the link.

I am downloading it as I speak. Hope to blog about it soon.


Chad Kaminski said...


If you title is meant to be a play on the literary devices of simile and metaphor, I think I agree with its implications, but you go on to say, "This is why there is nothing wrong with considering God as both Father and Mother..."

What do you mean by "considering?" Do you mean that God is both father and mother, or that God is often described with both masculine and feminine literary devices?

There appear to be many instances in certain situations and contexts where God is described as being "like" one thing or comparable to another. Certainly these include feminine sujects as God is like a comforting mother, and so on. But I'm not aware of any place where God is specifically addressed as mother. God may act like a mother eagle, but he is not a mother eagle. Though God is like a mother, should we consider Him to be a mother?

Kristen said...

Thank you for this, Wade. FWIW, here is a portion of a piece I wrote regarding the scripture that says, "woman is the glory of man":

... [A]s far as “glory” is concerned– we are accustomed to think of this word in terms of the splendor and divine beauty of God. But 2 Corinthians 3:18 says that all believers shine with this kind of glory: “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (Emphasis added.)

This passage is not about that kind of glory, for it would be in direct contradiction to 2 Cor. 3:18 to say men have God’s glory but women have man’s glory. No, there is another meaning of the word “glory” in the ancient Greek, and that has to do with reputation, or the good opinion of others.

This passage has to be read in the light of the rest of 1 Corinthians 11. The Corinthian church was a large, cosmopolitan center in the Roman Empire, in which a large number of cultures mingled and which had a reputation as the “Sin City” of those times. The young church was comprised of peoples from a variety of backgrounds, and at the time Paul wrote the letter this church was struggling with a variety of matters, one of which was its reputation in the eyes of the community. It helps to understand that the cultures of Israel, Greece and Rome were honor-shame cultures. They tended to think of behavior more in terms of honor and dishonor, in contrast to our way of thinking in more terms of right and wrong. It wasn’t enough, for instance, for a woman to be faithful to her husband; she had to avoid even the slightest appearance of loose morals. This means that women did not go out in public alone; they did not talk to men who were not their husbands, and so on. A woman’s behavior was a direct reflection on her husband’s reputation, and when we see the word “glory” in a text that contains words having to do with honor and shame, we know that the meaning of “glory“ in that text is within that honor-shame context. It is quite clear from the context of 1 Cor. 11 that “reputation” is what Paul is talking about when he says “glory.”

Here's the link to the whole article: said...


Superb work! Thanks for the link. I have filed this for future reference.

Keep up the great work for the kingdom. said...


You ask a great question. Sorry it took so long to answer (just now saw it).

Since God is invisible, immortal and beyond your comprehension--you would NEVER know Him were He not to condescend and reveal Himself to us. When Adam and Eve were made IN HIS IMAGE that means both man and woman reflect God. So...

God is LIKE a Father and God is LIKE a Mother. For me to say GOD IS MY HEAVENLY FATHER and GOD IS MY HEAVENLY MOTHER (for He gave birth to me), is simply acknowledging Scripture--but neither you nor I can put a body on God, physical attributes to God, or human characteristics upon God--He transcends our understanding.

But when I think of the eternal, omnipotent, holy Creator, I have no problems seeing Him as both Father and Mother, just as God revealed Himself to the prophet Isaiah. BUT HE IS SPIRIT AND TRANSCENDS OUR ABILITY TO BEHOLD HIS GLORY.

My purpose is not to adequately describe God, my purpose is to shoot down ANY NOTION that a woman is NOT CREATED IN GOD'S IMAGE.

John Ramsey said...

Mr. Burleson,
In your hurried response to Alan Paul on December 16th you clarified the meaning of "head" as used in Eph.5:21-25 (though I still wonder why scripture bothers to tell us that man is the "source" of woman), but you didn't have time to explain what is meant when the scripture states that the wife should submit to her husband as she does to Christ. Understanding that women are equal spiritual beings with men under God with equal rights and responsibilities, is there a special relationship between them in marriage that is to be recognized but not abused?

