Why is God Father rather than Mother?

One of the popular criticisms of Christianity is that the Bible treats women as “less than” men. The Scriptures, so the argument goes, seem to privilege men and “maleness,” asking women to cover their hair, calling Eve a “helper,” and even going so far as to identify the God of the universe as male—“Father.” How can we make sense of this seeming sexism? In this rebroadcast of an episode from October 2017, Jo and Vince help unpack some of the misperceptions surrounding how women are viewed and valued in Scripture. Particularly relevant as we honor mothers this weekend in the US, Jo and Vince discuss pictures of God in the Bible, and the fact that God reveals himself in maternal ways we might not always realize.

The issue for today’s discussion primarily is: Did God make sexism on purpose?

https://www.rzim.org/listen/ask-away/why-is-god-father-rather-than-mother

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@Robert_Repke This episode was very interesting. I appreciated the responses that Jo and Vince gave to this concern. I agree with them that the Bible is filled with examples of women who have played supreme roles in the story of redemption: Deborah, Jael, Ruth, Esther, Tamar, Rahab, Abigail; Mary, Jesus’s mother; Mary Magdalene; Mary and Martha; all of the women who followed Jesus and first witnessed the empty tomb; Priscilla, and many others. The Bible is not sexist.

I think that calling God Father only bothers people because women have been treated as lesser beings all too often. This is evidence of the Curse: “Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you” (Gen. 3:16b, ESV). This is a symptom of sin’s effect that dims the fact that women and men equally share God’s image (Gen. 1:27), as Jo and Vince point out. My wife and I share this struggle. I suspect that many married couples suffer this conflict. This is sin’s outcome, however; let us not fault God for it!

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I just finished listening (finally!) I agree with Jo that sexism isn’t what God put in place as part of creation but is a result of the fall where sin has caused broken relationships. It became the new reality, the consequence, when we decided to go it on our own.

I love the reminder that God has all the virtues! And this makes so much sense when you consider how we can work together in marriage, at work, or ministry, in families and communities to manifest virtues for the glory of God. But none of us will have them all! Only God is complete enough to be all things to all people.

I’ve been reading the Bible most of my life, and I don’t recall ever thinking that women were less than men. I can see how some people may go there. But the Bible is packed with real life people doing people things. And when you consider the expanse of 1600 years of cultural context of tribes and nations you’re going to have a lot of ways to misinterpret. But as Jo reminds us: Go tackle those passages and examine and study them. The resources for studying the Bible are mind blowing!

To embrace what God has appointed to us in the form of gender, culture, period in history, lineage, and family is to draw near to Him and revel that before time began each of us was on His mind. (Acts 17:26-27, Psalm 139). And it is here, in the way He designed us, that we find true fulfillment and purpose.

We can decide that we are limited by some value placed on us, or we can remember that God is not limited by anything and we can expectantly anticipate His involvement.

No matter what your job or position is, embracing the days God has given you and working at your tasks as unto the Lord can be the place where you experience His pleasure. And I am reminded of my value when I meditate on Scripture.

Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there!

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I listened to this podcast last weekend and planned to jump into the conversation, but when I heard of Ravi’s health condition, my heart wasn’t in it anymore. I thought, “Who cares right now what I believe about sexism in the Bible?” But God has been working in my heart this week and reminding me that all Scripture is relevant to our struggles when we listen to Him.

The point that stuck out to me the most in the podcast was the fact that God wasn’t being demeaning to women when He created Eve to be a helper for Adam. God says that He is our Helper.

So as my emotions are in turmoil at the moment, I’m turning to God and remembering that the Creator of the universe says to me, “It’s okay. I’ll help you.”

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1-2 ESV)

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I love that Psalm passage, Jennifer. They always remind me of my father because it was one of his favorites.
I’m so glad the Lord is meeting you. This is a difficult time in so many ways, and it’s OK if you are taking some breather time! I’m having to pace myself differently, and I find that I’m quite tired.

I heard that reference to the “help meet”/ “helper” of Eve to Adam being of a likeness of how God helps us at a wedding a couple of years ago, and I was so struck by how beautifully God weaves His character into His institutions with such purpose and intent.

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