Rachel H. Evans said...


I'll be linking to this on my blog tomorrow.

Sarah said...

As a Catholic, I'd just like to add some clarity here regarding the quote from the catechism:

While the Catholic Church does teach that God has both feminine and masculine *qualities*, (and that yes, women are indeed created in the image and likeness of God and are equal in dignity to men), God through divine revelation has revealed himself specifically with the tile of Father (the Church is "Mother", hence the tendency for Catholics to refer to the Church as "Holy Mother Church".). A baptism in the name of The Mother or The Father-Mother would be invalid in the Catholic Church (must be "in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as commanded on Scripture).

Elizabeth said...

While both men and women are made in the image and likeness of God, your list of complaints oddly paints feminine roles in a negative light. There is nothing inferior about staying home and having children or requiring some protection. The masculine and feminine both have their own strengths and weaknesses. Some women do have work outside the family, and that is okay. Men and women can have roles and work that overlap, but that doesn't mean that the traditionally masculine work of careers or manual labor are superior to other more feminine forms of work -- bearing children, homemaking, etc. I think, oddly enough, in your effort to equalize the masculine and feminine, you actually painted certain feminine roles, characteristics, and preferences in a negative light.

You also cited Catholic teaching. While the Catholic Church teaches that men and women are both created in the image and likeness of God, and both have inherent dignity, Catholics also acknowledge the feminine and masculine -- i.e., the Church and Mary are the feminine, whereas the the Father and Son are the masculine. This does not make women inferior, but honors both sexes appropriately. Of course, in the Catholic Church, women can also take on the religious life as a nun and do Godly work outside of marriage and family, both of which are worthy vocations.

Donna said...

Hi Wade,

Apologies for the late post, I came here via Rachel Held Evan's blog.

In the comments you noted that "head" might mean "source", others argue it means "authority". I understand that there is a third option, one which I find to be more convincing than the other two. That to say someone is the "head" it is a social, not an ontological, comment about who is most obvious and powerful (in that culture, the man), I think some writers call this "pre-eminence", and that it's not a prescriptive comment (about how things should be) but descriptive.

If kephale is taken to be a comment about social position, that fits better with the honor-shame interpretation of image-glory passages also.

I hope that idea is helpful.

Thanks for your great post.

Anonymous said...

Thanks again for another insightful post.

I am grateful that there are many who oppose gender subordination.

On head, see how Paul in Eph and elsewhere uses "head of the church" which is then mapped to how a husband as "head" is to treat his wife. They are all serving functions.

Don Johnson

Lisa Adams said...

I am fascinated by your post and agree with much of what you have said, but I wonder if you could flesh out more your interpretation of Ephesians 5 (the marriage passage) and especially of 1 Corinthians 11, as well as Paul's teaching about a woman not exercising authority in the church? I appreciate your desire to interpret a woman's role from the Bible, and to emphasize God's feminine aspects, but I think a more holistic approach would address these other passages as well. Thanks!

Wade Burleson said...


On the Google search engine at the top left part of my blogsite, google Ephesians, Artemis, I Corinthians, marriage or any other key word and all the articles I've written on the subject (and there are many) will appear.

Anonymous said...

Yah, sure, there are maternal metaphors God uses about Himself in the Word, but bottom line: Jesus refers to him as "the FATHER," not the Father-Mother God, not "she," etc.

I think Jesus might've had a reason for using the terminology He did. ;)


Jazzki (who's a geezerette)

Mrs. Webfoot said...

Not sure how Jazzki's comment ended up in my inbox, but thanks.

I think that Jazzki makes a great point. Jesus never talked about a Father-Mother God.

This is a very old post! I see that Burleson teaches that "head" means "source." I have talked to a lot of Egalitarians, and for the life of me I can't figure out what that means. Is Christ, then, the source of men, but not of women? Is God the source of Christ? It doesn't seem to make sense in the context of 1 Corinthians 11.

1 Corinthians 11:3
But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.